Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Make a Bee Box Sandwich

At last I finished assembling the 20 bee frames for my honeybee boxes. Each frame has an insert of bee foundation--a layer of beeswax imprinted with a hexagonal bee cell texture to provide a substrate for the bees to build upon. The top of each frame has a built-in spacer ensuring that the frames will be the optimum distance apart to allow the bees to move around, build comb and store honey or raise a new brood, yet the frames can be removed by the beekeeper without harming the bees. While I was nailing and gluing the frames a wild honey bee inspected my craftsmanship.
This afternoon I assembled the bee box in anticipation of my bees arriving in the mail,--probably tomorrow. This is my basic beginner bee set-up, bottom to top:

The box is set up off the ground on a pallet. On the base I have added a special layer recommended by a beekeeping friend: a mite screen. As the bees are working in the hive and brushing against each other, bee mites will be knocked off and fall to the bottom of the hive. Instead of being able to climb back up to the bees, they will fall through the screen and become stuck to a metal plate that has been smeared with a thin layer of Crisco. A nifty, non-toxic method to reduce parasites.
Next is the hive body section, which contains 10 frames where the queen will lay eggs and new bees will be raised.

On top of the hive body is placed a metal grid with openings large enough to allow worker bees to pass through but too small to allow the queen to get through. This way, the queen will lay eggs only in the lower chamber and the upper levels will be reserved for honey storage.

Next is the super- another box with 10 frames for honey storage. As the colony grows, more supers can be added.

The cover has a metal top to protect the wooden bee box from moisture. I have drilled a 1-inch hole in the front of each box for ventilation. The entire set-up is sloped slightly downhill so that rain will run out of the hive rather than in.

My bee box is sited in the east pasture, along the fence next to the asparagus bed. It faces south with a sunny exposure so the bees will warm up and can get to work early in the day. There is a risk the cows could knock it over, but once the bees are settled in they will probably make sure the cows keep their distance.

So, I think I am ready for the bees. Not to say that I really know what I am doing. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

mo'ikeha said...

Many blogs talking about bees during the last time, which allows me to hope that people may understand how to live in harmony with nature - something you surely do know very well.