Backyard Beekeeping Blog

March 08, 2009

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Less Than A Month Until Package Bees

Vacations, work and other endeavors have kept me from spending much time with Bee Thinking. In the past month I've only had time to build one more Warre hive, leaving me with 8 to go before placing them at their respective wineries and backyards in early April prior to the arrival of the packages. The next three weekends and many evenings will certainly be spent covered in sawdust, making vigorous use of templates and mass production to build the remaining hives. In addition, I hope to have sufficient time to coat each of them in linseed oil and beeswax to extend the longevity of each hive in Oregon's wet environment, thus reducing maintenance in the years to come.

A few weeks ago I surveyed a number of wineries that have requested Bee Thinking hives in order to determine suitability for bees. I took into account seclusion from public, accessibility for management, available flowers for forage, water, protection from wind, exposure to sunlight and believe I've settled on 3-4 ideal locations for hive placement during the 2009 beekeeping season. Upon further discussion with the winery owners I will let you know the final hive layout plan.

Furthermore, Bee Thinking is now the first and only beekeeping-related website on the EcoMetro guide - a popular green and sustainable business directory covering a number of eco-friendly cities, including Portland, Oregon.

Pictures coming as soon as I return from San Antonio, Texas!

February 12, 2009

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The Warres Are Coming!

The past couple evenings I've been building the first Warré hive of 10+ to be deployed this Spring. I plan to place all Warré hives at the most remote outyards. The wineries in Dundee are the logical locations for these hives, and I think the reduced management (less than 5 times per year) will make them a more feasible option than top bar hives, which would require almost weekly maintenance during the height of the season. Close to Oak Grove (Milwaukie) I will be using a combination of top bar hives and Warrés, depending on the site.

From Warre

It should be relatively easy to mass produce the Warrés, as the plans are simple and the components are largely rectangles of various sizes cut out of cedar. You can see in the photo below the beginnings of the Bee Thinking Warré hive assembly line.

From Warre
In addition to hives, I will be building a lift to hoist the top boxes up to allow room to place additional boxes below. The genius of this method of beekeeping is that the colony is rarely disturbed, and the roof is only taken off once a year to harvest honey from the top boxes. In addition, it creates a perfect cycle of new comb, as new boxes are added below and full boxes are removed from the top, the brood continues to move downward into new boxes, thus reducing the opportunity for disease-laden comb.
February 09, 2009

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One (Mostly) Complete Warre and Nine To Go

Last night I completed the roof to the first Bee Thinking Warre hive, and I'm quite pleased with the results. They use approximately 30 board feet versus approximately 20 for the top bar hives, but I think the reduced maintenance and increased free time gained with the Warres will be invaluable. All that remains is to complete the quilt and top bars and then I will move on to the 9 other Warres necessary for the far reaches of our apiary.

From Warre
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February 08, 2009

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Spring is Nigh and the Preparations are Well Under Way

By the beginning of April I expect to have a combination of Warré and top bar hives totaling 20 placed throughout the city of Portland and wine country (Dundee). Building hives, of course, isn't the only task I have to complete before spring. Two nights ago I completed two raised flower beds that will be placed almost directly in front of the hives along what will soon be a fence at the North side of our yard. This will provide maximum sun exposure given the massive willow tree to the south and the fence to the east.

Raised beds:

From Shop 2-7-09

Shop view:

From Shop 2-7-09

Yesterday, while Jill was at work, I finished the foundation of three top bar hives, bringing our total (if the pine hives are included) to 8. One or two more top bar hives and then I plan to focus almost entirely upon Warrés that will be placed at the distant locations such as Dundee. I suppose I need to make another run to Treecycle Northwest for cedar before construction is over!

Wood cut to size:

From Shop 2-7-09

Fruit of labor:

From Shop 2-7-09

In addition to building in the wonderful shop, I have spent many hours this past week working on Bee Thinking. Some notable additions have been the first multi-language support and a photo/video gallery. I must translate every article written for Bee Thinking at least to German, French and Italian. If you would like content translated to your own language, please contact me and I'll do my best to accommodate you.

I apologize for the delay in the monthly focus topic and new give away item. You should expect to see both early this week.

February 02, 2009

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top bar hive ›


The First of Many Hives

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.

Hive:

From Shop

 

From Shop

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:

From Shop

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!

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