This article demonstrates a very simple design of a Stingless Bee Box – Pine OATH. Standard OATH dimensions are 280mm long by 200mm wide. This design is based on these OATH Construction Plans (OATH – Original Australian Trigona Hive)
*Please note: This information is intended for people that already have a native bee colony and need another box to create new colonies. The chances are slim to none of native bees moving in to an empty box unless you have some experience with preparation.
This is 33mm thick x 100mm wide Hoop Pine which is usually available from your local timber yard, but you can use anything you have and adjust the measurements to suit. 33mm thick wood gives each frame the internal volume of around 2.9 litres, so the total box volume with all the frames together might end up around 8 to 9 litres. You might want to use anything from 25mm to 50mm thick wood.
Tip: It’s important to try make all your cuts square. Having nice square cuts will make the assembly easier and neater. Spend some time on scrap wood adjusting your saw to get it nice and square.
Below: The dimensions for the frame are 280mm x 200mm so I’ve used 200mm lengths for the front piece and 214mm for the sides so i end up at 280mm long.
Frame height varies with different box makers. All my Cypress frames are 90mm high. These pine frames are 100mm high. You could use any timber from 70mm to 100mm high, or mix it up and have two frames at 100mm and one frame at 70mm. If you’re wanting to harvest honey from the box it can be easier to extract honey from a shallower honey super, even 40mm deep as opposed to a 70mm deep honey super.
Tip: When joining the pieces together, use a perfectly flat surface to set the wood on, and a Square like the one pictured. Again it’s important to make everything square, straight and flat. This will reduce the work needed later and produce a better result.
On these boxes I’ve used 50mm galvanised screws that are countersunk.
Below – example of a previous box using 280mm lengths for the sides.
Below – I’ve made the honey super frame 70mm deep. It could be much less than that. A shallow honey super frame will be easier to harvest honey from. A deep honey super is difficult to harvest honey from, but if you’re not interested in the honey the deep frame will allow the bees to create more stores, making for a stronger colony.
Below – Hardwood ply splitting bars / brood support bars are in the top of the bottom box and matched up with the same support bars on the underside of the middle frame. These are inset a few millimetres so there will be a small gap between the bars when the frames are together. This allows the bees access between the bars and they can seal the inside where the frames meet when together to secure their colony. This may also make the splitting process easier.
Below: Instead of Plywood you could use a clear perspex sheet. This allows you to monitor the bees. The small piece of perspex that is taped on is blocking access to the honey super so you can remove the honey super to inspect the bees below. After a while you could remove that piece and allow access to the honey super.
Below – This shows the brood / honey super separator plate. I’ve used plywood here with a 50mm hole placed at the rear of the frame. This hole can be blocked to isolate the Honey Super. A small honey pot jar could be placed over the hole to create a simple honey collection method, or you could allow full access to the honey super frame.
I drilled the entry hole in the bottom box and small rear vent hole in the middle box
Below: To finish it off I’ve painted it with four coats of quality exterior paint, added a front landing pad and feet
It’s important to note that Pine can be more susceptible to high moisture levels over long periods so a good roof should be covering the box to keep rain from entering the joins.
More articles that will help with the construction of your hive box: