Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Protective Clothing

You can spend some money on these items. Mostly all new beekeepers are fear being stung. A little FYI you are going to get stung. You see some Beekeepers who wear nothing to very little or get dressed up like they are going into battle. The number one thing when it comes to protection is your eyes.......... If you get stung in the eye you can go blind. So at the least wear eye protection. 

Do not wear dark clothing, fuzzy materials, or clothing made of animal fiber. Unless you are trying to look like a bear. Bees hate that and will sting you. Light colors are best, white or tan. 
I will start out with the Ultra breeze jacket,  . I have read great things about it and how it helps you stay a little cooler in the heat. I will let you know more after I have used it.

Beginners who fear getting stung should look into a good pair of goat skin gloves. Many beekeepers you will see do not wear any hand protection they find gloves to be cumbersome and will risk a few stings for the ease of handling. Form fitting gloves seem to work such as used in lab work they not only help in reducing stings but help with sticky fingers from honey and propolis.

Angry bees tend to attack ankles first because they are at the level of the hive entrance. Do not wear dark socks. Secure pant legs around ankles with Velcro or rubber bands to reduce stings. 
Do not wear any perfumes or colognes when working with bees because strange odors attract curious bees.

Ancillary Equipment

Just waiting for the hives to dry so I thought I would talk about equipment. Just like the Hive you can spend thousands of dollars on all kinds of stuff you think you need. Spend your money wisely. Talking to seasoned beekeepers they all tell me ( one thing they all agree on ) don’t fall for the marketing , buy only what you need because they all say most equipment is either never used or misplaced.

The bee smoker and Hive tool are essential to working bees. The 4x7 smoker is the most widely used.  I ordered a 10 in with smoke and figure shield and a hook. Always get one with a heat shield. Smoker fuel includes burlap, corn cobs, wood shavings, pine needles, etc…. Use what you have around the yard before you order any from suppler.

The hive tool is a metal bar essential for prying frames, separating hive bodies, and scraping away wax and propolis. Cleaning the hive tool is best done in the fire pot of your smoker this helps to prevent the spread of bee disease. Do not use a screwdriver or putty knife for a substitute they may cause frame and hive damage. Get more than one hive tool.

I did get a frame perch so when I am doing my inspection I will be able to keep the frames clean and off the ground. I was told that I will not use that for very long. All you need to do is when you lift off the inner cover turn it upside down on the ground and then neatly place the frames on that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Putting it all together

Well my equipment has arrived in four big boxes. They are filled with all kinds of cut wood, oh my where do I begin? I separated all like parts, and then saw that it was going to be difficult to put 100 frames together by hand. 

So back to the internet to find something that could help me assemble them in a more orderly fashion. That is when I found this site  Look under down loads then Frame assembly Jig. What a great time saver and also some great Videos and pod casts about bees. After I had a friend build me the jig, my skills at carpentry are non existent. I started putting the frames together. The jig is very easy to use just slide the two removable boards in and place the frame sides in, ten will fit at one time. Place glue all around the area before you place the tops on. I used titebound III Premium wood clue. Then place the tops on and nail. I nail them straight down. Some people say you should nail it at a angle so they do not pull out. But that is why I am using glue, the nail is just to hold it tight the glue keeps them together.
 After you do the tops flip it over and do the same thing to the bottom. Pull the two boards out and the frames just fall out, start the next ten. In no time I was completed with all the frames. I will use 100% bees wax small cell foundation with wire and hooks. Check out this movie on putting foundation in your frames.

So now on to the boxes. When I purchased my boxes I wanted to use Cyprus commercial grade wood. All I could find at that time was butt Joint boxes. But now that I have read a little more about equipment I would look for Dove tail or Finger joints in  cyprus wood. 
I was only putting ten boxes together so I did not need a jig, just Screws, a battery powered screw gun, a square, and glue. Boxes went together fast just make sure they are square.
If I had it to do over I would of used white pine with Dove tail or Finger joints and put a good outdoor paint on them this would of saved some money and what I read, last just as long. I will try to use three medium or Illinois supers for the brood and the other two for honey. I might end up purchasing two more boxes for honey surplus for me a and the girls for the winter.

Putting the outer cover together was straight forward, just glue and screws It was made with tongue and grove joints . This outer telescoping cover protects hive parts from the weather. The top is normally covered with sheet metal to prevent weathering and leaking. I choose not to get one with metal because I thought it would make the hive like on over in the SC heat.

Now when it comes to the bottom board I wanted a screen bottom board and also wanted a Sticky board for Verroa Mites and a small hive beetle trap. I also wanted to be able to service these items from the back so not to disturb the girls that much. I could not find one for an eight frame hive so I ordered a screen bottom board and an extension kit. Screwed and glued them together.

 I am ready to bring on the bees? Just started looking for bees on the internet and asking questions on the bee forums. . when some one asked me what color I painted the hives. I said why paint I purchased that nice Cyprus wood that  can with stand all kinds of weather. To get the expected life out of the hive you should paint or stain the bodies ( All outside and cut ends ). So off to get some paint. I was trying to find the best outdoor paint I could find, you know I want these Hives to last a life time for what I have spent on them. But I could not decide on the color. Then my wife said let’s look at the return cart and were we lucky. We found three one quart cans of paint, cheep, off white. We asked the paint person what colors we could make out of this and they said what color do you want. I said bright pastels would be great. So he made a peach, powder blue, and yellow. Boy the bees are not going to miss these hives, They can see them a mile away.  Later on I found out that bees do not see colors like us, so whatever color you want to paint the hives is ok. I have heard don’t use red but not sure why. Lighter colors are best

Some of the local beekeepers use colors that blend into the back ground not for the bees. Because people will steal the hives when placed out for pollination. One guy in the local beekeeping association painted his camouflage and to this day he still cannot locate them. We have started to paint today. Well I should say my wife has started to paint. What a great job she does. I will post the pictures as soon as they dry.

I am glade I have the GPS location for these two hives. LOL..

Next I will be starting Bee class and I will give you the buzz on that, next time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where to start? Simple question.

When I started thinking about this new Hobby, I thought how hard can this be? A big box, some bees, and all the honey we can eat, and don't forget $$$ lots of easy Money. Boy was I wrong. Just buying the equipment was very complicated to say the least. Everyone has their own way of doing things. As that old beekeeper saying goes, ask three beekeepers the same question and you will get four different answers. So I decided to join some forums to get some help, and questions answered. Three forums I have found very helpful are and The great thing about Beemaster is they have this thing called Ventrilo voice chat. Easy to install and use. So if you are not the best and fastest at typing all you need is a mic and speakers and you will be up and talking in no time. Then there is Bee Source it has all kinds of beekeepers from commercial to side liners and Hobby people. Another great site to find out about alternative ways of working with Bess is . The Barefoot Beekeeper is about Natural, Chemical-free beekeeping in top bare hives. These are only three of the many web sites that pertain to bees and  bee product . Remember keep an open mind and find out what is right for your life style and go with it. All three sites are full of friendly people who, like you care about bees and will try and help with all your questions.

So let’s get back to my things to do list.
EQUIPMENT is my first job to tackle. What and how much do I need, because I don't know if I will like this hobby, or maybe I am going thru a mid life crises like my son tells me. So the first place I stopped was Google search and put in Beekeeping equipment. There are so many beekeeping equipment sites on the internet that I did not know where to start. So I found the closets one's to my home and ordered Catalogs from each. But I also looked on their sites. What do I need? I back tracked back to the forums with more questions. By this time I figured everyone would be sick and tired of my Rookie questions, but to my surprise they still were willing to help. So I started.

What type of equipment?
Large, medium, or small supers
Ten or eight frame. Or should I take a 10 frame and make it a nine frame with spacers, or maybe make a ten frame an eight frame?
What type wood? Pine, Cyprus etc….
Box or rabbit cut?
Natural or plastic foundation?
Telescope, Flat, Migratory, or reversible cover?
Solid, or screened, or screened beetle trap, or double screen bottom boards?
Slatted rack or not?
Inner cover or not?
Queen Excluder, wood, plastic, or metal? Or just don’t use one.
Feeders ? Boardman, plastic feeder pail, plastic entrance one piece, plastic hive top feeder? So to say the least everyone uses some thing different and each climate location needs somethings different .But I did have a lot to look at.

I was back to square one until some beekeepers told me to.

Before you do anything read Beekeepers for Dummies. Then ask yourself why do I  want to take care of bees? Make a million $$$, save the environment; help out in your garden become a commercial Beekeeper etc…? Answering this question will help you decide what equipment to start out with.

Most all beekeepers I talked to said to start out with at least two Hives so you can see the differences and tell if something is going wrong. Find a local Beekeeping Association . Great group I have gone to two meeting and have learned a lot. I have also signed up to take the Beginers Beekeeping Course.
 I ordered the book and read it and began my wish list which has changed several times after talking to more beekeepers and getting there input.

This is my first equipment order.
I will start with two Hives both having.
Telescoping Top
No Inner covers
After Reading several comments about not getting an inner cover I decided it would be best to get that or a jack hamer. So I ordered two inner covers.
This is why. When you us a top cover, you will also need a inner cover, to help with condensation and for ease of getting the outer cover off your hive, using just a top cover the bees will fill the edges with Propolis which is a kind of bee cement and because of the shape of the outer cover you will not be able to get your hive tool under the cover to pry it off.
If you do not want to use a inner cover you can order a Migratory, Flat, or a reversible cover. These covers are very similar in construction with some slight variation. Check out Rossmans Apiaries at they have the three covers I have mentioned.
All medium eight frame supers. Supers made of Cyprus.
I will use natural Bees wax foundation small cell.
I will use a slatted Rack from Better Bee they offer the one that is vertical that goes in the same direction as the frames and a screened bottom board with an extension kit for small hive beetles.
An entrance reducer and Hive top feeder, one hive tool a brush, professional 10in smoker funnel top. I was told not to get a round top it always comes off. A Bee jacket and Vail combination from it is called the Ultra Breeze a little pricey but I think it will be worth it in the South Carolina heat. So everything is ordered next time I will talk about putting the equipment together and painting.

Why start this new Hobby?

That is the question my Family has asked ever since I decided to start this new hobby. My middle son likes to say that dad is going through a midlife crises.