Sunday, August 28, 2011

A large limb misses by backyard hives by a few feet

Hurricane IRENE broke a huge limb off a tree in my neighbors back yard last night. It fell over toward my yard, taking out a bit of his 12 foot fence.

It missed my hives by a few feet.

The pic below was taken through the rain streaked window in my second floor bedroom using the low res camera built into my OLPC.

The fallen tree limb can be seen crushing the fence in the upper right of the photo. It extends almost the width of my backyard.

The small box in the center rear of the yard is the temporary split I made to house the new queen I ordered to replace the queen in the swarm hive to the left rear of the yard.

The hive in the foreground with the plywood top is last winters dead out that now serves to store the frames of un-extracted honey left over from last summer.

Another picture taken at 3PM shows the tree the limb fell from.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Anti-Ant Mini-Stand

The screened bottom board that came with the new 8-frame hive equipment I ordered this year to save my back did not come equipped with a slot for a varroa sticky board.

I built a square frame out of some scrap wood I found and painted it the same color as my hive.

I’ve been constantly feeding sugar water using a hive-top Styrofoam tank ever since I installed the swarm I captured. The bees quickly learned to love the sugar water …and so did the small local black ants.


I tried shaking cinnamon around the top of the Hive Carrier to repel the ants, but they seemed to find a way around it. Every time I opened the top of the hive to refill the tank, there were black ants all over the bottom of the tank.

I tried to put the base of the Hive Carrier legs in aluminum loaf pans with lots of cinnamon, but the bees still found a way to get to the tank.

On Sunday I added four short legs to the varroa sticky board holder, turning it into an anti-ant mini hive stand that I placed on top of the Hive Carrier. I put empty small cat food cans under the legs and poured half an inch of inexpensive with vegetable oil into them.

This seemed to do the trick.  This morning when I opened the tank I found only a few ants. I believe this small group of ants were trapped on the hive when I installed the mini hive stand.

Picture of the new anti-ant mini hive stand on top of the Hive Carrier showing the stubby unpainted legs that I glued and screwed to the bottom of the makeshift varroa sticky board frame. This picture was taken with my OLPC computer shortly after I put the hive back on.  From the ground up: at the base of the Hive Carrier leg you can see at the near right of the photo you can see the earlier attempt to stop ants using a loaf pan with some cinnamon. Just right of the center of the photo, partially obscured by some leaves of the Ukrainian Almond tree I planted last year, you can see a cat food can holding some vegetable oil. A stubby leg of the mini hive stand rests in the can.

A few confused bees can be seen gathered on the front edge of the mini hive stand, confounded by the elevation change of the hive entrance.

The screened bottom board rests on top mini hive stand / varroa board holder.

On top of that is an 8-frame slatted rack, with a few confused bees hanging out on it. (Many more bees are hanging out on the slatted rack inside the hive.)

On top of the slatted rack you can see the first of three 8-frame medium brood chambers.

The picture also shows how the Hive Carrier “floats” a few inches to the right of the shipping pallet Hive Port “wharf” where a Bad Beekeeper can stumble and clomp about without disturbing the bees any more then they already have been by this whole project.

Actually the bees remained pretty calm throughout the whole process of inserting the mini hive stand under the hive.

Mistakes Made / Lessons Learned.


When gathering the four empty cans of cat food from the recycling bag
(you DO RECYCLE don’t you?)
be sure to use cans that have been opened with a can opener. 

The cans that open with a pop-top lid leave a sharp edge that can give you a nasty cut. Which bleeds a lot. And slows down the construction process.   

Consider leaving the oil out of the cans until after the bees have adjusted to the fact that the hive entrance is several inches higher than they’ve grown to expect.

Bees landing at their usual height, loaded down with pollen and nectar, sometimes try to climb up the hive entrance.  About a dozen bees drowned in the can shown in the photo within five minutes of adding the oil.

Suggested sequence:

Gather not-so-sharp cans.

Add legs to the varroa sticky board holding frame, turning it into a mini-stand. Use 2 screws at right angles plus bee-safe wood glue to firmly attach the legs.

Put the mini hive stand on top of your Hive Carrier or regular hive stand and under the hive bottom board.

Put the empty cans under the legs of the mini hive stand BUT DO NOT ADD OIL YET.
(Unless you want to be a Bad Beekeeper)

Remove the feeder tank and take it inside for an overnight soak in water and bleach to remove mold.
The next day, later in the afternoon, return to the hive and make sure bees are no longer climbing the legs of the mini hive stand.

If the cans are free of bees, pour a little inexpensive vegetable oil into the cans.

Return the feeder tank to the hive and add sugar water.

At this point the ant problem should be greatly mitigated.