Well, the spring weather here in Maryland was a lot colder and wetter than usual. My bee supplier (prudently) pushed back the delivery date on my NUC from April 1st to April 14th. The 14th turned out to be a nice day for transferring the NUC to my hive box. Kevin had taken the precaution of capturing the queen and placing her in a plastic queen cage rubber banded to one of the frames. This minimized the chances of damaging her while transporting the bees and getting them into the hive. THis was a real nice touch.
All of the frames in the NUC were fairly well covered by bees. Mostly, these looked to be younger nurse bees. I set the entrance to a small two bee wide opening and started moving my minions to their new home. The foragers were ready to start to work immediately and the front of the hive was busy with orientation flights.
I was able to get a few extra frames of built out comb from my supplier at a very reasonable price. This made it possible to start with two deep hive bodies, the lower all in built out comb and the upper with half of the frames in comb and the other half with bare foundation.
In the rush to get the NUC moved over, I didn’t do a real close inspection of each of the frames. I wish I had, because the weather hasn’t been too conducive to getting back in for another look.
The plan for next weekend is to closely inspect the hive and if things look good to add honey supers. The extra built out comb frames could make this work out for me.
So my first NUC colony is planned for an April 1st delivery. March has been a rather un-cooperative month for beekeeping in Maryland. We have had four nor’easters in as many weeks. Lots of below average temperatures. To top it all off, the last storm dropped about eight inches of snow and is keeping the ground level air at near freezing temps. Gurrr (or is it Burrr).
I’m thinking that the delivery date is going to have to slip a bit.
I did get enough time in the garage to put together a five frame NUC box. I’m being a bit optimistic that my first coloy will be doing well enough in June that I might be able to do a small split. Nothing wrong with hope.
I think I’m ready. We will see what I have over looked as Spring starts up.
I have come to the determination that the very first thing that I need to make this beekeeping “project” work is to develop an inventory of built out comb frame. Comb frames are movable frames that are used by the bees to store food and raise young. This is the hexagonal wax honeycomb that first comes to mind when we think of honeybees.
My starting point for approaching this is based on George Imirie’s guidance on Building Foundation and Proper Supering. George was probably the most experienced beekeeper in my area. Just how much comb I’m able to build out in my first year is mainly a function of how many bees I can get to work on the task. With the current plan being to start with a single NUC hive, it seems that I may only be able to get them to build out two deep boxes of comb. I may only be able to get 20-30 drawn out frames. I need that much just to get them through their first winter!
If the winds of fortune blow in my direction and I’m able to capture a feral hive I may be able to more than double this amount. Right now I’m thinking that I may need to come up with a more dependable plan (possibly buying a package or two of bees). Trapping feral bees is kind of like fishing – easy when you know what you are doing but probably frustrating while you are learning. It will bee interesting to see how that works out.
Whew… Getting through Winter here in Maryland. The groundhog stuck his head out of the burrow and scurried back in for another six weeks. So what are some of the things that I know now that I hadn’t considered …
- The pine that BrushyMountain and Mann Lake use for their hive woodenware it not the same as the clear pine that you buy at Home Depot or Lowes.
- Trying to paint woodwork in an unheated garage in January is probably not a good idea.
- Crylon Spray paint on unprimed wood is like pissing into the wind.
Differences in pine density
The pine that BrushyMountain and Mann Lake use for their hive woodenware it not the same as the clear pine that you buy at Home Depot or Lowes. The brood boxes that I made from lumber from the big box stores weigh noticeably more than the boxes that I bought from the bee suppliers. This difference got me to look a bit more closely at the wood and wonder about if the denser pine will survive better in the wild. Time will tell and I will have to observe this over time.
I mostly wanted to build a few brood boxes (8 frame deeps) just for the practical experience and to get a little feeling for how hive boxes look and feel. I’m planning to use them as bait hives this season so I’m not overly concerned that they are heavier than the ones I bought. I won’t be stacking and un-sacking these on a periodic bases.
Painting hive woodenware
Trying to paint woodwork in an unheated garage in January is probably not a good idea (at least in Maryland). Both the primer and the paint (exterior latex) that I am using recommends that temperatures be above 60 degrees when painting. I think that the best temperatures that I got in January were in the upper 40 degree range.
I did some painting where I set up an area inside in the dining room and waited for somewhat warm days outside. With the wood and the paint nicely warmed in the house, I would grab a box and my paint (and dash outside to apply the coating. I would then immediately drag my work back into the dining room to dry. This approach worked much better as to ease of applying the primer/paint both in terms of ease of application and coverage.
Spray paint sucks as a primer
In an attempt to get paint onto a couple of last minute items of woodenware, I thought I would try to use Crylon spray paint. It had worked (sort-of) for decorating other items that I had already primed and painted with exterior latex paint. This was probably a bad idea. The paint just sucked into the wood and does not seem like a good layer of protection. Weather permitting, I think I’m going to end up sanding these pieces down and properly priming them before trying to put any paint on them again.
Wow, Nearly February.
I have one of my traps located, but not baited yet. I did get my beehive stand located and have set up two (unoccupied) hives on it. Getting frames set up with foundation and waiting for April.
Spending lots of time reading forums on the internet and watching interesting videos on YouTube.