Beekeeping

January 13, 2014
For many years I have wanted a hive of honey bees. My Dad encouraged me to get some for several years before he passed away. The reasons for my wanting bees are multifaceted. First there’s the honey. My wife and I use honey quite a bit instead of sugar…for tea, sweetening cereal, in baked goods, etc. Then there’s the benefit the bees provide in pollinating our trees, flowers and gardens. But, most of all, beekeeping just fits in with my desire to become less dependent on the grocery store…to make it, grow it, fix it ourselves as much as possible. So this spring I am taking the plunge…welcome to my beekeeping page!

Choosing a Home for My Bees
The first step is to make the hive or bee box. But which one? There are many designs that have been used over the years. For the last couple weeks I have been reading every I can get my hands on about the different types of beehives. Finally, I narrowed it down to two: the Langstroth hive and the Warre’ hive, also known as the “peoples hive”. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, when all was said and done, I decided to house my bees in the Warre’.
First I want to say that this in no way is meant to bash the Langstroth hive. The Langstroth is by far the most common hive being used in North America today. Everything I have read has nothing but high praise for the Langstroth. I’m sure it is a fine hive but the Warre’ has some features that appealed more to me.
First, the Warre’ appears to be simpler to build. The Langstroth has more parts. Secondly, fans of the Warre’ claim that it allows the bees to build their combs in a more natural manner, from the top down. Thirdly, the Warre’ is supposed to require less maintenance on the part of the beekeeper.
But what really appealed to me about the Warre’ is the fact that it does not use frames. The Langstroth requires the use of frames, with a prebuilt foundation on which the bees build their comb. These frames are difficult for an individual to produce an so must be purchased. The Warre’ on the other hand uses simple “top bars”, really just sticks painted with beeswax. These should be easy to produce in my shop. This dovetails nicely with my “self-sufficient” mindset. If I were going into the honey business, I think I would’ve chosen the Langstroth. However, for the one or two hives I plan to have, I think the Warre’ will do just fine.

Building the Warre’
The Warre” hive consists of a bottom board, three (more can be added) bee boxes, a quilt box (just a sawdust filled box for insulation and moisture control) and a roof. I got my basic plans from “Building Beehives for Dummies”. I bought 1-inch pine construction grade boards at the local big-box lumber yard. The first step was to true one edge of each board with a jointer plane.

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Next the boards were ripped to just a hair over finished width and that edge trued as well. The boards were crosscut to finished length and rabbeted on each end for joining into a box. Additionally, two sides of each box were rabbeted to provide a support shelf for the top bars.

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The two bee boxes were joined at the corners with water resistant glue and galvanized 6d ring groove siding nails.

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I repeated the process for the shorter quilt box. Here are the two bee boxes and the quilt box:

20140113-170751.jpg. That’s all for now. I want to make two more bee boxes (yeah, I’m optimistic!). Then there’s the stand, the bottom board and the top. But that’s another day and my coffee awaits!

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January 27, 2014
Ordered my bees today! They should be here the last week of April. I ordered a package containing 10,000 bees (should I count them?!) and a queen. So far I have made four Warre hive boxes plus the quilt box and have nearly finished the roof. Still have to make a bottom board, finish the roof and put handles on the boxes. I think I will finish the boxes with a mixture of beeswax and linseed oil and paint the roof white. I am apprehensive about starting this venture…really different than anything I have done before. I have read three books on the subject but really need to talk to someone who knows what they are doing! I have a couple of contacts and plan to give them a call as B-Day approaches…

Thanks for looking…bart.

February 25, 2014
My bees new home is nearing completion! All that’s left is to attach the bottom cloth to the quilt box, make and prepare the top bars and give it a coat of finish. Here’s the completed bottom board. I modified it per a YouTube video I saw so that I can use a mite board, if needed.

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Then, two of the four hive boxes plus the quilt box:

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And finally the bottom board, hive boxes and quilt box, along with the finished roof.

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Thanks for looking…bart

March 14, 2014
Today I made the top bars for the hive boxes. The top bars is what the bees actually build their comb on. First, a piece of 1 x 6 pine was crosscut to the proper length to fit between the rabbeted sides of the hive boxes:

20140314-144435.jpg Then both ends of that piece were rabbeted so as to fit between the rabbets in the sides of the hive box:

20140314-202440.jpg The top bars were ripped to width:

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And a 1/8 inch wide groove is plowed down the center of the bar:

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Finally a 1/8 inch strip of pine was fitted into the groove:

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And here’s the completed top bars!

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May 21, 2014
My bees finally arrived! Due to cold wet weather in Georgia where they are raised, they were later than they originally told me they would be. I will install them in their new hive this evening!

Thanks for looking…bart

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June 10, 2014
Finally got to return to work today after a month-long bout with Bell’s Palsy. Usually there is a two-three month recovery time so I feel really blessed to be back to work so soon. I’m not 100% yet but a little better every day.

Anyway…bees! My “girls” seem to be settling into their new diggs.

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And…apparently they are making comb! Not the greatest pictures, but it’s dark in the hive!

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Yesterday, I spotted a drone on the landing board of one of our hives. I managed to get a picture of him alongside a much smaller worker bee. Notice how large the drone’s eyes are! Fine looking gent, eh?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Aaron C.
    Feb 25, 2014 @ 15:37:36

    Looks like you are close to getting started, Bart! Hopefully your first season goes off without a hitch!! Good luck, buddy!

    Reply

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