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Monday, July 26, 2010

Small Hive Beetle SHB

I have just envisioned an update to my hive. I hope it will give the bees fewer Small Hive Beetles to deal with. I got my idea from the University of Florida Entension video on small hive beetles.

Everyone interested in controling this pest should review their site.

More to come. This is only a minor update to the overall design.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pulled honey today

Yep, I pulled honey from one of my hives today. The bucket must weight 85 pounds! WOW! Out of a single topbar hive. I still need to crush and strain but I just about strained my back moving the bucket. I will update with pictures and actual amounts when I get the honey separated. There is a lot of very nice comb that will make very nice comb honey.

One thing I can say is that the line of wax down the center of a topbar is not perfect. I would say 80% of the comb was attached to the right bar but that 20% that wasn't sure made a mess. But like I said in my last post I have a new topbar designed that should fix that.

And I still have wardrobe issues. I am not sure how people can work their hives without protective gear. My gloves alone had over 10 stings each. None got through and that is a good thing. Remember last year when bees got in my bonnet?

Well, I ordered a new suite and veil. The one I ended up with requires a hat. I got one of those safari type hats that seems to be standard issue for bee keepers. The veil has an elastic band to slip down over the top of the hat and the bottom zips to the suite. I like the set up. There is a problem with the hat, the inner band would allow the hat to slip up from my skull when I leaned over the hive. I was afraid it would at the least open a spot the bees could get in, and at the worst fall down inside my veil and pull the elastic band down to my chin. So I substituted a standard industrial hard hat for the little safari type I ordered from the bee people. In general that set up worked quite well. The hard hat has an adjuster on the back so one can sinch it down after putting the hat on.

I then duct taped the elastic to the hard hat for extra insurance it would not slip off. Also, here in Houston when I pulled honey at 6:45 in the morning it was 85 with about 80% humidity so I felt sweat inside the veil might be an issue. There is nothing worse than sweat dripping into your eyes when you have no way way to wipe them. So I purchased a motorcycle type "do-rag" that had extra terry cloth in the band. Combining the do-rag with the standard foam sweat absorber already in the hat seemed like a good idea, not particularly innovative or stylish but effective.

All was going well. Bees were buzzing this nice loud but familiar warning sound and were bouncing off the veil. No stings getting though, and opening the hive was moving right along. It was a bit unnerving at first when the bees got near my ears. I could feel the air flow from their wings but after the initial shock it actually was refreshing.

The hive was PACKED! Wall to wall and end to end full on honey. I have calculated the volume to be almost equal to two Lang brood boxes and two honey supers. I have developed a system that should allow me to pull honey almost as fast as pulling two honey supers. This system does assume the comb is straight and only on one topbar. As I said above that 20% sure made things slow and messy but I did adapt and within about 30 minutes I had 15 bars pulled. (I realize this is an eternity for pulling supers off a lang but this time was greatly reduced from last year) As I pulled the last bar I realized too late that it had some serious side attachments and I pulled the topbar off leaving most of the comb inside the hive.

This left me cutting the comb out a chunk at a time and tossing it into the bucket. I guess the new position I took along side of the hive allowed my left ear to brush against the mesh of my veil. BAM! that all too familiar heat and pain of a honey bee sting right on top of my ear. MAN I HATE that! Now the bees around that ear went it to frenzy mode. The familiar buzz turned into a high pitched almost ring. Then before I could move much, BAM a second sting. Now I had to do something. So I made some slight adjustments to the veil and my ear was no longer against the mesh but that high pitched buzz was growing louder by the minute as more bees were moving in for the kill. It was about this time that I decided my honey pull was over for the day. My bucket was almost full :D

I will go back in a few weeks, when my bucket is empty, to inspect and see if there is any more honey that I can pull.

Now my left ear is noticeably bigger than my right, slightly red and hot to the touch. It is quite a funny sight really.

Next time I will tuck my big ears inside the do-rag and maybe increase the diameter of the brim on the ol' hard hat. By the way, the hard hat stayed put for entire session and the do-rag did keep the sweat out of my eyes.

But man my ear hurts!

Friday, July 9, 2010

New thoughts and designs

I get hits from time to time on other sites on old, old posts. I love when people reply and I try to take their comments serious. I often find I question the motive but I try to reply honestly and over look any underlying motive.

In a recent post the patent was brought to my attention. The subject was my Langtroth to topbar converter. But digging into the patent I found a possible solution to ventilation in a topbar hive.

After revisiting my design on the converter I have decided it probably would cause more problems than it solves. So I doubt I will use it. It still might work but it would take some redesign and I will revisit that or if the time arises.

But reading the patent I saw a very possible solution to the problem with air movement inside of a topbar hive. I addressed this in my first design but after a couple of years in production I realized that my idea did not work as well as hoped. I think it does work but not quite as well as this one will. I would like to know to contact the patent owner. I will move forward and incorporate this design into my topbar and maybe the owner will contact me.

In the process of reading and understanding this patent I had a new design for the top of my hive pop into my head. I am excited about the new top.

I am not sure if I mentioned here but I have the hive designed to fit multiple hives on a common US pallet. This new top will allow them stack much better. I have always planned to have the hives stackable. But each iteration brought changes to the way they stacked. The biggest problem was, stability after being stacked. I think this new design has resolved the stability issue and is the perfect solution for this hive. But time will tell if I am right and if it will actually work as expected.

I really believe I am on it now. Wahoo!!

However, this would really take less time if I could convince an experienced bee keeper to work with me. If any of you out there know someone who might be willing please contact me off line.