Wanted to write another update before we started building the hive on Saturday, just to go over a few things.
First, I found out that Mann Lake, Ltd. was still taking orders though the end of this week. I guess that answers my question on whether or not to purchase packaged bees or trap a swarm! I did end up purchases a 3lb package and now am feeling some mixed emotions. I was excited about the possibility of testing out my swarm trapping abilities, but this will probably be better in the end. My 8 and 6 year old boys would have been very disappointed if we made it the whole summer without getting any bees through our trapping efforts! I'm a little frustrated that I have to drive 3.5 hours one way to pick them up though (I live in the Twin Cities Metro Area and have to pick them up north of Brainerd, MN)! But that's my fault for ordering late. Plus I don't know what the pick up day will be yet. Probably the first or second Saturday in May. I'm hoping the first, then we'd have them in time to take pictures before my boys' science fair. Plus I work the second Saturday at 3pm, which would make for a LONG day, driving early in the morning to get them in time to get home, install them, and get to work...
Second, I also ordered a bee suit for me, a smoker, a hive tool, and some beeswax from eBay. I'm using the wax for a little starter strip on the top bars, as well to help seal the hive (see point four below). I also need to figure out a less expensive bee suit option for my dad and two boys. McCartney Taylor (Learning Beekeeping) has some good ideas about that. I'll explain more (also in point four below).
Third, here's a link to the plans we're using to make the Warre Hive. We're going to make a few modifications, however. We're making at least two of the four boxes with windows, and I like the look of the windows and the simpler construction on the hives as seen at Bee Thinking. Also, we MIGHT try to do something similar to their screened bottom with removable board to keep track of Varroa mites. We'll see how construction goes on Saturday. We're going to make the hive out of high quality pine from Menard's because the red cedar is about 3 times more expensive. We'll seal the hive with a combination of linseed oil and beeswax. Hopefully we'll have it all done and set up by the time the bees get here!
Finally, I wanted to mention McCartney Taylor's excellent resource on top bar hives (Learning Beekeeping) . I mentioned his book Swarm Traps and Bait Hives in my last post, and I would highly recommend browsing through his You Tube videos (Out of a Blue Sky). This is one of the first resources I found when beginning my research on top bar hives, and still one of the best. Almost makes me feel bad that I decided to tray the Warre Hive instead of the Kenyan style. Only issue I have with the information he provides is that it all is in relation to beekeeping in Texas. Not all of it translates to this northern climate, which is part of the reason I started this blog. Of special interest today are his videos on using beeswax for starter strips on the top bars and sealing the hive with linseed oil and beeswax. Also his video on inexpensive bee suits. I'll probably go that route for an extra suit for my dad to use when we're both there (he can use mine if he wants to get into the hive and I'm not around) and for my boys (I don't want to purchase actual suits as they're still a bit young to do hive maintenance and they're growing so fast). If you didn't watch the video, he basically recommends to use a wide brimmed hat with a mosquito net over it, and then to purchase a disposable, plastic painter's coverall (found them for about $7 on eBay). Won't necessarily protect you from stings if the bees really want to, but should be sufficient coverage for someone just standing nearby observing.
Hope this info helps someone out there. Pictures will be up after we make the beehive on Saturday!