Sunday, August 18, 2013

attica and sing sing

As you know, I am extremely handy.  Hah.

Just to be clear, this is Jonathan.  Not Rebecca.

We have been having a little trouble with hive robbing lately.  So we called The Honey Exchange to ask for any suggestions about what we should do.  Phil explained that we could build a robbing screen that would help block out the invading armies.

But I was envisioning something impenetrable.  Wouldn't that keep the good bees out, too?
Think of the hives as prisons.  The inmates will always want to figure out how to get out.  But no one on the outside is going to try to figure out how to break in.
Phil suggested we take a look at the instructions from Brown's Bee Farm in North Yarmouth.  Brown's plan seemed doable and in the tradition of our swarm catcher, I began Phase II of apiary construction.

The goal is to create something that fits just in front of the hive entrance which will force the bees to fly up and over it both to enter and to exit.  You need about an inch of space between the screen and the front of the hive so I purchased an 8' 1x1 and set to work.

But how to get the screen to sit on the front of the hive?  Several Google searches displayed images of notched sides that created a lip over the two edges.  I dug a 2x4 out of the basement and began cutting it down and notching.

Now all I had to do was stick the front to the back with some 1/8" hardware cloth sandwiched in between, the same material that is applied across the bottom of our hives just above the bottom boards.

Some three hours later, given my extraordinary skill with measuring and tools and the time it takes to locate anything of use in the disaster that is our basement at the moment, I had two screens.  Voila!

NOTE: In this photo, I so diligently framed the screen that I left no openings for the bees to get to the entrance.  When I installed it in this configuration, Rebecca pointed out it completely -- and quite effectively -- prevented any bees from entering or exiting the hive.  Maximum Security is not the goal here.

So I removed the smaller piece -- the one with one screw on the left hand side in the picture -- and that modification allowed for a gap directly in front of the hive opening.

Once the screen was installed, it took quite a while for the foragers to get the gist of the new arrangement.  But, as promised, the inmates weren't about to give up on their quest for freedom.

Our facilities are once again secure.  The riots quelled.  As long as we don't have any particularly diligent thieves, we're hoping our days of purloined honey are over.

I must say: I'm impressed with the diligence of our population given the inmates' commitment to breaking back in.

* * *

We are headed out for a vacation at our internet-free camp until Labor Day.  Enjoy your final few weeks of summer.

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