We went out about 8 weeks after the installation of the bees to have a poke through the hive. Ordinarily we would have been in the hive several times already, but since we put together a Top Bar Hive and are planning on minimally intervening with the bees, we patiently waited while only taking daily peeks through the window. Besides, the bees know what to do to thrive. It’s our job to make sure that they have all the tools to do that, and if we get some honey that’s cool too.
At the end of the hive, where they should have been building comb to store honey, they were building comb and storing honey. Very nice. The top white section is capped honey and the shiny stuff in the rest of the cells is unripe honey. Once they’ve evaporated enough water out of the honey they’ll cap that too.
This comb has a good amount of capped brood, a few uncapped cells with larvae in the them and some capped honey at the top. As we worked our way through the hive we didn’t see anything alarming. We never saw the queen, though there are obvious signs that she’s there and thriving.
The hive has been buttoned up since then. Over the summer, when I expected there to be a nectar dearth I saw lots of pollen going in. They built up some more comb on the last few bars and seem the be maintaining the population of the hive from the spring. The last few bars are cross-combed, but that will be easy to handle in the spring when we’ll move the comb down and allow the bees to build new comb in the brood chamber.
We picked up our package of bees today at Beekind in Sebastopol and installed them into the top bar hive I built for the back yard. We followed their directions on the installation and left the package upside down over the top of the hive so the bees can situate themselves. That is, after we removed the queen cage and attached her to one of the top bars.
Instead of spraying the bees with sugar water to give them a distraction, then thumping the box on the ground and pouring them into the hive, which is said to be fairly traumatic, we just inverted the package over the end of the bars that we’d like them to build comb on and covered it all up with a heavy tarp.
More later, in a day or two.
With the re-arrangement of the garage, it was possible to do some work in there again. Combining a couple of interests, the latest project was construction of a top bar beehive. While the white box we’re all associated with it what you have in mind, this is quite different, requires a bit more work to keep up, but requires almost no extra equipment to manage. We’ll see how that all works out.
The design is from a guy in England, and everything there is metric. His dimensions, when translated, come to some nice full size lumber numbers here. Except you can’t easily get 12″x1″ boards around here. I ended up gluing up some boards then trimming ripping them in the table saw to get them to the right dimension.
The hive works horizontally. You may notice that I’ve included a window. I did that because I know that my curiosity would get the best of me and I’d be in the hive every week micromanaging the poor bees if I didn’t give myself a way to just look at ‘em every once in a while.
I put a nice copper foil roof on it then stuck it out in the yard so that it could “season” in the weather a bit before we install the bees later in April. Sorry, no outside pictures of it yet.