Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Finishing the Beehive

After we took the pre-cut parts for the beehive home, there was more that the kids could help with.

This is me and James stapling the felt in place and screwing together some of the extra boxes. Noah and little sister Mary got to help out with this as well.

This is a close up of the toggle we made to keep the windows in place. We used a small piece of the lath that was cut narrowring for the top bars. I think I made the toggle 2.5 or 3 inches long and just screwed it in place.

This is what I decided to use for sealing the hive. If we had used cedar to make the hive, this wouldn't have been necessary. However, as ceder was more than 3 times as expensive as pine, we had to seal it. I was originally going to make a linseed oil and beeswax paint, a-la McCartney Taylor, but I thought that might be too messy (and not to mention hot... burning hazard!) to use with little kids helping out. I found this recipe on you tube instead for a beeswax "polish." for lack of a better term. It's equal parts (we usex 8oz each) of beeswax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Now, I know the linseed oil is "boiled" which means there are addatives in it that might not be the best for the bees. Also, I'm not sure the how the turpentine affects the bees either, but all it is is distilled pine resin. I still decided to go this route, however, for a couple reasons. First, it's only going to be on the outside of the hive. Second, the turpentine will evaporate. And third, it just seemed so much easier. In the future, I might find somewhere to order raw linseed oil, but for now, this is what we did.

I made a "water bath" to melt the beeswax in, then added the linseed oil and turpentine. It was liquid at first, so you had to let it sit until the next day. Then it turned into a semi-solid polish that we could rub in with old rags (cut up t-shirt).

Here are James (top) and Noah (bottom) "polishing" the hive to make it waterproof.

The next big task was to make the beeswax starter strip on the top bars. I liked what McCartney Taylor did with the beeswax and cotton string, but thought his technique (using a soldering iron to melt the wax, could be simplified).0

Instead, I cut the string to length...

... dropped it into a jar of melted wax...

... and took it out with a pliers. Then I held one end down with a screwdriver and streatched it out into a straight line with the pliers. The beeswax hardened quickly, so it wasn't too hard to get it to stick into place on the top bars. Some tips, though, DON'T put more than one string into the wax at at time. They WILL fray. Also,  the wax will hardened almost instantaneously on the metal pliers, so you need to really push it down on the other end with the screwdriver so you can get the pliers unstuck.

All in all, it was a good technique, however. I got four boxed done (32 top bars) in less than an hour. Here are the results.

The last thing that needed to be done was to staple the burlap on to the quilt...

... and fill it with sawdust we saved from hive construction.

Here's our finished product! We let the whole thing sit for about two weeks for the polish to soak in before we moved it outside.

Here we are at Grandpa's leveling some left over cement landscaping blocks to set the hive on. I think we did this about two or three days before "bee day."

I'm going to bed now. I'll try to put up more pictures tomorrow. I've still got to show you how I made the jar feeder and also a bait trap out of a spare box. After that I'll try to figure out how to do some simple video editing and put up some videos from "bee day." Until then... Goodbye!

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