Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hive Boxes are ready for Bees.

After another day in the shop, the Hive Boxes are complete, and ready for spring!  We found about a half of a gallon of exterior paint that was left over from painting the fireplace chimney chase, so we decided to use that for the hives.  I added a quart of white exterior paint I had, which lightened up the color, and put that white paint to good use, before it went bad.  I think they look pretty good!

Here's a shot of a complete hive setup:  A bottom board, 2 deep supers (sometimes called brood boxes, or hive bodies) 2 medium supers on top of the deeps (the medium supers will be where the bees store honey) and capping it off, the hive top.
I used Eastern Red Cedar for the bottom board for the hive.  I have quite a bit of this on hand, at it is more rot resistant than pine.  It should weather nicely, without the need for paint.
Angie and I decided we wanted something more than the standard "flat" roof for the hive.  We decided to go with the "garden" style roof.  It looks nice, and dresses up the hive.  I used FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Panel) for the roofing "shingles", and I machined a nice cedar ridge cap.  It turned out good, and I like the look.
Now, once the rest of the Bee Supplies arrive, we should be ready to go!  I will be posting pictures of the other things that go along with the hive, and come the first of April, we should have BEES!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hive boxes primed, ready for paint.

I spent a few hours in the shop this morning, getting the various Bee Hive components primed, and ready for paint.  Once I got a routine established, the painting went pretty quick.  I need to prime the bottom edges of all the boxes, and I will do that later today when the top edge has dried well.

Hive Boxes - The deep boxes are brood boxes.  These go on the bottom of the hive stack, and this is where the Queen hangs out, laying eggs to build the colony numbers with new Bees.  Each hive will have 2 deep brood boxes. 

We decided that rather than just the standard "flat" hive top, we would add a little pizazz to our hives, and build a "garden hive" style roof.  We plan to use FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Panel) for the roofing material, and I have machined a nice piece of Cedar to cap the roof peak.  It will look nice when it is done, and I hope the Bees appreciate the extra work!

That's about it for now.  I hope to get the finish color on the boxes sometime before the weekend is out.  I will be working on the hive top first, because I want to see how that looks when I get it done.  More pictures later...........for now, it's time to help Angie start getting the Christmas Decorations out.........and up!  See ya!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bee Supplies ordered!

Angie and I compiled a list of Beekeeping supplies, chose the suppliers with the best prices, and placed orders on Friday, Nov. 23rd.  Many Beekeeping Suppliers are offering discounts or free shipping this time of year.  We took advantage of these offers, and saved well over $50.00 in shipping charges!  All of the suppliers I have spoken with on the phone have been extremely pleasant and very helpful.  It's really nice to talk with a real person when you phone a company looking for advice or information!

Today, it's back to the shop to complete a couple more brood boxes, and a couple of hive tops.  I will have to gather all of the complete hive components I have built and post a picture.  I have quite a stack of hive boxes and other components sitting in the shop.  These were really enjoyable to build, and I saved a bunch of money by doing it myself!  Sometimes, a shop full of woodworking equipment pays off in more ways than just enjoyment!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Honey Bees are on order!

Angie called the Bee Supplier we have chosen, and ordered our Honey Bees today.  Bees for starting hives are sold several ways, but the most popular way to start a hive is with "Package Bees".  The most common "Package" size contains 3 pounds of Bees, along with a Queen.  There are about 3,500 bees per pound, so a 3 lb. Package will contain about 10, 000 hungry mouths to feed!

Our supplier lives near Champaign, IL.  Our bees should arrive around the 2nd week of April.  We will drive up north to pick up our little friends, and come home and hive them.  I plan to set up the video camera when we hive the bees, and post the video here on the blog.  Angie and I are both looking forward to working with the bees.

The Bees we have chosen are an Italian strain of Honey Bee.  They are a light colored, pretty little bee.  They are a good choice for our area, because they are winter hardy, very good natured to work with, and they are good producers.  Now, more than ever, we are looking forward to spring.  In the meantime, I will be spending some time in the shop building more hive components.  Here is a photo of an Italian Honey Bee.......pretty little girl, isn't she?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shop time! Building hive components.

After figuring up cost of components, coupled with shipping costs, I decided that I can build my own Bee Hive components and save some money.  With a Woodworking shop full of equipment, it makes sense and gives me some enjoyment at the same time.  It's a win-win!

I attached a few pictures of what I built this weekend.  I built 2 bottom boards.  These are the foundation of the Bee Hive, and the rest of the hive is built upon the bottom board.  The bottom board also serves as the entrance to the hive for the bees.

The box assembly I built is a "Medium Honey Super".  These boxes are stacked on top of the brood box, and this is where the bee colony will draw honeycomb, and fill that comb with honey.  This is also the portion of the hive where the beekeeper will harvest honey from.  In a good year, coupled with a very productive colony, a hive can have as many as 6 to 8 supers filled with honey.  The hive stack can end up being over 6 feet tall, and hold 200 lbs. or more of honey.  Not a bad summers work for a bunch of bugs!

 Below are the pictures of the Medium Super, and the Bottom Board.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Decided on a source for Honey Bees today.

I talked with David Burns today, who along with his wife Sheri, own and operate Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.  Long Lane is located in Fairmount, IL.  Fairmount is a small community near Champaign.  David is a EAS Certified Master Beekeeper, and has been keeping bees since 1994.  We are able to order our Honey Bees from David, and pick them up in April from his apiary.  They have a great website, and he and Sheri are dedicated to beekeeping, and helping others succeed with their beekeeping endeavors.  I have included a link to their website under our links.  Check them out when you have some free time.  Lots to see and learn!  We have decided to start with a "package" of bees, and introduce them into our hives, which is the most basic way to start a bee colony.  It is also the best way to start from square one, and observe how the bees establish themselves in your hive.  It has to be a rush opening a 3 lb. package of bees, which is about 10,000 of the little critters, and placing them into the hive!  There are other ways to purchase bees, but experienced keepers say you haven't lived until you hived your own that's what we are going to do.  We plan to video tape the experience and post the video and pictures here on the blog.  Bees are ordered in the fall, and delivered and hived in the spring, so we have a few months to get our equipment together, and learn as much as we can.  There is a lot to know, that's for sure!  It should be a fascinating learning experience, and one Angie and I are looking forward to!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

St. Clair Beekeepers Association

I had a nice conversation with Ken Schaefer, the current President of the St. Clair Beekeepers Association.  He invited Angie and I to attend their next meeting, which will be held in Edwardsville.  Also, Ken let me know that they have several members that breed queens, and also offer starter Honey Bee Colony's to members for a reasonable fee.  This will work great for us, as we are starting from scratch, and we would have to purchase bees anyway.  Purchasing from a local source is much better, as you know where the bees came from and which variety of bee they are.  Better yet, you know that the bees are acclimated to our climate, which ensures a successful colony, good brood buildup and honey production.  We look forward to attending a meeting, and joining the St. Clair Beekeepers Association.  Oh yeah...........they are offering a beginning Beekeepers course in February, which we are also interested in.  Things are coming along with the new hobby!

Just getting up and running!

Angie and I have decided to begin keeping Honey Bees in the spring of 2011.  With next to nothing to do during the winter months, we can spend time learning all about Beekeeping.  Honey Bees are fascinating little creatures, and their importance to our every day life doesn't get as much attention as it should.  As we obtain the things we need to get started, we will be adding to our blog, and posting many pictures!