Splitting supers and warping lids

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by omnimirage, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    When I first started beekeeping, I needed supers, but was averse to the high price at the local beekeeping supply yards. I managed to find some moderately cheap wood, and built 30 supers.

    It's been about eighteen months later, and a good proportion of supers are splitting apart, as show here:

    http://imgur.com/a/cO6av

    This is my first beehive. Every super needs to be replaced, including the lid. I'm concerned about the holes as there's a lot of heavy winter rain currently. I've established a practice of using duct tape to seal the hives, but it's not particularly effective. Another hive's super was so damaged at the bottom, that it fell apart when I tried to replace it. It seems after about a year, the lowest supers start to split. It seems that they're unable to sustain the weight of a multi-story hive. A local said that this sort of damage might be caused by these slight elevations the hives are on; causes an excessive amount of pressure on one side, but I'm unsure. Is it important to place beehives on flat elevations? Another particular concerned is that almost every lid I own is quite warped for some reason, and has gaps exposed because of so.

    I've learned that the "woodsman's glue" from the local hardware store was not effective in holding together the wood for a sustained period of time. It was all shriveled up and not sticky. I used an excessive, sloppy amateur amount of glue for the most part as well. The nails that I used weren't long enough either. I've been advised to use screws instead, which I'm in the process of installing screws on all my supers, including the ones with bees in them. Screws are much more expensive than nails, though.

    It's almost mid winter here, and I still haven't found a cheap source of wood; I'm left wondering what's the best way to proceed. I've been advised to build hives out of more or less freely available chip-board, simply "slap on a thick coat of paint". I feel as if this will create future, bothersome scenarios in the future, but may be suitable for the lid and/or top super(shallow supers?). I fortunately have acquired all the screws I need. I'm not going to buy that woodsman's glue again; not sure if I should look into another. I do wonder if that glue simply isn't meant to be so exposed to the elements.

    Has anyone else had their supers split, and lids warp like this?
     
  2. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    When I was building my own boxes I had similar issues. I now order fingered joint boxes. they last very well and don't pull apart. I don't worry about warped covers. bees come and go through them and a good hive will guard the warps quite well.
     

  3. beebuzzed

    beebuzzed Member

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    I built all of my hives as well, but the key is definitely finger joints. If you have a table saw you can purchase a Dado blade kit for adjustable widths to do the joints, and I use gorilla wood glue where all my joints met. They have held up great. The Dado blade set I purchased was around $100 and can go up from there. It is a good purchase if you plan to do many and is a good tool for other wood working projects. I guess it depends on how much your time is worth, because it takes some time for the joints. I have decided it wasn't worth me doing the deeps myself anymore because it seems hard to find a good and straight 12" board the rip down and it is more joints the I like to do.
     
  4. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    I am a sideliner, currently only running 25 colonies, adding 5 each year. At $12-13 list, (20% less on sale or buying in bulk), I find no cost saving building my own boxes and supers. I typically wait for the end of November sales. My carpentry skills are marginal, my time is valuable, my temper short, and good lumber both scarce and expensive. I buy economy grade boxes from Mann Lake-- or sometimes Kelly-- usually the last of November when they go on sale. I reinforce the finger joints with commercial grade wood glue or construction cement, and use surplus or oops paint. I am only 6 years in, but everything fits interchangeably, and my boxes and supers have never been a problem. I did buy some old homemade boxes in year two and found they were way more trouble than they were worth.

    I realize you are in Australia and that changes everything. Our equipment in the US generally ships free.

    Where I do a save a lot of money is building my own bottom boards, inner covers, and tops. These are all from scrap lumber. With my skills, they may look like crap, but tolerances for these parts are not critical, and the bees don't mind.

    I would replace your boxes and keep the bottom board and covers.

    I know many fine beeks that enjoy woodworking, believe everything should be from their own hand, and disagree with everything I just said
     
  5. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    I'm with ib. Order when on sale...
     
  6. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    I used rabbet joints; are they as effective as finger joints? Finger joints sure look a lot more cumbersome, but probably stronger?

    Everything ships for free in the US? The freight here is ridiculous for sending hives; it costs more than the hives themselves!

    I've actually built these hives so that the bottom board is attached to the bottom super, for better or worse.
     
  7. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    My experience is finger joints are much stronger over the long haul.
     
  8. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

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    Well, with that all that new information, and looking again at your photo: Plan B:

    Re-glue what you have with a construction cement grade adhesive. You can use some angle braces on the outside if needed... the bees won't care. True up the top and bottom edges of the boxes with a belt sander; be careful to preserve beespace. Then, go and sin no more.

    For future equipment: Check out http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeeping-supplies/category/page168.html and contact them about shipping to your location. I know they export... it may be prohibitive, but at least you will have a benchmark. The may use a bulk forwarder which would bring costs down considerably. We are spoiled in the US; wooden ware is very competitive and Mann Lakes, Kelly, Pigeon Mountain all have free shipping.
     
  9. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I had 4 nucs built in 2011, and have ordered in finger jointed boxes since. I try to order when I have a friend driving near that vendor so I can have the order picked up - there is a dadant about 100 miles away, by dodging the freight it actually costs less than building them myself. I make my own migratory covers, and occasionally make bottom boards
     
  10. kg7il

    kg7il New Member

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    The finger joint provides the running grain surface for glue to properly work, and it allows for the fasteners to cross at right angles.

    Glue doe not work well on end grain. Never has, and save for Gorilla Glue and the like, probably won't. The 'cheeks' of finger joints provide a running grain to running grain so important for adhesion. You do not get this from a rabbit or butt joint.

    Nailing at right angles through the fingers of the finger or box joint provides excellent resistance to pulling a fastener. If you try to pull it apart, the shear strength of the adjacent nails prevent movement.

    Although I will build my own soon... (I'm retired and never get a day off) when I find time, I made sure that my boxes were the finger/box joint type.

    Structurally, this is not needed on the bottom boards (unless they are an open screen type) or the tops, since they gain much of their strength through the large panel and the primarily shear force.
     
  11. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with KG, had 4 nucs built from wood from Lowes in fall 2011. yeah, my fingerjoint stuff stays square. butt joints don't stay square, haven't fallen apart, but don't stay square unless attached to a square bottom board
     
  12. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    Very interesting! Finger joints seem rather difficult to make myself, I'm not sure if it's worth looking into making something so advanced when my skill set is low (I can get some help though). If I end up building rabbit joints, should I attach the bottom board to it, or build them detachable? I've had some bad experiences with detachable boards coming loose at the bottom as of late.
     
  13. kg7il

    kg7il New Member

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    I would not attach the bottom board. I would continue to make the components modular.

    What I would do is make the rabbet stronger.

    The following comes from my woodworking experience, not from hive bodies.

    • The key to a rabbet joint is to size properly so you can still cross nail.
    • If you use a gorilla type glue, be sure to properly wet the end grains in the joint.

    Here is a simple diagram I made that shows the cross nailing,
    Cross Nailing Provides the Strength.

    Rabbet Joint - Double Nailing for Strength.jpg
     
  14. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    That makes a lot of sense; the diagram made it very clear! I only nailed it in one way. Thanks a lot! :)
     
  15. kg7il

    kg7il New Member

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    (I'm also following the posts from the 'other' forum as well)..
    I've been a woodworker for over 50 years and love the hobby. I even made my welding cart out of wood! I notice that on the 'other' forum, they have moved toward the grain of the wood. I'll contend that in the context of a rabbet joint that it won't matter much. It will either attempt to pull from the center of the joint.. OR pull from the ends. neither is good.

    I was looking at your pictures again and thought... huh... I could pull one body at a time, by moving the frames into the replacement box, clean the joint of paint, glue and crud with a hacksaw blade, screwdriver, knife or other tool. glue, clamp and CROSS NAIL. You could probably pull all of them into shape using a framing square and bar clamps and fix them one at a time, all in a day.
     
  16. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    Seems like I can easily do such! I've placed screws in my replacement boxes; should I perhaps cross nail those as well? I've been meaning to replace all my hives with new stuff, but it's raining here quite consistently, and is a little cold; I'm concerned about doing more harm than good. Everytime it rains though, I feel guilt and anxiety, knowing my bees might be exposed to rain. Disappointed with not replacing the hives before winter came. Only five or so more weeks now, though. I think we're coming out of the worst of winter shortly.
     
  17. kg7il

    kg7il New Member

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    Well, too many fasteners tend to move the wood toward splitting...
    If I had inexpensive screws with a torx or square drive and and easy way to pilot and countersink, I would probably be an advocate of screw and glue.... but I think that is too much work.
     
  18. omnimirage

    omnimirage New Member

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    I do many screws someone gave to me. I've already screwed in all my replacement hives; I simply predrilled, and then screwed some in. I did do some damage to some of them doing this. Should have I used this pilot and countersink? I'm still not entirely sure what these are.
     
  19. kg7il

    kg7il New Member

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    I think you will be fine. A properly sized pilot/csk tool reduces the chances of splitting.
     

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  20. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like a good plan kg