Making Bottom Screens For Bee Hives

The sun has come out (periodically), and the temperature has reached the balmy 50F’s here in northwest Washington state.  This has inspired me to get outside and build bottom screen for the hives.   I need to do this, now.  I have queens scheduled to arrive in June, and although I’ve enough boxes, frames, collars, and tops, I don’t have enough bottom screens.

BOTTOM SCREENS

My hives sit on screens, which, in turn, sit on six inch concrete blocks.  I gave up solid bottom boards a number of years ago.  It is very wet here, and the bottom screens seem to allow more ventilation in the hives, which keeps them dryer.  They are open year round – even in deep snow (which is an insulator).  Which are then guarded from bears by my livestock guard dog – that’s his job.

Maremma Livestock Guard Dog watches bee hives at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, Maple Falls, WA

Maremma on Guard

Making The Bottom Screens

First I roll out 1/8th inch hardware cloth and cut it to size.
I like to work outside.  The light is better, the air is nice, the birds sing, and the dogs and goats visit.

Hardware Cloth for bee hive bottom screens

Cutting Hardware Cloth

Then I cut dry wall corner molds (at least I think that’s what they are).  These are sold in 8 foot lengths in the dry wall area of the big box stores.  They will form the “door stop” for the bees entrances.

Bottom Screen "doors" for bee hives

Bottom Screen Entrance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I convince my hard working husband, who makes wonderful handcrafted furniture, to drag his table saw up to the land of bees and beekeeping to cut the hundreds of pieces of wood I need.  Every bottom screen has seven pieces of wood: 4 for the base and 3 for the “U” shaped upper rim.

Ian Balsillie, Woodworker, and pieces of bee hive bottom board

Ian volunteers to cut wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembling the base is the next step.  Each base is a rectangle, the same dimensions as a bee box.  The bases are two inches tall. This come from reading that if a mite happens to fall through the mesh, it can climb back up into the hive if the drop is not two inches or more.

Bee hive bottom screen bases

Making the Base

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Yep – hammer and nails.  Oh, I could use the air compressor and power stapler, but did I mention the joy of the bird song and visiting animals?  They don’t like the air compressor and power stapler.  In the end, both methods take the same amount of time.  Each corner gets 2 nails.

Bee Hive bottom screen base nailing

Nailing the Base

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to lay in the screen.  I find assembling easier if I hold the screen in place with staples.  These are the same staples and stapler that I use to attach tar paper to the sides of sheds (and others use them to attach plastic to houses – I’m not a plastic fan).

ScreenOnBase StaplesToHold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The top “U” and the “door stop” are now put in place.  Each piece of the “U” is 3/4 inch tall.

Bee hive Bottom Screen Production

Adding the top layer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The final addition are two hanger bolts screwed into the front of each base. (I know these bolts as “plant hangers”, but the official name is hanger bolt.)  One goes on each side of the opening and serve to hang the mouse guard that is placed on every hive.

HangerBoltIn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I just have to wait until it stops raining to paint the bottom screens.  Yes, it started raining again, that’s why the hanger bolts got put on inside the work area.

WaitingForPaint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product will have paint and a removeable mouse guard.  Bottom support is concrete blocks (which sometimes need a bit of help to level).

Bee hives resting on concrete blocks at Brookfield Farm, Maple Falls, WA

Bottom Screen & Hives on Concrete Block “Stands”

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, in Maple Falls, Washington.  Next on my list is to go out and prepare the new bee yards where the new splits and their new queens will be going.  Happily, they say it will stop raining here soon.

What’s happening in your bee yards these days?  I hope your weather is better than ours.

 

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About brookfieldfarmhoney

Brookfield Farm, a small off-grid apiary in Maple Falls, WA focuses on the beauty and bounties of Washington’s wilderness. I sell honey from our bees, whose naturally-treated, antibiotic-free hives are home to bees who fly Washington’s mountains and farmlands. Herbal salves and lip balms from Brookfield beeswax. Delicately infused honeys and vinegars. Varietal honeys from independent Washington beekeepers. Karen Edmundson Bean: beekeeper, photographer. Her love of the wilderness inspires her to discover new ways of bringing the wonders of nature to others. Brookfield Farm : the tastes, textures, sounds, and images of nature.
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2 Responses to Making Bottom Screens For Bee Hives

  1. Gary Fawcett says:

    Hi,

    These look great, great work.

    Do you have any issues of not giving the bees a landing board?

    Thanks
    Gary Fawcett

    • Thank Gary, they’re the result of quite a number of “seemed a good idea at the time” attempts. No, my bees don’t seem to mind not having a landing board. When the mouseguard is on, they get a 3/4 inch landing board: the top of the mouse guard. I think landing boards are fine (if I can fit a piece of wood across the front of a hive, balanced on the concrete blocks I use as a base, I do it. But the bees often don’t use it. So I don’t worry when they don’t get one.

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