Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lessons of my original set up

You are looking at a Beemax Polystyrene hive, part of a beginners kit purchased from Betterbee. Picture is: one Hive body, BeeMax Telescope Cover, Polystyrene Hive Top Feeder and Bottom Board with Built-in Varroa Screen. Everything is sitting on 8 foot land scape timbers, which in turn are sitting on a set of old car wheels/rims (had them sitting around. I figured I try putting them to good use.)
OK, so here are the problems with the set up. The color is NOT a problem by the way. To get the kids involved in this, I let them pick the color.
  1. I located it too close to a grouping of Cabbage Palms (the state tree of Florida ) It's a great bee tree, but a leaf stalk attaches the frond to the tree. It is 4' to 7 ½' long, the old fronds die and fall off as the palm grows, but the stalk remains on the tree until the trunk gets thicker, and then they all fall. The area under the palm becomes a mess for years until all the stalks fall off. The mess creates a play ground for carpenter ants feeding on the wood, and if not picked up, they'll nest on the pile.
  2. The hive is in an area of my property that I had never visited after several days of rain. Turns out after a good storm, it would sit in about two inches of water. I never needed to get to it when it looked like an island. Can't imagine it would have been fun to stand in a huge puddle to inspect the hive, and it also would get a lot of splash up dirt. The bees would spend hrs cleaning the landing board, and I was afraid some splashing was coming up the bottom screen
  3. The bricks by the entrance are my idea of an entrance reducer. It worked, but they needed to be solid. I noticed several intruders dashing in the holes of the bricks, and the guards were not able to follow.
  4. The timbers were too long, and walking around the hive was hard since I had to step over them, or go way around them
  5. The rims/wheels were nice and solid, but they didn't stop weeds/grass from coming up
I did face it to the east so, the hive would get to work nice and early. It also had great wind breakers to the East and South. I installed my 1st 3lb package of bees in late April. They thrived for 3 months, until they decided to move with out leaving a forwarding address. - more on that later

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