Showing posts with label constructing frames. Show all posts
Showing posts with label constructing frames. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Bit of Beekeepery at Our School Garden Open Day

Saturday the 11th of May

It was Garden Open Day today at LandofSpike's kids' Primary School just along the road from Spike Towers.

This annual event showcases the work of the School Garden Team, a small and dedicated group of parents and staff who work with the children throughout the gardening year to help them understand how things grow and where our food comes from.

Presumably, it also helps the kids understand the very best ways to get totally covered in dirt.

The day was a bit windy and not particularly warm, but at least it wasn't raining. 
So, unperturbed and with a few heavy things on top of the light things to stop them from blowing away, it was time to open the gates to the public and let everyone have a look at what the gardeners had been up to.

As ever, there was plenty of brilliant stuff to see and do.
The day was subtly bee-themed, with a make-a-bee craft stall and a bee-themed colouring-in table. 
Kids could also plant some seeds, paint their own plant pot or decorate a pebble.

You could make one of these at the craft stall

Hungry visitors could sample a variety of tasty homemade breads, rosemary scones, apple cake and fantastic soups made from produce grown in the garden.
Intrepid visitors could take a tour round the site to view the results of all the great work carried out by the children and adult helpers.

In addition to all this excellence, LandofSpike had been enlisted to spread the beekeepery word and was delighted to set up shop under the apple blossom tree on the garden's northern borders, right next to the face painting stall.
His aim was to try and help demystify the arcane world of the beekeeper.
He couldn't really bring a big bag of bees along with him, so he brought a big bag of beekeeper kit along instead. 
And talked a lot.

In a hugely enjoyable couple of hours (for him at least) we discussed frames, foundation, Langstroth, beespace, brood boxes, supers, queen excluders, hive tools, smokers, colony collapse disorder, neonicotinoids, fondant, syrup and the value of autumn feeding.
That's the autumn feeding without which the beesofspike would not have survived the winter.

A varroa tray with 4 days worth of debris provided a sample of mites to look at under a microscope. 


And once identified, people could return to sift through the tray to find the little blighters in situ, along with plenty of wax flakes, some dropped pollen, a few wings, legs, a sting and, happily, no evidence of wax moth.

Varroa tray detectives could identify, wax flakes, pollen & mites

There was lots of wild comb on display and very quickly people found they could identify brood cells and larvae, capped brood, drone cells, pollen cells and uncapped and capped honey. There were even a few new workers emerging from their cells to marvel at.

A BeesofSpike worker emerging from its cell

Despite all this learning and worthiness, LandofSpike suspects that by far the most popular bee-related exhibit on his stall was the large chunk of honey-filled burr comb that he sliced off the side of a particularly heavy frame of capped honey.

Yes, we know the varroa are really interesting but when can we have a taste of this?

Garden Guru Anita whisked it away to the produce stall where it was very swiftly consumed, along with the delicious homemade breads, by an enthusiastic public. 

It's heartening to know that the bees that made that honey had, more than likely, visited this very garden and the gardens of most of those attending the Open Day, to collect nectar and pollen.
It was indeed the most local of local honey. 

And so with people still picking beeswax from between their teeth, a very successful Open Day came to a close.

It would seem that anything that can help make beekeeping more accessible is a step in the right direction.
What goes on underneath that veil, behind that screen of smoke and inside those enigmatic buzzing boxes shouldn't be seen as mysterious at all.
Hopefully today, and days like it, help to lift the veil just a tiny bit.

LandofSpike's only regrets were that he didn't get to demonstrate his smoker lighting technique, which was judged a Health & Safety hazard by Mrs LandofSpike, and that there wasn't time for Stevie to model her extremely cute beekeeper suit.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Living in a Box... Some New Accommodation

It's all very well waxing lyrical about the splendour of being a beekeeper but at some point our beeless blogger does need to have some actual real-life contact with his own boxful of bees.

It does cost though.

So LandofSpike has eventually had to bite the bullet and release funds from his Empire's not particularly vast Reserves of Wealth.
Over the last few weeks Purchase Orders have been raised and orders have been placed.

Subsequently, the Post Room at Spike Towers has been kept busy receiving regular deliveries of Bee-related Equipment from a worthy array of suppliers.

It's very tempting to list all the exciting new arrivals but this post will put aside hive tools, bee brushes and smokers for the time being and deal with our Most Important Piece of New Kit...

The Hive has arrived.
It's rather smart.
It's from Finland and is called The Beebox.
It takes National frames and is made not of cedar but is lovingly crafted out of EPS.
Yes, that's Expanded Polystyrene. 
Not particularly traditional in this country, but hopefully functional, user-friendly and warm in the winter. And with any luck, the bees will love it.

LandofSpike and BKJ1 have spent some time piecing it together and painting it.
It comes flat-packed and slots easily together.

The unpainted Beebox
It currently comprises of (from the top down) a roof, an inner cover, a top feeder, 2 supers, a queen excluder, a brood box and a base with varroa mesh and tray. And a big strap to tie it down.

The Beebox has a cool entrance reducer

Modern Beekeeping recommended painting the Hive with Dulux Weathershield Smooth Masonry Paint. 
So it got several coats of the stuff in different colours for the different components.
LandofSpike thinks it looks pretty good.

How it all fits together

The boys have also been constructing a big stack of frames.
The delightfully and cunningly designed Hoffman ones.
Ten full size frames for the brood box and ten smaller frames for each super.

Frame components
Completed frame
It's a goodly task once you get your rhythm and is extremely satisfying.
BKJ1 was particularly good at it.
LandofSpike will spend some time on frames and frame making in a later post.

The Beebox, painted, but still masked up
So with the Hive now looking box-tastic the next task is to make a stand to keep it well above the ground.
LandofSpike will be lovingly handcrafting this himself.
Anyone who has seen his previous attempts at woodworking will have some idea of exactly just how magnificent this will be...