Diggin’ Livin’ Honeybee Hive Woodenware
Here on the family farm, Diggin Livin produces a limited selection of premium grade beehive components. Our woodenware is produced with the bees in mind. Functionality and durability are the name of our game. In keeping bees, we work this equipment hard and expect that you might also. The strength of our equipment comes from good design and lots of quality fasteners. If you have never used our equipment before, we recommend purchasing a small amount and incorporating it into your practice to determine that it is compatible with your methods. While we use custom measurements for our equipment, all interior dimenstions are consistent with commercially available Langstroth-style equipment allowing interchanging of our woodenware with other 8-frame equipment. We think that once you give our equipment a try, you will never be satisfied by the performance of any other hive again.
All our hive components are made from either Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) or Incense Cedar (Calocedrus deccurrens). These members of the cypress family grow here in the Pacific Northwest. While redwood and cedar are indeed more brittle than soft pine, the positive attributes of our wood are so profound that you will learn to give your hive just a little extra care. Incense Cedar is a faster growing member of the family and often grows in more marginal habitat. It is quick to encroach on open land and thus it has expanded its cover in areas of fire suppression, especially at low elevations. It is extremely rot resistant. Due to its closed-cell wood structure, it absorbs minimal water and thus retains tight joints, and also has the highest R-value of any wood. It is our best choice for sustainable high-quality wood for the production of premium quality hives, which offers a superior environment for the bees. Redwood, our other material of choice has many of these attributes as well. It is also a bit softer and less brittle than Incense Cedar. We use second growth Coast Redwood from a family owned mill. Our redwood is a mix of sap and heartwood, often giving the boxes a beautiful two-toned look.
Our boxes differ from the competition in many ways. First and perhaps most important, our boxes are thicker. Boxes and the decks of our bottoms and lids are made from wood 7/8” in thickness. This means more wood in the right places, including a full ½” of wood next to the frame rest, as opposed to the typical 3/8”. This makes a more durable and better insulated hive-body. As well, this combined with our choice of wood, makes this hive significantly warmer than other hive bodies. In fact, Incense Cedar with its closed cell wood growth pattern, is the highest R-value wood available. Incense Cedar and Coast Redwood are rot resistant and do not absorb much water keeping joints tight for long life.
Purchasing a Diggin Livin beehive also means you are supporting small-scale, sustainable forestry practices. We source our wood from local landowners, including windfall and storm damaged trees. Diggin Livin also employs a custom blended natural finish containing raw linseed oil and Oregon beeswax for our equipment to give long-life while also maintaining a pure and natural environment for the bees.
We manufacture eight-frame Western-shallow boxes. Our hive bodies are constructed in dimensions similar to a standard Western shallow box. Instead of the typical 6 5/8” dimension for height, our boxes are 6 ¾” in height, allowing an additional 1/8” gap for the bees on the top bars. This allows for a bit more ease when applying food or treatments above the bees. As well, our hives (and all exterior hive components) are all made from boards of 7/8” thickness offering increased durability and insulation for the bees. Thus our hives are larger by ¼” in external dimensions. This small increase will not limit the compatibility with other eight-frame equipment, having the same internal dimensions as other commercially produced hive bodies. Box joints are rabbeted, leaving a full 1/2” thickness in the end board rabbets. All hive-bodies come standard with end cleats on the narrow sides of the box. Cleats have a 9 degree bevel undercut for ease of hold, even in gloves. Cut out hand-holds, which compromise the insulation and durability of the hive are not available. The interior walls of our hives are unfinished/ rough sawn lumber. This provides a natural setting for the bees and you will see how they take to them. If you have ever seen a bee try to climb finished wood, you will understand. Unfinished interiors promote the application of propolis, and is thought to contribute to healthier hive interior. All hives come with dado cuts on the interior of the end walls. This allows the use of a follower board (sold separately) for extra insulation on one side of the hive. When removed, working space is produced for ease of moving frames and for minimal disturbance of the colony during inspection.
Our hive-bodies come in three grades. Budget, Standard, and Select. Check with the store for availability of either Budget or Select hive-bodies as their supply is usually limited.
Select Grade Hive-Bodies
Select hives are constructed from tight grain wood, often heartwood. It will not contain loose knots or large diameter tight knots with cracks. It will contain few to no small diameter tight knots, and it might contain large-diameter tight knots away from rabbeted edges.
Standard Grade Hive-Bodies
Standard hives contain small and large diameter tight knots or knots with cracks away from hive-body rabbeted edges. May contain occasional small diameter loose knots.
Budget Grade Hive-Bodies
Budget hives will contain large diameter tight knots that may contain cracks, they also may contain knots near the rabbeted edges of the boxes, and may contain loose knots. While a little rough on the edges, these boxes are built durable and will hold up to many years’ abuse. We use up the majority of the budget boxes we make with our own bees!
We manufacture a standard migratory lid. As with our hive bodies the deck is 7/8” for maximum durability, insulation, and minimal warping. We grade our lid deck from our finest quality wood to insure no cracks. Our decks consist of only two pieces fit together with a tongue and groove joint. Four end cleats are used to increase strength and to prevent warping. Lids are also built to facilitate the placement of a bottom board directly on top allowing stacking of hives for transport, and for helping hives retain heat in inclement weather.
We manufacture a rim feeder designed to replace the standard inner cover. With holes in the deck to allow the cluster access to feed placed above the colony, it also provides the function of an additional layer of weather protection for the colony. As with the use of an inner cover, it can also provide a weather-safe and protectable upper entrance for the colony during the nectar flow with the use of a shim under the lid. Like our lids, our rim feeder is a two-piece deck of 7/8” thickness.
We manufacture a traditional solid-bottomed migratory bottom as well as a hybrid-type screened-bottom board. These combine qualities of a traditional screened bottom board with the less-drafty solid edges of the standard migratory bottom. With a screened portion directly below the cluster, Varroa mites can still be dislodged and fall out of the hive. However, the outer portion of the deck is retained as solid wood to minimize drafts while still allowing airflow to minimize moisture accumulation in the hive.
At Diggin’ Livin’ we manufacture frames the good ole-fashioned way. Like our hive bodies, we only make one size, 6 1/4”. We use high-quality Ponderosa pine frames from the Northwest. Our frames are built with wedge-bar top bars measuring a full ¾” thick, 3/8” thick end bars, and ½” thick bottom bars. These are assembled and wired in our shop, before we add 100% pure beeswax foundation, embedded on the wires with heat and pressure. Unlike plastic foundation, bees won’t hesitate to draw out fine comb on these frames in a hurry. Our frames are constructed with heavy-gauge fasteners (1 1/2” long, wide-crown staples for the top bar, and two 1” narrow-crown staples for each end of the bottom bar, as well as one for fastening end bars to the top bar for superior strength). Produced in our shop according to time honored construction techniques, you simply can’t find these frames available pre-assembled anywhere else!