Took care of the various and sundry “final housekeeping” tasks on the hives in prep for my big trip (M and I leave for a three month trip through Europe on Monday).
First order of business was to punch some of the ventilation holes in the bottom boards that Mike suggested. I borrowed a 2-½” hole saw from Morgan, picked up a bit of hardware cloth (which is what they call “screen” at the hardware store) and grabbed a staple gun at just bore right in. It was a little freaky, the big hole and permanence of it, but I’m really hoping it will clear up the moisture problems I’ve had in the hives overwinter past years.
While I was at it, I tacked on some tin Mike gave me to the top cover. I let the edges go out a quarter inch past the edge of the wood and just bent it down slightly instead of tacking it flush, in the hopes that the water will run to the edge of the tin and then fall, clearing the hive bodies altogether. I think a significant source of my past water problems has been from water running down the edge of the bodies, then climbing in the cracks between the hive bodies through surface tension.
Finally, Michelle and I have been clearing out our cabinets in preparation for renting our house out to three Buddhist women who will be staying in it while we’re gone (they’ve agreed to take care of our cat, Fourth, but I’m hoping the bees will be able to take care of themselves for that spell). In the process, I came across three almost empty containers of crystallized honey, one of them (gasp) store bought. Rather than go through the trouble of decrystallizing such a small amount, I put it out for the bees to clean up.
I’m always amazed at how fast they work. I put out a ladle and spatula covered in honey (from some jarring) with it, and within hours, they were spotless clean. One of the jars was cleaned out, too, and I’m sure the other two will be spotless, save for a few flecks of wax that made it through a strainer, by nightfall.
You can see them at work in the pictures below (I wedged the jars between the hives). I especially like the motion of the yellowjacket (a constant scavenger about my hives) in the picture on the right. Click through to see it large.
This is likely my last post until we head out. I’ve made contact with a couple beekeepers in Europe, so I hope to post some dispatches from there. Again, if you’re a beekeeper in Europe and you’re interested in giving some Americans a tour, drop me a line at jordan (at) hive-mind.com.