Better Beekeeping

It’s been a slow season in the apiary as I have only one active hive this year.  But you, gentle reader, will be happy to learn that I have used my bee-down-time productively by making enhancements to my entire beekeeping process.

Beenoculars 

My husband is completely embarrassed by my bee-geekery and never more so than when I hung this bracket up in the kitchen.  I used one of those little brackets that security cameras are mounted on and instead put my beloved Bushnell PermaFocus bird binoculars on it.  It is mounted next to the window that has a direct view of the apiary.

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Attached to the white camera bracket arm is an upright black tripod mount made for cameras and binoculars.  This tripod mount holds the optics up and off of the arm bracket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what do I see on the 50,000 times a day I check on the bees?

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This.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Old Watering Hole

What began as a birdbath proved to be a major benefit for bees:  a source of fresh water.  I attached a clear plastic hose line (I bought it at Lowe’s, cut to fit)  from the condensate drain line on my air conditioner and ran it to my bird bath.  I attached the hose line to the chain link fence with (what else?) cable ties so that the water from the hose would splash down into the birdbath.  The birds, of course, love it.  But the bees really flock to it and it is not uncommon to see a dozen at the birdbath in really hot dry weather.  The big bonus here is that on the super-hot days when your AC runs all day the birdbath stays filled with fresh clean cool water and everyone — birds, bees, and you — benefits.

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The condensate drain line is hanging over the birdbath (on upper left of photo). This is a shallow bath which helps keep the bees from drowning; I also have it slanted slightly so that the water drains freely. The bees prefer to drink from this “runoff” area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s like the public pool on a hot summer day. See the little bee in the background on the right? She is dipping her little tongue down in the water with her wings up (I assume for balance).

 

Put A Lid On It

This tip is probably only useful for small-scale beekeepers like me who use entrance feeders instead of hive-top feeders.  I make up several quart jars of pre-measured sugar but I don’t fill them with water until just before I need them.  To keep ants and other unsavory characters out of my bee sugar I put all the jars, measuring cup, and funnel into one of these canning containers called The Jar Box.  The lid snaps in place with little locks on either side.

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Sugar-filling in process.  This Jar Box keeps the sugar contained and prevents spills and the residual stickiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place For Everything

Beekeepers have tools that make the job of opening hives and caring for bees easier.  The trick is to have all of these tools handy at all of your hives as your attention is most likely divided between 1) an active and very hot smoker, and 2) several thousand honeybees. This is where a standard grooming tote comes in.

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I got this tote at the farm store as it is intended for storing the tons of grooming supplies needed for just one horse. It is great and should not be limited to barn use. I put my hive tool, brush, smoker fuel, and butane lighter in here. There is more room for an extra pair of gloves, a camera, or a few other tools. This tote helps you hold all the tools in one gloved hand so that you can hold your very hot, lit smoker (pictured to the right of the tote) in the other hand.  The tote also sports my collection of awesome beekeeping stickers.

 

 

 

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Bonus photo: I have a dedicated corner of the garage for beekeeping supplies, and in this cabinet I keep my tool totes, extra frames and foundation, my cooled (and smelly) smoker, an extra veil, extra feeders, etc. It is good to store wax foundation away from the prying eyes and gnawing teeth of rodents.

The Doors

This month’s DIY lays the foundation for all future tinkering…

I may have mentioned that we bought a drafty new farmhouse about 15 years ago.  It was built by the owner, a man who was, sadly, a bit challenged at the skill of installing interior doors.  Even before we moved the furniture in we had permanently removed several doors as they were awkwardly placed and some were downright dangerous as they opened into traffic areas.  A few doors were never replaced and their openings turned into casements, whereas a couple of others were replaced with bi-fold doors.

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So what can you do with a pile of extra doors? This.

Materials (total cost approximately $30)

2  ten foot 2″ x 4″ boards for the sawhorse legs

1   six foot 2″ x 6″ board for the table base that sits atop the sawhorse legs

2   sets of metal sawhorse brackets (4 brackets total)

1   50 count package of 6 x 3/4 flat phillips wood screws

1   interior door (the one I used is 36″ wide and 80″ long) with all hardware removed

 

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Each of the eight table legs are 27″ long and are cut from the 2″ x 4″s. They are then inserted into the metal sawhorse brackets and screwed into place.

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The support boards were cut from one 2″ x 6″ pine board. Since my door is 36″ wide, I cut two 34″ support boards. They too can be screwed into place.  The door lays across these.

 

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The door lays on top of the sawhorses. Mine is not anchored into place although I often think it would be a good idea to do so.  To the right side of the table you can see a white cable underneath it that snakes toward the wall outlet; this is a cable control gizmo I bought later to keep the power cords neat.  It cost about $15.

 

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I drilled a 2″ hole at one end of the table and inserted a grommet; the lamp and laptop cords are threaded through the grommet and cabled together to the wall outlet.  No detail escapes kitty attention.