I spent a lot of time deciding on what type of cover I would build for my beehives. I can’t say that I am too impressed with the look of a standard telescoping cover. I guess that’s because it is designed to be functional and esthetics do not play a role in the business of professional beekeeping. After searching for ideas, I came across an informative post at Honey Bee Suite on The Best Ventilated Gabled Roof. This roof had the right combination of purpose and esthetics. I liked the idea of incorporating ventilation into the roof and the look of a gabled roof on top of a hive looked great. Now… I just had to give it a few City Boy extras in order to personalize my hive.
Make sure that you read and understand how to SAFELY operate your power equipment. In some of the pictures below, the safety guard has been removed so that you can get a better understanding of the photo. NEVER operate your equipment without a guard in place!
Now layout the lines for the end gables by a) making a mark 1-1/2″ up from the sides of each gable and b) making a mark at the peak of the roof. Now connect these points and cut the gabled ends with a band saw or jig saw.
Now, draw out the design for your ventilation access. I made a star because it ties in with the design on my chicken coop door, but you could give it your own personal touch. A scroll saw makes for accurate work in cutting out the design.
Next, cut the sides of the roof to 3/4″ thick x 2″ wide x 20-1/4″ long. Now set your table saw or bandsaw to 22-1/2 degrees and rip these 2 pieces to 1-1/2″ in width.( This will allow the plywood roof to rest perfectly on the sides).
Next, cut the 4 structural supports. These supports will tie both gabled ends together and provide a nailing surface for your plywood top and shingles. You don’t have to be too fussy about the width of this material because it won’t be seen. Just make sure that they are at least 1-1/4″ wide and 20-1/4″ long.
Next drill (using a countersink bit) the screw locations into each gable end in order to attach the side pieces and structural supports. A drill press works great, but a hand-held drill will work as well. Use exterior glue and 1-1/2″ deck screws for assembly. Now, fill each screwed hole with a wood plug and trim the plug with a japanese flush cutting saw. This would be a good time to staple screening over the inside of the ventilation star. I saved this step until I made the entire project and it was a bit more challenging later on.
I made the roof from some scrap pieces of 1/2″ plywood. One side will be 1/2″ x 12-1/2″ x 24″ and the other side will be 1/2″ x 12″ x 24″. The reason for the difference in the width is for the overlap at the peak of the roof. Now, rip the length (edge) of each board at 22-1/2 degrees. This will make for a tight peak. Now flip the plywood over if it’s one solid piece and rip the other edge (bottom of the roof) at 22-1/2 degrees. If you are using 2 pieces for each side of the roof (like I did) than just rip the second board at the same degree. The table saw or band saw works good for this step. This is a good time to paint the exterior or the entire project.
I used cedar shingles because I like the look and the hives will tie in nicely with my shed/chicken coop which is also shingled in cedar. You can also use asphalt if you prefer. Either way, just make sure to double your bottom course and not to have the gaps between shingles identical on all courses. I used a pneumatic stapler to secure the shingles to the roof and marked my location in order to drive the staple into the plywood and structural supports. * Note: The shingles overhang the roof sides and bottom by 1″.
Now secure the next course right on top of the entire first course, making sure to not align this course over the sides of the previous course. This will help keep moisture from penetrating to the plywood. Next, put your third course of shingles on, making sure to start them further up the roof. Follow up by trimming the shingles at the roof peak.
I cut some repurposed coated metal roofing for a cap. The measurements were 7-1/2″ wide x 26″ long. I bent the metal on a sharp edge and attached it with 8 roofing nails. Make sure to pre-drill each location first with a metal bit that is 1/16″ less than the diameter of the nail.
And there you have it. I think the gabled roof is a great addition to my hives. I hope you give it a try! If you would like to learn how I built my hive boxes CLICK HERE. If you would like to learn how to build the elevated hive stand CLICK HERE.