Sunday, March 15, 2009

Getting Hives (the bee house kind)

So I would like to tell you about my new-found carpentry skills that have resulted from my hard work putting together the wooden boxes that will house my bees. I would like to but I cannot, because I am a total slacker. While my husband and father-in-law painstakingly assembled the hives, I went to the grocery store.

I tell myself that this was a wonderful time for the two of them to bond together and have quality father-son time in our work room, playing with tools and listening to NPR. But that would just be covering my own utter negligence.

The guys built four hives boxes and forty "frames". Hives are composed of stacking wooden boxes that come in various sizes. Big ones called "brood boxes" are for the queen bee to lay eggs in (vitally necessary so that the colony can multiply the numbers of worker bees). We need lots of bees to go out and gather flower nectar to make honey.

On top of the brood boxes are smaller boxes called "supers". These are for honey storage. Instead of the big/small collection I opted for getting all medium sized boxes. They are interchangeable and the big ones are not so dang heavy. A full box of honey can weigh 60 lbs or more. Getting all mediums was the recommendation of the beekeeping class I took this past February, through the county extension office. I highly recommend taking a beekeeping class if you are interested. It is terrifically interesting and beekeepers are lovely and enthusiastic people.

Hanging inside the boxes are 8 to 10 "frames" - sheets of beeswax held in wooden frames for the bees to build comb on and lay eggs in and store honey. Later I will talk more about the intricacies of bee reproduction and honey making, but for today we are just trying to set up house. Of course I've already fessed up that I was no help in that today.

My bees arrive in about 2 weeks (!!) so I need to be ready.