Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Hive Setup Part 1: Supers and Frames

With cold and damp weather hanging around, it is an excellent time to assemble equipment for our coming spring installations.  Including my kids in the process makes indoor weekends a little less boring and frankly gives me some time to update this journal.

Today I am assembling the hive parts for our Arcadia installation (see their link in our Blog Roll).  This is a five-hive installation, and the initial configuration I recommended was a two-deep setup.  I have made the stands for the hives that will elevate them 16 inches above the ground and I will level them prior to setting the hives.
Buster with his handiwork

Here is Will with the boxes he assembled (he gets $2 per box from me).  Note that rather than nails, I use screws (waterproof deck screws, 1 5/8 inches long) to assemble the boxes.  The pro’s:
•    Will can handle a drill better than a hammer;
•    I get really tight and square joints as the screws pull the edges together;
•    The screws resist rust, good for both aesthetics and longevity;


The con’s:
•    It probably takes me longer to assemble the boxes;
•    My drill is heavy so Will takes frequent breaks;
•    The screws are more expensive ($7 per lb);
•    Splitting of the wood is a risk if the screws are countersunk.


I also label my boxes.  These are just ink jet mailing labels from Target that I affix and then cover with a piece of clear packing tape to keep them from loosening due to weather.  Here I have my DC Honeybees label and above it is a label describing the colony.  If I re-queen a colony in the future or take a split from this colony I will replace this label with updated information.
Screws also play a role in my frame assembly.  These are grooved top and grooved bottom bar frames.  I first pre-drill the top bars at the rail connection point.  I then use 1-inch drywall screws to attach the rails to the top bar.  I think that I get a very sturdy and square frame and the screw does an excellent job of seating the rail tightly in the rabbet in the top bar.  I can also create a bit of a production line by laying out all the top bars right side up and setting the screws in loosely into each of the predrilled holes.  No more banged fingers trying to hold a nail on top of a wobbly frame!


For the bottom bar, I use a staple to attach it on both rails.  I just make sure I get some meat from both pieces of wood on each of the points of the staples.  As the bottom bar provides little structural support beyond keeping the rails square, this staple alone works well for me.

We are going foundationless in the brood boxes so we will use popsicle sticks and beeswax to create a guide for the bees.  See our earlier video demonstration of foundationless frames here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38Ej8UHnZ5k

Next:  Part Two:  Bottom Board and Hive Top Feeder Setup

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