I have a Warre hive that overwintered this year. As a result the bees came into this season strong and ready to collect honey. The top box in my Warre stack is heavy with honey so I hope to have my first honey harvest. The challenge at hand is how to get the bees to move out of the box that I want to harvest.
Warre Bee Escape
There are several ways to encourage the bees to move. One is the use of a fume board. This is a cloth covered board onto which you spray or pour a chemical that really smells bad to bee noses. This drives them down the stack into the box below. Another way that I’ve read about is using a power blower. Remove the box and send a stream of air through the box blowing the bees south. Neither of these really appealed to me.
Darren from House of Bees, the craftsman that built my Warre hives, made some cool bee escapes. These give the bees a way down but due to the little maze he has made they don’t know how to get back. I’m placing the bee escape under the top box and hoping the bees will go down and out of the hive and then not come back into the box I want to harvest. Right now it is packed with bees so it will be interesting to see what happens.
FINALLY…..it seemed a long wait for the bees to arrive. I started reading, studying and researching everything about bees since October or so and now I’m finally a “beekeeper”. I can tell you first hand, despite all the research and discussion, nothing prepares you for the first time you unleash 10,000 bees into an open hive. Even with the bee suite on I kept thinking…..what if they turn on me????
Well, of course they didn’t. They are every bit as gentle as you treat them. I did get stung twice but both were my fault. One girl stung me because she got trapped under the wrist band of my watch (lesson..don’t wear that again) and the second bit me because I was not looking at what I was grabbing. I turned to pick up the top of the hive, grabbed it without looking and got stung for my carlessness.
This video is the installation of the first package into a new Warre hive. These are Italians. I also purchased a package of Carniolans which I installed the next day. I’ll post that video in the next week or so.
They have both settled nicely into their new homes and are drinking lots of sugar water as it is still pretty rainy.
Please feel free to comment below and link back if you have a website about bees that you have found interesting.
With the weather beeeing so nice I’m hoping that this will mean we will indeed get our bees as scheduled, the first Saturday in April. My guess is that it has to do more with what is happening in California which is where the bee packages are coming from.
As promised in my last post here are some pictures showing how I placed the hives and how they turned out. If you ask 10 different beekeepers how to build a base you will come up with 10 different answers. Right or wrong here is how I did it for my first time.
These hives have the entrances facing south and are in full sun most of the day.
I have screened baseboards….if I didn’t I might want to have the hive lean a little toward the hive entrance so that condensation would have an easy way out of the hive.
We spent the weekend getting our two warre hives ready. Bees will be here in 3 weeks or so. I’ve seen quite a bit written about painting your bee hives so to save you the time here is what I’ve reduced it down to:
Color: color does not really matter though keep in mind that light colors reflect the heat away from the hives and dark colors attract the heat. For me, where I live the darker the better as beeks in our area seem most concerned with keeping their bees alive throughout the winter. If you only have a couple of hives you can afford to get decretive. In our case my wife is painting one and I’m doing the other. She is planning a colorful design while mine will look like a log house, green roof and golden brown sides. If you had 20 hives to paint I’d recommend a spray gun or roller to cover as much territory as quickly as possible….maybe that is one of the benefits of being a backyard beekeeper, small scale.
Type of paint: Latex, water based exterior paint. Low VOC would probably be the best but if you used regular VOC paint and let them sit for a few weeks I’m sure there would be no problem. Stay away from oil based paints. In our beekeepers class they really pushed for you to use leftover paints that you or a neighbor might have left over from your last project.
What to paint: Just paint the outside. Do not paint anything the bees will be living on. Your goal is to protect the wood from the elements while realizing that over a few years your hives will age. All of the bars, frames, inside walls, ceiling and floor should be untreated wood.
My warres are 16” x 16” so I’m putting down a 16 x 16 inch square paver that I’ll level with sand underneath and then on top of the paver I’m placing two 16 x 8 in cinder blocks side by side with the holes on the side. This way if it is getting stormy I’ll be able to run a nylon strap around the stack and through the cinder blocks to add stability.
I’ll post pictures of the paint job as well as how I have them placed in the yard next week.
Time never goes so slow as when you are waiting for your first package of bees…..
This Warre beehive sits on the front porch of Darrens house (www.houseofbees.com). This colony was collected from a swarm and seems to be doing well so far as we move into the fall. A little closer look at the window shows what is going on with the comb that has been built. Notice how it is built right out to the glass. Bees are amazing at winterizing their home and stopping any unwanted drafts so that it is easier for them to control the temperature.