How Quickly It Can All Go South

006

It’s hard to believe……..well…..maybe not too hard to believe.

Let me start again.

It’s not hard to believe that this tiny little honey bee…..yep…….the exact one in the photo……..could COMPLETELY turn our home upside down. For those of you who want to play along, the key words in the previous sentence are honey bee and home.  Yep…you guessed it!  Somehow……someway…..this particular honey bee got into our home last night and caused quite the kerfuffle.  Well…I have to be honest….I actually let her in……… by mistake.  It was dark outside, somehow she never made it back to her hive and she became attracted to the light inside our home. I thought I shooed her away from the sliding glass door, but……….. I guess……. I didn’t.

Well, ……….I knew I didn’t when I saw the cat (it’s kinda’ in between a kitten and a cat) go from a dead sleep on the couch to a stealth predator in 1.6 seconds.  All of a sudden, there’s a bee swirling around in a lampshade and our cat  (Marty) pouncing on the lamp shade.  Dutiful Son, no longer transfixed by whatever he was viewing on his laptop, spouts off that the cat’s gonna’ get stung.  Before I could grab the cat, the honey bee exited the lamp shade, headed over to the bright computer screen and ………..WHAMMOO.  Marty successfully captured the honey bee in his…………..mouth.  Before I knew it, the cat let out a blood-curdling meoooooooooowwwww, shook his head from side to the side, and opened his mouth.  Out flew the honey bee and that’s……………………………..when it all went south.

“He’s stung….He’s stung!” cried Dutiful Son.

“Who’s stung?” shrieked Beloved Wife.

“The cat!” yelled Dutiful Son.

“My cat?????????????” cried Beloved Wife.

Now…………you have to know my wife to understand her affection towards this cat.  She’s not one of those “crazy cat ladies”, but she does register somewhere in the general vicinity.  Needless to say, she loves this cat.  I mean…REALLY LOVES HIM! I hear her talkin’ to him throughout the day, pampering him with treats and toys and generally……….just doting on  him when he’s not sleeping those other 22 hours in a day.  It kinda’ reminds me of the way she was when are kids were small.

“Oh my God……..Oh my God…..what do we do???????????????????  she cried.

And…..before you knew it……Dutiful Son was tapping on that damn lap top keyboard………..pushing the panic meter towards the “red zone”.

“Dad………you gotta’ check his tongue. You gotta’ check if the stinger is in there.   You gotta’ see if his tongue is swelled and turning blue”.

” I’m not stikkin’ my fingers in there! I said.  Look at him.  Look at those eyes and those turned back ears.  Can’t you see how cheesed  he is right now?”

“Oh my God……….Oh my God!  Can he breath? Can he breath? screamed Beloved Wife.  “Who knows CPR?  Is the side of his face getting bigger?  Oh my God…I think it is getting bigger!”………………..

And before you knew it……….everything was COMPLETELY out of control.

As it turned out…..calmer heads did prevail and I successfully managed to push the panic meter back from the red zone. Marty’s face didn’t get any bigger and he resumed his usual Marty self in a short period of time.  All in all…the night ended on a positive note.  Marty learned that a honey bee may not be the wisest choice for a late night snack.  Dutiful son hopefully learnt that his helpful information really just helped his mom reach a new “personal best” in the panic department and I………..well I didn’t have to try and perform CPR on a cat.

Hopefully, tomorrow night we’ll return to our “norm” and Marty will be curled up on the couch between Beloved Wife and myself as we watch the Blue Jays try to win another baseball game!  And hopefully, just hopefully,…..every honey bee will decide to find their way back to the hive!

005

 

 

Advertisements

Unwanted Hitchhikers In My Hives

Varroa Mites

It’s hard to believe, but these tiny bugs  are one of the leading causes to the honey bee’s demise.  They are about the size of a pin head, are named Varroa Destructor and…….I’ve got ’em in my hives.  These little buggers attach themselves to a honey bee, weaken the bee as they suck their blood and pass on various viruses as a parting gift to the bee.  If not controlled, the mites will eventually take down the entire colony.

The varroa mite was nowhere to be found in North America before the 1980s.  Though it was firmly entrenched in Europe and Asia, bee keepers in North America had no issues with this parasite before this time.  According to the old-timers, “pre-varroa” was a great time to be a beekeeper on our continent.  Nobody knew what Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was and the honey bee and the beekeeper generally flew under everybody’s radar.

Fast forward 30 years later and we’re in a totally different boat.  Harsh chemicals have failed to be the answer to the demise of varroa as these parasites continue to wreak havoc for most beekeepers.  So……what’s a beekeeper suppose to do?

Option #1: Do nothing and hope that the bees figure out how to over-run these parasites. This hasn’t proven to be too effective for most backyard beekeepers, though certain people in the industry claim that they now have varroa resistant bees.

Option #2: Treat the hives with harsh miticide chemicals to kill the varroa.  This also hasn’t proven to be that effective  since the mite has learned to become resistant to these insecticides.  Not to mention that the residue from a lot of these chemicals is now being found to contaminate the comb that bees use to store honey and raise new bees.

Option #3: Develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system which involves adopting “safer” strategies in order to keep varroa numbers at a level that will not allow them to destroy a colony over time.  Examples of this include:

A) Using screened bottom boards which do not allow a fallen mite to re-enter a colony.

B) Culling drone brood (male bees).  This “intelligent” parasite has figured out that it can breed and suck on the bee’s bodily fluid for an extra 3 days in capped male brood rather than the female brood.  As a result, the female mite favors mating and raising new mites in the comb where male bees develop.  By opening this comb and removing the drone brood, the beekeeper also removes a lot of mites who, in turn, would mate and increase their numbers within the hive.

Culling Drone Brood

Culling Drone Brood

C) Using natural treatments like formic and oxalic acids at designated times in the year.  Formic acid is naturally found in many foods including apples, strawberries, raspberries and……….. honey.  Oxalic acid can be found in spinach, Swiss chard, beet tops and parsley.  In high concentrations, they are poisonous to humans.  This is why we do not eat rhubarb leaves.  Fortunately, these acids are also lethal to varroa mites and, when used in the right application, can really knock down the mite numbers in a hive.  Best of all, these acids have been certified as “safe” chemicals that allow the organic beekeeper to continue to consume and sell a safe edible honey.

 

As Michael Corleone said “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.   Varroa mites are not leaving anytime soon.  In fact, they are probably here to stay. Hence, I’ll do what I can to help my bees maintain the upper hand on this incredibly destructive pest.  It’s the least I can do to help this incredible insect!022

Honey Street

 

034 - CopyWell…….as the picture shows…..the honey bees are here and I am stoked!  Stoked like the memories of my childhood on Christmas morning when we waited for our parents to finally say we could come down stairs to see what Santa brought.  It’s nice to feel that kind of excitement again.

I picked up my 2 colonies last weekend from a beekeeper I met a few years back.    With nuc boxes secured and thousands of passengers in tow, we all headed down a country road to begin a new chapter in life.  As we worked our way home, with windows down and a great “chill” cd on play; my mind drifted back to a favorite Van Morrison song titled  Pagan Streams “….and we could dream, and keep bees and live on Honey Street”.  I remember first hearing that song all the way back in 1991 and thinking that keeping honey bees would be really cool.  I’m glad that day has arrived.

One Big Brother and a whole lot of sisters.

One Big Brother and a whole lot of sisters.

 

How To Build A 5 Frame Nuc Beehive

 

 

010 - Copy

Building a nuc box is really no different from building  the boxes for a standard Langstroth hive.  It’s really just a smaller version.  It’s also not a complicated project and is fairly easy for the DIY guy or gal.  I chose to make my own nuc boxes for the following reasons:  First,  I didn’t want to buy a cardboard nuc box from my bee supplier and end up tossing it into the recycle box.  Second, I’ve built everything else for my hives, so why stop at this.  Third, I’m planning on either using these boxes for future swarm traps or creating additional colonies by “splitting” my original colonies in the future.

So…..lets get started.  But first, lets talk about safety.  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!

Nuc Box

In order to begin, you are going to need some 1×12 lumber or some glued up  1×6.  I choose the second option because it was what I had available in the shop.

Begin by cutting the pieces of the box to the required length and width.005

The front & back are 3/4″ x 7- 1/2″ x 11″.

The sides are 3/4″ x  19- 7/8″ x 11″ .

The bottom is 3/4″ x 7- 1/2″ x 18- 3/8″.

Using a 3/8″ countersink bit, drill the holes for the screw locations on each piece to a depth of 3/8″.

Using a 7/8″ forstner bit, drill the hole for the entrance.  The center point for this hole should be 1-1/4″ from the bottom of the front.

Now, cut the rabbet joint on the inside of the front & back.  This joint will support the frames..  This joint can be made in two passes on the table saw.  First, set the rip fence to 3/8″ and the blade height to 3/4″.  Use a feather board clamped to the table saw top in order to help stabilize the stock as it passes over the blade.

 

002

Next, lower the blade to 3/8″ and adjust the rip fence so that there is 3/4″ from the left side of the blade to the fence.

 

003

004

Now assemble the box using 1- 1/2″ galvanized screws and glue.

Fill the screw holes with wooden plugs, trim to flush and sand the box.

009

If you would like to make handles for your nuc box, CLICK HERE to see how I made them for my standard hives.

Top

008

Material List:

Plywood – 3/4″ x 9-1/2″x 20-1/2″.

Front & back strips –  3/4″ x 2″ x 9-1/2″.

Side strips –  3/4″ x 2″ x 22″.

Metal covering – 14-1/2″ x 25-1/2″.

Begin by cutting these pieces to the required width & length and countersinking screw locations in the front, back & side strips.

Just like the nuc box, glue, screw, plug and sand the assemble top.

003

Next,  paint the top before securing the metal “roof”.

Once the paint is dry, evenly position the and trace the circumference of the roof on the metal sheet.  These pencil lines will become the 90 degree edges that must be bent for the top.  Using metal shears, cut a 45 degree angle from each edge of the metal sheet to the outline edge of the top.001

Using a 90 degree edge (like the end of your table saw) begin bending the metal along the two sides.  Take your time and only exert a bit of pressure as you move down the line.  Continue repeating this process until you have a nice crisp edge.

Now screw those edges to the sides of the top with #6 x 1/2″ pan head metal screws.

Next, fold the 45 degree edge (from the side) on to the front/back and begin bending the edge for the front/back. 004Fold the 45 degree edge (from the front/back) to the side and secure these areas with screws.005

Inner Cover

Material List:

Plywood – 1/4″ x 7-1/4″ x 18-1/8″

Front & Back Strips – 3/4″ x 1 – 1/4″ x 9″

Side Strips- 3/4″ x 1-1/4″ x 19-7/8″

Using a 7/8″Forstner bit, drill two holes in the center of the plywood so that the distance is 3 – 3/4″ in length from the outside of each circle.  Cut out the rest of the shape using a scroll saw, jig saw or coping saw.

The front & back strips of the inner cover are connected together by creating a lap joint.  It’s a fairly easy joint to make and consists of removing half of the thickness of stock on the opposing face of each piece.  In order to make this joint, set the table saw blade to 3/8″ and remove 1-1/4″ from the opposite ends of each strip.  This will be done in several passes if a dado blade is not used.  Never cross-cut stock with a miter gauge when it is butted up to the rip fence.  This could potentially bind the stock and cause kick-back.  Instead, use an auxiliary fence for this procedure.006 007

Using the table saw, cut the 1/4″ slot in the front, back & side strips which will receive the plywood.  Set the table saw blade to 3/8″ for height and the fence to 3/8″ from the left side of the blade.  Using a feather board for additional support, rip this slot in the above mentioned pieces.  Adjust the rip fence (depending on the thickness of your blade) to make a second pass in order to complete the 1/4″ slot.  Don’t forget to alternate your strips for this step!

009 011

Next, cut the entrance in the inner cover.  I made mine 3/8″ x 3/4″.016

Finally, glue the pieces together and sand after the glue has completely cured.

If you would like to learn how to build your own 10 frame Langstroth hive CLICK HERE.

Best of success.

Regards,

CB

006

 

 

How To Make A Screened Bottom Board For Your Beehive

 

010A screened bottom board is a great addition to any beehive.  It not only provides great ventilation for the hive, but can also be used in your IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices to help determine the number of Varroa mites that are in your colony.  The premise of this theory works like this:  Count the number of mites that have fallen off the hive and have adhered to the “sticky board” over a 24 hour period.  Compare this number to the “threshold numbers” that are recommended by your local beekeeping agency.  For example: where I live, the governing agency recommends that a treatment be considered  when 9 mites are found on the sticky board in a 24 hour “drop” during the month of May.

Initially, I thought that this would be a great way to determine if I would have a future mite problem (levels above a particular threshold).  But then I came across a different theory which argued that the number of mites found on the sticky board may not be an accurate way to determine if your hive is infested with  mites.  The rational for this was that hygienic bees may be better at removing mites from each other and, therefore, you may not have an infestation, but rather, bees that are very good at removing these beasties from the hive.  GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!  Beekeeping………….Nobody ever seems to be on the same page!

Anyways, the screened bottom board is still a great addition to the hive because:

A)  The mites that do drop off will fall through the mesh and (from what I’ve read) not be able to crawl back up into the hive.

B)  The sticky board will allow you to monitor how many mites will drop in a 24 hour period.

C)  The screened bottom board ( without the sticky board is place) provides great ventilation for the hive.  This will be extremely useful through the entire year to help rid the hive of excess moisture.  This is just as important in the Winter as the Summer.

So…I decided to make a screened bottom board that would have a sticky board that could easily slide within the bottom board.  The entire “unit” will be made up of 2 sections that, when combined will become the final bottom board.

 

Material List

009 - Copy

Section #1

Sides: 3/4″ x 1- 3/4″ x  21 -1/4″

Back:  3/4″ x 1 -3/4″ x 16- 1/4″

Front: 3/4″ x 3″ x 14- 3/4″ (This will be the “landing pad”)

Sticky Board Front: 3/4″ x 7/8″ x 14-1/2″

030

Section #2

Sides: 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 21-1/4″

Back: 3/4″x 3/4″ x 16-1/4″

031 - Copy

 

Directions

Cut all pieces to the above measurements.

Using a table saw, rip a 3/16″ wide x 1/4″ deep channel through the inside of the sides, back and the sticky board front.  This channel will allow for the sticky board to be positioned in the bottom board when in use.  I set the table saw fence to 7/16″ and made sure to put the bottom of each board against the fence.

004 - Copy

029 - Copy

Next, counter sink the screw locations to put this section together.  (Note: Set the sticky board front aside for now.  It’s not getting assembled with these pieces.)  I used 1-1/2″ deck screws for this job.

019 - Copy

Now screw these pieces together using a good exterior glue.

022 - Copy

I used coroplast for my sticky bottom board.  You can get it at a sign shop or, better still, re-purpose an old real estate or election sign if one is available.  I cut it to 15- 1/8″ wide x 20-7/8″ long and glued the end (using construction adhesive or silicone) to the sticky bottom board piece that you previously put aside.

023

025 - Copy

Now, fill all screw locations with wooden plugs, flush cut each plug and sand the frame.  Now is a good time to paint all the parts of the bottom board.

Cut a piece of #8 hardware cloth for the size of the bottom board.  Use must use #8 because it is small enough to prevent your bees from going through these holes.  Staple it to your frame.

 

010Next, staple a thin piece of metal or wood to the front of the screen and screw the 3 pieces of wood from section #2 to the frame.  I used a counter-sink bit to ensure that I did not split these pieces.

037 - Copy

And…there you have it.  A home-made screened bottom board.  Your bees will be delighted with all the ventilation for your hive.  As well, you’ll be able to begin monitoring for mite levels as well.

Please CLICK HERE if you would like to view my other posts on making your own beehive.

039 - Copy

 

 

 

Liquefying Granulated Honey

I love honey!  I love it sooooooo much that I can easily consume a couple of pounds each month just in my tea.  I not only love it, but I’ve begun to acquire a taste for different flavors.  Whether it is buckwheat, blueberry blossom, linden, clover or wildflower…….I love them all!  The only trouble is some granulate a lot faster than others. 002 Granulating is no big deal.  In fact, there’s too many folks who think that granulated honey is honey gone bad.  There’s nothing bad about it.  In fact, granulating is a good indication that your honey is pure and minimally filtered because it is those minute bits of propolis, pollen and wax (the good stuff) which act as bonding agents for this crystallization to begin .  It’s this “stuff” that you want in your honey as opposed to the pasteurized honey  which kills a lot of the enzymes with high temperature and takes out so much of the good stuff with over-filtration.

But, if you’re like me, and want your honey to remain in its liquid state then you’ll need to warm it back up to around the same temperature that it was when it was still in the hive.    Believe it or not, the optimum temperature in a beehive is around 95 F (35 C).  The key to properly liquefying honey is a balance between warm and slow.  Too hot or too fast and you’ll kill all the “good stuff” in your unpasteurized honey.  That’s why I am not a fan of using the microwave for this process.

Instead, fill a sauce pan with warm water and place it on your stove burner.  Turn your burner on low and put your jar of crystalized honey into the sauce pan.  Monitor the temperature of the water with a thermometer and adjust accordingly in order to keep the temperature below 100 F. 005 With the honey partially dissolved (15-20 minutes), stir the contents with a knife in order to allow the heat to work its way up to the upper portion of the jar. Before you know it, your honey will be completely liquified and   you’ll be spilling it once again on the table or  counter as you race with that spoon from the honey jar to your mug of tea.KODAK Digital Still Camera Regards, CB

Making A Water Source For Your Honeybees

020 - CopyOver the last few months, I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading about making a water source for my bees.  I’ve read about folks using bird baths, slow dripping faucets and garden ponds.  I’ve also learnt that bees have an uncanny ability to find water and once they “lock” onto a source, it’s pretty hard (if not impossible) to make them change their pattern.

Being a consciences urban homeowner, I do my best to respect the rights of my neighbors and fully understand that my bees will not be a welcomed addition to anyone’s backyard space.  For those beekeepers that have neighbors with pools, the  aforementioned is even more apparent, considering that bees really like chlorine and salt.

So…….I began to think about how to make a water source for my bees.  I had 5 criteria that had to be met:

1)  It had to look good.  I’ll be looking at my apiary most days and I want it to tie in with the appearance of my backyard.

2)  I don’t want to replenish the water source every day.  If I decide to go on  vacation, I don’t want to rely on a neighbor to “top up” my water source during my absence.

3)  I don’t want my chickens to be able to get into the water source while they are free ranging.

4)  I don’t want my bees to drown while they are using the source.

5)  I don’t want my water source to become a breeding ground for mosquitos.

So………I constructed a tall box that would not have a top or bottom.  Inside the box will be a 16″ cinderblock (standing on its end) and a 5 gallon (food grade) plastic pail resting on the block. Floating at the top of the water will be a landing pad for the bees to safely access the water.

The  front & back of the box are  3/4″ thick x 15″ wide x 30″ high.  The sides are 3/4″ thick x 13 1/2″ wide x 30″ high.  All material is pine and assembled with a simple butt joint and glued and screwed together.  If you  want to get a bit more fancy, you can:

A) Use a scroll saw to cut out a design in the front006 - Copy

B) Counter-sink the screw hole locations and (once assembled) fill the hole with a wood plug which will be trimmed off and sanded.003

008 - Copy

C)  Add some mitered trim to the top of the box.014 - Copy

 

In order to make the “landing pad”, I cut a circle out of some 1/2″ thick cedar and drilled lots of 1/4″ holes in the circle.  Because the bucket has a slight taper, I made the circumference of the landing pad to be the same as the bottom of the pail.  This will allow for the “landing pad”  to descend as the volume diminishes in the bucket.  I didn’t have a wide enough board to make the entire circle, so I screwed (not glued) two pieces together with a few  cleats.

021 - Copy

This landing pad will work well because  the cedar floats and the water wicks up from the holes making for safe and easy access for the bees.

023 - Copy

 

After a quick search, I discovered that a mosquito takes around 7-10 days to develop from egg to adult.  By replacing the water every week, I will not be “helping” mosquitos to further populate in this water.

So….there you have it……….my water source for my bees.  I just hope it works and my neighbor Vito doesn’t come traipsing over to my house in July dressed only in his 1978 Speedo bathing suite complaining about some bees in his pool!!!!!!!!!!!!!026 - Copy

 

How To Make A Ventilated Gabled Beehive Roof

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.

Safety

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!

End Gables

004 - CopyDress 2 pieces of pine to 3/4″ thick x 7-1/4″ wide x 18 1/8″ long.

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).002 - Copy

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.008 - Copy

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.  004 - Copy

Roof

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. 006 - Copy 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.010 - Copy

Shingles

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″.

First start by stapling the first course and trim the shingles at the top of the peak with a fine tooth saw.002 - Copy

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.006 - Copy

009 - Copy

Peak Cap

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.024 - Copy

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 HEREIf you would like to learn how to build the elevated hive stand CLICK HERE.014 - Copy

Making An Elevated Stand For Your Beehive

011 - CopyThe jury still seems to be out on whether a hive stand is necessary for a beehive.  Being  new to the art of beekeeping, I DO know one thing…………  MY CHICKENS LOVE TO EAT BUGS!!!!!!!!    There’s not an insect that is safe in my backyard when my 3 hens are free ranging for protein.  The last thing that I want is for them to develop a “taste” for my bees so I decided to make elevated hive stands for my 2 hives.

The inspiration for my hive stands came from Beekeeping for Dummies but I made 2 changes to the plans.  First, I increased the height of the stand to 18″ because the original height would still make it easy for my hens to “pick off” those tasty treats.  Second, I created a design in the front of the stand because I’ll be looking at the hive every day and I want it to look nice.

So…..lets get started.  But first, lets talk about safety.  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!

Legs

I used 4×4 cedar for the legs.  It’s a bit more expensive than pine, but it will last a whole lot longer because it is more resistant to rot.  Start by cutting the legs down to 18″ in length. I used my miter saw with a stopper on the fence to ensure that every leg was exact.028 - Copy Next, cut a rabbet 5-1/2″ wide by 3/4″ deep along one end of each post. This rabbet will accommodate the sides of the stand. I found that the safest way to make this joint was to “nibble” the waste away by making many cross-cuts on the table saw with the miter gauge.  This way is going to take a lot longer, but it is way safer!  * Note: When using the table saw, never butt the lumber up to the rip fence when cross-cutting. Make sure to have an axillary fence or scrap of wood clamped to the fence for this operation.  This will definitely prevent the wood from binding between the blade and the fence preventing dangerous kick-back.030 - Copy

031 - Copy

036 - CopyFront/Back & Sides

Using  1″x6″ pine, rip and cross-cut these pieces to size.  The front and back are  3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 24″.  The sides are  3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 22 1/2″.  If you want to use my design on the front, you can make a template from the photo below.  A scroll saw is essential for these cuts.031 - Copy

Next, pre-drill the screw location holes with a counter-sink drill bit.  Each holes will be later filled with a wood plug and trimmed using a flush cutting Japanese saw.  If you don’t want to go to this trouble, than just screw your fastener in so that the head is flush with the surface of the wood.  If you choose to do the later, I recommend that you still pre-drill the screw locations in order to prevent splitting the ends of your pieces.For the front & back, measure 3/8″ from the end of the boards and intersect this line at 1″  from the top of the board, half way across the width and 1″ from  bottom of these boards.  These locations will anchor these pieces to the sides.  Next, pre-drill 2 holes on each side to anchor these pieces to the legs. 032 - Copy Now drill a few screw locations for the side pieces that will anchor to the side of the legs.

Top

The top of the stand is made up of 2 wider pieces ( 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 24″).  These 2 pieces will be attached to the front and back of the stand.  The 2 center pieces  (3/4″ x 2″ x 24″) should be spaced out evenly in the middle of the top.  All pieces should be ripped to width on the table saw  and cross-cut on the miter saw or table saw.  Once again, pre-drill screw locations 3/8″ from each end and along one edge of the front and back.  These locations will anchor the top to the sides.  Next, make a screw locations for the top to be anchored to the leg.032 - Copy (2)

Assembly

First start by gluing (exterior glue) and screwing the sides to the legs with 1 1/2″ deck screws.  Make sure that the sides fit into the rabbets.  Next, screw the front and back to the sides and legs.039 - Copy

Next, secure the top pieces to the stand.040 - Copy

Fill each counter-sink hole with a wooden plug, trim the excess with a flush cutting saw and sand.042 - Copy

Completely seal your hive stand with your favorite exterior paint!013 - Copy  If you’d like to see how I built my honeybee boxes, please CLICK HERE.  If you’d like to see how I made my ventilated gabled roof , please CLICK HERE.

014 - Copy

Why I’m Glad I’m Not A Male Honey Bee

077 - CopyAs Valentine’s Day approaches and we focus on “love”, I am so happy I am not a male bee!  Mother Nature must have been doin’ some serious man hating on the day that she decided to create the male honey bee.  Some guy must have forgotten to put the toilet seat back down that day or left some clothes on the floor for the very last time cause the poor old male honey bee sure got a bum rap for the way his life was about to evolve.

Male honey bees are called Drones. I know that Mother Nature had nothing to do with naming them, but you’d think that the guy who made up the name could have given this a bit more thought.  To me, the word Drone conjures up images of “dim-witted” or “half-brained” .  How’s a guy suppose to get a good  start in life with that mill stone already wrapped around his neck?  It’s like naming your kid “Dork”.  Yah…that’s gonna bode well  in the school playground for Junior!

Second, Mother Nature has decided that the drone should take more time to develop than the “girl” bees in the colony.  Because of this, the Drone has become the best host for the Varroa mite who gets another 3 days to continue “sucking” on his blood.  Many a beekeeper has learned to collect these drone combs and put them in the freezer as a strategy  to help diminish Varroa mite populations in the hive.  So the poor male bee doesn’t even get to “become” a bee before he is thrown into the deep freeze!

If he is fortunate to escape the deep freeze, than the Drone hits “pay dirt” for a while and hangs out with his fellow drones not too far from the hive waiting…..and waiting………..for a virgin Queen to fly by.  It must be a good time for the drones.  Hanging out with your buddies, drinking a few honey cream ales,talkin’ about sports and telling tales about that large mouth bass that “got away”.But when they see The Queen….well…… it’s every “man” for himself as they desperately try to run her down and mate with her in mid-flight.  Now…that’s a feat that is way under appreciated.  But wait, the Queen won’t just mate with 1 drone, she’ll do this with up to around 15 of them all in the same flight!  Hey fellas, image if it was the drone who got the chance to mate with 15 virgin Queens all in a single flight.  Those poor guys would get an even more despicable rap with a whole bunch of off-colored language that linked up with “dirty dogs”, and “good for nothing nymphomaniacs”.  Yah…the drones are the decrepit ones!

But, getting back to the so-called  “lucky” drones…….if Mr. Drone successfully mates with The Queen, than his “man hood” is RIPPED RIGHT OFF as he completes his task and then Mr. Drone falls perilously to his demise.  HOLY FREAKIN’ #$*#!!!!!!!!!!!  Now, that’s no way to die…free-falling  to your demise from high up in the sky without your “winkie” as your best buddies laugh and point to the gaping void in your mid section!

And finally, if you managed to escape the “deep-freeze” and weren’t “lucky” enough to mate with The Queen, than you are banished from the hive in the autumn where you are left to freeze or starve to death!  Unfortunately for the Drone, he is seen as a freeloader in the hive at this time off the year and will only diminish the honey reserves that will get the colony through Winter.        Man oh Man……..Mother Nature is sure awful “tough” on the poor old drone.

So…there you have it.  If you don’t get frozen by your beekeeper, have your mid-section ripped off and fall perilously to your demise, than you will be evicted from your home in the Fall where you will either freeze or starve to death.  On this Valentines Day, I’ll give thanks that I am not a Drone.

“What’s that Beloved Wife…….the toilet seat?????????  No it was Dutiful Son who left it up again!”………  Hey…….Between you and me….he’s younger, stronger……..and has lots of time…………… to learn how to take one for the team!   BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZZZ.