Still life…

Well the yellow hive was still today… but ‘life’ unfortunately wasn’t a feature. I went to check the hive seeing as how we have had 4? of snow. I removed the mouse guard and went to empty the entrance. There were quite a few bees there, even some looking like they had gone outside and then frozen solid.

I thought I would just take the lid off and look through the gap in the crown board at how things were going. As it happened the crown board was stuck to the lid and when I lifted that came up too. What I saw was like a photograph. The bees were frozen in the process of going about their business in the hive. Some in a ball, some outside the ball on other frames. It was quite odd, it was as if I had opened the lid on a game of musical statues and someone had just said freeze.

Given it was about 1C I thought if there was, however unlikely, a few bees left alive in there that I should close the lid and let them get on with it.

Well that is one hive down and two queens… hmm maybe enthusiasm isn’t all you need for beekeeping.

Tyrolean Bee Chalet

So, I’ve looked on at gabled roofs of bee hives for some time, thinking how much they improve the look of a standard bee hive away from a ‘wooden box on a stand, to something that might look a bit better.

I needed something a bit more sturdy than ply wood to make a roof from. I didn’t really want to make a roof covered with a metal capping (expensive & unpretty) or have to deal with a glass fibre roof (glass fibre sounds complicated), both of which I have on current 2nd hand roofs. I have a few rolls of shed felt around so that was plan B, with a ply sheet and a light framework. Plan A was a lapped roof hopefully with something better than fence lapping and enough angle pitch to stop the rain from sitting too still and getting through.

Then someone brought to my attention that there was something called the Phoenix resource centre that had just opened in Harlow. Its a very good idea, where they take from companies, old stock, offcuts and the like that would normally be going to landfill, and short of costs, give the stuff away. Anyway, it was brought to my attention by a member of my local Bee club that this was a good place to get offcuts of wood and other DIY materials suitable for supporting my Bee keeping activities.

On going to the resource centre, I hit gold; loads of ply, framework timber, tongue and groove board / floorboard. Sure the pieces were short and uneven sizes, they were offcuts from a company that made summer houses I’m told, but they were just right for my needs. Then I found something that was even better, 4 panels of wood that were of good quality thick wood. They had been, I think, a practice for someone, as they were not even depth and some of the feature cuts were uneven, also the wood had not been finished smooth everywhere. But, good enough for bees and me.

So first I set up the gable ends from the tongue and groove boards. I needed to know what the pitch angle should be. With the thick wood panels unfortunately they were not wide enough to cover an entire side, so it would have to be 2 per side. As a result this ended up with a pretty high pitch of roof, but I was happy enough with that, it made it unique, if a bit tall.

So I made the gable ends that applied the pitch, made a box bottom for the whole thing to sit on, attached the panels together as pairs and attached each pair to the base. Then came a fun part. What to run along the top ridge to stop the water getting in the peak, and stop the water getting to the end grain of the panels while it was at it. Well, a nice piece of 2 inch square wood bar would do the job. But, of-course, square bars of wood have 90deg angles, and not the obtuse angle needed here. Well, the correct way to do it would be to measure carefully and then cut the wood bar appropriately (?) with a … jigsaw??

Well I don’t know, and the angles were not consistent because the panels were not consistent thickness, and the whole thing had by now been done by eye (and luckily turned out quite well). So, a bit of chiselling and a bit of sanding with a belt sander, and a bit of fitting to see how it was going. Rinse and repeat, as they say, until it more or less fit. Then, as is classic in cases like this, screw it and pull the wood faces into position, ensuring a tight fit, if a little applied bend to the wood with brute force, here and there, and maybe the slightest bit of swearing and resetting the panel on the frame a couple of times. And hey presto, done… Well nearly. On putting the constructed roof on the hive box, it wasn’t square at the base; entailing a bit more swearing and r-setting and screwing the panels on and off a few more times to get it just right. And then noticing that the flat bottom of the frame was not quite smooth and level, so a bit of chiselling slices off, and sanding, and trying, and rinse and repeat…

Tadah… a finished roof… Short of linseed oiling….

Freshly sanded hive body with new ply inserts
Gable end boards ready for cutting to shape
Roof Panels attached together

Gableswith panels and roof bar
Finished roof part 1 – pre squaring and bottom profiling to fit
Bee Chalet

Woodpecker cage version 1

So, now I’ve introduced you to the 2nd version that I built earlier today, I should probably go over its predecessor.

The concept of a woodpecker cage is to try to prevent them attacking beehives. As shown in this example if they get hungry and have trouble with other food sources in winter, they will plough straight through the side of the hive and the frames, causing expensive damage, not to mention munching on all your bees.

As to the design, I kind of guessed what to make, taking into account raw materials, some guidance I’d been given on the bee-keeping course and at meetings of my local bee-keeping club. Looking to keep the gap of the mesh small enough to prevent the bird entry, keeping the mesh at least 30mm from the wood so the bird can’t peck through and making sure that there are not gaps so that the bird can sneak under the cage. Now its not unheard of for them to attack the bottom board, but that would entail more precise measurement and would end up having to be specific to a particular hive.

So, the making of… I made a top frame to hang a curtain of mesh from, like a shower curtain rail.

frame edge with chicken wire mesh tied on

I tied the mesh round the frame twice attaching it by hammering staples in. Slight issue with that being that the staples I had were quite large and prone to splitting the lightweight wood.

close up of corner assembly of frame, where chicken wire is attached

The overlapping wire being chicken wire what a bit ‘unruly’, and would not stay appropriately crossed over, so I added some thin wire to ensure the size of the holes in the mesh remained constant. A nice side effect seemed to be that working with the wire worked the kinks out of the mesh and tended to keep it straight and under control.

aligning wires keeping the alignment of mesh
keeping the mesh aligned

I made the frame wider than the hive roof, then overlapped the wire mesh at the top, pulling in the mesh with wire to support the framework by crossing the roof. Further down the ‘curtain’ I made some framework corners, to maintain the distance of the mesh from the hive body, tying them in at the corners and on their ‘arms’ to keep them horizontal.

completed frame over a hive
buzz or bok ?

All in all not a bad design. Minimal in wood usage, minimal in number of cuts to the mesh. In placing the cage on the hive at the apiary I tucked the bottom of the cage wire under the bottom board of the hive. I will have to try to get a picture of it in place next time I go to that apiary.

Caged bees

piece of metal mesh over bee entrance with a couple of bees climbing out
caged door

Oh the fun with mouse-guards and the weather.

The weather has been so strange recently, I put mouse-guards on about 6-8 weeks ago, thinking that the flow was well and truly over, and the bees would be bedding down for winter. Oh, little did I know the weather had other plans. The wasps were still about, the weather was getting warmer, nature was being thrown off course. Flowers flowering about 5 months early, bees trying to forage and using up stores flying. All they seemed to be bringing back was lots and lots of pollen, they weren’t taking sugar syrup down (because it wasn’t that warm to cure it?) and stores were dwindling.

Anyway, switch gear, this is really about the mouse guard. Mouse guards are to stop a winter problem; mice getting in the hive in winter and munching honey and living on the floor (and destroying the woodwork to boot, grrr).

Suicidal you might think? Entering a bee hive of thousands of bees and taking their stores. Well bees are often too busy forming a ball and trying to keep warm enough to stay alive to bother with the intruder. If they are anything like the bees in my yellow hive they are more likely to cuddle the mouse or just walk past it, rather than get angry and sort it out with a lethal attack. These yellow bees, they look lovely, they are very easy to manage, but they seem so lazy, it makes you want to poke them and tell them to get on with it. You know if you do they will just say ‘Manyana” and roll over to sleep.

So, what you have to do is fit a mouse guard. There are a selection of options here, but largely based on the fundamentals of ‘mice are very good at getting in small spaces’. There are commercial options of nice purpose built strips with punched holes, a grill or a variety of others. Me, being of the “you want how much for that!” mentality, noticed some metal mesh hanging around the place (yes I hoard stuff, a lot) that seemed to fit the bill. Big enough for bee entry, small enough (hopefully) to stop mice (seriously, they get in anywhere, they can squeeze thought an air brick).

The mesh / gauze found was very useful, scrap – so getting it wrong was no problem, cuttable – so any shape or size was available, mould-able – so it could be shaped, compressible – so the gaps could be made smaller or larger. Early trials included squeezing the gap down smaller (a bit too small for bee entry in some places, oops) and applying the mesh flat to the entrance. This resulted in some bee bearding, where the bees end up with a traffic jam trying to get in, and a relatively constant cluster of bees over the mesh. This had a visual defence appearance to wasps (I guess), but also a lot of targets for them too. I think it also caused issues for landing bees coming in with stores, having to land on other bees to get in.

The current solution/trial is to have the mesh not compressed, for easier access, and also having the cage/mesh convex/bulging away from the entrance, allowing more entrances / easier transmission / increased vectors of approach for incoming bees.

I think that next year I will be using this material to enable the bees to defend from wasps a bit better, by making a tunnel for entry, so attacking / robbing insects will have to run the gauntlet though a tube with mesh walls, allowing the defending bees to sting attacker from the safety of the other side of the mesh.

Wacky idea, well I read something similar on someone elses blog, but now I can’t find it. Or maybe I thought it up in a dream… ?

Anyways, that’s all for now, I have to go an make prototype 2 for a woodpecker protection cage…

Woodpecker cage version 2

Well on balance, Small I wholesale jerseys think the Bayan first one looked better and White was much easier to make. This one looks more secure from Her?ey attack, but I wholesale NFL jerseys don’t think it is. But, it will fold up into Spam/Gereksiz a pack of panels for storage. Wyoming Have to think of cheap jerseys something different for v3 or go back to cheap jerseys v1.

Starting Small

So what’s the plan, Stan?

I’m going to build up this blog both going forward post from now and cheap nba jerseys publishing old posts that Of have wholesale jerseys sat in the background waiting to be written, some of which are the reason this blog has been created.

I’ve been procrastinating on Dallas this for so long that the pictures and stories are building up, cheap jerseys and if I don’t start soon I’m going to start forgetting details. cheap nba jerseys So here goes…