My first hive has been so fun and interesting that I just couldn't stop at one. Another reason I wanted a second hive is that there are several ways to use two hives to help each other. For instance, if you lose the queen in one hive, you can transfer a comb of brood from the healthy hive to the queenless hive and since the only difference between the formation of a worker or a queen is the specialized food the workers feed the larva, the workers will raise a new queen for themselves from the comb.
But more than anything I wanted to correct some of my mistakes I made with my first hive.
The main issue with hive #1 is that the bees began building their comb crooked, which makes it very difficult to check on the inner workings of the hive if the bars are glued together. To pull a bar up causes such major disruption it is not worth the damage. Only time will tell if hive #1 will be fine without my meddling. In theory they will, but Honey bees
are not "wild", they are not native to this continent. They are European and they are essentially a domestic animal and need to be tended to some degree.
It may be for several reasons that hive #1 started the crooked comb, but the main ones that I can do something about are making sure the bars are constructed in such a way that they guide the bees to build them straight and to keep an eye on them in the early building stages to bend their comb straight and get the pattern started right.
So first on the list was making better bars. After much research I have decided to just do my own experiments. There are so many opinions out there that I have decided to just do what makes sense to me.
So this is the bar I have developed. Time will tell. I have, since these photos
, already modified it so I would not recommend anyone following my directions but rather just following my posts to see how it turns out. In a month or two I will have some real results to look at and then I will post my successes and failures and maybe a real pattern.
|Before I cut my top bars I needed to trim the 1x2's down to make them 1 3/8" wide.|
I don't have a picture of it, but I then ran the trimmed 8' 1 3/8"s through my table saw with the blade adjusted to only cut a 1/4" groove down the center to put my comb guide into later.
|I made a 17" bar pattern and then proceeded to make 40 bars. I make extra so when I change out combs I will have extra bars to replace them with.|
|I cleaned the grooves on the bars so the cardboard would slide in better|
|Then I put three spots of wood glue|
|pinched down one edge of the cardboard|
|And slid it into the slot|
|When the glue was dry I painted the cardboard with melted bees wax|
|As an added experiment I "seeded" a couple bars with comb from hive #1. We'll see how that goes.|
Now for the hive body construction:
|This is the bottom of the hive body. It has the winter board in place in this picture. under the white board is metal screen door screening for summer ventilation and mite reduction (the mites fall through and can't get back up).|
|Looking inside the hive body|
|I used heavy 1/2" bolts to put the legs on. You only get one chance to do it right. Who wants to be using power tools on a hive full of bees?|
|You'll notice the z flashing on the edge of the roof. That is to keep any rain that may be driven under the tin by wind, out of the hive.|
|Follower boards are basically room dividers for top bar hives. With them, you can expand and contract the size of the hive according to your needs. I made 3 follower boards, one of them is slightly shorter on the bottom to leave room for a step/ entrance feeder. When I am not using the feeder I will replace the short follower with the longer one. Keeping a hive tight and crack free is very important. Many of the pests in hives come through cracks and unguarded entrances.|
|Here is a picture of the screen on the bottom and the little twist boards I screwed onto the edges to hold on the winter board|
|The hook and eye on each end was another improvement. I did this so I wouldn't have to put a heavy rock on top to keep the roof from blowing off.|
|Buck was a good sport and trimmed dead limbs (while it rained and rained) out of the maple tree I wanted to place the hive under. An ounce of prevention...|
|I also added a landing board since I have noticed that hive #1 bees spend a great deal of time and energy falling and colliding at the doors. I also made a point of facing the hive away from the prevailing wind and that just happens to be North. And that addresses one of my, admittedly, loony sounding theories- that hive #1 is building their comb North to South. We'll see.|
If you have read this far and you would like more details (hooray for bees) I have started a sub blog for the bees so I don't bore the pants off everyone else. It's Homesteader Bees. I will be putting more bee details and observation on that blog, instead of here. I am also planning a forum capability for Homesteader Bees in the future so we can share our experiences and all benefit.