Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If you build it will they come?

I worked like mad this winter, in what little spare time I had, to build a bee hive.

Exactly when I began thinking I wanted to have bees I don't really remember. Possibly it started when Honey Bees were in the news. Possibly because I used to help my Grandpa with his bees when I was very little.

But I think it is mostly because I have always loved bees.

Did you know that a third of our food exists solely because of a pollinator?

I began to think about making a little rescue boat for bees and that somehow led to my discovery of the ancient Top Bar Hive. All the plans I found were fairly sketchy or inaccurate, so I winged it a little when I built mine.
With the roof off the bars make a solid top so that the bees do not get excited when you remove one bar at a time to check on them or to harvest honey.
If I gleaned a little of the sweet stuff on the side all the better. But I just can't see using up 50 to 75 pounds of honey a year. That is how much you get from a Langstroth Hive.
No, what I wanted was a safe harbor for my pollinating friends.

The Top Bar Hive seemed the very best choice for us.

There are just bars across the top instead of frames and the bees design their own comb hanging down from the bars instead of building on plastic square sheets as they do in Langstroth Hives.

The groove on the underside of each bar has bees wax melted into it to guide the bees. I later found that this does not work very well.

The "follower" board is a partition that allows you to make the inside hive space as big or small as needed.

This is how I set up the syrup feeder, just under the bottom edge of the follower board.
This is the screened underside of the hive. Ventilation is very important for bees, even in winter.

I set up a board to cover the screen on the very coldest days of winter.

Underside of the roof.

Some people say you can get bees to move in on their own. So I baited it with the recommended Lemon Grass oil but no takers thus far.


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