Save the Bees

The beehive garnered a lot of praise in the Quilling Together Facebook Group–1000 likes! I captured my build process along the way.

Save the Bees
Starting the base

The two parts of the hive are straightforward shaped spirals. So is the base, but I started it at an inch or so wide to create the opening on top. This was the first time I cut a door in the finished shape. And I got inventive with shaping the hexagons for the honeycomb.

Layering in the yellow

The base had to start with a hole in the middle–so out came the graduated form.

I use as little glue as possible forming the disc. This allows the layers to shift more consistently. So I slip the yellow strip in under the last half inch or so of the black strip. Friction will hold them once I get more layers on. I have to keep constant tension on the growing spiral.

Ready to come off the form

It grows pretty fast, and while it’s small it’s easy enough to keep together. At about an inch and a half across it becomes unwieldy to work with on the form, so I pull it off to keep building.

When it’s the size I want, I begin shaping it. Holding it in both hands, I apply pressure with my thumbs while supporting from the bottom with my fingers. I work around the disc, trying not to push any one spot too much. If I do, I end up with a mess of spiral paper in my hands and a wasted half hour.


If I’m patient, I end up with a bowl shape. On a very large disc I’ll shape the inner part and glue it, then work on the outer part.

The width of the strips has a lot to do with the ultimate bowl shape. The base is made with 1/8 inch strips, so its potential depth as a bowl is limited.

Finished base

When I’m happy with the shape, I drizzle on enough glue to coat the surface. I only do on side at a time, both so can set it down on the side that isn’t sticky, and because i’ve noticed it takes longer to dry if both sides are wet at the same time. Also, if I’m planning on a shiny look on one side, I go directly to acrylic coat on the paper, no glue.


Now for the top. I ordered the same black and yellow in 3/8 inch strips so that the top can be a much deeper bowl.

The top will not have an opening, so I start it on a slot tool that allows the center to be nearly entirely closed. Once again I interleave each new strip, switching colors to create the stripes. As the spiral gets larger, I have to use more of each color to obtain the same width stripe as previously. I do it by eye, no counting strips or fancy calculations for me.

Starting the top
Shaped top and base

Because of the wider paper, the beehive top feels more substantial than the base. But it’s just as delicate, and it did spring apart during the shaping process. I’ll capture photos of that next time it happens on a project. Usually it’s too frustrating a moment to pause and take pictures.

Starting the stand

The stand needed an opening on top wide enough to set the base securely onto. So I started it on one of the wide levels on my graduated form. It’s also wide paper so so that the base can be tall, but not too so wide that it dominates the overall beehive.

Allen wrench to the rescue

I needed a small hexagon to form the honeycomb cells. Luckily, my bicycle allen wrench happened to be sitting on a nearby shelf. perfect.

Creating all those little hexagons was pretty tedious. The two larger ones were an experiment before I decided they needed to be tiny. Fortunately, I found a use for them in the design.


Because I needed to cut a door in the top, I coated it inside and out with several layers of glue. I wanted it to saturate the paper in the area where I planned to cut. And it had to be completely dry. So it took a few days to ready it for cutting. I made all those hexagons during that time.

I drew the door in pencil using my handy protractor for the arch. I installed a fresh blade in my trusty old knife (seriously, this knife handle has to be fifty or sixty years old, it was my brother’s before me). And I started cutting.


And the reason for saturating the paper came clear as I finished–the top bit came off of the door. I glued it back on. Then I lightly sanded the edges of both the door and the opening and applied still more glue to the raw edges.

Sealing the edge

It was time to commit to the interior design. I glued together various patterns of hexagons. Then I made some more an layered them.

And here’s where I deviate from quilling purists: I searched on line and found adorable bee images. I made them tiny, printed them, and cut them out (needed another fresh blade). I also found a very familiar figure who has a vested interest in honey (or is it huny?).

Adorable bees

While all this was going on, I ordered an LED battery powered light kit. This is a chip LED that can be attached to a switched coin cell battery holder. I fed the LED up through the hole in the base and glued it on the side so that it illuminates Whinny and the honeycomb.

Complex stand

The excess wire and battery case fit into the stand. I don’t want to shorten it, because I need some slack if i have to take out the hodler to change the battery.

I cut a hole in the side of the stand to hold the pushbutton switch. Then I drill four paperclip size holes on the sides of the stand. I cut a paperclip up and mount one piece in the holes closer to the button, so that it passes right behind the button and holds it in place. I glued the button and that piece of paperclip in place. The other, longer piece of paper clip goes across the middle of the stand near the bottom to hold the battery holder inside. That one is not glued. To change the battery you slide the metal bar to one side, pull out the holder, change the battery and put it all back inside, then slide the bar back into its hole.

Sometimes the finishing touches are more complicated than the original plan. I hinged the door with two paper strips, but it sagged when closed. So I added a rolled yellow strip as a “doorstop,” and two black rolled strips to the black stripe just below it to hold it up. But it still didn’t like staying shut. So I added a latch: a strip folded several times and glued to create a bar, and a pin pushed through it and the main structure to act as a pivot. I cut the pin so it’s nearly invisible.

I used a folded strip for the handle to pull the door open, which works fine.

Door structure

The LED was glaringly visible, so I added another small black roll just in front of it. As you can see in the picture up top, it shields the glow while allowing the light to shine on the bees and bear.

As for the black speckles and remaining pencil line on the outside, they’re from the cutting process. I would have to sand them off, then coat the hive with acrylic. I decided to call this project a learning experience and move on.


Closed door
Bamboo forest

I think it was a meme with a panda that inspired this project. Or maybe I had a lot of white paper strips. The panda shape seemed well adapted to being quilled. Unfortunately, I don’t think I captured the essence of Panda in my attempt.

Like the beehive, the top is made with wide strips and the base is thin. The stand design is also the same as the hive, with the switch on the back of the stand and the battery holder secured with a paperclip bar.

The forest is lit with four gree LEDs. The bamboo is toothpicks wrapped in two shades of green paper strips, and green paper foliage. The little pandas are clip art reduced and laser printed.

The door opens down and is hinged with paper strips. It also doesn’t sit right when closed. I turned the nose into a latch, attaching it with a pin. Unfortunately, the white bar that holds it shut looks like a single tooth. And more is needed to keep the door properly shut.



This simple looking blue cone has no door. Taking a cue from the Easter eggs, to see this object’s secrets you peer in through a hole in the top.

Inside you see evening in the garden: fireflies flitting around a garden of quilled flowers and grass. Paper flies hang suspended on threads over the garden as well.

Firefly garden

The lights are four chip LEDs powered by a single coin battery. Like the other projects, the coin holder is in the stand and the switch is mounted on the side of the stand. The grass and flowers effectively hide the wires.

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