nuc

Photo update on Bee life!

So far our hives seem to be doing wonderfully.  They quickly lost interest in the 1:1 sugar syrup we were offering them, barely finishing the 1/2 gallons we gave them right after install.  I put new brood supers on both hives about 10 days again and then did a quick check to make sure they had found their way up to the new foundation.  They seem to be happy, healthy, and pest free (KNOCK ON WOOD.)  I did have to scrape of some burr comb (comb they built in the wrong place) that was full of nearly capped honey.  Obviously I cheated on my Whole30 challenge a little bit to taste it – I’m probably a little biased but it was basically the best honey ever.

Anyways, here’s a timeline of photos from my big kid camera now that I’m bored enough to actually do something with them.  Hank isn’t quite as good of company as Luis is 😉

 

Here’s my cute parents right before we picked up the bees!

DSC_7408

With our baby nuts in their boxes.  We had to select our nuts from those that our supplier deemed “ready.”  It was really intimidating because I had NO idea what I was really supposed to looking for besides good brood patterns and no pests.

DSC_7404

You can kind of see the bag sugar syrup.  This is probably my hive – I definitely spilled it as I propped it open.  I also have read that some berks lay it totally flat under the inner cover, but that seemed to take a certain amount of finesse that I definitely lack.  I just set them on top of the inner cover with an empty super around it for protection and added ventilation.  This what they did in my first bee class and it seemed to work really well.

DSC_7416

To install the nuts we just set up our hive bodies and transferred over the frames, one by one, in the same order.  Then we simply shook as many bees as possibly into the hives before shutting them up.  We left the nut boxes on the ground, tilted towards the hives to help encourage any confused bees to head into their new house.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my nuc had a bunch of wonky comb so I tied it into a frame.  They totally ate all the way through the twine and reestablished all that comb on the frame.  The only problem is that it’s not totally straight and they’ve built two over lapping pieces now.  I think I’m going to have to break it down into two frames and rubber band it in place.

 

IMG_5484

That’s a pretty good brood pattern there.  The photo below shows capped brood aka bee larva that is growing and will hatch soon.

DSC_7434

Just another look inside the hive.  I think that these photos were taken after the first week.

 

 

DSC_7430

 

The white capped comb is honey!  Did you know that capped honey can NEVER go bad?  Archaeologists ate the honey found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians and it was still good.

DSC_7427

If you follow me on Instagram (@gator_rach) you may have already seen this photo, but it’s a nice shot of the queen in the Florida hive.  (I named her Gainesville.)  You can identify her by the faint green dot on her back and her big butt.  She’s much easier to spot in the insta after this photo.

IMG_5607

Her majesty.   My sister and I spotted her while adding the second brood supers.

IMG_5610

 

 

And that’s all folks!  We shouldn’t go back into the hives for at least a week or two.  It is very difficult to find a balance between getting to know your bees and their habits as a new beekeeper and not bothering the bees so that they can do their work.  We check to make sure that they’re active and I love watching the foragers come back with full pollen packets.

 

 

 

Andddddd before I forget this is what that delicious, honey filled buy comb looked like.

20140604-221437-80077313.jpg

DIY Beekeeper’s Toolbox

For Mother’s Day I built my mom a pretty cool gift (if I do say so myself!)  I took the basic plans for a nuc box (which can be found with a simple google search but also HERE) and this toolbox from Williams-Sonoma (no longer available or on their website unfortunately.)

Williams Sonoma Toolbox

no longer available 😦 but it was insanely overpriced anyways

I could have purchased one but the cost + shipping was pretty prohibitive, plus mom’s like homemade stuff right?  Even when their kid is 26?

The benefit of the nuc-turn-toolbox is that it can safely hold all your tools, AND be used to transport frames, a swarm, or a sandwich.  So multipurpose.  It’s a little heavier than a regular tackle box style container, but the added benefits are worth the few extra pounds.

I headed to home depot and purchased a nice, straight pine board that was 1″x10″x10′, a set of hinges, a hook closure, a cheap ratchet tie down, liquid nails, and some 1″ wood screws, and a can of spray paint (primer/paint all in one, exterior.)   The nice gentlemen at Home Depot cut down my wood for me so that saved me the majority of the heavy duty work!  Then I headed over to Michael’s for a few bottles of craft paint and a 2′ balsa wood stick thing.  (It’s like a rectangular dowel.)   This only cost about $35 FOR THE ENTIRE PROJECT.  MUCH better than the cheapest versions I found which cost about $75 with shipping.

I followed the directions to build the nuc, gluing the body together first before drilling pilot holes and then carefully screwing it all together.

Nuc Box

Then I added in the bottom board in the same way and painted the whole thing (not the inside of the box, but I did do the entire lid.)

Nuc box bottom

I put hinges on the top and attached it to the body of the nuc and then had to notch out the opposite ledge a bit to accommodate the latch I purchased.  I don’t have any fancy tools so I just drilling a few holes to remove the small section of wood, sanding down the edges to create a finished look.  Then I realized I’d put the latch on backwards, effectively locking the box shut permanently, and had to switch everything around.

Nuc box hinge

Finally, I cut the tie-down strap down and made handles and a strap across the front for the smoker.  (The smoker’s bellow goes under the strap and it sits on what would be the landing area if this was a real nuc box.  I used washers and screws to attach the strap and handles and then secured the handles with a bit of liquid nails and tacks.  I also cut and added the balsa wood with the liquid nails as a place for the edges of frames to rest, effectively creating two small ledges that would prevent the frames from just sitting in the box.  I’ve read a few posts where beeks have complained about queen cells at the bottom of frames being crushed in transport, but the ledges, plus the fact that this comes out to be a little taller than all standard nucs/frames, will prevent that from being an issue.

Nuc box straps

I personalized it with a fun little design, just quickly sketched lightly with a pencil.  I used a magic eraser to wipe away the pencil bit by bit after I was satisfied with how everything looked.

Nuc box design 1Nuc Box design 2

BOOM. You’re done!  I MIGHT end up finishing the box with a clear coat of acrylic? laquer? something? to help protect it from the elements, but I’d rather leave it plain as I’m not sure what might negatively affect the bees.