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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bee Update 05 April 2011

I heard from my bee supplier yesterday; the bees will be here this Thursday, which is already shaping up to be a busy day.  Steve's sister and niece are coming in from parts south of here to stay overnight before catching a very early flight to Boston, and my package from the army-navy surplus with the rest of my Bug Out Box stuff is coming that day too.  So I'll pick up my bees on Friday. Maybe Saturday, but one of those two days for sure.

I knew that fondue pot would be good for something

So now that I have a hard date for them, I spent part of yesterday morning bathing the top bars in melted beeswax.  There are opposing views on this practice.  Some folks think it makes the combs that the bees draw out stick to the top bars better, and some folks think it make them stick less.  The real reason that I can think of for doing it is that it makes the hive body smell like honey, and that makes new bees feel more at home.  Citronella is supposed to be good for that purpose too, but I don't have any citronella and I like the idea of beeswax better.  So beeswax it is, but the problem with it is that it's highly flammable, and I didn't relish the idea of heating it up on the stove in the kitchen, which is gas.  Frankly, heating it on the stove scared me enough that I've been dreading this chore enough to put it off until the last minute. But then I hit on the cheap fondue pot that we bought second hand. I don't use the pot for fondue anyway; I have an enameled saucepan I like better for that job, so the cheap fondue pot held a little water and a reused soup can with the wax in it, which worked well.

However, I noticed that the melted wax wasn't really sinking into the wood the way I wanted it to, presumably because I'd just brought the top bars in from a cold garage, so I warmed them in a 250F oven and then put them back in after painting them so that the wax would really sink into the pores of the wood.  This way I hope to have the hive smell of honey, but also leave a good purchase on the wood for the bees' combs. I've never read this anywhere, so I don't know if I'm completely wrong about this, but it makes sense to me.

Melting in the wax

The other thing I need to do to be completely ready for the bees is to finish the hive stand, which is nearly done, but still needs its diagonal supports.  I got one in before it started raining, and then stood up to see that the three and a half inch exterior screws that I needed to fasten the cross pieces to the four-by-fours were poking out of the top of the cross piece.  Too long.  So I need to figure out if my drywall screws are short enough to adequately do the job or if I need to go get some short screws.  The drywall screws should do fine because I'm screwing into cedar here, not pressure-treated lumber, which is what comprises the four-by-four uprights.

Then last, but not least, I need to watch a video I found on how to install bees in a top bar hive.  I need to watch it over and over and over, and then make a cheat sheet of the steps to give to Steve so that he can be there while I do the installation and talk me through it.

If I told you I wasn't nervous about the installation, I'd be lying.


Miriam said...

Very exciting! You need a third person there to video the whole thing for posterity - and for all of us with no bees in our lives!

Good thinking about warming the wood and soaking in the beeswax. I don't know a thing about bees, but it makes perfect sense to me!

Rae said...

I'm sure you'll do just fine!

Good call on the fondue pot, and on baking in the wax in the oven. Makes sense to me! :)

John said...

Super exciting! We're planning on bees soon, I can't wait to see how it works out for you!

Anonymous said...

You have so much common sense that I know you will be fine installing the bees. Maybe Steve can take some pictures during the installation that you can share with us. Wishing you all the best! JAGG

Amy Lagerquist said...

This is so cool, Paula! I can't wait to hear more from you on how it goes. No bees for me this year, but maybe next...

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Yay! Bees!

I do hope you video your installation. We went through the same kind of anxiety, and then found that installation was pretty straightforward. I'm not sure how different it is for a top-bar hive, but I have confidence in you.

I'd only suggest picking up your bees as soon as you can. If they're short on food, or traumatized in some other way, the sooner you get them into the hive, the better.

Good luck!

Toni aka irishlas said...

This is exciting, for sure. It would be great if you could find someone to video your installation.

The bee man was here a month ago, picked out the spot for the hives, told us what we needed to do, and we haven't seen him since. Hmmm, maybe it's been too cold.

Anyway, good luck. I'm sure you'll make out just dandy!

Paula said...

Thanks, you guys, for the votes of confidence! Steve is going to try to video the installation.