Winter is a good time to get your hive boxes prepared and as I am planning a bit of an expansion this winter I have a bit of work to do.
The first step is to soak the components in Copper Naphthenate. (This timber preservative is safe for plants, animals, insects, humans etc and can safely be used with bees.)
The timber needs to air for about 4 weeks to allow the Copper Naphthenate to dry before the next step.
I use stainless steel square drive decking screws as they are easy to install and better than the other options I have tried. Traditionally cement covered nails were used but they will rust over time, resulting in box failure.
The method I use is to assemble the boxes using waterproof timber glue (this glue also expands as it sets which eliminates gaps). I then square the box using a box square and strap it using a strap clamp to hold it square. I then screw it using the decking screws and an impact driver which results in a very strong joint.
No gaps to keep the dry rot spores out of the joint.
They then need to be stacked for a couple of days to dry before painting inside and out. I use any light colour of water-based exterior house paint and have bought old tins from reverse garbage as they are cheap. I normally do one coat inside and three or four coats on the outside. With second-hand paint, make sure it’s not had any mould additives put in. If in doubt, don’t use it as it may be toxic.
I also made a heap of bottom boards. As they are a simple shape, I picked up a whole lot of marine ply packing crates from a local motorbike importer and used some timber offcuts for the risers and cleats.