Return to DIY

National Hive Stand

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.



Stands for National Bee Hives

Many methods are used by beekeepers to raise their hives from damp ground or simply to create a comfortable working height.

Pallets are sometimes used, either to facilitate transport or just because they are “available”. I have used this method myself and I found two disadvantages, firstly they are usually only about 150 mm in thickness, and in the circumstance of using a single National brood box, the top bars of the brood frames are too low for best comfort. The second reason is that they are usually made with slatted tops using boards of roughly 100 mm width and spaced 20 mm – 25 mm apart, this restricts the airflow quit a lot and renders the area under the hive much more damp than you would expect.

In USA they commonly use a stand that is only 100 mm tall and has no airflow underneath at all… This allows a great deal of moisture to wick up from the ground and saturate the timber structure of the hive itself. Which in turn makes it more difficult for the bees to shed moisture whilst clustering (because the wood is already wet). This is made worse by the widespread use of paint on the exterior of the hives and so the American beekeepers have developed the technique of forcing ventilation by introducing a “top” entrance, albeit only small (10 mm hole) which allows the excessively damp air to escape. This again gives rise to increased consumption of stores by bees that are under unnatural stresses.

I have seen plastic milk bottle crates used as hive stands and if they are placed onto individual paving slabs (to block the damp) they are reasonable, but airflow is still very much restricted under the hive itself.

rails on breeze blocks It is also common to place timber rails across supports such as fly ash (breeze) blocks and place several hives on the rails. This is very good from the airflow point of view, but vibrations are transmitted to all hives whilst any one is being manipulated. This disturbance can make the subsequent manipulation of the other hives difficult. Sometimes the rails are formed into a raft by the addition of cross pieces.

The version shown in the drawing below has proved durable and effective. Many may consider that it is “over the top” and that any old object will do, certainly the bees will not object either way. I have found that using a standardised item of this type is convenient, comfortable, very strong and stable and as a result I would recommend that the principle is more widely upheld. It is drawn to a scale of 1 pixel per mm.

Gluing and screwing is recommended and stands are one of the few beekeeping wooden parts that I treat with paint. Before painting I commonly stand the legs on end in a pan containing creosote, capillary action draws the preservative into the end grain. Legs that are treated this way are left for several months before applying paint.

If this type of stand is placed on a paving slab with gravel surrounding the slab itself, this will help to keep weeds at bay or on uneven ground the slab may be bedded into the gravel for levelling. (Not a perfect level, just a slight lean towards the front for water run off.)

I use two lengths of 150mm by 18 non planed timber, make a half check in each half and they join together to make a cross. The hives sit on them neatly.


Leave a Reply