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Build a Pallet Beehive

Help our essential little friends

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Alan Wood 426/08/2021 12:47:57
204 forum posts
12 photos

I have an interest in bees, fascinating and essential creatures.

A recently published book by Jonathan Powell describes how he made a beehive from a couple of scrap wooden pallets. There is an associated YouTube video.

Lockdown Pallet Beehive

This is a non intrusive hive that provides the bees with an attractive cavity to populate and do their own thing. No honey stealing, no white suits needed. Just engineering skills to knock something together.

How many of you have a couple of pallets around the workshop which you keep meaning to chop up and which could be turned into something really useful ?

How many Model Engineering Societies have woodland running tracks with trees where you could hoist one of these before next spring before the swarming period starts.

A small project that could make a huge difference for our little pollinating friends.

(I have created a spreadsheet to calculate the dimensions on my blog).

Clive Hartland26/08/2021 13:25:30
2729 forum posts
40 photos

Very commendable effort, but, how will you keep the bees free from Varroa and Nosema if you cannot access the combs as in a National or other frame hive.?

Bees in the wild will get oll sorts of virus diseases, Israeli virus and other types. Varroa will cause wingless bees and they wander around aimlessly.

Now that the Asian hornet is with us it too can attack and destroy the bees. How do you intend to collect honey if you need to.

Alan Wood 426/08/2021 13:37:53
204 forum posts
12 photos

You miss the point. There is no intention to harvest the honey.

Here is an interesting YouTube video that addresses your issues with disease.

Log based hive

Andrew Tinsley26/08/2021 14:03:21
1485 forum posts

Hello Alan,

It really isn't a smart idea. Wild bees acquire all sorts of nasty parasites and diseases which spread to beekeepers hives. All you are doing is to increase the "wild" colonies which are the source of these infections. At least with controlled colonies, the Beekeeper can address these issues.

If you kept bees, then you might appreciate where Clive and myself are coming from.


mark costello 126/08/2021 16:59:46
671 forum posts
12 photos

Would those hives make a net gain in the bee population?

Jon Lawes26/08/2021 17:03:07
657 forum posts

If Alan's idea is so bad, does that mean beekeepers actively make efforts to keep down the population of wild bees?

Rainbows26/08/2021 17:17:13
647 forum posts
208 photos

I don't think I've heard of beekeepers deliberately going out their way to destroy wild bees but domesticated honey bees and wild bumble bees are in direct competition. Depending on the situation a commercial honey bee business can be pretty awful for the surrounding insect environment.

Alan Wood 426/08/2021 18:22:18
204 forum posts
12 photos

My thoughts based on investigation mostly via scientific papers suggest that it is a cause and effect loop.

The increased global transportation of bees for agricultural industrial level pollination has lead to an accumulated infestation of various pests. These pests inevitably find their way to the wild bees and these in return can infest the domestic strain as Andrew suggests or indeed the industrial bees could well cause this direct.

A wild bee nest unlike a domesticated nest is highly insulated and this causes less stress within the occupants. The bees are content because they see a relatively stable temperature. This contrasts with the much less well insulated domestic hives that often need their insulation levels topped up in winter with over blankets.

The nest needs to breath and this occurs naturally in a tree trunk cavity. There are probably high and low level access holes that allow the bees to regulate any changes of the nest conditions. High level entrances give better access to the brood areas and low level are more for removing waste etc. Again this contrasts with domestic hives which are physically different for the sole purpose of harvesting the honey.

Domestic bees are usually kept in clusters of hives, more for the beekeepers benefit than the bees. Bees living on top of each other in these clusters leads to stress. As we all know a lack of isolation leads to disease spreading easier from one to another. In contrast wild bee nests tend to be well isolated from each other. They don't want turf wars fighting over the same sources of pollen. The choice of where a nest will be is a very democratic process and the scout bees take many factors into consideration before a choice is made on their new home.

An isolated wild nest if infected will either die out or will grow stronger as the natural purification that the bees create fights the problem to improve the health of the nest. The rough insides of a tree nest will receive more remedial work to make it habitable and clean than a domestic nest. They do this with propolis and this in acts as a purification source. (The pallet wood in Jonathan's design is left rough for this very reason).

These are highly intelligent insects. Stress in any life form leads to illness and disease and bees are no different.

I saw putting up the pallet nests as a way of creating more 'homes' for the wild bees to help them flourish. A wild bee nest cavity needs to be around 40 litres in volume. Less than this and there is not enough volume to accommodate enough stored honey to see them through the winter and the nest starves to death. The loss of trees throughout the countryside that have the right dimensions and cavity sizes means there are less and less potential new home sites. New trees do not grow overnight.

Whether they are the disease bringers or they have had the disease imposed on them is debatable but either way we need them to survive. Mankind as ever has a lot to answer for.

I did not intend my post to cause an emotive response about what are incredible creatures. I would kindly ask that people form their own opinions and we close off further correspondence.

If you want a really interesting read then get Thomas Seeley's book 'Honeybee Democracy'.

Clive Hartland26/08/2021 22:02:50
2729 forum posts
40 photos

I have kept bees for almost 50 years, from the time before Varroa was a problem. Regarding the bees used for pollination, they are put on single source nectar and pollen and this termed , 'Mono culture' wheras bees need a broad aspect of pollen and nectar source.

The bees, in groups of hives have a special reason and this is to create, 'Drone congregations'. Lots of bee keepers fail because there is no Drone congregation near their hive. There is no competition of Drones for mating.

The aspect of varroa ia that the treatments have lowered the Queens fertility and thereby the Queens are not as active as they should be. Queens used to last up to 3 years but now they will supercede yearly as the bees notice the Queens pheromone reducing.

Alan, I see you want to close all furthre correspondance, fine. Please bare in minnd that wild bees nests are a source of infection and this is often passed on while foraging and bees are mixing on pollen and nectar sources.

Case closed.

Ady127/08/2021 06:05:46
4754 forum posts
715 photos

Interesting stuff

A wild animal on a farmers land which competes for food and spreads disease would be shot

I never forgot an Irish chap telling this townie "If a farmer can't make money out of it then he kills it"

Wild Bees and domesticated bees compete over the same fauna so the more wild bees there are the more a commercial bee owner loses money

I've never ever seen this mentioned anywhere or considered it

Wild bees certainly carry diseases, that's darwinism, wild bees also carry the genetic variation essential for long term survival in a darwinist environment

commercial bees I presume. like farm animals, can only really survive with human scientific help

larry phelan 127/08/2021 09:09:54
1095 forum posts
14 photos

And as Ady1 says "If it dont work, kill them" !

Bob Stevenson27/08/2021 10:11:55
561 forum posts
7 photos

The farming community actually have a saying for this;........"Feed the best and kill the rest"

Phil Stevenson27/08/2021 10:49:04
79 forum posts
13 photos
Posted by Jon Lawes on 26/08/2021 17:03:07:

If Alan's idea is so bad, does that mean beekeepers actively make efforts to keep down the population of wild bees?

I know nothing about bee keeping (although I have an interest in giving wildlife a bit of a helping hand) but that is the impression I'm getting from some of the posts. Nobody seems willing to answer your very reasonable question. Do nothing to encourage wildlife because it's inconvenient for (presumably amateur) honey bee farmers? Apologies to the OP; I know you wanted this thread euthanised.

duncan webster27/08/2021 11:09:15
3526 forum posts
63 photos
Posted by Ady1 on 27/08/2021 06:05:46:

A wild animal on a farmers land which competes for food and spreads disease would be shot


Ady127/08/2021 19:08:23
4754 forum posts
715 photos
Posted by duncan webster on 27/08/2021 11:09:15:


Hence the huge current controversy about them

Otters and beavers are also being reintroduced and there was a foreign chap up here in scotchland who wanted wolves, but that was so he could fence his land off and keep the poor out, (permission refused)

We've got fabulous land access rights up here, even the incomers don't bother putting "no trespassers" signs up anymore

Edited By Ady1 on 27/08/2021 19:10:20

Jon Lawes28/08/2021 21:16:42
657 forum posts

Up and down the country the Badgers are currently wondering where they can get the number for a certain Alpaca's legal team....

Robert Butler28/08/2021 21:22:23
293 forum posts
6 photos

Along with the thirty odd thousand cattle that are slaughtered every year !!!

Robert Butler

old mart28/08/2021 21:45:12
3349 forum posts
208 photos

Building a pallet beehive is very hopeful, I would think the odds against a swarm of bees finding it are about a million to one.

Rik Shaw28/08/2021 22:34:28
1458 forum posts
396 photos

"If a farmer can't make money out of it then he kills it"

and in the case of pheasant shoots, he does make money out of it but still kills them sad


Grindstone Cowboy28/08/2021 23:57:22
714 forum posts
58 photos

...and a lot of the cows, and sheep and chickens too wink 2


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