If you’ve been with us from the beginning, you know that one of the things I wanted to do was have an apiary on the farm. Well, hybridized bees in Arizona have really made that impossible. If you have these “killer” bees on your land, even if you’re not aware of it, and they hurt or kill people or animals, the land owner is 100% liable for medical bills, and whatever else. So, since they are so prevalent in the area, and can take over a hive so quickly, we didn’t want to do that. However, Sue had already purchased the hive of my dreams: the Flow Hive.
The Flow Hive system was invented by a Father and Son team from Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia. I became enamored of this hive because, the manner in which you harvest the honey is minimally invasive to the hive. It doesn’t ruin all the comb, no bees are squished in the process, and the bees do not have to work as hard to repair/replace everything. I really want to use it. So, we talked about it and decided that perhaps we could set it up on my folks’ property since they have a larger piece of land. Perhaps we could establish a colony there and I could go over once a quarter to maintain and then harvest it periodically. The next trip to the family compound, I carted the hive over. Since then, I hadn’t really been here long enough to set it up at all. This trip I wanted to remedy that. I asked Dad to help me retrieve it from it’s storage spot and I opened up the box, for only the second time in three years, and found what I had forgotten. Some assembly required. Well – I knew that there was some assembly required, but I forgot the extent. Plus – I needed to oil the outside parts with a food grade wood conditioner prior to assembly. So- I read the directions! Sat and oiled all the parts that needed oiling then began to put it together. Because Sue was an early purchaser of the system, they upgraded her wood to a responsibly sourced cedar. It is absolutely gorgeous. The parts are milled in Australia and shipped where ever in the world. Here’s a photo of an oiled piece beside an unoiled piece. Gorgeous! Right?
The next step was to put together the frames while the oil soaked into the brood box. The frames go into the brood box to provide a space for the bees to build their colony. This will be the main portion of the hive and the queen will live in this area. While the colony is getting settled, honey will not be harvested, so the “super” portion, that goes on top, will not be placed for 8 months to a year. This photo shows the top part of the frames, with the raw wood inserts to which the bees will draw their comb. These hang in the brood box, suspended by the end of the tongues you see there. To the left are the completed frames, upside down, while the glue finishes drying. We used a non-toxic glue so nothing could hurt the bees once dried. To add stability, finishing nails were added to the joins and the bottom of each frame.
Later, I began to build the brood box, following the instructions of course. My dad kept asking me if this hive came from Ikea, because the instructions look very similar. I squared up the box, clamped it in place and began to insert the screws. I had a bit of trouble in a couple of cases because the screws hit a knot, or otherwise very tough area of the wood. Ruined one screw. Had to back it out by hand and have dad put another in… just didn’t have the upper body strength to get it in there. They only provide the exact number of screws – that is my only criticism. (They have me extra finishing nails, but I hammer much better, so I didn’t need those.)
The roof was interesting, on one end, the frontice piece is shorter to leave some ventilation and egress space, so it was difficult to line up. But, with help from Mom and Dad, we were able to get it together. The roofing went in on in four pieces and they have you place the top two first, which I thought was odd, but it did line up easily that way. Once the brood box was altogether, I was able to hang the frames in it. They all fit quite nicely. Obviously the company has worked long and hard to get everything to go together well – even if it’s just some inexperienced person, like myself, putting it all together. Then the “top” went on, providing some protection for the frames and allowing access for the bees. The final step was to oil the bottom (which, mercifully, came already in one piece) so the bees would have a front porch and easy access from below. Generally this is placed on cinder blocks, raising it off the ground, or a leg assembly purchased form the company. But we’re worried about ants getting into it – because they are every where, these little dinky ants that just run around getting into everything. So Dad found some metal legs that he’s going to attach to a wooden base to lift it off of the ground. Then we can put the legs in small cans with a bit of mineral oil in the bottom to keep the ants out of the hive. I think everything went well. It wasn’t difficult to understand the directions and they had pre-drilled all the holes, everything was milled fantastically and the finished product is beautiful. To the left is a shot showing where it will sit, under the perpetual shade of an acacia tree. This is before the legs have been added. My mom has all types of bee friendly flowers and plants and it is easily accessible for when we need to provide nutrients during the winter months, or the extremely dry periods. Next, I just need to work out the timing to order bees and then be here to pick them up and introduce them to their new home. I have some resources for that, but it probably won’t happen until the spring. You know that will be an experience and you’ll be along, every step of the way. Until then, as always~
Thanks for reading!
Today’s Weather: Going from the weather app again… it’s currently 97° at home, with a predicted high of 100°. Looks like the overnight low is going to be 73° and high winds are expected for Friday. Perfect. I’m traveling home tomorrow, which is supposed to be one of the hottest days through the desert. yuck. Over-all though, the weather will be about the same as it is in Ramona! Go figure.
Egg Report: Well, I don’t have that because my schedule is a bit off. But Sue did let me know that there are now 3 banty chicks with the broody little hen. There could be even more! They seem to be mostly dark chicks, so it will be interesting to see what they grow to become.
Cool Thing: Here’s your cool photo for today. I thought Sue was sending it to me because there was a problem, but she said, no – she just liked the tall, long angle of it. The cedar tree in front of the dinky house.