Photo of a Friendly Bee

I know this bee like the back of my hand.

Other photos I’ve recently uploaded but won’t bother posting: Bees drinking up vomited pollen; fresh natural comb from the honey super on Hive #1 — wide shot and close up; honey bees festooning on fresh natural honey comb from Hive #1; honey bee loaded with pollen on Hive #2 — front view and back view; grainy shot of a bee coming in for a landing; and another bee from Hive #2 resting with pollen.

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


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


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.