DIY Beehive in a Jar – Fresh honey in your backyard!
Materials Needed TO Make Your Own Backyard Beehive In A Jar:
1 – Piece of 2″ x 12″ x 6′ wood (cut 2 pieces for the sides to 22″)
1 – Piece of 2″ x 12″ x 6′ wood (cut 2 pieces for the front and back to 18″)
1 – Piece of 1″ x 1″ x 6′ wood (cut 2 pieces for the top frame left and right sides to 22″)
1 – Piece of 1″ x 1″ x 6′ wood (cut 2 pieces for the top frame front and back to 18″)
1 – Piece of thick plywood (cut to 16″ X 20″)
1 – Bottom beehive kit (for the bees to enter and exit)
12 – Big mouth quart sized jars (for honeycomb)
1 – Box of wood screws (size 1″ screws)
1 – Can of wood stain (use a dark wood stain of your choice)
First get a piece of thick plywood and cut to 16″ x 20″. Then measure and center for 12 holes and drill the pilot holes. Next, drill 12 – 3 1/2″ holes with a hole saw (for the jars to fit into).
Next cut 2 – 22″ pieces from a 2″ x 12″ x 6′ board and 2 – 18″ pieces from a 2″ x 12″ x 6′ board. Then screw everything together and stain the wood with dark wood stain (or whatever you choose).
Get your 12 wide mouth mason 1/2 gallon size jars (or a normal quart sized jar). Then arrange them and make sure they all fit properly over the holes.
Here is the 12 beehive jars arranged and installed in our backyard beehive. The jars sit with the screw lid on for less than 1/16″ gap between the jar and the beehive hole. You may need to add some shims to support the weight so it won’t sag with the weight of the honey.
You can vent and screen this chamber if there is excess heat or put the beehive where it gets late day shade.
The bottom wooden piece we purchased as a kit and this is where the bees enter and exit the beehive.
The Orchard Mason Bee is the common name of a nonsocial native bee (Osmia lignaria ssp.) that pollinates our spring fruit trees, flowers and vegetables. This gentle, blue-black metallic bee does not live in hives. In nature it nests within hollow stems, woodpecker drillings and insect holes found in trees or wood. Sometimes there may be dense collections of individual nest holes, but these bees neither connect or share nests, nor help provision or protect each others’ young. Also, they are active for only a short period of the year. They are not aggressive and one may observe them at very close range without fear of being stung, which makes them excellent for enhancing our yards and gardens. They add beauty, activity and pollination to our plantings. However, they do not produce honey.
The female Orchard Mason Bee visits flowers to collect pollen for its young. She forms a small ball of pollen and nectar in the back of the nesting tube and lays an egg on the ball. She then collects mud to form a cell partition and repeats the pollen ball-egg laying process until she reaches the mouth of the tube where she caps the end with mud. Starting the life cycle in the spring, adult males emerge from tubes first, but must wait for the later appearance of the females in order to mate. This event often coincides with the redbud (Cercis) bloom. Females alone, begin founding new nests in holes to make a row of 5-10 cells in each nest. Females collect the pollen and nectar and lay eggs. Their short foraging range is about 100 yards from the nest. Activity continues 4-6 weeks and then adults die. During the summer, larvae develop inside the nests, make cocoons, and become new adults resting in the cells. With the onset of fall, the adults become dormant as they go into hibernation. These bees require some cold temperatures before spring in order to break their dormancy.
Nest Block Construction
The native eastern species of Orchard Mason Bee will nest in holes drilled in a wooden block. Untreated 4″ x 6″ lumber works great. Holes can be drilled in the wood on 3/4 inch centers. They should be 4-8″ deep (depending upon the size lumber used), smooth, and a 5/16″ diameter hole is important. A smaller hole encourages higher production of male bees which reduces the reproductive potential of the population. Blocks may be drilled from either face giving shallower or deeper holes. Shallower holes may produce more male bees. Do not drill completely through the lumber. Drill the hole to a depth about 1/2 inch from the back of the block. Attach a roof to provide protection from the midday sun and rain. Outside surfaces may be painted or stained, but do not use wood preservatives. One hole may be drilled in the back to provide a means of hanging the block. Face nesting blocks as close to the southeast direction as possible to catch morning sun and affix it firmly so that it does not sway in the wind. It should be located at least three feet above the ground.
These bees need mud to construct cell partitions, so adding a mud supply may be helpful if needed. This can be a trench or tub located nearby where muddy soil is maintained during the nesting period. The mud should not be highly organic or sandy. Clay soils work well.
Do not move the blocks during the weeks of active nesting. Once all nesting activity has stopped, the nesting block may be moved to a shelter such as a shed or unheated garage. Be gentle when moving occupied blocks at this time of year. This will give the bees added protection from predators and parasites, yet will allow them exposure to the cold temperatures that they need to break hibernation. If desired, bee emergence can be delayed for a short period by refrigerating the block in the spring until you are ready for the bees to emerge. Bees will need three days to warm up following refrigeration.
- Miel de Marc