Monday, June 6, 2011

Beginning Beekeeping

I spent several hours Saturday before last at the Happy Bee'Supplies, a local mom and pop shop that sells supplies for beekeepers.  The owners of the store have the shop set up in a building next to their home which is a challenge to reach.  You leave blacktop about four miles from the house.  Two miles out the road narrows to one lane and then the last challenge is the steep gravel drive.  I suppose if you aren't willing to face the challenges of the drive, you probably aren't cut out for bees.

Dave and his wife, Mary, gave me all the advice and guidance I was hoping for as I purchased the supplies for my first two hives.  I left the store with a box of hive parts, a new spotless white jacket with hood, gloves, a smoker and a hive tool.  I also left with the name and number of a couple, Teresa and Randy Wagoner, that agreed to supply me with two nucs upon my return from vacation.  The trip was an amazing success.

This past Sunday, I spent several hours assembling frames and hive boxes.  I have two supers but one of the brood boxes was missing a side so I was only able to assemble one of those.  I also assembled 40 frames.  Borrowing a friends air compressor and nail gun was such a blessing.  I think I'll be buying Rob both of those tools for Father's Day.  They made the job go much more quickly than pounding nails. 

Because of the mindless nature of the job, I was able to relax into the task.  There's something about repetitive work creating a pile of completed pieces that I find utterly satisfying.  In college, I did temp. work and often was assigned to do various factory assembly jobs.  The work wasn't challenging but there's something about doing the same thing over and over.  It allows you to strive for the perfect performance and see the outcome.  Assembling frames was like that.  I found peace and satisfaction in driving the nails straight, becoming faster in my assembly, working out the best system through repeated tries.  Forty frames flew by too quickly.  I look forward to needing more supers so I have the opportunity to build more frames. 

Several tips I have for assembling hive boxes and frames.  Get a nail gun.  Lay out all your pieces within easy reach.  Be sure your wood glue is made for exterior use.  When you begin to assemble the frames start with the super frames.  They are easier to manage because they aren't as deep.  It's good to have the practice before you try the brood frames. 

I'll be picking up the lids and the missing brood piece on Tuesday and asking the folks at the Happy Bee lots of questions.  Do I need a Varroa screen?  All the bee books say I do but it didn't come with the hive.  What about a queen excluder?  Again, the books say it's necessary but it wasn't included.  And do I need to have an extra super or two on hand, ready to go?  What if my bees are really busy?  I also don't have crown boards, that might not be important during the summer but I'm sure the bees will need it in October.  

I'm planning to paint all the boxes on Wednesday.  Two hives will be complete and ready to go before we leave for vacation. The bees are scheduled for pick up on Monday evening after we get home.  I've been dreaming of having bees for years and they are only a few weeks away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment