Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bee Swarms-- Part Two

Bee Swarms—Part Two

We have a new hive….and Mark suggested it. This is huge, as he was adamantly opposed to beekeeping in the back yard for years. “What if some drunken idiot knocks the hive over and gets attacked by the bees?” he worried. My response was, always, that’s their own damn fault for trespassing and being stupid, but he never quite believed me. Since we’ve had a hive, he’s changed his mind and he’ll even peer into the comb and hold the smoker for me. He’s very interested in the theory of beekeeping and hive management so the idea of adding a new hive of a different style was appealing.
We ordered a Warre Hive kit from BeeThinking in Portland. The design combines the best of two types of hive—the familiar stacked boxes (known as Langstrom Hives) and the horizontal top bar hive that I have in my back yard. Basically, it is a series of smaller stacked boxes without foundation combs—it uses the same “top bar” technique that my other hive does and thus allows the bees to construct their own comb to their desired sizes and shapes. It’s easier to harvest and more natural—but does lead to some funky cross comb (which, by all accounts, I’m supposed to mold into straight comb every week or so…).

The hive kit was lovely. The cuts were sharp and we were able to assemble it on our own with no arguments. Maybe it was the American Dream pizza on one end of the table, or Lucy wandering through the stacks of lovely smelling cedar, or the chance to use Power Tools (the new drill), but it was a peaceful evening assembly. We constructed one hive box, the quilt box, and the roof in about two hours, pausing frequently for pizza and cherries.

Last Saturday morning was transfer time. Rich was in the back yard by 8AM, cup of coffee in hand, big box of tools beside him, sawing a piece of wood to fit over his Langstrom Nuc hive (basically, a same box about the size of the white cardboard one that had been bee home for a week now). The plan—place the swarm comb into the nuc hive and then stack mine on top, with a big hole to encourage upward mobility. Over time, the bees would leave behind Rich’s box and occupy mine. Quickly, Rich cut several pieces of wood to bridge the gap between the two hives, then moved to the bee yard under the hazelnut tree. The transfer went fine, except for a piece of comb, covered in bees, that fell to the ground—the merger of the two hives not so much so…He had not checked beforehand that the measurements were accurate, so the rigging didn’t fit. “No problem,” he muttered confidently, making the needed changes as bees swarmed around him, looking for their home, wondering what he was doing up so early in the morning. (The same question had crossed Mark’s mind…)

Once the attachment was complete, bees began to move in. The queen was inside, it was early in the morning….they marched from the old cardboard box into the new wooden one in a steady stream. A few flew around, bewildered, for an hour or o, but they were all re-hived by bedtime. Since then, they have been moving in and out, bringing in nectar and pollen, building lovely new comb—all in the lower box. No one was moved upstairs this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment