Improving Langstroth Honey Bee Hive Ventilation with The Mud Songs Ventilator Rim™

UPDATE: I’ve since converted all of my fabulously patented ventilation rims into moisture quilts. See the updates at the end for more details.

I made some improvements to the design of my ventilator rim (a.k.a. a ventilation eke). It’s still cheap and easy to make and should do a fine job (I hope) at improving the ventilation of any Langstroth hive. First, I cut four pieces of wood for the front, back and sides of the rim. Here’s a shot of the side pieces:

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Making and Using a Ventilator Rim

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON AUGUST 22, 2011.

Well, not really making a ventilator rim. I already made it and it looks like this:

Like the name implies, it provides ventilation for the hive. And as far as I know, it’s good to have on the hive any time of the year, though for the winter we might stick with our insulated inner hive covers. They worked out well for us this past winter.
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Dummy Boards for Dummies

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON SEPT. 14, 2011.

I finally got around to making two dummy boards today — also known as follower boards. Rusty over at Honey Bee Suite says:

    “…the bees can collect on the follower boards without sitting on the brood. In hot weather, the bees have a hard time keeping the brood cool enough, and sitting on it makes it worse. So both follower boards and slatted racks give the bees a place to “hang out.” This also reduces the feeling of congestion in the hive and congestion is a major factor in swarming.”

The dummy boards also reduce the risk of rolling the queen during inspections. All of which means nothing if you don’t know what dummy boards / follower boards are or why I’d want to make some, so read the following posts from Honey Bee Suite for an explanation of what it’s all about: Follower boards in a Langstroth hive and How to make follower boards for a Langstroth hive.

Kinda cool, ah? (I assume you just got back from reading those posts.) I made the two dummy boards by following Rusty’s instructions, though I did it all without measuring anything, and then I got creative and added a little extra something to the design at the end of it. I’m an incompetent carpenter, so by necessity I have to keep it simple.

I began by using a hand-held jig saw to cut the top bar down the middle:

People with fancy schmancy table saws can cut in a straight line. I’m not one of those people. It wasn’t exactly a smooth cut but close enough.
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Cleaning Comb

Here’s a snapshot of a honey bee cleaning out some comb I had to pull from one of our hives last week. I might update this post later with a video. It was fun watching this single bee poke its head down every cell on the comb to clean them out.

Now I didn’t have to pull the comb, but I did because I’m kind of stupid that way. It’s my preferred method of learning. I don’t have a beekeeping mentor to follow, so inserting medium frames into deep boxes, filtering drones from the hive, pulling combs that should be left alone — that’s the only way I can truly learn that, “Yup. Bad idea.” At least I got a cool photo out of it, and the bee is in focus. Not always an easy feat on those macro shots.

Honey Super Filling Up Slowly

I inspected Hive #1 today and was glad to see that the honey super is starting to fill up with honey. Nine frames spread out in a ten frame super, alternating plastic with foundationless frames. I didn’t take any photos or videos. Snapping off photos during an inspection, especially when I’m alone, only complicates things (but I’ll do what I can for more instructive posts). My main concern was to make sure the queen wasn’t honey bound. I found three frames in the middle of the top box that looked like this…

…worker brood in the middle surrounded by pollen and honey, only this time everything looked dirtier and darker because the comb isn’t fresh like it was when the photo was taken last year. Still, it’s more or less what I wanted to see. Honey and pollen, new worker brood and enough space for the queen to continue laying.

The foundationless frames in the top box of Hive #1 were migrated to Hive #2 a while back, so it’s a mostly conventional hive now with perhaps three or four foundationless frames left over in the bottom brood box. The minimized number of foundationless frames — which perhaps knocks back drone production — might have something to do with the honey super filling with honey now. (Pure speculation.) The bees in Hive #2, a hive that is about 80% foundationless, show no signs of building in their honey super yet. So go figure. Okay then, let’s move on to even more boringer details.
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