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Another Reason

ANOTHER REASON FOR SCREENED BOTTOM BOARDS!

Cappings from side to side, very healthy.

 

 

 

        It’s been a busy year with these boards.  Suddenly we went from organic farmers to manufacturing entrepreneurs.  I’m afraid to say, we had to cut down on the farm, selling chickens, planting parts of the farm in cover crops, not having time to can or freeze, letting  people u-pick raspberries and fruit at under-market prices.  My husband was busy making boards, working extra hours to keep up with demand. 

 

 

       I was dismayed to realized, as we were approaching winter,  we also neglected our beekeeping upkeep.  We didn’t repair any of our old supers in ‘the pile” (everyone has one of those, don’t they?)  Worst, we visited many beekeeping stores, and didn’t buy one thing.  Our woodenware was in deplorable condition.  They were broken down and ventilated in all of the wrong spots.  We decided to wrap them for the winter.  We had a roll of strange looking aluminum reinforced paper that we had picked up at a garage sale somewhere.  It had tiny slits in them, and looks like it was used for insulation.  I figured that it would be a fantastic wind break, yet allow ventilation.   

 

 

        Turns out, it was a wonderful product.  We just wrapped the hives and secured the edges with pushpins.  After 3 weeks of wild windy rainy weather (location, Grass Valley in the California foothills, elev. 2100), the sun came up and it quickly warmed up into the 60’s.  I went out to the bee yard to get clean the sub-boards and get ready for a mid-winter varroa count.

 

 

        First I looked at the line of hives and noticed that two hives had less bees flying than the other 5 hives.

 

 

 I pulled and cleaned the boards of the first few hives, marveling at the amount of wax cappings  that collected covering the entire board.  You could see the lines of the frames.  I was feeling pretty secure that the bees were alive and doing very well.  When I pulled the sub-board of the weaker looking hive, the first thing I noticed was the board was very wet and there was a small area of cappings.    I quickly went down the rest of the hives until I got to the next weak one, and sure enough, that board was wet as well and the capping shadow was very small. 

 

 

     I broke apart one of the hives.  I first removed the Aluminum paper thinking the water was getting in behind that, but it was dry underneath.  I took the metal bound telescoping top off and found the inner cover to be soaking wet.  Our outer covers are wood covered with Aluminum sheets that we obtained from our local newspaper building and have holes in the center for feeding with inverted jars.    They are all older than 9 years old, since we got most of our equipment used.  The wood underneath had disintegrated and the heavy block of wood covering the hole weighed down the aluminum so water was funneling straight into the hive.  

 

 

        Those 3 wet weeks took quite a toll on those poor bees, we found the queen in both hives, but about half the bees as the other hives.  My husband went right to work fixing those tops.  First the glued pieces of wood between the wood and metal to make the hole convex like a volcano.  Then he made a wooden ‘gasket’ that he glued with a hot melt glue gun.  He also sealed the wood with glue to weatherproof it.  Worked like a charm.  He proceeded to update all of our covers.

 

 

        It occurred to me that without the screened bottom boards; I would not have realized that we had a breach that allowed the weather in.  I realized I could have checked the hives after the first day of rain and realized they were wet and could have done something to save these bees.  It’s now on my list of things to do, checking the hives after the first rains to see if there are any leaking problems.

 

 

Close up showing low varroa count (3 weeks).
Water on board, smaller capping shadow. Problems with the hive!

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