OATH Construction Plans

Original Australian Trigona Hive – OATH

Here are some basic construction plans for the popular OATH design. This includes the Honey Super top section. You could make it without that section if you aren’t interested in collecting the honey that way. Of course there’s different designs, shapes and sizes, and different methods of construction, so feel free to experiment. The below is just the basic idea for the design.

There’s many different kinds of timber and thicknesses used by different box makers, from the 19mm Pine you get from the big hardware stores to 50mm thick timbers. There’s a lot of different opinions about what is best. Most will recommend it be at least 25mm thick. Of course thicker timbers will give better insulation but it’s not always needed, it will depend on your location if you experience long periods of very low or high temperatures.

If you’re using 50mm thick timber then you could always make the overall dimensions larger so the internal volume doesn’t become smaller. If left unrestricted bees may make the brood cone 150mm wide, so even though the image below shows the brood cone support area at 130mm x 100mm you can vary the sizes. Bees can fit their brood cone in to much smaller thinner spaces in tree hollows.

If your timber is 35mm thick then you might use 50mm long screws. Of course you can use nails. Pre-drill all nail or screw holes to prevent the timber splitting. I’d recommend galvanised or stainless steel screws for longer lasting strength and a good quality exterior wood glue.


The entry hole doesn’t have to be 12mm. You can drill different sizes, 10mm – 16mm for example. If you drill a large entry you could line it with some Propolis to reduce the size. (bees wax and resin mix).

Boxes can be finished with a good quality exterior paint or your preferred oil


The design above uses a join called a Butt Join, where the two pieces meet. The photo below shows a Rebated Join, where a section of one piece has been cut out and the second piece fits in to that area. Theory is that it’s creates a stronger join by adding bracing, and also has a slight increase in surface area connection..


Below: Middle frame – pictured up side down to show the Splitting Bars


If you’re placing your hive box in the weather it should have some kind of roof to protect it from the rain. If water is allowed to run down the sides it can get in to the seems between the layers and possibly cause mould and rot.


Also see these pages for more info