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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beehive Update

Thought I'd update you on the bee hive- I'm almost done!

Yesterday I spent a good deal of time getting the number eight hardware cloth attached to the bottom of the hive (see my post on how to mend screening and hardware cloth). I learned that the hardware cloth is actually a little fragile, and suspect that a skunk or raccoon would have no problem tearing through it with sharp claws, so once the hive is done, I really need to concentrate on how I'm going to set it up so that it's varmint proof.

I got the entrance and landing porch done as well.  I read one fellow's assessment that he's observed that there are no porches on trees, and that landing porches only provide a place for mice to sit before entering the hive.  This is the same guy, however, that built a ramp in the bottom of the hive to assist the houseworker bees with shoving detritus (read: dead bees) out of the hive.  That seemed like a good idea, so I put in a ramp.

But I like porches, and since I made the slit only three eighths of an inch high (standard bee space), I don't think mice can squeeze in through that so I went ahead and attached a porch.  I'm willing to risk it.

I got the frame for the lid done, and the roof boards cut as well.  The next time I tackle this, I'll glue and nail on the roof boards, caulk all the gaps, and then hopefully I'll have enough gutter repair tape for waterproofing the roof.  It's quite reflective, so it should help with the summer heat. I read that reflective or white roofs are the best thing for a bee hive for the summer.

After I finish the hive, I'll paint it with some of the white paint that we have for painting the pergola.  I'm hoping that the white paint and reflective roof will do a great job helping to keep the bees cool next summer.  By the way, only the outside of the hive will get painted.   I decided to dispense with painting the top bars with beeswax because the same fellow who doesn't do porches has observed that the bees build stronger combs that attach better to the bar without it.  This is fine with me, because I wasn't sure how I was going to melt wax without setting the house on fire.  Melting it over a gas stove just seems like asking for it, to me.

So the next project is the chicken coop, but I can't start that until I finally decide where in the yard to locate it, and that is proving to be a very difficult decision to make indeed.

I'd better do it soon, though.


Kitchen Mama said...

Your hive has turned out beautifully. I love the color of the wood.

I would like very much to have a permanent chicken coop in our yard, one that is bigger for the few times when the chickens can't go out roaming in the yard. I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Anonymous said...

Wow...very impressive! I think you should consider making them to sell (which will chip away at #27 on your list). JAGG

Miriam said...

The hive looks a beautiful piece of furniture - functional and aesthetically pleasing all at the same time!

You might want to check out "Fresh-Air Poultry Houses" by Prince T. Woods. It was originally published in the 1920s, but has been re-released by Norton Creek Press. Ev, our chicken mentor, swears by it. Its main premise is that modern coops don't have enough ventilation, and that's detrimental to chicken health. It has suggestions for where to locate a coop, and includes plans for different kinds of coops.

Paula said...

Guys- it's not, though. Beautiful, I mean. I could probably turn something out to sell if I had a jointer and a planer, but No. 2 pine from Home Depot has its own building challenges (warping, crowning, etc.) Plus, this one was constructed from scrap.

I actually follow Robert Plamondon's blog and it was there that I first learned about Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, and also learned the health advantages of deep litter for chickens. I have been considering leaving the area between the top of the walls and the peak of the roof open and just covering it in very sturdy hardware cloth. I need to see what materials I have before I can figure out what I'm going to do. I still want to try to get this done with as few purchased items as possible.

But thanks for the heads up- you remind me that I should look for that at the library!

Paula said...

As luck would have it, that book is available from the library, so I put a hold on it. Thanks Miriam!!

KarenR said...

we made our chicken coop out of the frame of an old/unwanted bed, including the MDF or chipboard base (not sure which it was) and just bought some roofing felt for the roof. We have 2 side doors: one for winter (solid) and one for summer (has a mesh window) and lots of ventilation between the A-frame roof and the walls which we stuff up with straw if the winter is very bitter. If you let me know how to contact you I can send you a photo. Our coop is in the vegetable area. Good = the chickens are ready-made rotivators for the vegetable beds and will also scratch in manure very thoroughly; they also eat all conceivable bugs. Bad = if you don't net EVERYTHING when it starts growing they eat it. Or dig it out.