Hive Bottom Blueprint: Save Money Ripping 2×4’s Down To Size

2×4’s cost less than $3.00, while 1×4’s cost closer to $4.50 – 50% of the wood at 150% the cost. So here is how I used 2×4’s on my hive lids and bottoms:

Now I know this will fall into the “No Shit” category but a 2×4 is actually 1 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ and a 1×4 is actually 3/4″ by 3 1/2″. We now return to the blog that is already in progress.

So for starters I have ton of 3/8″ plywood that I salvaged from the crates I wrote about in “When Building Beehives – If you Save Time You Save Money“. I also salvaged a lot of yellow pine 1×4’s from those crates – enough to build 50 to 100 supers using my 1×4 hive super blueprint.

The last thing I wanted to do was waste good wood (giggle).

Instead, I purchased 29 2×4’s and with them, and some of the 3/8″ plywood, I was able to build 33 bottoms and 30 tops and I still have 12 2×4’s left for future projects.

Lets begin with the tops since they are the easiest part to build. My go-to blueprint for building all hives is the 10 frame Langstroth Beehive blueprint from On that plan it shows the top being 2 1/4″ thick with the frame surrounding the 3/4″ plywood. I think this is a bad design as it makes a crease for water to pool.

Instead, I put the plywood on top of the frame so the water will just run off. I also use a 2×4 ripped to 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ – which makes my lid 1 7/8″ thick once the 3/8″ plywood is added. To do that I simply rip 3/4″ slices off of a 2×4.

Both of these ways give an 1 1/2″ overlap when the lid is in place.

Now for the bottoms:

The bottoms took a lot of intricate cuts. To be honest, probably too intricate. I used this blueprint for starters.

Now I considered cutting the corners on 45 degree angles which would have saved a ton of cuts but I think that would have made a very weak corner joint.

First things first: I cut all the 2×4’s into lengths of 22″ for the sides and 14 3/4″ for the backs using my miter saw.

When I had enough boards, I set the table saw by using a 2×4 on edge and then ripped all the boards down to 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ strips.

Then I set the saw to cut 3/4″ deep and 3/4″ wide – making sure to include the width of the blade in my width cut.

Then I cut a 3/4″ by 3/4″ notch from each board. That completed the two side rails but the back rail needed more cuts.

On my first attempt, I ended up cutting the notch on the wrong edge and had to toss out six miss cuts. Not a big deal since I got all of them out of one 2×4 – so I only wasted $3.

In retrospect, I don’t know how I did this – In fact, the more I think about it the more I think I may have thrown away a bunch of left socks. Awe F%^&!

Anyway, I used the 3/4″ x 3/4″ scrap sections as supports across the bottom. This will help strengthen the 3/8″ plywood and keep it from bowing. Since this is most important at the entrance, I made a 19 7/8″ stick and used it to set the support at the entrance. The second support I just eyeballed in the middle.

I used wood glue and 1 1/4 staples to secure everything.

I bought a new paint sprayer from Harbor Freight about two weeks ago. Now my plan was to finish up all 30 of my new hives and paint them this past Sunday so I could make my first splits Wednesday. However, after spending 7 hours on Saturday and 7 hours on Sunday bent over my table saw, my back was toast and I didn’t have it in me to paint.

I have to say, it was very demoralizing to realize just how out of shape I am. I dealt with this disappointment by curling up on the couch and comforting myself with St. Patty’s Day Oreos. In hindsight there may be a slight flaw in this coping method.

Just the same, I have been forced to change plans. Rather than splitting my hives using a Walkaway split, I have decided to raise my queens first using the Miller Method.

In a couple of weeks the queen cells will be ready to hatch and I will make my splits then. This should actually make the hives grow faster since they will be queenless a much shorter period of time.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bryan Layton says:

    I didn’t want to update the blog, so I thought I would just leave a comment: Over at 5 Acres Living on Facebook, a douche was trolling me over the cost versus time of building these rather than buying them prefabricated. I spent $57 on 2×4’s and 14 hours on the assembly of 30 tops 33 bottoms. Total time per piece averaged 14 minutes and out of pocket expense was $0.90 each. Had I had to buy the plywood, the cost would still only be $2.50 each vs the average cost online between $16 and $26.


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