February 01, 3000

My Colorado Beekeeping Calendar: A sticky post

A Phenological Calendar for Colorado Beekeepers

By undergoing VIT, I successfully reduced my sensitivity to honeybee venom to safe levels! After taking several years off, my interest in beekeeping has not waned, and I'm anxious to restock our hives. I'm just not sure how to proceed since we're still planning to move out of Colorado. Should I restock and run the hives, then sell them to someone when we move? Moving fully stocked hives presents challenges, particularly in the height of summer, probably not a complication I'll want to deal with while coordinating an out-of-state move. What about the fact that one's a Top Bar Hive and one's a Warré? Should I run just one, with plans to leave it behind and take the other with, empty? Which one to run? Which one to take? Should I run the one I prefer or the one I won't mind leaving behind? Which one do I prefer?! The mind wobbles.

What about you? What are your plans for this season? If you're in the Denver metro, maybe my bloom calendar will help you think them through. Just keep in mind that the dates can shift a couple of weeks in either direction depending on weather conditions. For example, the excessively warm 2017/2018 winter had elm trees blooming well before Valentine's Day. The snow storm on President's Day, though, cut short its blooming period. You can click on any of the events for more details and additional reading. I hope you find it useful.

Blue = honeybee, yellow = mason bee, green = what's blooming. And don't forget, Marty Hardison's booklet, "The Appropriate Beehive" is available at right. If you like The List he wrote for when to do what for one's bees, please consider making a donation. It'll ensure "The Appropriate Beehive" remains available through this website. I'm working with Marty on an update. I'm challenged by the limits of Google Docs because I can't afford Microsoft Word, but I'm trying to find a solution so we can post it for you ASAP. Until then, may your hives be humming. — BB & HB

Blogger Tip: create a "pinned" or "sticky post" by publishing it with a date in the future, like in the year 3000. It'll stay at the top of your page as long as the date hasn't passed.

July 09, 2020

Warré Hive from the Bottom, Up

This is a virtual your of my cedar Warré hive, all the parts and accessories from the bottom up. It was built by a professional carpenter, not home-made, and is sure to be compatible with any Warré components added in the future.

The very bottom is a "deep sump" screened bottom board. It's "better" than a standard one because mites fall an extra couple inches which in theory makes it less likely for them to crawl back onto the bees. The extra depth also gives the bees space to beard inside the hive. There's a slot for sliding in a mite counting board (which doubles as a solid bottom in the winter). It wouldn't be a bad idea to put the bottom board on a hive stand, especially if the hive will be overwintering in a spot that gets a lot of snow. That's a 4-inch flower pot, to give you a sense of scale.

This is a hive body. (I think this one is pine.) It has three holes drilled into it, currently plugged with corks, giving you the option to give your bees the option for upper entrance(s). Mine preferred the uppers. Successful beekeepers give the bees what the bees need, not what the beekeeper themselves would like. If this hive body is used as a super, these entrances enable your bees to "dump and run." They can deliver nectar without having to travel through the brood nest for efficient honey production. I've experimented with a variety of top bars. They all work equally as well.

This is a hive body with  an observation window. Brass hardware secures the shutter over the (plexi?)glass. If you look through the window, you'll see the first three top bars are outfitted with short side bars (standard Langstroth parts). This is nontraditional but I like that the sidebars are "self-spacing" so you don't have to nail the top bars in to maintain bee space. Proper bee space encourages the bees to build straight comb. Also, most municipalities require that combs be inspectable so these are "to code."

This is a piece of brood comb tied into one of the "frames." It is a very valuable resource that can be used to attract a swarm in the Spring, encourage a package of bees to not abscond, or to encourage bees that have decided to stay put to build straight comb. Comb and lived-in woodenware are the most enticing things you can offer your bees. BONUS: this is all chemical-free!

This is an eke, sometimes called a Mountain Camp feeding rim, made out of teak. It provides about a 2" deep space to lay in solid feed like candy and pollen patties. You could also put a gallon-sized baggie feeder in the space.

But this hive top feeder is a much better (and plastic-free) way to give your bees a large amount of liquid feed, in a quick fashion. Fewer disruptions are best for any colony, but especially a colony that needs a hand for whatever reason.

This is a queen excluder. A honey super would go on top of this when your colony is ready to produce excess honey. It's a completely optional piece of equipment, but it keeps the queen out of the the hive body on top so she can't lay eggs there. Most people don't like brood in their honey.

This is the quilt. The propolis screen (rolled up in parchment paper) should be laid between the uppermost hive body/super and the quilt. It limits how much the bees can gunk up the canvas and prevents them from securing the quilt to the hive body. The canvas needs to be clean so it can vent moisture up and out of the hive. The box is filled with shredded aspen wood, also known as excelsior. It should never feel damp. If it does, your colony has an extreme moisture problem.

The gabled roof "telescopes" down, completely covering the quilt. I stuffed a nylon garlic bag into the ridge vent to discourage wasps from building a nest in the roof. The large side vent is not screened but that might be a smart modification.
A hive tool is necessary for hive inspections. I never got a chance to use my cheese slicer, so it's brand new. If/when your bees build comb that connects to the box below, a hive tool won't help you. The cheese wire will slice through the comb, allowing you to separate the boxes with minimal damage to the combs.

So there you have it. A two body Warré Hive with accessories, ready for bees.

Related Posts: You may be interested in my Primer posts which include suggestions on How To Get Bees.