There’s one question we get a lot here at Beepods: how do we make our hives? That’s a great question, and because Beepods believes in transparency (just check out our Bee Viewer for proof 😉) so in this post I’m going to walk you through the process of Beepods’ manufacture, from their original tree to your backyard. First, let’s establish some terms.
When I talk about Beepods, or a Beepod, what I’m referring to is the Beepod Vented Top-Bar Hive, our flagship product. Every part of the Beepod design is focused on making it the simplest and most effective beehive on the market, something I’m proud to say we’ve knocked out of the park. Top-bar beekeeping is less invasive than the common stacked box hive beekeeping and protects the bees and the beekeeper more fully. But enough about the finished product! Let’s dive in to how it’s made.
The first thing to talk about is materials. Beepods hives are made almost entirely out of wood. Specifically, Wisconsin white pine. Benson Wood Products manufacture the pieces at their Cottage Grove location, then send the pieces to us. At Beepods HQ we put all the pieces together to make sure they fit properly before sending them off to you beekeeper types. We disassemble them first to make shipping easier, but this way we know that we’re only sending out quality products. That’s the TL;DR.
But hey, don’t worry, I know you didn’t come here for a measly little overview. You want a deep dive. I won’t let you down. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of our personal episodes of How It’s Made.
Benson Wood Products handles everything from the lumbering to the cutting. Most of the down and dirty work of taking Wisco white pine and turning it into a hive is done using a three-axis CNC machine. If that’s Greek to you, let me explain. A CNC (computer numerical control) machine is a device with an almost tautological definition: it’s a computer-controlled device that dictates the movements of tools along a pre-programmed pattern.
The three-axis part of the process comes down to how the machine tools the wood. Basically, the wood stays still while the cutting tools rotate around it and do their work. As the name suggests, the cutting tools move on three axes, which breaks down pretty simply into up and down, left and right, and backwards and forwards. Since we’re dealing with three dimensional objects, three-axis CNC gets the job done.
Now, we aren’t done just because the pieces are all cut. A bunch of ingredients in a bowl aren’t a cake. The next step in the process is dying the wood. We’re very proud of the organic stain we use. It comes straight from wood resin and gives the Beepod an all-natural sheen with no chemicals involved. Expert craftsmen then add the Beepods logo with laser etching. This process is also environmentally friendly; lasers don’t need excessive lubrication, caustic chemicals, or additional waste products to make a perfectly clean inscription.
One of the last parts of the Beepod Benson Wood Products makes is the lid. Unlike the rest of the hive, the lid is a wood fiber/plastic composite. Because at Beepods we are dedicated to sustainable business practices, we’ve nailed down a mixture that allows for the products maximum efficacy while using as little plastic as possible.
We handle shipping in a pretty straightforward way: when Benson Wood Products are done with the Beepods, Brad James, our lovely CEO, goes and picks them up. He personally puts all the Beepod pieces together to make sure they fit properly. After that, he disassembles the hives so can pack them up at our warehouse. We don’t believe in wasting space, and that principle applies to both the warehouse itself and our packaging. The warehouse is in Brad’s hometown of Fort Atkinson. It’s an old, retrofitted warehouse that’s been running for over 100 years. It used to be a lighting factory, but we figured there was no reason to leave a building like that just sitting around.
When we pack up the Beepods hives to send to beekeepers, we follow the Ikea packaging style. The idea is to use the least amount of materials as reasonably possible. So, we pack our boxes tightly and fill any empty space with recycled cardboard. At Beepods we shred unused boxes, as well as organize with other local businesses to do the same, and reuse the material for efficient packing. This kind of inhouse operation let’s us cut down on unnecessary waste. Then we ship to you!
From tree to your doorstep, the Beepods’ manufacturing process is all about sustainability. Our hives are environmentally, economically, and personally sustainable. The reason we use Wisconsin white pine is because it’s a fast growing tree. We don’t take wood at a higher than replacement level, and that means we’ll never run out. We locally source as many of the materials as we can, mostly from within the United States, and as much as possible from Wisconsin businesses.
Economically, our process is fiscally responsible and keeps us active in the beekeeping business. We do as much as we can inhouse or in partnership with a few companies who share our values. And together we make the best product for you. I wasn’t joking about personal sustainability. The longest serving Beepod Top-Bar Hive is over 15 years old and still holding bees like the day we delivered it.
This core value, sustainability, starts with how Beepods are made and continues through all our other products. Our motto is “Beekeeping for the Bees” for a reason. We believe that beekeeping is an important part of making the world a better place, and that it’s our duty to help that process as well as we can.
So that’s it! Beepods are made by Benson Wood Products, we pick them up and test them out, they’re stored in our warehouse, and then we send them out to our customers. It sounds simple, but a lot of thought and care goes into making sure we build the best products in the best way. Hopefully you had as much fun learning about how we make our hives as I did.