Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beemax Material Research

A reader left a comment on my Sept. 10, 2007 Post "New Toys". It reads "Beemax are made of polystyrene and a componant is styrene which has been banned in several states. It is known that it causes cancer in animals and nerve disorders in humans." Thank you who ever you are for bringing this up to me.

You know!! it made me think ........ I should had done some research on what exactly is Polystyrene. So better late than never .. here is my research.

Note : these are my online findings, research, and conclusion. What do I know. Key words in RED.
First my conclusion:

  1. Had I done this research before buying the Beemax hives, I still would had gone ahead and bought them.
  2. Polystyrene - Styrofoam take out containers ARE Polysterine with injected air. Remember those Styrofoam containers from the 80's that kept the hot part hot and the cold part cold of a Big mac??? Well, that's what Beemax hives are made out off. Now, Styrene is a component of Polystyrine, but you have to melt Polystyrine to get the Styrene out. Like any burning plastic, burning it will produce noxious fumes. SO DON"T BURN and inhale BEEMAX HIVES or any other plastic
  3. Now, Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam Fast food food containers and carry out containers) have been band in several states, but not because they are potential carcinogens, rather because it takes a long long long time in landfills to decompose. "The health effects caused by consuming polystyrene when it migrates from food containers (primarily from a leaching caused by heat exchange) into food is under serious investigation" (Wikipidia) . Just Like cell phone use, grilling on the BBQ, laptops on your lap, the sun, eating too much of this or not enough of that, etc etc.
My research Starting with -

Styrene : "also known as vinyl benzene as well as many other names , is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2. Under normal conditions, this aromatic hydrocarbon is an oily liquid. It evaporates easily and has a sweet smell, although common impurities confer a less pleasant odor. Styrene is an important precursor to polystyrene, an important synthetic material." "Styrene is named after the styrax trees from whose sap (benzoin resin) it can be extracted. Low levels of styrene occur naturally in plants as well as a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beverages, and meats. " " Health effects
Styrene is a toxin, an irritant, and a potential carcinogen

Polystyrene : "is an aromatic polymer made from the aromatic monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry. Polystyrene is a thermoplastic substance, normally existing in solid state at room temperature, but melting if heated (for molding or extrusion), and becoming solid again when cooling off.".(Wikipidia)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Early Santa Visit and 2008 Beekeeping Plan/Goals

I was a very good boy too, but first things first. I have to thank my good friend and running partner Patti for the Blog slogan... “Bees give a natural Buzz ……” I actually had been looking for something to use in the blog and as my signature in the forums. I think Patti was just trying to be funny, but I like it and I’m going with it.

How did I get my present so early? Simple …. When you tell the wife you want bee stuff for X-mas she’ll most likely say order it. The trick is to make sure you order some big items. When it comes in just ask her if you can have it now or does she want to wrap it and put it under the tree!!!!!! Trust me, last thing she’ll want to do is wrap that huge box, and first thing she’ll want is the bee stuff out of the house.

It was a good day and a disappointing one. Good because I got my new PLASTIC HIVE STAND/VENTILATED BOTTOM BOARD and a new Beemax super from Dandant. All the parts for my second hive are now in. Here are a few pictures of the base unassembled and assembled. I like the base and trust it to control my number one bee problem – Florida carpenter ants. It has a partial screen board exactly where the bees keep their brood nest. The whole base slopes into the screen area and down into the inspection drawer. The partial screen is made for unobstructed ventilation to help with the hot and humid Florida weather. Personally, I think it has two draw backs, one is correctable.(Picture below is stand from behind with inspection drawer partially out)

  1. The ventilation holes are large enough for some bees to squeeze out of them, when and if the entrance is closed off. Not a good feature if one wishes to move the hive.
  2. The side squirts are not wide enough to hide the moats. Bees accidentally fall and drown in it when they are out bearding, or if they misjudge their approach pattern with a full pollen/nectar load. The problem is easily corrected by gluing or bolting on a 1 inch strip of wood to the side lengths.

(Picture below shows side moats)

Link to more pictures of my stand

Why disappointing?? I have been doing some research and planning on the best method of obtaining new bees to stock the new hive and the TBH. I finally ordered two 3lbs packages from Rossman Apiaries, but I though about it for too long, and my delivery is not scheduled until early May. With a May delivery, I’m going to completely miss the best Florida months for beekeeping. Oh well, live and learn.

The beekeeping goals and plan for 2008:

  • Self sustaining by years end - Two Lang hives, One Top Bar Hive (TBH), and One Nuc to support them.
  • Split current hive by late March, early April.
  1. If I can get a queen via the mail, then re-queen the split, and place above the TBH to stock it. Otherwise…
  2. Allow Nuc to raise its own queen and, if successful, allow it to grow into a full Lang or use it to support the May delivery of packages
  • With the arrival of the new bee stock in early May if Nuc is ready to provide support of drawn frames with capped brood.
  1. Install one package in Lang with 1 or 2 frames of brood from Nuc
  2. Install second package in the TBH

OR If the Split is well on its way to becoming a good colony

  1. Install one package in TBH
  2. Install second package into a Nuc

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why we live in Florida - Dec 1st Activity

Coldest weather of the season arrived this past weekend. Lows in the low 50's and high in the upper 70's, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I couldn't even put a entrance reducer right now, it would just create a traffic jam at the entrance.

I took some silly short videos. I’ve said it before, I think video is a good way to observe behavior and to look out for heavy Varroa infestations or signs of other parasites / diseases.Observations from the video

  • "IN" Traffic keeps to the bottom of the landing board. "OUT" Traffic exits above and upside down. That really keeps things moving
  • Not a big flow of resources, but there is still a flow of pollen and nectar. Not bad for early December. It’s mostly nectar in the morning and as the day progresses pollen increases. That’s due to the simple reason that later in the day, the sun dries up the nectar in the flowers.
  • The loud noise you hear over the bee’s buzzing are cicada’s. If you think they are loud now, you should hear them in the summer.

Also visible in the video is my latest modification. I extended the side skirt with some wood and liquid nails (light brown stuff you see). It hides the moats on the sides completely under the hive. This equates to less bees drowning in the moat. I noticed that bees coming in fast and heavy at certain angles (directly from behind --> perpendicular to the entrance) from the field would sometimes miscalculate their approach and come up short just to land and drown in the moat. The wood skirt extension greatly relieves the problem of drowning bees. Still, in the front moats there are 4 to 6 bees drowning per week. I finally observed why .................. bees that are dying, worked their wings off or for whatever reason can't fly back, make an attempt to walk back with their last field load. Only to be denied returning to the hive by the moats. I find a few bees now and then dying or dead just hanging on the side wall of a moat. Cruel thing but maybe, just a theory, it may be for the best of the colony. Bees walking back may give microbes/parasites/diseases a change to hop on and be taken into the hive. But that’s just a theory.

The following video was taken the same day but in the afternoon. The angle is different simply to allow the light to be behind the camera. Notice the increase of pollen compare to the morning video.

Top Bar Hive (TBH)

This document is my final draft (very rough) of some of my ideas, rules, and basic sketches for my Top Bar Hive Design. I'll finalize it the day I'm done building it.

The standard beekeeper has Langstroth hives. Invented in 1860 by, Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth. Their convenience allows a beekeeper with multiple number of Langstroth hives, to move components from hive to hive. Allowing keepers to easily combine weak hives or split strong ones. We (yes, I'm including myself) may also buy components from different makers with no worries about them not been compatible.

So what does a beekeeper do to stand out of the crowd? (As if beekeeping wasn't enough ?)

Well ...... aside from letting your 6 year olds pick the hive color and decorate it. In my opinion, build and design a Top Bar Hive (TBH).

TBH vs. Langstroth is probably one of the biggest discussions among beekeepers. I read that they both have their pro's and cons. I can't deny or verify any, maybe in a few years. I think is thrilling to have the chance to design and build my own Hive.

A couple of Questions to answer between hive styles :

  • Which hive is easier to manage
  • Which hive is stronger (bee number), more productive (Honey production), and healthier(less Varroa mites)

Influences of my TBH design

  • Be able to interchange frames from my Lang to the TBH, and vice-versa. This feature should comply with the Florida beekeeper rule of using standard size frames.
  • Sloped sides. To me is a completely esthetic feature. Required or not, I want sloped sides
  • Length is dictated by the Florida heat and humidity.
  • Must be able to supper it

These are my Favorite TBH sites, I'm incorporating a lot of ideas from these sites into my own, and learning a lot from their posted knowledge.
This is my Favorite TBH Site, very informative site. I love the building procedures from this site, my favorite TBH blog, and this one has got to be the best looking TBH I seen online. I hope mine looks that good one day.

Pollen Count (March 31 - 2008 )

Help your self to the data from the spread sheet HERE
The blue line is the statistical trend of the data.

Personal observation - Rainfalls drop the Pollen Ccount for aproximately One Day. The heavier the rain fall (Volume), the lower the pollen count number.

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