I've heard that condensation can be a problem, in plywood hives, is this the case
with the Drawhive?
Condensation can form on the inner walls of plywood hives, in cold weather, with
solid floors. The glue lines make the material less porous than solid wood. However,
with mesh floors, which are now in almost universal use due to varroa, the problem
does not seem to occur. Perhaps the denser moist air falls out of the hive. Also,
the Drawhive is mostly double walled, so should provide better insulation.
How durable is exterior grade plywood?
There are ply brood boxes in use, over twenty years old. The durability of plywood
is determined by the quality of the veneers and the glue lines. Obviously, the rot
resistance of the veneer timber will determine this aspect of the finished product.
The best grade, the so called ‘marine ply’, utilises durable timber throughout, usually
mahogany. This is very expensive.
Cheaper grades, of the common sort held by timber yards and DIY outlets, are usually
made with less expensive woods and have thicker core veneers. These are perfectly
adequate for beehives, if treated with preservative on the outside and edges. The
veneers are usually bonded with phenolic resin glue. This is extremely durable and
classed as ‘weather and boil proof ’. Providing the manufacturer doesn't skimp on
the glue spread, the bond is very strong.
About 7.5 to 9 kg. (16½ to 20 lb ) complete with bottom rack, depending on the
model. An average hive of bees, with floor, roof etc., will weigh approximately 9
Why isn't there a handle to pull it open?
For the same reason you can't just lift off a super. Until the propolis seal is
broken, with the hive tool, the opening panel is stuck fast. Once it's cracked open,
it is easy to pull out by holding the ends. It also simpler and looks neater.
Why isn't the Drawhive in solid wood?
It would be lighter in weight, but there are two reasons for using plywood.
Firstly, shrinkage with changes in moisture content could upset the bee-space and
cause distortion of the parts, in solid wood. Plywood is much more stable.
Secondly, as there are pieces of different thickness in a Drawhive, it would require
a lot of machining to produce in solid wood. Plywood is easily available in wide
panels of the required thickness.
Is it necessary to have bees which don't use much propolis?
No, this brood box works with your average bees, at least in the UK. Bees will,
of course, pack every corner and crevice with propolis. They seal the opening end
panel and, in British National hives, where the frame lug shoes abut the sides of
the outer case. Levering the end panel with a hive tool, breaks the seal and the
inner chamber then slides out easily. It is no more difficult than releasing a crown
Of the beekeepers in the UK who have used the Drawhive, only one has had a problem
that I am aware of. It turned out, that with his top bee-space hive, he had used
an excluder which sat in the middle of the wood frame, this made the bee-space above
the brood frames too big. The bees had built a little comb up to the excluder. He
still managed to open the Drawhive, without shifting the supers, however. No one
else has reported this problem.
Providing the bee-space is maintained, there should be no problem with brace comb,
though one can never say never, where bees are concerned. I would recommend British
beekeepers use the wider top bars. These, at least, eliminate brace comb between
the frames if proper spacing is maintained.
See the page on Swarm Control. The average beekeeper is less likely to lose swarms
when using the Drawhive. Because it is so easy to make inspections, there is less
tendency to put it off, particularly with those massive colonies.