Old dresser drawers made from high quality wood (not particle board) can be re-purposed to make great beehives. The costs are minimal and you can get creative in the process. I found my bee hive to be at Good Will.
I first removed the back panel of the bee hive and had it sawed into two parts. The top segment, 3″ tall, can be removed to reveal a screen for ventilation during the summer. Below is dresser with back panel removed.
I then removed the bottom boards of the dresser and replaced them with screens from old windows. The screens were adjustable and worked brilliantly. The screens will allow ventilation and prevent disease In the winter I will seal these partially with recycled linoleum strips or boards.
I then removed the bottom of drawers, partitions between drawers, and the top of the dresser. I reinforced the overall frame of the dresser where it was needed. Below you can see how drawers have been converted into “hive elements.”
Finally, I attached lathe boards to the inside of drawers to support frames. I installed hinges on the top board so that it could be lifted for hive inspection. I suspect drawers may become hard to pull out forward with time (propolis); so the fact that you can remove back, top, and drawers ensures accessibility. Below you can see the mostly completed hive. There are four ‘hive elements’ holding ten, twenty-three inch top-bar frames (only two frames shown). The hive entrances will be drilled on the sides. I will construct awnings and landing pads above and below the entrances. The bottom drawers are left empty so that I can install traps for hive beetles, mites, or other pests in the future if needed. Leaving the bottom open also seems more natural since bees in the wild often live in the upper parts of hollow trees and leave lower portions of tree open.
I’ll finish the hive by installing a tin or copper roof and sealing with exterior paint. I’ll post updates later on. With a little luck and come hither pheromones this hive will be filled by the end of May or June. It nothing swarms naturally I’ll divide one of my Russian hygienic hives.
Swarms are sometimes available (May and June) so if you build your own hive and are looking, let me know.