Commercial Bee Hive Building

Discussion in 'Building plans, blueprints, and finished projects' started by ApisBees, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Please save comments, questions and posts until I have finished the posts Thanks
    As promised when I first joined the forum to share pictures of making hives commercially.
    100.jpg

    [FONT=&quot]Company sign and logo[/FONT]

    The Company

    Friends of mine, 3 brothers and a father got a line on some equipment to build bee equipment and started a company together in 1985. The equipment was used and had gone thru a messy custody battle. The equipment was hidden, taken apart, cut apart with cutting torches to get hidden in a shed with small access door, stolen back and stolen again, with parts sold off along the way. After finding and getting most of the pieces back together I was rewarded with putting humpty dumpy back together. I redesigned some machines and built some new ones to speed the manufacturing process. They shut the business down in 1991 due to poor sales in Canada for beehive wood products. The borders were closed to package bees and queens from the us mainland, honey prices were at an all time low, with a world wide surplus of honey, and the importation of honey from Venezuela and China. There was so much used equipment out there that you could buy a super full of drawn frames for $1.00 A box. They were bought just so the wax could be render out of them.
     
  2. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]The Wood[/h] The equipment was designed to use the 2 ft trim end cut off of boards during the grading process. Logs are cut to length and sawn, once they have been kiln dried and planed they are cut to length and if there is a large knot, wane, rot, woodpecker hole, crack in the wood, warped and the imperfection would effect the grade of the wood that 2 foot section would be cut out. If either piece that was left over was under 8 ft long they would cut it into 2 ft lengths and send it to the chipper. The boards are cut the now standard size of ¾†thick by 9 1/2†wide, in the case of a 1X10. When Landstroth first built the removable frame hive the standard for lumber was 7/8†thick and 9 5/8†wide. These sizes were decreased over the years resulting in having to buy 1X12 and ripping them down to 9 5/8†wide so to preserve the bee space between top and bottom bars in stacked supers. We talked the mills into stacking them on pallets and we would buy them. So we would receive pallets of 1X12, 1X10, 1X8, 1X6, and 2X6. The pallets were 4’ wide 8’ long and 4’ high including pallet. 960 pcs 2x6 &1x12, 1200 pcs 1x10, 1440 pcs 2x8, and 1920 1x6. All this lumber if used to make supers had to be restacked with slats and put in an air tunnel for a week to make sure they were dry and dimensionally stable so the finger joints would fit together by the time they arrived to the customer. White pine, the sapwood moisture content is listed as 175% while the heartwood moisture content is 50% while the tree was still standing. The lumber would have moisture content when delivered to us of 12% average and we would need to get it down to 8-9%. In the wood you have moisture in the cells that make the wood fibers and moisture that surrounds the cells the surrounding moisture leaves the wood quickly during kilning, the moisture in the cells takes longer to be released and shrinkage of the cells causes the board to shrink after it has been planed to size.
     

  3. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Supers[/h] [h=1]Super Width[/h] Lumber was considered first used for making supers of the piece was not suitable it would be used for frames, hive tops or bottoms. 4’ square pallets of wood would be rolled up beside the lead table saw and one edge would be cut square, straight, knots or wane cut off the side. A second ripsaw behind was user to rip the super to width this saw was preset so the supers would all be the same size. The pieces were stacker for the next step.
     
  4. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Side and End Length[/h] Here we used a 2 sliding tables with 3 blades the board would be placed on the end piece or sidepiece table. Keeping in mind avoiding knots in the hand hole, finger joint, of end topside rabbet areas. The boards were stacked so tops were facing in one direction and in groups of 9.

    101.jpg
     
  5. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Finger Joint[/h] This beast had 6-1†cutters the first 3/8†smaller radius than the other 5. It was powered by a 10 hp motor and made more noise and sawdust than any other machine. 9 boards were stacked in the carriage on their end and an air ram was used to secure the pieces while the carriage was advanced over the blades and back. The boards were flipped and the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] end was cut. We had 1†spacer blocks that bolted on the side of the carriage when running super sides to offset the finger joints.
    102.jpg 103.jpg
     
  6. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Hand Holes

    The hand hole machine used a flip up spring loaded table, with a cutter head blade designed to cut with the side of the blade. Boards were placed on the table top, edge of the super side facing down, the table was rotated up allowing the blade to enter the wood at where the bottom of the hand hole starts and cut until the table was horizontal It had a flip down end stop to adjust to keep the hand hole in the center of the super when doing the shorter ends. The blade was 10†in diameter and the blade body was 3/8 thick and the 6 teeth ½†wide all the kerf was on the lead edge of the blade. It was powered by a 5 hp motor and it could cut a hand hole and be cutting the next in 1 second time.
    104.jpg 105.jpg [FONT=&quot]Hand hole and multi head drill[/FONT]
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Multi Bit Drill[/h] We sold to retail bee supply business as well as direct to customers. For ease of assembly and to reduce the chances of the super cracking when assembling and nailing them together I built a 5 bit drilling head for the drill press for predrilling nail holes in the fingers on the ends of the super ends and sides.
     
  8. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Super Rabbet

    [FONT=&amp]The rabbet cut across the top of the supper ends were done with a 6†dado, Ran on a shaper. This was done so the top edge of the super end was always 3/8†thick, regardless of the thickness of the board. The rabbets were cut 3/4†deep so frame rests we not needed. We would cut 7/8†if special request from the customer so they could install frame rests
    .[/FONT] 106.jpg [FONT=&quot]Shaper and dust collector bin[/FONT]
     
  9. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Dust Collector[/h] Built this box with a trap door in the bottom so the forklift could be used so the sawdust and wood shavings could be dumped out the bottom into a 30 yard waist bin It serviced the table saw. rip saw. super gut off saw, finger joint, hand hole, and the super end top rabbet. If we were running with 5 guys on this line the bin needed to be emptied 4 times a day. The planer would also be plugged into this dust collect for planning down 2X6 for end bars.
     
  10. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Frames[/h] [h=1]Gang Ripsaw[/h] The most used machine in the making of frames is the gang ripsaw. Although not that exciting of a machine it could take a pallet of lumber with hundreds of boards and turn it into thousands of pieces very quickly. The gang rip saw had 5 blades and by changing spacers and saw plate could be adjusted to 3/8†or 1 1/16†a 10†or 12†board was ripped in 2 passes, a 6†in board in one pass set at 1 1/16†and 4 and 2 passes if set for 3/8†width. This baby had 7 ½ hp motor driving the blades and a gear motor running the power feed. When feeding this beast wood, you had to make sure the next piece of wood was right behind it and if not. not to stand directly behind it or you would be receiving welts from any pieces kicked back out.
    107.jpg 108.jpg
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Top Bars Boards that weren’t suitable to make supers and the 1X10 and 1X6 was used to make top bars this machines used a feed chain that would pull the bottom board off the stack. It had 2 blades set at top bar length and the next set of cutters that would dado the ends of the top bar so they would set in the end bars. Next the board would be fed thru the gang ripsaw. The strips ¾†thick 1 1/16†wide 19 1/8†long with a 3/8 X 1 1/8†on each end coming out of the gang rip, would then be places in and ran thru the chain fed slotting machine.
    109.jpg [FONT=&amp]Top or bottom bar cut boards to length and end dados

    [/FONT] 110.jpg Slot cutter for grooved top and bottom bars We had separate machines for doing top and bottom bars. [FONT=&amp]The wax-melting tank can be seen on the left side of this machine on a wooden stand.[/FONT]
     
  12. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Bottom Bars Same process as top bars except after cutting to length 2 blades with spacers in between the blades cut the shoulder notches 3/8†deep on each end of the bottom bar. The boards are gang ripped, placed in and ran thru the slotter.
     
  13. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    End Bars
    The end bars were cut from 2X6 planed down to 1 3/8 inches thick. The blocks were cut to length, and the blocks ran thru the gang rip twice, to end up with 11 end bar blanks 3/8†thick, 1 3/8†wide, and 9 1/8†long, for a standard Langstroth frame. [h=1]End Bar Machine[/h] The end bar machine has 6 motors, one to move the feed cartage, another for the drills, 2 for the dados on each end of the bar. and another 2 to turn the jointer blades. The blanks are stacked in the end bar machine flat. There was a moving head that fed the blanks so they ended up in an on their edge vertical position. At the same time and on the moving head 4 drills, drilled holes in the blank that was resting on the bottom blank that was being pushed into the machine. When the moving head retreated the drilled blank dropped down to the bottom, and the flat blanks dropped down so the next blank was in position to be fed to vertical for drilling. The drilled blanks were pushed one behind the other supported on the bottom and held down with a spring loaded steel plate. As the blanks moved along there were 2 dado cutters, 1 1/16†on the top end of the blank, and 5/8†on the bottom end of the blank. Both were set to 3/8†deep. As the blanks came thru the dados, the dadod ends fed on to steel bars 1 1/16†on the top end, and 5/8†on the bottom end.
    These bars supported the blanks as they were advanced between 2 jointer heads with the blade ends rounded. and positioned to remove 2/3 of the length off of the bottom portion of the frame to a depth of 3/16â€. The finished end bar came out of the machine at a rate of 2 per second or enough end bars for 60 frames per minute. [FONT=&quot]Having the blocks planed, precut, and stacked on carts. One guy would feed the blocks thru the gang rip. The next guy would take the pieces and load them into the end bar machine. And it took 2 people to sort, grade, stack, bundle, and band the end bars.
    [/FONT] 111.jpg 112.jpg
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  14. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Tong and Grove Machine[/h] This machine I built to speed the fabrication of bottom boards and hive covers. One motor drove 2 cutters, one for cutting the grove on one side, and the other for cutting the tong on the other side of the center fence. With Two guys working one on each side the blanks were achieved quickly. The boards were ripped to random widths what ever was needed to have 4 good edges. The pieces were cut to length and then ran thru to have tongs and groves for gluing together. The tong and grove pieces were pieced together to the approximate width needed. The pieces glued together and the blanks were then ripped to the needed width. 113.jpg
    We built a lot of our covers and bottom boards as migratory, so when assembling these the tong and grove pieces were glued and clamped, the cleats where nailed on the cover, flush with one edge. Or the bottom board was nailed on to the cleats. The clamps could be released cause the nails would hold the pieces together until the glue dried. The bottoms or tops would then be ripped at the desired size.
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    1. Apis, I don't know how you managed to upload 8 such detailed posts and pictures in the span of 8 minutes--that's quite a feat.
    2. It's been 8 minutes since you finished uploading so I'm going to assume that you completed the task, and I'm allowing myself to respond.
    3....and more important: You had an impressive operation running there. It sounds and looks like you were manufacturing first class, top of the line equipment.
    4....and most important: When you stopped producing, beekeepers lost a great asset. Sorry the business closed.
     
  16. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    [h=1]Wax tank[/h] I also made a double jacket wax tank for heating paraffin wax to seal in hive, and hive top feeders, out of an aluminum beer keg. Cut the keg just below the 5†center band and put the big half in to the smaller half and welded the two halves back together. Taped a hole for the heat element, strapped on a temp control, and taped a filing hole with built in funnel for adding water.
    The tank is in the second picture of post 11 left side of the machine on wooden stand with wood stacked on top.
     
  17. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Almost got it all in be for efmesch post.
    Its called cut and paste.
    My friends bought the equipment knowing the condition it was in and that it had to be assembled and welded back together because the knew me and that I could put the puzzle back together. I did run the shop and looked after production for them for a couple of years But I liked being self employed better.
    At the end of the day the product is only as good as the quality of the wood used. We had to reject because the grain in the wood could be week or a knot could loosen over time.
    We all enjoyed playing with the bees more than breathing in pine dust.
     
  18. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    What a great experience Apis:thumbsup: Wish I had you for a neighbour.:grin:
     
  19. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Wow, wow, wow!
    I should never have left Vernon.
    What ever became of all that equipment Keith?
    Oh, and by the way...:goodpost::coolphotos:
     
  20. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    Great post Apis!! Thanks for all of the pics. Looks like you had your hands full putting it all back together and getting it up and running.

    Like Perry, what ever happened to all of the tooling?