|Assembling the hives: I use a narrow-gauge stapler with 2.25" and 1" staples|
|I assemble the boxes with 2.25" staples and frames with 1" staples.|
The "deep" boxes are used to house the hive and its store of honey, and most hives in this area are reduced to two deep supers to go through the winter. When nectar is flowing and honey is being produced, the standard supers are added to the top of the hive to give the bees room to store the honey.
|That's a lot of acres of boxes to fill with frames.|
|Beekeepers dreams: Skyscraper hives|
At the end of the nectar flow what I usually see is a complete deep super of honey and pollen and a brood chamber with honey and pollen and larvae. Bees do not hibernate. They huddle inside the hive and consume their stores and wait for winter to end. You'll see them flying around if you have a warm spell, but most of the winter they're just waiting. The difficult thing is that you really cannot open the hive up unless it's a warm day; larvae die from cold, the queens laying is disrupted, and the bees are agitated and their production goes down. So it's a bit of a waiting game in winter; you want to look to see if they're ok, but have to temper that desire with the stress it puts on the hive. An infrared thermometer is what I use when I want to know; the bees will heat their hive and maintain that heat by body movement, consuming honey.
|1 gallon of exterior latex later, white bee equipment|
I'm planning on keeping 4 hives; each hive consists of : (From bottom to top)
Varoa mite screen board
2 deep supers, each containing 10 frames of stamped beeswax
2 standard supers, each containing 10 frames of stamped beeswax
1 hivetop feeder
1 inside lid
1 telescoping lid
For each hive, I have also purchased all of that equipment except the 2 standard supers. These extra boxes are used to catch swarms; either from my hives, or from feral bees or other hives.
The goal of a bee is to make bees. the goal of a beekeeper is to make honey. The bees, after being fed and housed comfortably will tend to produce another queen midway in the nectar flow. That usually happens in the first half of June. Half or so of the bees in the colony will leave with the original queen as a "swarm" and leave the hive. The other half of the bees and the newly hatched queen will stay in the fully stocked hive.
By having the extra boxes ready to go and being observant, I can catch the swarm and house it in a new hive. that hive probably won't have enough time to fill any supers; in fact, it'll be lucky to make enough honey to last the winter, so two deep supers will be more than enough space for the new hive.
I don't really want them to swarm, and will prevent them from doing so if I can, but an early enough swarm can be a strong enough hive to last through the winter, and as with lambs and calves, it's doubling your stock, so it's not all that bad if it happens.