Thursday, August 12, 2010

When I put the honey super on Demeter I wanted to see what the bees would do if I used foundationless frames only.

They knew exactly what to do and had a jolly good time building beautiful comb.  The only thing that went "wrong" was that the bees did things their way - comb every which way instead of straight up and down and parallel.  "Wrong" from the honey harvester's point of view, and perfectly natural to them!

I puzzled and worried over this for quite awhile and even asked my Backwards Beekeeping friends in Los Angeles what they would suggest. I woke up at 2.00 am on Monday and thought "bee escape"!  The folks in LA suggested that as well!  On Tuesday I went to Harvard Robbins' Honey Farm and purchased two Western supers (also called honey supers), frames, plastic foundation, and a frame puller.  Mr. Robbins, who could be anywhere in age from 75 to 85 and has a nice "down home" accent, loaned my his bee escape.  He made it about 30 years ago and it's the type with a triangular maze on the underside of the escape.  He has a great shop, full of beekeeping supplies and is as fascinating as a great bookstore!

These are the bits and pieces before assembly.

These are the parts needed to make the frame.

Top: the top bar. Center: the bottom bar.  Center right: the end pieces.  Bottom: the nice waxy plastic foundation.

The frame of foundation all put together with the joins reinforced with little brads to help hold everything together.

I glued each dovetail with waterproof wood glue and used my rubber mallet to pound the joints tightly together.

Then I used the battery powered drill to make pilot holes for the wood screws.

I used a different, heavy duty battery powered drill with a Phillips screw head to screw in the 1.24" wood screws.

The supers after two coats of cream colored exterior paint and a pretty bee stencil in black, a frame of foundation showing how the frame pulling tool is applied.

Next: the bee escape!

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Well now, Rosie.  You just listen to me.  We know way more about this beekeeping thing than you ever will, so when we tell you to quit messing with us, do it!  Duh - why do you think they are called "honey supers"?  Because that's where you take the honey from!  NOT anywhere else!  You don't even have to look in anywhere else.  We're doing just fine without you poking your nose in!"

Yes, "Momma Queen", I hear you.  I'm sorry.  Please remember that I am a dense human being and not only that I know zip about beekeeping.  I promise that I will keep my hands off your brood boxes and will only peek into the honey supers when absolutely necessary.  You all have "first dibs" on the honey and if I really need some I can always buy some from Gary.  Sorry, sorry...

My learning curve shot straight up today!