Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A few more Bee Lessons and Rain Barrels

I've been kind of concerned that I put the upper deep boxes on the hives much too early.  In researching on the internet it was unanimous that I shouldn't have put them on.  So today I went in to inspect the hives and it was quite interesting.  My smoker kept going out and was a pain to keep going.  Since then I found some good youtube videos explaining that's one of the biggest frustrations for new beekeepers and found some good tips how to keep it burning all day if need be(e).

The first hive I went into was not happy about the intrusion into their home.  The first thing I noticed was the upper super of empty frames had quite a few bees on the frames.  They weren't making comb or anything productive from what I could see.  What I deduced was they were eating the wax off those frames.  I recalled reading something about this happening when there's too many empty frames and space.  After deciding to remove the upper box my dilemma was evicting the bees that were happily munching the wax.  It took awhile but I finally succeeded.   Then I inspected the frames from the nucs as well as the new frames on the lower hive.  I saw the queen which was good and everything looked ok.
Back to single deep super

The second hive was pretty much the same.  I wasn't sure about the queen though.  I think I saw a couple drones which at first had me thinking they were the queen.  Removing the upper box had the same challenges but this hive of bees seemed much calmer than the first group.  Also they drew some comb on the new frames which was encouraging.

All week I've been tinkering with the rain barrel system and it's looking and working pretty good.  I also added a 5th barrel to be a compost tea brewer.  It won't be connected to the rain barrel system but will probably be able to interface with the hydration delivery systems which are still in early design phase.  What I would love to do is automate most of the watering.

The rain diverter was one of the biggest frustrations in building this.  Initially I purchased the (expensive) fiskars diverter (a diverter filters debris like leaves and twigs and has an overflow mechanism).
Redneck Diverter

While it worked, it was just marginal.  I bought a very simple diverter at ACE hardware and it works much better.  Only downside is the overflow is a bit messier and overflow will just flow off the initial barrel onto the ground.  No big deal.  The day before I finished we had intense rain but I wasn't able to capture any of it.   If you're thinking about a rain barrel system my advice is to not use metal barrels.  Only metal one I have is for the composter.  The problem with metal is cutting a hole in the barrel for the spicot.  Cutting strong steel is more than a lot of people want to deal with.  Fortunately I have a good array of metal working tools.

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