Almost two weeks ago on the sunny morning of June 19th I visited Dena Rash Guzman's beautiful 60 acre organic farm where she keeps, among other things, her honey bees that make up Lusted Road Honey Company. I was there to aid in the inspection of her colonies housed in a variety of hive designs -- Langstroth, Warre and horizontal top bar hives. She told me she was particularly concerned about the Warre hive, as in the past day or so she's seen a tremendous number of dead bees suddenly appear on the bottom board.
They are finally finished! It took a few months longer than expected, but the plans to make our top bar hive are ready for purchase and immediate download from this page: http://www.beethinking.com/products/top-bar-hive-plans
Earlier this month we finally completed our first run of top bar hive nucleus boxes. They are a wonderful addition to the apiary of any top bar beekeeper! Perfect for swarm catching, splitting colonies, and overwintering small nucs. Conveniently sized, we carry them in the back of our cars and trucks at all times so that we're always ready for the next swarm call!
They are constructed from the same beautiful kiln dried Western Red Cedar used on the rest of our top bar hives, Warre hives, and Cedar Langstroth hives. They feature 7 top bars and 1 divider, and a roof covered in sheet metal to keep out the elements. Pre-drilled and easy to assembly in a few minutes. $99 with free shipping to the lower 48 states.
On Saturday evening, in preparation for our house warming, I worked diligently to create the first cedar top bar hive of 20 that will be placed throughout the city in April. I wanted to have one (mostly) completed for family and friends to see, as some of them will have them in their yards in a few months! The new wood worked splendidly - just wet enough to be manipulated easily. In addition, the political signs I received from the City of Gresham worked relatively well for the roof. I am quite pleased with the result, and look forward to finishing the rest.
I am trying to build all 20 as efficiently as possible. Therefore I'm building them in mini-assembly line fashion: 10 legs at a time, 8 follower boards, then 6 sets of end boards. This way I can quickly put them together from the store of parts I've already finished. In addition, I'm standardizing the sizing of every piece so that parts are interchangeable. Should I end up with more than 20 hives, I think this added work will pay off tremendously.
Follower board assembly table:
Over the past couple weeks I've been mapping out my preliminary hive locations and tallying up the miles if I visit them each weekend from April-September. Due to this evaluation, I am rethinking a couple of my sites and attempting to find more that are close by, or close to other sites. This way I can spend more time beekeeping and less time driving through the season.
For the remote locations that I do not want to give up, such as the wineries in Dundee, I am seriously considering the use of Warré hives for their reduced maintenance needs. This way I will still be using foundationless hives with top bars, but won't have the need to drive 80 miles to Dundee each weekend, thus giving me more time to build, prepare, etc. In the next couple weeks I intend to begin creating a Warré, with the possibility of creating 8 before the end of April.
I expect to have the top bar hives finished by the end of February, this giving me ample time for the rest of the preparations. Stay tuned!