Make an emergency hive roof from an election poster

Beekeepers – ever had that situation where one swarm or one split too many leaves you short a hive roof?  Well, I’ve just made a couple of serviceable emergency roofs from Irish election posters. Here’s how.

What you need:

  • A piece of flat corrugated plastic, 68cm square with no holes, cut from an election poster (this size fits national / commercial hives which are 46cm square).  Ideally choose a poster with printing on one side only.  NB election posters vary in thickness – most of the Irish ones are fine, but some may be too thick.

    Emergency roof ready for use

  • four thick cable ties (white is the best colour, I think).
  • A crown board or similar for a template.
  • Tools: a Stanley knife (box cutter), a marker pen, a hammer, pliers and a bradawl /skewer / small screwdriver.

Here’s how:

  1. Decide which side will be outside.  I like to have the face of the poster on the inside.  NB if your poster has anything printed on the back, make this the outside (I found that the printing on the back of election posters can flake off).
  2. Put the crown board in the centre of the square piece of election poster.  Using your crown board as a template, mark out a square area 2cm bigger than the crown board on each side.  There should now be a distance of 9cm on each side from the square you have marked to the edge (these areas will be the sides of your roof).
  3. Using the crown board as a straight edge, make a fold in the poster along each side of the square that you have drawn.  Folding with the grain of the poster’s corrugations is easy, folding across the grain requires force and care. Going against the grain, it helps if you score along the fold line first (don’t break the surface) with a hive tool (not a knife).  Bend the poster double at each fold, right to the edges.  Use the hammer to bash the folds flat so they stay put.  Don’t cut the plastic.
  4. Next, using the same technique, make a diagonal fold from each corner of the square that you drew to the corner of the poster.  If your piece of poster is square and you drew your square in the centre, these folds will be at a 45 degree angle to everything else, which is what you want.
  5. Bend the sides of your roof up at 90 degrees, and fold the 2 triangles in each corner over to one side, outside.  You may need to use the hammer again to make them lie flat.

    Newly-minted roof protecting my spare supers

  6. In each corner, drill two small holes though the 2 triangles & the roof side with your bradawl, skewer or screwdriver.  Put the holes parallel with the diagonal fold for maximum strength and durability.  Push the cable tie through the holes so the ends are outside, and pull them very tight with the pliers.  Snip off the ends.

There – your roof is complete.  Total cost: four cable ties and a few minutes’ work.  Two things to remember with this roof: first, it’ll need a weight on it to keep it from blowing off.  Second, it won’t offer good ventilation, so consider adding ventilation by putting matches on 2 or 4 corners of the hive between the crown board and the top super.  I use mine to protect the spare supers that I keep at home.


A version of this post appeared as an article in An Beachaire – the Irish Beekeeper in 2011.

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