June 22, 2013
top bar beehive
We finished the top bar beehive!! But it doesn't look like we will have any inhabitants this year... We were on a few lists for getting swarming bees but an unusually low number of bees actually swarmed this year. It could be a sign of the general health issues that bees have been facing lately including colony collapse disorder or it could be because all our late spring snow reduced early nectar supplies.
While we've been waiting for our swarm lists to pan out, Eric has been attempting to lure a swarm to our hive with a cotton ball of lemongrass essential oil because that supposedly mimics a queen bees pheromones. He sweetened the offering with sugar water and a few chunks of bees wax. No takers though. Now that we are past summer solstice, it is unlikely that bees will swarm and even if they do they will not have much time to build up a new hive for winter.
As we mentioned in a previous post, our friend made the top bar beehive following these instructions, a supplement to The Barefoot Beekeeper. We had to make the roof ourselves so sticking with the salvage theme we asked our neighbor for some scrap metal. Not only did he give us scrap, but he was super helpful and took it upon himself to use his sheet metal break to bend all the edges so it looks clean and does not have sharp edges.
We thought it was important to have a view window so we cut a hole in the side, filled it with plexi, and made a door with self closing cabinet hinges.
Not much going on inside yet. :(
The entrances are on the opposite side from the view window. Eventually when there is a large colony, they can use all three entrances. For now two are plugged with wine corks so that a smaller colony only has to defend one opening.
Top bars from above! One bar is pulled out so you can see the raised edge from which the bees would build their comb.
And some context (it's pretty far back there).