March 9, 2016

Preparing for Bee Day

Last weekend Dan and I assembled our two new beehive kits.


For those of you who aren't familiar with this style of hive, these are Warré hives. They are a bit different in both construction and philosophy than the style of hive commonly seen. (To see photos of the unique features of the Warré hive plus why I chose it, click here.)

I started with the one hive last spring, and planned to add two more this year. I bought that first kit off of eBay and was very happy with it. It was not only the most economical, but also the only one with a screened bottom board. Screened bottom boards are helpful for controlling varroa mites, because when the mites fall off the bees they fall through the screen and can't climb back on again. This time I couldn't find a listing from the same seller.

There are plenty of other offerings, but I procrastinated on making a decision. I'd go look at various hives from time to time, and then one day there they were. Another listing from my original seller, but this time it was a set of two hives. Exactly what I wanted. Best of all, the hive boxes came with observation windows!

Observation windows will let me check on comb
building progress and other activity in the hive.

Warré beekeepers refrain from opening the hive often, but we still have to know what's going on inside in order to make sure everything is okay and know when to add more boxes!

Assembling them was the biggest job, but there is more to do to get ready:

Bee pickup day is March 19. I have to tell you that even ordering the bees was another gift of providence. I rarely go by the county beekeeping supply store, but one day I happened to and noticed they were having a sale on package bees. I got two packages for a discount!

The almond tree has just started to bloom. I'm
wondering if there will be any left by bee day.

The other way to get bees (free ones) is to either set up bait hives or capture swarms. Until we got ours, I rarely saw honeybees around and never a swarm, so I'm not confident I'd get anything that way. I do plan to get more equipment, however, so maybe I'll try a bait hive next year.


35 comments:

Dawn McHugh said...

This year I am looking to increase our hives, I want to get some new ones and hope over time to build hives numbers up to 12 but want to re-locate them onto some of the new land we are buying. I hope to collect some swarms from our own hives later in the year.

PioneerPreppy said...

Swarm traps. Build em and they will come. Put a little lemon grass oil inside and around the entrance and you will know in short order if there are any feral hives in a wide radius. The foraging bees can smell that stuff from miles away and they will mark the location. When a hive swarms the scouts will be back.

Only tip I have about trap placement is make sure it is a good distance from established hives. Honey bees really prefer their own space.

Leigh said...

Oh my Dawn, 12! Does that mean getting hives is addicting? Kinda like getting goats? :)

Leigh said...

I've just been reading up on this and the lemon grass oil! And thanks for the tip. Sounds like I need to get serious about doing this.

FAST SOS said...

Beekeeping is one of the things I am most excited about getting in to once we move, at the moment the only way we could have a hive would be on the roof as there just isn't enough space in the garden. look forward to seeing these hives once they get in to full swing

Tuesday said...

Definitely use lemongrass oil and even a frame of old wax. We've set swarm traps up every year that we've been beekeeping and haven't had luck yet. Someday though!!! Things around your farm are looking good!!!

Theresa said...

I can't wait to see those hives painted. The first was done so sweetly! I can imagine that viewing panel being so useful.
Do the hives need to be spaced around the property or do they all live in hive harmony next to each other like bee condos?

Kathy said...

Saw BeeThinking on Shark Tank a while back looking for investor for their company. They (I think) designed 2 versions of beehives that are different than the traditional ones I grew up around (Langstroth). One is the version you purchased. The other was a very odd looking one I'd never seen before called a Top Bar. My dad purchase one hive originally and made a "pattern" and a jig for dovetailing the joints, then made all his own boxes after that. Fond memories of beekeeping with my dad in my teens. Good luck!

Fiona said...

How is your last year hive doing?
We were looking at top bar hives but for now bees are on hold due to all the other things we have to do.
There are hives about a mile from us.

Leigh said...

Some folks do keep beehives on their roof tops. The other advantage to that is that it keeps beeway traffic above pedestrian level!

Leigh said...

Tuesday! Thanks! So good to hear from you. Well, I supposed at least having the swarm traps is better than not trying at all. I need to put together another hive to use as a bait trap. Who knows!

Leigh said...

Half the fun is deciding on how to decoratively paint. Right now I'm thinking of a periwinkle hive and a daylily hive. :)

Beekeepers traditionally keep hives in proximity in a bee yard or apiary. Pioneer Preppy mentioned that they like their space, so I imagine in the wild they prefer a spot away from other colonies. I'll put the two new ones near the existing hive though. Since they will be introduced to these hives from packages, there's a good chance they'll choose to stay. If not, then I'll be wishing I'd set up that bait hive somewhere else!

Leigh said...

Kathy, yes, that bench-shaped one is a horizontal top bar (versus the Warré, which is a vertical top bar hive). Both of these are becoming quite popular.

Leigh said...

There are bees out and about on warm days! So hopefully nothing disastrous will happen and we'll have good pollination for that almond tree.

We waited a number of years before adding our first hive too. We figured it would be better to be ready, rather than taking on more than we could properly care for.

Quinn said...

Sounds like you are off to a fantastic start this year, Leigh! I always enjoy reading about beekeeping :)

Ed said...

Before my parents kept bees, I had only rarely seen a swarm. Once they started keeping bees (120 hives) and word got out, every Tom, Dick and Harry in the county would call us whenever a swarm was spotted. I got to be pretty good at de-swarming trees and capturing a new colony to take back out to the farm.

Farmer Barb said...

My Bee Man harvests queen cells. That way, he is ready to capitalize on having queens ready. He showed our daughter one and let her hold it as the queen emerged. It looks like a peanut shaped cell. His hives are various ages, so they are likely to make new queens. He has new hives next to old hives--about 100 feet in between.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Hi Fast SOS. It is suprising how little room is needed for a hive. I often see hives sat in large spaces, which leave the bees exposed both to extreme hot, cold or wind. Tucked away close to a wall with a tree overhanging is fine. (the tree often adopted as a swarm tree) If you have some sort of barrier a foot or two in front to lift the bees it means that they fly high and away and are less likely to bump into people.
We had a hive on the woodshed roof last year for a while, but the bees were difficult to handle.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Hi Leigh. I have just taken photographs of two "recent" innovations that have improved beekeeping. One is the mesh varroa floor that you mention. What a wonderful idea, both for pest control and for keeping the hive fresh and free from damp. I absolutely love them!
Gill

Lucía Moreno Velo said...

You might be interested in this book. It's about how to tell what happens inside the hive by looking at what happens at the entrance.
http://www.biobees.com/library/general_beekeeping/beekeeping_books_articles/At%20the%20Hive%20Entrance.pdf
Cheers,
Lucía

Renee Nefe said...

Looks like a lot of fun. Can't wait for bee day. :D

Perry - StoneHillRidge said...

Congrats on the bee expansion project! Our packaged bees wont come for another couple of weeks. In the meantime I have installed a swarm trap, so fingers crossed!

Farmer Liz said...

Yay! They are beautiful hives! Eventually your own bees will fill their hives and swarm... we don't have many wild bees around us either, but our hives have swarmed a few times and we've only caught one swarm. Do you give your bees all the levels of the hive at the start or does it build up gradually like Langstroth? If we give our bees too much space they get too many small hive beetles and the bees die/leave....

Leigh said...

Thanks Quinn!

Leigh said...

I suppose once the neighbors know you keep bees, you become THE folks to call. It's a good service though.

Leigh said...

Thanks for that Barb. It's always interesting to read how other bee folk do it.

Leigh said...

I have that book! It's an excellent book too, thanks for mentioning it and especially thanks for the link.

Leigh said...

Gill, that's exciting. I'm on my way over to your blog right now!

Leigh said...

Hopefully it will go better than last year. :)

Leigh said...

Oh Perry, I hope you catch a swarm! And I hope your package bees do better for you this year.

Leigh said...

Good question. They are gradually built up like the Lang. I started with two boxes when I first installed the bees. When comb was being drawn in the bottom box we added two more boxes on the bottom. Some add one, others two. To save Dan's back I figured we'd add two at the same time. :)

Sandy said...

Leigh,

Congratulations on adding two additional beehives to your homestead. I look forward in hearing more about your new hives in the near future.

Jackie P Neal said...

How exciting! We have not ventured into beekeeping yet, but hope to someday! So for now, we'll watch and learn from you Leigh! ")

Leigh said...

Thanks Sandy!

Leigh said...

And there's always something to learn, Jackie. :)