What I Did Today

I don’t have much to say today, but I’m going to say it anyway. (This will be a long rambling post signifying nothing.) I begin work on a month-long feature film shoot next week, which means I won’t have a life for the rest of June and you might not hear much from me again until July. Beekeeping in June will be restricted to the few days I have off. So I hope the sun is shining on those days. But let’s talk about now. How about this thing?

It’s a hand planner. I think that’s what it’s called. I don’t know anything about woodworking or saws or tools or screwdrivers or any of it. But I do remember my shop teacher in junior high showing us how to plan down a piece of wood with a hand planner. I bought the planner because I wanted to even off the edges of some supers so they would fit on top of other supers without leaving a gap between. Check out my handy work:

That’s right. I couldn’t plan a flat edge if you paid me. I planned out a rounded edge to the corner of the super and created an even larger gap underneath it. So I won’t do that again. I’ll try sanding down the edges next time. I realize the bees fill in the cracks with propolis, but the propolis gets snapped off every time I remove the super, and then the 90° Newfoundland rain blows through the gap again and the bees get wet and die. I’ll probably use duct tape to seal over any big gaps, at least until I master my sanding skills.

That’s a photo of some condensation I found under the top covers of our hives today. Until this past weekend, we had a piece of hard insulation over each hive similar to this…

…and the insulation did a great job of keeping the moisture out of the hives. I didn’t think we’d need it anymore, so I removed it, then the temperature went down again and the condensation came back in a big way. So I put the insulation back on. I might just leave it on all year round now. Is there any harm in keeping the insulation on the hives? I wouldn’t think so.

Next up is the plastic insert feeder:

I bought it to replace our leaky hive top feeders that apparently require resealing every year. It sits inside a medium super and is filled similar to a hive top feeder, but it has a mesh guard to supposedly prevent the bees from drowning.

I’ve heard good and bad things about it. One of the bad is that some bees can’t walk up the reservoir to drink the syrup. So to make that easier for them, I coated the plastic underside with some melted beeswax like this:

It’s hard to see it well in the photo, but that’s beeswax on the underside of the feeder. And it worked. I poked under the hood a couple hours later and saw the bees crawling up and sucking down the anise scented syrup like gang busters.

I added the feeder (and a jar feeder to the other hive) because I also added an empty medium super with five foundationless frames to each of the hives this past weekend…

…and I want to encourage the bees to build comb in there pronto. (I also added another five frames today.) I plan to pull the feeders as soon as the comb is well on the way, and before the bees have had a chance to fill in the comb in with nectar or sugar syrup. For no particular reason, here’s a photo of the bees on the top bars looking through the medium super:

Both hives seem to be doing well. A more experienced beekeeper than me said I put the supers on just in time, because he thinks the bees were about the pull the trigger, by which he meant they were about swarm. I’m hoping the medium super, once it’s filled with comb, will discourage the queen from swarming away with half the colony. If she begins to lay up there, that’s fine too. I wouldn’t mind starting up a new hive made of all medium supers. Combining the new medium supers from both hives might be the easiest way to do that.

Okay then, that’s it. By the way, if you’re a Tetris fan, scroll to the bottom of the Help page and go nuts.

3 thoughts on “What I Did Today

  1. A quick note on the plastic insert feeder that I’m using to replace the hive top feeders:

    I was smart to wax the smooth underside of the feeder so the bees could wax up the plastic easier, but I should have removed the mesh and waxed the sides of the reservoirs too. I’ve noticed the bees coming up to take a drink, and then slipping on the plastic and falling into the syrup. A bit of wax would give them the footing they need to drink the syrup without falling in.

    I don’t know why manufacturers don’t make simple tweaks like this to their designs. One brush the bottom with wax, brush the top and you’re done. I’ll make the tweak myself the next chance I get.

    Feeders seem to be a real pain.

  2. The insert feeder (or plastic hive top feeder) wasn’t working because the bees couldn’t seem to walk down the plastic to the syrup in the reservoirs. They would fall into the syrup instead. And walking down the screen wasn’t working for them either.

    So I pulled the screen off and waxed every part of the plastic the bees could access. Now they’re taking up the syrup. I don’t see a large number of them going at it, but at least some of them are drinking it up. Nothing but drizzle and fog for the next five days, so they’ll need it.

    The jar feeder in Hive #1 is getting lower now too.

    I’ll take a quick peek over the weekend and see if both hives are begun to build in the foundationless medium supers yet.

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