Article by Corwin Bell

Cathedral Hive Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

The Cathedral Hive Made Easy

Practical building tips for constructing the New Cathedral Hive from our hive plans.

To ensure that hive builders have a good experience and a successful outcome, we have created an image based description of the Assembly of The Cathedral Hive.

In this article and image gallery we show the "assembly" process in the wood shop. Demonstrating the steps we use when putting together the hive and the rigs we use to hold the parts together during assembly. We will be adding more photos and descriptions of other steps, so check back for updates.

 

Individual Parts for Assembling The Cathedral Hive

Cathedral Hive parts of the Bill of Materials
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 

Please note:The photo shows only a single window, which is how we construct all are pre-built Cathedral Hives.

At First glance, The Cathedral Hive Plans seem to be describing a bunch of complicated pieces to make, but as you can see here,
there are actually just a few and most of the parts are duplicates of each other. It is easier to think of the hive construction,
as a process of creating the individual parts and then assembling those parts in an orderly way.

In this article and image gallery we show the parts that need to be created, with added comments and photo details.



Cathedral Hive parts of the Bill of Materials
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 

At the top of the photo you can see we have all six boards for the hexagonal shaped hive:
Top and Bottom, Top sides and bottom Sides, all cut at 9 1/4" x 36" with the exact same angle.

"SET SAW BLADE 30 DEGREES from VERTICAL for CUTTING ANGLES for ALL UPPER & LOWER SIDE PANELS".


Cathedral Assembling Building Side Boards OUTSIDE measurement 9 1/4"


(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
See ! All sides, top and Bottom are the same. Well, Almost !... look closely at the two boards on the bottom of the stack here.
These two boards have 2 of the spline joint groves. These boards will be the Top and the Bottom of the hive body respectively.

You can also see that because it can be difficult to get a nice 10" wide board, we glued together 2 boards to get our width.


Cathedral Hive parts Window Detail
The only board that is created differently is the window side. The window is either cut out of one board or created with 4 smaller
boards which make up a window opening. Other then that, the window board is exactly the same as all the other boards.




Cathedral Hive parts Spline
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Don't let the angle of this photo confuse you, I just propped up this "Upper Section Hive Top" to show its orientation with the two spline groves.
We will now attach the "Top Sides" to this "Hive Top" using the spline joints.
Also refer to the Spine Joints on our Cathedral hive Construction Tips page



Cathedral Hive parts Spline
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Spline: Here we have the Top Hive piece with the Splines glued in place. We are ready to attach the Top Sides.












Cathedral Hive parts Window Detail
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Let's look again at that windowed side. We use silicone glue. Be sure that the silicone has several weeks to off gas before the bees come home
Check the hive plans to see how the routing for the glass allows for expansion and contraction of the wood. If this is to tight it will crack the glass.
"Well I just use plastic plexiglass, you might think" I've seen it done ! Not so good.
The plexiglass will scratch easily and every time you clear the brace comb you window will get scratched and because of the temperature
differences seems to bow and pop off.

Cathedral Hive parts Window Detail
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
The Window Cover detail.

Cathedral Hive parts End Panel with pencil
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
End Panel - Draw a line where the Side Panels of the hive will meet this End Panel. Inside this line pre-drill your screw holes.

If you are accurate in this step and get the screws right in the middle of the side panels the hive will be sturdy and strong.

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of Screws inset from edge. Screw them into the Side Panel of the hive, not the brace support. This photo is not really showing

off the screw placement that well.



Cathedral Hive parts End Panel
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Inside this line you will spread some glue. Then when you clamp the end to the hive sides you will use the pencil line to position the end panel
Perfectly. It is so much easier to glue and clamp the end pieces to the hive body and let the glue dry before screwing. Trying to get
the screws in place while the glue is drying can be frustrating, because the alignment keeps slipping.

Cathedral Hive parts Etched End Panel
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Front Panel Etched with Landing Board piece drilled on. Don't get confused with the braces in this picture. the braces are in the right place, yes,
but they are attached to the hive body not the end panels. We did this to set up the panel for etching.

Cathedral Hive parts Entrance Detail
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Side View: Front Panel Etched with Landing Board piece ready to be drilled in place. Again ignore the braces.

Cathedral Hive parts Edges
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Brace Supports! Showing the two sizes. The shorter size goes on the top and bottom of the hive and the longer ones will go on the hive sides.

Cathedral Hive parts Edges
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Brace Supports! Showing the angle for the hive side braces. Note the angle is the same for each end. Now lets look at the way they come
together with he shorter top and bottom braces.

Cathedral Hive parts Edges
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Ah ha! see braces demystified. Brace Supports laid out as they will be placed on the Upper and Lover Sections once they are assembled.
Lets call this a "set" to keep things clear.

See the shorter brace has two opposite angles to fit the side braces.

For the "Top section" of the hive, you will attach three of these "sets", they will be located:

1. right behind the front end panel
2. another "set" will be glued and attached just in front of the"back end panel"
3. you guessed it! A "set" will be attached to the top section of the hive in the middle.

For the "Bottom Section of the hive" same locations, but flip over the "sets" and of course you done want to put a brace in the middle side
panel because you would end up covering over your windows or window. It is good to have a brace on the Bottom of the hive, right?


Cathedral Hive parts Edges
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell)
 
Brace Supports laid out as they will be placed on the lower Section of the hive. Try to ignore the obvious use in the photo of top front panel.
just imagine that it is the Bottom End Panel.

See! Pretty simple if you see the hive parts laid out. Just think of this. You make 6 identical sides with a couple of
slightly different modifications. Then 4 of the exactly same end panels, 2 big and easy to cut roof panels, a hand full of braces that are only two different sizes,
Window cover, landing board extension that a child could make :) and you just put it together and soon your new Cathedral Hive will be
buzzing with bees!

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Construction Step by Step
The Cathedral Hive Made Easy


CONSTRUCTION STEP BY STEP


Assembling the parts of The Cathedral Hive


Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_1
(Photo credit: Paul M.) ( All Arms belong to Dave S)


We are not using mustard here! :-)
The bottom of the Hive Body has the two spline strips glued in place.
Dave is spreading glue on one side of the bottom board to add another spline joint.
It is best to let the glue dry on these splines before attaching the bottom sides.

Now watch, Dave will lay down the bottom of the hive and position the windowed side into place.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_2
(Photo credit: Paul M.) ( Dave is going so fast that we are getting motion blur on his hand)
Start gently inserting the spline joint into the side panel at one end, working your way along to the opposite end of the joint.
To keep the hive bottom from slipping along the table while you are working, clamp or brace it as Dave has done.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_3
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Now that the windowed side is secure to the hive bottom, Dave flips it around and is now inserting the spline assembly on the other hive side.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_4
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Now we see the 'top secret' clamping rig. This requires a little forethought to set up, but makes the clamping accurate and easy.
Notice the straps located in holes that will be used to press the hive assembly into the rigs brackets.
With the proper measurement on the bracket spacing, this rig will also ensure that your hive will keep a perfect Hexagon shape.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_5
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
These fancy  'pressure strips' are not part of the hive, mind you, they are used to create a uniform pressure on the joint when the straps are applied.
The use of the 'pressure strips' are a good idea but not absolutely necessary.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_6
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
These Pressure strips also protect the wood from the marring effect of the straps.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_7
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Tension is applied to the straps. Bomber!

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_7b
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
How smart is this ?  Dave measures and marks a line where the outside edge of the hive panel will meet the hive end panel,
so that he knows where to apply the glue and will be successful at centering the hive end panel.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_7c
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Glue is applied "inside" the line, while leaving room for the fabled support braces (to come later).

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_7d
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Apply longitudinal "Bar Clamps". These clamps Dave is using are industrial strength. You could get by with the wimpy-er kind,
but they still will run you approx. 50.00 each. So borrowing four of these is the best option or trade for a future jar of honey.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_7e
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Bar Clamp number 3 in place, Yay!



Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_8
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
...and last but not the least !  Now you could glue and screw the ends, but it is so much sturdier and easier to align the end panels
when you clamp them first.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_9
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Now Dave repeats the previous steps for the Top Upper Section of the hive body.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_10
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Here a little plane is used to thin out the spline strip that is holding up the show.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_11
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
There, all better now ! Lets get the second side on this top. It is not necessary that the spline strip go absolutely the entire length of the board.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_12
(Photo credit: Paul M.) (strange glowing screws)
Again, you want to get a measurement and a make a pencil line so that you drill the screw holes perfectly in the center of the hive Side Panels.
Now for the quiz: Why do we go through the trouble of insetting the sides of the hive sides? Why not screw them to the edges of the front and back panels?

Answer: If we did not inset the hive walls, the screws would crack out the wood on the front and back panels,
because the screws would be too close to the edges of the wood. I know you knew that!

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of Screws inset from edge. Screw The hive face into the Side Panels of the hive, not the brace support. Now you might be
how did they get that slot for the entrance cut out. We actually take the whole bottom half of the hive and put it on end, front of hive
facing down on the table saw. Then the hive face is ran twice through the table saw and the entrance is done. Just add the Landing
Board extension piece. WoW! that sounds like a pain in the butt, right! Well,
Joe, one of the builders of the hive in Canada came up with
a simpler modification. He just cut the lower hive panel off at 6 1/2" and added a longer landing board @ 2 1/2". thanks Joe !

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_13
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Now, to cut out the vents, you could use a fancy "Plunge Router" like Dave, and get this cool effect or you could get down to earth and drill a hole and use the trusty jig saw. With a little sanding it will still look very pro. Do counter sink the screws or points WILL be taken off.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps 14
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
This hard-to-get photo is of the fabled "Brace Supports"! These supports have caused a lot of confusion, but just look at them, what a sturdy
joint they are making. On the hive plans these "supports" go by the confusing names:

Front and back panel supports
Front and back panel supports Top and Bottom
Roof side supports

To demystify the "supports" look at the pictures. There are only two sizes, (10 are 10 3/8")  (6 are 9 1/4") for a total of 16.
Each "support brace Set" is made up of 3 parts: a middle part
9 1/4" and two arms at 10 3/8".
The top of the hive has 3 "sets" of brace supports a total of 9 pieces.

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
The Lower Section of the hive is supported exactly as the top, but only uses 2 "sets" of brace supports, front and back, with one support brace
in the middle or center of the hive. See how simple this is ?


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

Brace Supports on the Upper Section of the hive.

The Brace Supports firm up the hive ends, especially the bottom section of the hive.

Think about this!  Each honey comb weighs 8 to 10 pounds, with a full hive of say 15 capped honey bars, that is a lot of weight! 150 pounds, pressing down on the sides of the hive. Without the Brace Supports the hive sides would be only attached and "supported" by the screws and the weigh of all that honey would eventually bow the sides out.

This is why the spec for wood thickness is 7/8" and why we have Brace Supports. If you didn't catch this thicker wood concept until now,
we have put up in the 'Building Tips & FAQ section' some ideas of how to re-enforce the sides of the hive if you are using 3/4" wood.

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_15
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Clamp and screw on Roof Panels

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_16
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
The other side. Notice how the Brace Supports are positioned, helping to keep the roof panels at an equal distance from the hive body
so that we can slide in some insulation board in the winter time.
More on insulating The Cathedral Hive on our
Building Tips & FAQ page

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps_17
(Photo credit: Paul M.) 
Roof Side Panels are on. You will want to paint them, to preserve the integrity of the roof. Be sure to paint long before the bees go into the hive
so the paint can off gas. Use a natural or non-toxic paint or stain.

 

 

Cathedral Hive Contrustruction Steps Bottom
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
The Bottom Section of the hive with the Top bars in place, ready for the Upper Section to be placed over the Top Bars.
This view is of the back of the hive

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Details for the Fully Assembled Cathedral Hive

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 



Front Blank Board


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Close up of the Front of the hive, Bottom Section only with the Blank Board in place at the front of the hive.

You have to ask yourself what is the purpose of the Front Blank Board ? If you did not have this Board, when the top of the Cathedral
is removed, all the bees and the combs would be exposed ! Although it is not in the plans yet, you will want to secure this board
to the front of the hive with a couple of screws. Securing this Blank Board will create a stable wall for the Hex bars to lean against
until comb is drawn out. Once the comb is hanging below the Hex Bars they will be naturally very stable, but in the beginning they
are quite unstable with out the stabilizing Blank Board.


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

Detail of the Blank Board set in place at the front of the hive looking out the entrance. Here this detail shows how the Hex Bar shelf stops
short of the front of the hive and the Blank board slips in between. Also note in the photo in the upper right, where the sun flair is, that
The Hex Bar Shelf must fit tight to the Blank. If there is a gap the bees will have a tiny entrance to crawl out onto the top of the Hex Bars.

Note: In photo we have not secured the Blank to the front of the hive yet. Just try to imagine a couple of screws here.

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of the Front Blank Board set in place at the front of the hive looking out the entrance. Also not that the window cover is nice and tight.

The bees do not like to many light leaks !


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of the extended Landing Board at the entrance of the hive. How is the entrance cut into the front face? We construct the hive
with the full front face screwed into place and glued, then with a hero move, we take the whole bottom half of the hive put it on end and
run it twice through the table saw.  This cuts the entrance slot and then we just add the Landing Board E
xtension.

Brace Support Details

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
A Brace Support at the front of the hive. Be careful when looking at this photo the side of the front of the hive kind of blends into the
brace support.




Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

Brace Supports on the Bottom Section of the hive
. To read this photo correctly, notice how the hive is tipped up and we are seeing the bottom of the hive.


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

Brace Support on the Bottom Section of the hive next to the Front Panel and flush with the end of the Front Panel.


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 

Brace Supports on the Top Upper Section of the hive reinforces the ends of the hive.
The center braces hold the Side Roof Panels away from the Upper Section to allow for air flow.


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Closeup of
Brace Support joint and Vent Hole on Top Upper Section of the hive

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Brace Supports on the Upper Section


Screwing the Front Panel onto the hive sides

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of Screws inset from edge so you can screw them into the Side Panel of the hive, not the brace support.




Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Vent Hole Screen Covering
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Vent Holes on Top Upper Section of the hive with screen stapled in place covering the holes.
This screen keeps wasps from setting up home in the top of the hive.

The Falseback Details

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of False back with two spline joints.

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of False back Splines.If you decide to make a glass false back, you still want to create another Blank to ensure that the light
coming form the back of the hive does not disturb the bees.


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of glass False back Splines

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Detail of False back Splines

Details of the Top Bars

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Top Bars
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
The holes on the Vented Top Bars


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Top Bars
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
The slots on the Vented Top Bars
. The bees will fill in the slots with Propolis where they don't want any air venting out. Typically the bees
will close up the slots over the brood nest and leave the slots open in the back of the hive.



Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Top Bars
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Each Top Bar has one side created with a vent slot. Here the Vented Top Bars are placed correctly with the slot on the right side of the bar,
all facing the same direction.



Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Top Bars
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Here the Vented Top Bars are
placed incorrectly. The slots should not face each other or bees will be able to crawl out of the slot!

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Closeup of Top Bars resting on ledge of Bottom Section of the hive and the Blank Board in front of the top bars at the front of the hive.

Remember that little hole I warned you about? This photo shows the little black hole where the bees WILL want to crawl through.

We don't want this hole, so make sure your top bar shelf is snug against the front Blank. The plans describe a measurement for a
full 3/4 inch blank. This is what happens if a 1/2 inch blank is substituted.

Try to get the Hex Bars even on the shelf just after you install the bees. The bees will start gluing everything together with propolis.
After a week or so the bees will have added propolis, this will make it easy to now close up any gaps using a hive tool.


Window Cover


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Window Cover
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Closeup of the Window Cover routed


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive Window Cover
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Closeup from the inside of the hive looking at the glass window with of the Window Cover in place on the outside of the hive.
There is a good tight fit and no light leaks to disturb the bees inside.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Making the Cathedral Hive Bars: Step by Step

(This article is in progress)

by Corwin Bell & Joe Callus

Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)



There are 2 different methods for machining the Cathedral Hive Bars

1) A band saw
2) Or if you are a skilled woodworker, a table saw.

Joe from Canada was gracious enough to give us the method he used for making the Cathedral Hive top bars on the band saw.

 




Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars

Method 1 - BAND SAW

STARTS WITH A BLANK THAT IS 1 3/8” X 1 3/8” X 8”
the mitered angles
are cut and the holes drilled on squared material, making this process easier.

 

Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars

Method 2 -TABLE SAW - Advanced woodworking
USES 2X6 OR 2X8 NOMINAL BOARD  (NOMINAL IS 1 1/2” THICK)

AFTER CUTTING, the FINAL BAR WILL be a THICKNESS OF 1 1/4"
the mitered angles are harder to clamp and the Holes are harder to drill on an angled bar

 



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars

Detail of drilling and cutting top bars
and cutting top bars from a  2" x 6" nominal board


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars

Detail of cutting the Ledge that the top bars will sit on inside the Lower Section
of the hive


See our video of making the Golden Mean and Original BackYardHive Top Bars


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
1)    Starting with a square top bar blank, 1 3/8 x 1 3/8.


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
2)    Miter top bar blank at 30 degrees



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
3)    Slide to stop and Miter the other end.


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
4)    Nice !


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
5)    Jig for drilling top bar holes. This is a pretty cool jig that ensures the holes are nicely aligned.



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
6)    Jig for drilling top bar holes, side view !


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
7)    Drilling top bar holes: First Hole



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
8)    Drilling top bar holes: Second Hole


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
9)    Drilling top bar holes: Flip part over and drill, Third Hole


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
10)    Drilling top bar holes: Fourth Hole


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
11)    Drilled top bar



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
12)    Jig cutting the spline on slot on the table saw. The table saw is using a 1/4 Dado set so the spline
is easier to work with.

 

is Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
13)    Jig side



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
14)    A space is created to allow the Dado blade to pass through the jig.




Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
15)    The blade space created in the jig


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

16)    



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)


17)   


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

18)   


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
19)    Jig slides along fence, through saw

 


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
20)    Shoulder cut on top bar





Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
21)    Top Bar Angle cut on band saw

 



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
22)    Top Bar Angle cut on band saw

 


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

23)    Top Bar Angle cut on band saw

 


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

24)    flip Top Bar 

 
Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

25)    second Angle cut on band saw

 




Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

26)    Notice the 1/4 shoulder being created

 



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

27)    Cool Clamp



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
Alternative to Spline Joints for top bars: EXPERIMENTAL !

28)   
A Dowel here a drill press is tried but the exact alignment would be difficult to maintain. So it is recommended
that the joint, or two parts are clamped to the work bench and both pieces are hand drilled in one go, then put
in a glued dowel while the bar is still clamped on the bench. Hand drilling both parts at once would make sure
to get the right alignment in the joint.





Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
29)   
Well here a drill press is tried but the exact alignment would be difficult to maintain. So it is recommended
that the joint, or two parts are clamped in good alignment and drilled in one go with a hand drill, then glued.

It looks to me the like you might be able to glue the bar segments in the Spline jig clamp and then drill them and dowel them and then
run the completed bar through the band saw. I am just not sure one of the segments would not get in the way of the band saw.


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
30)   



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

31)  



 

Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)


32)  



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)


33)  

looks pretty good to me !





Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
Alternative to Spline Joints for top bars:
A Screw


34)  




 



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)


Pre-drill the hole for the screw

34)

 

 



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

Putting in the screw

35)



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

The screw is in

36)


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

37)
So it is recommended
that the joint, or two parts are clamped to the work bench and both pieces are hand drilled in one go, then put
in a glued dowel while the bar is still clamped on the bench. Hand drilling both parts at once would make sure
to get the right alignment in the joint.

 


Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Building Tips and Frequently Asked Questions about the Cathedral Hive

- Secure Front Hive (Blank) Board to the front of hive to stabilize and to install bees into the hive

- With glass falseback you still need a Back Hive (Blank) Board for light and winter warmth


- Using 3/4" nominal wood

- A Ventilated Roof or Living Roof must be used on top of the Upper Section
   otherwise combs will collapse off of the bars

- Does the Cathedral Hive need spacers?

- Make only one window to save on labor, make sure there are no light leaks

- Insulating the Cathedral Hive

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You will need 2 boards to fully enclose the top bars:

- A Front Hive (Blank) Board
- And either a Back Hive (Blank) Board  OR  a Falseback


Cathedral Hive_falseback_blank_Board_Front_back


Cathedral Hive Fully Enclosed
(Photo credit: Valerie B.)


Fully enclosing the Top Bars:
A Front Hive (Blank) Board at the front of the hive
A Back Hive (Blank) Board  OR Falseback behind the last top bar


The False Back closes up the back of the hive and works as an adjustable back to the hive. Note that a Back Hive Board would serve the exact purpose of the "false Back".


Replace Glass Falseback with wooden falseback
So why do we have two names and two parts? If you have made a "Glass False Back" you need to make a part that will not only shut off the light leak, but you will also want to have the Back Board to insulate the back of the hive. Glass cannot provide insulation, so in the winter, the back of the hive would tend to be chilly without the 3/4" thick Back Hive Board installed behind the glass false back.

If you had made a wood "false back" of 1/4" thick plywood and happen to live in a cold climate, you would also want to make a Back Hive Board to put in behind the thin False Back. So why make a plywood false back at all, why not just make one Back Hive Board and be done with it? This is a fine idea, just know that the solid wood Back Hive Board gets heavily propolised in place and will not have a ledge or a "handle" to dislodge it like the False back will have.

Also see replacing Glass falseback with Wooden Falseback below

Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
 Pictured: A Front Hive Board  (Blank) in place at the front of the hive.

A
Front Hive Board (Blank) is Essential
You have to ask yourself what is the purpose of the Front Hive (Blank) Board ?
If you did not have this Front Hive Board
(Blank), when the top of the Cathedral Hive is removed, you would have
a large area at the front of the hive that is exposed. All the bees and the combs would be exposed !



Secure
Front Hive Board
Although it is not in the plans yet, you will want to secure this board to the front of the hive.
Screw the Front Hive Board in place from  the OUTSIDE of the hive.


The Secured Front Hive Board
creates a stable wall that supports the bars during the install. Imagine this !  The bees will attach the first bar with brace comb to this Front Hive Board. If you simply screwed this board to the front of the hive from the inside you would have to rip all this brace comb to get the first bar out. Now, If you secured the board in place from the sides of the hive, from the OUTSIDE, then you would remove the Front Hive Board WITH the first bar. That's pretty cool ! In all top bar hives this front bar has always been difficult to get out safely, now we have a way.


Now try to imagine this !
You are making the hive and decide why create a Front Hive Board when this space will be closed off when I put on the upper hive section. I've tried that also. Funny thing is that the bees like to explore their home and they will find the little gap where the first bar meets the wall of the upper section. Then they will crawl up this gap into the space on top of the bars. So then you decide to take off the top section of the hive to inspect the bees and wow, there are hundreds of bees hiding under there, Surprise !

Now let's say your not to bothered by this and you leave things as is, still refusing to create that Front Hive Board. Well winter comes along and the bees have not only propolized the bars from the outside they have also propolized the first bar completely to your upper section front, that means your first bar is glued to the top section of the hive. Not the end of the world, but come spring when you wrestle to pry the sections apart, the bees really hate that hard work being torn apart and they can pour out that hole you created. Meet the Bees!

 


Cathedral Hive Details Fully Assembled Hive
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Inside the hive looking out the entrance with the Front Hive (Blank) Board set in place at the front of the hive .

Question: Front Hive (Blank) Board
What goes at the end by the opening, those top bars will be exposed when I take off the top! There is a space in the wood railing
that supports the top bars, on each side so something goes in there! What goes into that space?
Is that the place for the extra piece of plywood without the "handle" on it? 

 

Answer:
You got it exactly! That opening is closed by the Front Hive (Blank) Board, “ the extra piece of plywood
without the "handle" on it” and it fits right down where the wood railing that supports the top bars ends at
the front of the hive.


Installing the Bees: Secure the Front Hive Board

When installing the bees you may want to screw the Front Hive (Blank) Board in place from  the OUTSIDE of the hive, to close off
the front of the hive when installing the bees. Otherwise the bees will be able to crawl out onto the top of
the top bars and when you lift the Upper Section off, there will be bees crawling around!



Replace Glass Falseback with wooden falseback

Question: Wood or Glass Falseback?
There is only one false back with a top bar top to it. It goes in the middle and then I will
move it to the far end away from the opening.  Right? Although I can also use the glass back
at the end as well right? Little confused as to where I put the observation glass back versus
the false back? Do they go side by side? 


Answer:
Replace Glass Falseback with a wooden falseback in 2 instances.

The wooden falseback and the glass falseback serve the same function.
There are two times where the wood falseback would be preferred.

1) Installing Bees into a Dark Environment

The first is when you install the bees.
The wooden falseback would be good to create a darker environment for the bees in the beginning. Then after the bees
have established in the new hive you can swap out the wood falseback with the glass falseback.

Since you have the two falsebacks you could use the wooden one just behind the glass one to block any ambient light.

2) Winter Time Replace Glass Falseback with a wooden falseback
If you are in a zone 4 or a place where winter is harsh, you will replace the glass falseback with the wooden one and
put the glass falseback behind the wooden one for a more insulative back wall.

Extra Wood Falseback when working the hive
Finally, when you work the hive you will find it handy to have the extra wooden falseback, to close off part of the hive
or to temporarily calm the bees in between working them.

 


 Wood thickness - 3/4" and 7/8"


Cathedral Hive 3/4 wood weight of top bars of honey comb
(Image credit: Corwin Bell) 


Question: 7/8" wood thickness
Ordered the cathedral hive plans and wondering whether it is necessary to use 7/8" pine or
would 3/4" work as well?
It is a challenge to get our hands on it without having it specially milled.

Answer:

Possible work around to make the Cathedral hive from commonly
found lumber thickness.

The Cathedral Hive is made from 7/8 inch thin planed wood. It is important to use this thickness because of the long span that
the bottom side go unsupported. With the 50 pounds or more or comb weight pressing outward on the sides, you can see why
the thicker wood is important.

Getting 7/8 inch wood for the construction of the Cathedral Hive requires you find a wood shop capable of planing lumber for you.
Here are some idea's that I have not tested that may work for you if you are having a hard time finding a shop to do this for you.
At most lumber suppliers you will see the lumber dimensions listed that are not the “actual” thicknesses. The term used is “nominal”
thickness, just treat this description as “not really”. With softwood lumber like pine 1x or 1 inch, is actually ¾ of an inch. Softwood
lumber boards lose 1/4 inch in thickness and 1/2 inch in width before leaving the mill. That means a 1 x 4 board is actually 3/4 inches
by 3 1/2 inches. So if you go to get wood for your Cathedral Hive the readily available wood thickness you can get at say Lowe's or
Home Depot, will only be ¾ inch and the plans cal for 7/8”

What to do? There is a Unfinished Pine Stair Tread at Home Depot that is actually 1 inch thick. With a little planning and
concentrating on the inner dimensions of the hive plans, this option could work. This is the dimensions available at Home Depot:
48 in. x 11-1/2 in. Unfinished Pine Stair Tread.

Another idea is to use the 3/4” or nominal 1” pine boards that are readily available, but double up the lower section side boards.
Again, I haven't tested this out, but it seems like it would be plenty strong. The main thing to consider is that it will change some
to the dimensions, like the clearance for the upper section panels and the thickness of the panel supports would need to be increased.
So think through how it will change things carefully before you start. If everything turns out great, let us know :)

 

 


 


A Proper Roof is Essential for the Cathedral Hive

Do not just rely on the Upper Section of the Cathedral Hive to serve as a roof.
With summer heat and sun beating down on the top of the hive, it will create
an immense amount of heat. The ventilation holes of the Upper Section of the
hive allows air flow, but with all top bar hives, a proper Ventilated Roof or a
living roof is still needed on top of the hive.

Cathedral Hive Customers Built
(Photo credit: Valerie B., France) 

Proper Roof Needed:  Either a Ventilated Roof or a Living Roof on top of the
Upper Section of this Cathedral Hive is needed

This Cathedral Hive is relying totally on the front and back slots to vent the hot air
in the airspace between the bars and the flat roof. It needs a proper roof on top.

There have been many iterations of The Cathedral Hive design over the years and
I learned early on that the hive roof must be created to have a good ridge venting
type system.

Now wild bee trees don't have ridge vents, but they are also well insulated from the
heat of the sun by thick dense wood. The way that the roof panels and roof is
designed on The Cathedral hive insures that the heat generated by the sun beating
down on the roof is dissipated out the top of the ridge vent. Under the roof panels
is a an air channel, as the space in between the roof panel and the upper section of
the hive heats up, it rises. As this hot air rises it draws in cooler air at the bottom 
the roof channel and creates passive convection.

Cathedral Hive Customers Built Roof Venting





Cathedral Hive Customers Built
(Photo credit: Roger B., North Carolina)
Roger's Living Roof


Cathedral Hive Customers Built
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)
 

Joe came up with an alternative Upper Section that incorporates a roof that
sets on top of the Upper Section of the hive.


See our Cathedral Hive Gallery Page for more Roof Options

 




Question: Spacers in the Cathedral Hive
Do you use spacers in the Cathedral Hive like you do in your other top bar hives?

Answer:
Good observation. The spacers are not used in The Cathedral Hive because the bees taper the combs. It is a very curious comb construction behavior. Knowing that spacers and hexagonal bars would be difficult to work with,  I started experimenting by making two different sized bars for The Cathedral hive.  I put the thicker bars toward the back where I would normally put the spacers in the Golden Mean hive. What I discovered was the bees in The Cathedral hive did not make fatter honey combs, but continued to make evenly spaced and constant thickness combs through out the hive. What the bees "knew" was that they couldn't make a comb of that volume or it would not be supported and collapse from its own weight. The bees seem to have some innate knowledge of the limits of wax in relation to its ability to bear weight. The comb starts at a thickness of 1 3/8" (typical bee space) then about half way down toward the middle of the hexagon comb, the bees begin to taper the thickness down to 3/4" at the bottom of the comb.

Cathedral Hive top bar no spacers needed tapered comb
(Photo credit: Corwin Bell) 
Tapered Cathedral Hive comb


In our previous hive styles the bees most certainly draw out thicker honey combs at around 1 5/8. I discovered this by setting up 6 Top Bar hives, without any starter ridges or even a wax guide. All hives created 1 3/8" wide combs for brood and then transitioned to 1 5/8" wide combs for the honeycombs. It amazes me that other top hive designs do not use spacers, which leaves the beekeeper with honeycombs spanning several bars at a time, giving top bar hives a bad reputation for cross comb.

The other very important use of spacers in the traditional top bar hive, is to allow the beekeeper to access different places in the hive through the opening created by taking out a spacer and detaching the wax brace of a particular comb with our long hive tool. With The Cathedral Hive there is an arch created by the hexagonal comb that gives the bees so much comb support, that they do not require brace comb, therefor allowing the removal of a  comb anywhere in the hive. Sometimes the bees in a Cathedral Hive will use a very small amount of brace comb the first time a fresh white comb is built, but after the brace is removed they rarely reattach the more cured combs.

Another perfect use for the spacers in the traditional style top bar hive is when there does exist crooked comb. Cross combs are usually caused by either a poorly leveled hive, too hot of a location for the hive or an electromagnet disturbance somewhere near the hive. In this case several spacers can be removed to assess the crookedness of the pattern beneath the bars. Then with one of our long hive tools one can access these combs that are spanning several bars and detach them in an orderly manner. With the access created by removing the spacers, one can also cut the brace comb from several bars and then successfully take out several combs as one unit.

The final use of the spacers, if the beekeeper has placed a spacer or two in the very front of the hive at the first bar, this allows the beekeeper to access the broodnest immediately in order to harvest a swarm cell or a brood comb for a split or to rescue another hive from a queen failure with 1-3 day old eggs in the broodmest.

Read more about Using Spacers in our traditional Top Bar Hives




Insulating The Cathedral Hive

 coming soon



The Landing Board options

Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

The Landing Board:  The Cathedral plans have been modified as of 4-18-2016. now you don't have to cut out
the 5/8" entrance and add the landing board extension to make the landing board.
With the revision the lower section hive front bottom is cut off for a total height of 6 5/8” then a longer
landing board piece is drilled directly into the hive body with long counter sunk deck screws.

1 3/8” X 2 5/8” X 11 3/4” new revised landing board extension.



Cathedral Hive Maching Top Bars
(Photo credit: Joe C., Canada)

The Landing Board

 



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