How to Build a Log Hive

Jonathan Powell
Wednesday, 18th February 2015

In nature, bees prefer to establish their hives safely off the ground in trees. Here's how to mimic their natural behaviour by making a log hive.

In the latest issue of Permaculture magazine (PM83) Jonathan Powell explores the ancient practice of beekeeping - low intervention and using a living tree.

Here he explains how you can use a log as a hive, even if you don't have a tree the right size. 

Not everybody has a forest with trees of 80cm (30in) diameter in their back garden, so alternatively, a log of 60cm (24in) girth and 1.4m (55in) length can be used, suspended in a tree and elevated on a platform or even kept in traditional style apiaries (but this starts moving away from the preference of the bee). 

Log hives have been used for thousands of years; the earliest recorded log hive was found in Switzerland and dated to 3,380 BC. Log hives can use the same construction method as tree hives, although many alternative hollowing techniques are possible, including:

- Burning a pre-drilled log core above a fire using a metal sheet with a hole to concentrate the fire to the centre of the log

- Splitting and gouging the core before joining again

- Drilling and chiselling from both ends

If you fancy having a go at making one, a suitable log can be purchased from a local saw mill for about £60, which is about five times cheaper than a modern frame hive.

Here's a simple diagram:

To read more about tree hives, log hives and natural beekeeping check out Permaculture 83.

You can access the issue individually or as part of a subscription.

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