Bees are truly incredible creatures! As you may have read in my wife’s post earlier, our bees were doomed.
It was sad. Our package starving, likely with bee dysentary, a third dead. Then the weather was against them. Cold and raining for a week!
We were like new parents. Sure that everything we did was wrong, that we had doomed these little critters! Then, we fearfully checked the hive. They were clustered. Barely any syrup consumed. In our minds….. goners.
I was continually harassing a master beekeeper at honeybeesuite.com Rusty was always helpful and her blog super informative! Go say hi and fill you brain with beeknowledge. Rusty is a straight forward lady with a love for bees and words…
Yesterday we exited the aparant nuclear winter! It was sunny and 70+ degrees! You know what miraculous thing was happening? Bees! Buzzing around, flying away from the hive as others returned. Some even had bits of pollen on their little legs!
We did another hive inspection. We have a top bar style hive. Why? Just ‘cuz. Anyway, bar # 1….. NOTHING. Not even a bee! Hmmm. Bar #2 & #3 same. Then #4! Had bees and a little chunk of comb! I was so excited. (Which for me meant I smiled.)
As we went on we found a “huge” drawn comb! It was amazing! They built this on their own, they were filling it with nectar and pollen. Against all odds (in our minds) these little critters were making a home. Amazing!
We finished installing a removable bottom board, built the roof, and installed #8 mesh on the bottom of the hive. Our next goal is to cut the top bars to fit the hive and then coat a strip on the bottom of the board with beeswax so that the bees have something to work off of.
Hinges will probably be next. Some people build them with hinges, some people just lift the entire roof off and set it to the side. Because the kids will be working with the bees too, the hinges will make it easier for them to get into the hive. No need to lift the heavy roof off- just lift it up! We primed and painted the entire exterior- including the roof for a little extra protection under the tin. We left the interior bare, as the bees don’t need to be chewing on paint. 🙂
The part that we’re most concerned about right now is getting the entrance placement right. That will probably be the last thing we do before we put the bees in the hive. You’ll see different types of entrances on every hive you see. We think we’re going for a non-traditional entrance, but we’re doing a bit more research before we decide whether we’ll be doing this or not. It’s a bit more work than just picking a side and drilling some holes in the sides of the hive. We have wasps to contend with, local hives that may rob ours- and critters of all sizes that will try and eat the bees, honey or both. We want to be sure we are doing everything we can to make our hive defensible, but also comfortable for the bees. That first year is extremely critical for new hives. If we can build it in a way that will help our bees thrive this summer and successfully overwinter- we’ll be in great shape for collecting a bit of honey AND comb next year.