Well, time is approaching quickly now.  I have been busy preparing for the bees all winter, and now they arrive tomorrow.  Everything is set, but the weather is not cooperating.  We are in the rain now and expect cold, rain with possible snow tomorrow.  That's not good as the bees need warm, but supposedly it will warm up and get sunny by Sunday, so I will probably wait to install the bees until then.  They can wait in their package a short while.  It is necessary for them to cluster together at the top of the hive (under the roof) in order to stay warm.  If I dump them into the hive when it is cold, they won't be able to move enough to get back together.  So, we'll wait a bit.  Bees are only available one day a year and tomorrow's it, so we'll have to make do!
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We've put in a "bee yard" next to the new and improved garden.  I'm sure Ma & Pa Daniels will be wishing the later was there last year :-)


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I was taken by the gardens around Cinque Terra and Italy in general last year.  The "use what ever is around" philosophy seemed appealing, so I have been out on the property cutting wood for the fences and stringing them up around the garden.  Mostly to discourage the dog, but some rustic appeal too.

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The hives need to be level and we get a lot of frost heave here, so I dug some holes and packed them with gravel to make the hives stable.  A bit of work, but hopefully they will settle in so I don't have to mess with that when they are full of critters.

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Here I have the roof off the hive to check the level which I will be doing occasionally.  This is important as the bees will draw out their comb from the top of the hive and having things level keeps things easier to manage.  The hive system I chose is referred to as a Horizontal Top Bar (HTB).  The box is about 4' long and V shaped.  There are "bars" across the top.  The V shape accommodates the natural shape of the comb as the bees build it (draw it out).

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There are two end boards or "followers" in with the bars that restrict the available space in the hive (I've pulled one out here).  This is necessary early on as the bees will need to keep the hive warm and too much space for them to heat will be stressful. I'll start with about 10 bars between the followers. The bars are wedge shaped with a ridge along the bottom which encourages the bees to build comb on each bar.  This way, each bar can be removed and inspected one at a time.  There are no frames as in a traditional box type hive, so the bees need to do things all by themselves.  This will require food, which there is little of right now, so we will give them some sugar water to start.  They also need pollen.  I may get a pollen cake to feed them also, but there are a few trees in bloom and the crocus and daffodils are starting up.  If we get some sun and warm days, they should be able to get out to collect.  I'll eventually remove the sugar water food, though, as it is not the best thing for them.

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In the front of the hive, between the followers, are three holes for an entrance into the hive.  I have two corks in right now.  Bees will want to guard their entrances and, with a small hive just starting out, I don't want them to have to much opening to mind.  Later on when the hive begins to grow, I'll open up all three entrances.

It is important to make things as acceptable as possible, or the bees will simply pack up and leave.  So, not too much space to heat and a restricted access for now!

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On the back side, there is a window.  There is a glass pane in there and usually there is a cover that goes over this.  The window is not just for fun.  It allows me to check out what's happening inside the hive without opening it up.  Opening the hive too often is bad as it cools the bees down and will stress them too much.  Well, it will be fun to check them out too :-)  .

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And then .... there's the "suit".  Well jacket really.  It has double thickness fabric to ward off stings.  Beth has one too, so we'll be stylin' in the country :-)  We will be using gloves too, at least for a while.  The bee veterans go without, but I need some experience to work up to that.

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Looks like someone will have to share her yard.  I'm hoping they'll get along.  bees have evolved to be wary of dark furry animals.  They will put them into an alert mode if there is too much contact.  Obviously, Wendy kind of meets those dark furry animal qualities, but I'm hoping she will be far enough away not to bug them.  We'll see.  Any bees in our yard will have to deal with it :-)

Until tomorrow............

 


Comments

Ma Daniels
04/17/2011 13:26

Yeah for the bees! Hope thid project goes well!
Like the look of the new yard!!
But what happened to the tents? Did they really blow away last summer?? We tried to keep them home!


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