When Building Beehives – If You Save Time, You Save Money

Beehives beg to be built from scarp lumber. With the outside dimensions of 16-1/4 x 19-7/8, even seemingly useless construction scarps can be used.

I have built hives from old pallets. When people hear that, they immediately start posting comments about chemicals in pallet wood. Well I have built about 12 hives from pallets and they are all doing fine. I simply made sure that the pallets were clean and unpainted.

However, if you have ever tried to disassemble a pallet, you know that it is a time sucking, board breaking, pain in the ass! So if it is in the budget, it is much easier to just buy lumber.

In a previous blog, I showed how deep supers can be built from 1×4’s. However even with that, I estimate that the lumber for 63 hives (top, bottom, one super, and ten frames) will cost $851.61.

Why 63? When trying to figure out how to cut the wood with the least amount of waste, 63 was the magic number.

Similarly, I estimate 63 supers with ten wood frames each would cost $592.00. These are of course only estimates and the actual cost so far seems to be around 120% of that number.

My goal for 2019 is to make 100 hives with two deep supers each. I already have enough equipment for 25 hives (17 of those have bees already). That leaves 75 hives. Even conservatively speaking that comes out to $1718.58 worth of lumber. Ouch!

I produced enough honey in 2018 to cover that cost but I’m cheap and I’d rather keep some of that money for other projects.

So when I came across (18) 6’x2’x2’ crates made out of quality yellow pine 1×4’s and ¼” plywood… well the cheapskate in me couldn’t pass it up.

I spent seven hours yesterday, with the help of my nephew Zane, disassembling the crates. Pulling the boards apart was easy but removing the wood staples from the plywood was monotonous to say the least. Over the course of seven hours I removed 2160 staples. I still have six more crates left to do but I already have over 400 board feet of 1×4’s ($250 value) and 32 2’x4’ sheets of plywood ($175 value).

Once I have disassembled the remaining crates, I will have saved nearly $700. That makes my time (and Zane’s) worth $66.67 an hour.

“A penny saved is a penny earned” – Ben Franklin

This year, I plan to make a Vlog series on how to start beekeeping for zero dollars.

One last note on my nephew, Zane. That 13-yo kid produced as much work as any adult could have. I started working 2 hours before he arrived and disassembled 2 crates but once he was there, we were able to do 2 crates an hour – cutting my work in half. He did all of this for free but in the end I gave him $20 as a humble way of saying thanks. I couldn’t be more proud of that kid.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Larry G. says:

    The problem will be if it isn’t an exterior grade plywood.


    1. Bryan Layton says:

      Larry, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. As for the plywood: If it’s used for top lids, it’s painted. If it’s used for bottom boards, it’s out of the weather. Either way, it’s not a problem.


  2. Chris Ferenz says:

    Could there be a tutorial in how to do this assuming you never ever worked with wood working tools and either do this by hand or with a circular saw? So that also assumes you dont have the tools yet or experience to do rabbits dados ect. 😉 thank you for having such a wonderfull blog !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      I plan to start a YouTube Channel at the first of the year and do a series on beekeeping for free… but for now I am up to my ears with other projects. But please stay tuned to my blog and I’ll post updates here.


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