Gable Roof Hive Top – Free Plans

Gable roofs are great for stationary horizontal hives! They look pretty, don’t collect water and debris, and offer superior insulation against heat and cold. Roof overhangs shade the hive box and protect it from rain. Hinges make opening the top luxuriously easy.

The plans below are an exact fit for our Long Langstroth Hive model, but the same building principles work for hive gable tops of any size.

Material list

  • “One-by-four”, pine, untreated. One 12’ board. (Actual board size is 3/4” x 3-1/2” x 12’.)
  • Plywood, 1/4” thickness, “underlayment” grade, untreated. One 4’ x 8’ sheet enough for four hive tops.
  • OSB (“chipboard”), 1/2” or 3/8” thick. One 4’ x 8’ sheet enough for three hive tops.
  • “Two-by-four”, untreated. One 10’ piece enough for two hive tops.
  • Roofing paper or Tyvek — any roll at least 2’ wide. You’ll need just over 4’ per top.
  • Natural insulation: such as natural wool, loose cellulose insulation, or Ultratouch R-13 mats 3-1/2” thick (they are 80% cotton) — 6 square feet.
  • Aluminum flashing, 28” wide. It is sold in 50’ rolls. You’ll need under 5’ per top.
  • Cabinet hinges, 2. (You can use other kinds of hinges as well.)
  • #8 hardware cloth (wire mesh), or other comparable screen. 1’ x 2’ piece.
  • 2” deck screws, 10.
  • 1-1/8” (or 1-1/4”) deck screws, 16.
  • 3/4” wood screws (#6 thickness), 6.
  • Small eye screws, 2, and a piece of light-duty rope.
  • Finishing nails 1”, 20. (Or brads with a gun.)
  • Staple gun with 3/8” staples (T50).

Tool list

You can build it using a variety of tools. This is what I use:

  • Circular saw with a guide — to cut plywood. For the guide, I use a factory-edge strip of 1/2”-thick plywood, 96” long by 6” wide, which I clamp to the work piece. (You can also use a hand saw, but do clamp a straight board to the work piece to serve as a guide.)
  • Cutoff (miter) saw — to cut the “one-by” board. (Alternative: hand saw with a guide or miter box.)
  • Router with 3/8” rabbeting bit and 1/4” straight bit.
  • Electric jigsaw.
  • Cordless drill; small bit for pilot holes; driver bits for screws.
  • Angle grinder.
  • Metal shears.
  • Right-angle clamps, four (e.g., Bessey WS-3). Optional but very handy.
  • Tape measure; carpenter’s square; hammer; utility knife

Building instructions

Step 1. Cut the “one-by-four” board into four pieces: 48-13/16” (2) and 20-13/16” (2). Clamp them at right angle (the short pieces go between the long ones). Pre-drill and assemble on 2” screws, two per corner. The screws must be at least 3/4” from the top edge of the board.

Step 2. Flip the frame over; rout a 3/8” x 5/8” rabbet along the inner perimeter of the rim assembly. Square out the corners (red line) with chisel & hammer or a smaller-diameter straight router bit.

Step 3. Measure 5” from the inner corner of the rim assembly (on the long side) and rout out a slot the shape of your hinge, the same depth as the rest of the rabbet (3/8”). Repeat on the other end of the board.

Step 4. Attach the hinges with 3/4” wood screws. The screws will protrude on the other side. Cut off the sharp points with an angle grinder.

Step 5. Cut a piece of 1/4” plywood 48” x 21-1/2”, insert into the frame, and attach with finishing nails or brads. I’ve sacrificed the painting Purple Rabbit Sitting In The Grass obtained from the local high school studio — but you don’t have to go that fancy! In the hindsight I realize I could have made a fortune by selling the Rabbit at the auction!

Step 6. Put the assembly on roofing paper and cut along the perimeter with a utility knife.

Step 7. Put the top on the hive body, the hinges facing the front of the hive. Fill with insulation (I use natural wool or the excellent cotton material R-13 Ultratouch, nominal 3-1/2” thickness, obtainable from large home improvement stores, especially the Menard’s.) Cover with roofing paper and staple it into place.

Step 8. Cut out “two-by-four” as shown, using a jigsaw.

Step 9. Center the “two-by-four” on the top assembly, pre-drill and attach to the rim with 2” screws, at an angle, one screw per “leg”.

Step 10. Cut out two pieces of OSB 56” x 13-1/4”. Center them on the ridge and attach each panel with six 1-1/8” screws: three at the ridge and three into the rim (red dots). Important: during this step the top must rest on the actual hive box to assure it’s not distorted.

Step 11. Cut a piece of aluminum flashing 57” long. Score it once with a utility knife (not too hard) along the center. Fold slightly by hand and position over the roof. Make sure the flashing protrudes evenly by about 1/2” on all sides.

Step 12. Make an incision at the ridge (red arrow). Fold one flap and staple into place. Check alignment. Repeat on the opposite flap of the same roof slope. Check alignment. Repeat with the two flaps of the other roof slope.

Step 13. Make the V-incision at four roof corners; fold the small tabs in; then fold the long flaps, stapling them into place. Look at the nice aluminum-covered top you’ve built!

Step 14. Finishing touches. Attach hinges to the hive body with 1-1/8” screws. Cover the gable ends with screen (cut to size and staple into place) so insects and birds can’t nest in the roof. Drive eye screws into the top’s rim and the hive wall and connect them with rope to serve as stopper when you open the hive. Done!

Prepared with much love for you and your bees,

Dr. Leo Sharashkin, Editor of “Keeping Bees With a Smile”

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