How to build a Horizontal Frameless hive.

How to build a Top  Click on this link to download this blog as a word document

How to build a Horizontal Frameless hive.

This design was originated by PJChandler in his e-book “The Barefoot Beekeeper”. I have scaled down the design, which was intended for Apis mellifera, to suit A. cerana.

Materials cost                                                                                                    Rupees

1/ Timber brood chamber 2 off 2m x 300mm x 28mm (R 1000)                1000

2/ legs 1 off 2m x 200mm x 28mm                                                                     350

3/ Bolts nuts & washers                                                                                         450

4/ Roof plywood 4′ x 8′ x 10mm (R1000 does 4 roofs)                                   250

5/ Comb support bars & dummy boards/ dividers                                               0

6/ Roof timber                                                                                                              0

7/ Brood chamber ends                                                                                               0

8/ Roof tin/ aluminium sheet                                                                                100

9/ Nails screws and glue                                                                                          150

10/.75 day’s labour                                                                                                         0

Total      2300

Materials Notes:

2 of 2m x 300mm x 28 mm or see Hive timber component sizes below. In Dada Pangma only 300mm and 200mm wide rough sawn planks are available and we use an electric circular saw to make narrower widths.

1 of 2m x 200mm x 28 mm

1 piece of 10mm plywood 48” x 18”

8 of 21/2” bolts, nuts and “penny” washers, we used quite large bolts and couldn’t find washers but any bolts from 6mm up will do, ideally with penny washers.

12 of 21/2” x 10 woodscrews. 2” will do at a pinch.

8 of 2” x 8 woodscrews

8” x 36” stainless steel mesh, we could only find 2mm plated steel mesh, 3mm mesh is more suitable but only 2mm was locally available.

Bamboo for the comb support bars

30 of no. 1 x 1/2” panel pins

24 of 1” flathead  nails


Component part sizes

2 Sides 36”x 83/4

2 Ends 14” x 83/4

4 Legs 32”x 4”

2 Dividing boards 111/2”x 8”

8 Comb support bars 133/8

4 Roof sides 401/2”x3”

1 Roof top 48”x 18”

1 Mesh floor 36”x 8”

1 piece of tin/ aluminium sheet for the roof cover

horizontal hive layout

horizontal hive

Tools needed

1” wood auger

Drill bits                clearance for the bolts purchased

clearance for the screws purchased20141030_155322[1]

starter for the screws purchased

Spanner (for the bolts purchased).

Pin hammer

Claw hammer

Screw driver/s for the screws purchased

Smoothing plane

Electric Circular saw (essential if you can only get 300mm x 28 as was the case for us)

Crosscut saw

Tape measure

Set square

Tin snips

G clamps



Step 1


Figure 1

First plane the top edge of the boards straight.

On this one you can see a bump nearest the camera. To prepare this edge, we check it by placing a long ‘straight edge’, another piece of timber that we keep for this purpose, on top and planning the high spots until the two edges meet.

Next square up the ends of the 3 boards keeping waste wood to a minimum.

Figure 1


figure 2






Measure and cut one of the 12” boards lengthways to a width of 8 3/4

Cut the 8” board in half length ways.

All measurements are made from the planed edge of the board.

Figure 2



figure 2





Step 3

From the 8 3/4” board measure the hive sides and cut to 36” in length.

From the 12″ board measure and mark out the hive ends and cut to 14”x 8 3/4

Allow for the thickness of your saw blade when cutting, and measure from the straight edge.


figure 3


Step 4

Mark out the hive dividers on the 12” board from the planed edge, it’s important that the dividers are a perfect match.

The dividers are 111/2” across the base of the triangle. Set the triangles aside.

Allow for the thickness of your saw blade when cutting.

Figure 3 (I’ve already cut the ends off these dividers yours are triangles.)


figure 4




Step 5

Set up the hive sides and dividers,, upside down, as shown, before presenting the ends.

We set this, squared up, on the flat surface of a piece of plywood, to make sure the top of the hive is level and the ends are square.

To fix the hive ends to the hive sides with the 21/2” x 10 wood screws, line everything up carefully then drill through the hive ends into the sides with a 3mm drill bit, remove the hive ends and drill 4.5mm screw clearance holes through the 3mm holes. The screws will engage firmly in the 3mm holes in the hive sides, but we glue it as well to be sure of a good joint. It pays to pin the arrangement together somehow so that it doesn’t move whilst you are fixing the hive ends.

Figure 4



figure 5

Step 6

Cut the legs to size, then cut the ends of the legs, two at a time, to an identical angle, top and bottom, you want a spread of about 30 inches when they are fixed. The tops of the legs are horizontal and 2” below the top of the hive ends. They become the support for the roof when it is fitted. Drill and bolt the legs as shown.

Figure 5






Step 7

Cut the roof sides and ends to size and screw and glue them together. There needs to be about ¼” all round clearance between the roof and hive, so that it can be taken off and fitted easily. Then cut the plywood roof to size, about 48” x 18” will do and nail and glue it to the roof frame.  Next fold and pin the alloy sheet to the plywood roof-top.

Figure 6 & 720141217_151229







Step 8

Use the remaining piece of the 12” board to make the comb supports, 11 should do. The bottom edge of the comb supports has a triangular piece of bamboo pinned along its centre line for the bees to build their comb on.

Figure 8

Tea-break- a nice cup of spiced milk tea (dud ko chiya), lemon tea (kagati chiya), or a nice cup of tin pane roxi, a walk to the end of the garden take a deep breath and look up.20141215_133548