There’s something I’ve been meaning to sort out for a while, the last two summers my workshop has been awash with loose bees because of my shoddy woodwork on the hive entrance . I should have done it last year but what with footgate and a couple of rounds of surgery on my face I didn’t get round to it until the bees were way too awake to hassle with major alterations to their home.
This year without a cast to hinder me and free from a fetching set of neck staples I have a chance to resolve the situation. I’ve built benches either side of the hive which will make work a good deal less stressful and the new entrance should bee flush with the bench top.
I figure the least pain in the arse way to fit a new entrance tunnel is to replace the whole hive floor – a new one is only twelve quid and easier than trying using a screwdriver on a box full of venomous flying things. I’m also making a minor change to the mesh floor – filing out slots it fits into so I can slide it in and out – it will make access for mite treatments a lot easier in winter.
The tunnel is designed for minimum amount of sawing and made from scrap pine slats. It’s screwed firmly to the base with a little overlap at the top so the brood box slots in tightly. The top of the tunnel is removable for two reasons – first it’ll speed up the bees getting back into the hive after inspection and it I can fit a perspex lid if I want to watch them coming and going.
This is the first time the bees have been disturbed since the winter.Aside from a few frames stuck together with brace comb and dribbles of fondant, opening the hive was trouble free, I barely had to swear at all. It’s a little early in the year but I want to do the maintenance before things get lively. The first job is clearing out the fallen workers, of which there are surprisingly few.
Changing old comb is essential for the health of the hive but it’s a faff, there’s invariably brood or stores that I don’t really want to destroy. In the autumn I made sure I’d moved the old darkened comb down to the lower brood box. The bees have consumed the stores in there and moved up a floor.
I can remove all the old comb and give them fresh foundation later in the spring. The old wax won’t go to waste but the propolis and remnants of silk from pupae will mean spending some effort cleaning it.
There’s still some honey left in the comb which is great because it means I judged things right last year. I can’t see any sign of brood yet but it’s still early and the weather’s been awful. I also haven’t seen the queen but I wasn’t specifically looking for her so I’m not too worried but she’d better get laying soon – I’m counting on her offspring to repopulate the now empty allotment hive.
Speaking of the allotment, I’m doing my best to get it struck by lightning – the first two hop poles are up. Hope I’m not on any flight paths…