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.
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.