Last summer we had a party at our house and one of Diana’s yoga students was interested in my bees and asked if I would be interested in helping her put some bees on her property.  Sarah and her husband have a nice piece of property that backs up to some open fields a few miles away.  So this year, I ordered an extra package of bees for her and built a new hive.  This is a different design from my others, a modification of Phil Chandler’s design.  I didn’t use a screened bottom board and I put the entrance holes on one side so I won’t have to do the reshuffling of combs later in the season.  I also added a window so Sarah can show her grandkids what’s going on inside.

New hive design

New hive design based on Phil Chandler’s plans

I let Sarah paint it since she’s an artist and I’m colorblind.

Hive all painted and in place.

Hive all painted and in place.

Sarah wants to learn to keep bees, so I’m going to help her along. For this year, I’ll be doing most of the keeping – teaching her what little I know and both of us learning along the way.  I just got a bike trailer that my neighbor salvaged from the trash (thanks Gary!), so I figure I can bike out to Sarah’s house with my bee gear in the trailer – tending bees and getting some exercise at the same time.

We drove down to Denver to pick up the bees from Tim Brod of Highland Honey Bees down at To Bee Or Not To Bee’s new location.  I pride myself on my sense of direction, but this time I got lost and we had to pull out the phone and ask Siri for help to get us there.  We made it just before the end of the sale and brought the bees back to their new home with Sarah talking to her new charges and giving them spritzes of sugar water along the way.

The setting for the hive is just beautiful – lots of open space for foraging and beautiful views of the snow capped peaks of the Front Range.

Sarah and her bees - with the snow capped peaks behind.

Sarah and her bees – with the snow capped peaks behind.

Sarah suited up for the installation since she wasn’t sure of what was to come.  I remember the first installation I did – I was suited up from head to toe.  Today, I was in a polo shirt.  We hung the queen from one of the bars and I had Sarah pour the bees into the hive.  This is the first time I didn’t do the marshmallow method – replacing the cork with a marshmallow that the workers would eat through to release the queen.  We left the cork in place which will give the workers a little more time to get used to their new queen. I’ll have to go back in to the hive in a couple of days to release her but hopefully this will allow the bees to be more comfortable in their new home and not think about absconding.  It’s always good to try something new.

Queen hanging from the bar.

Queen hanging from the bar.

We put the bars back on and looked through the window, but the bees had covered the glass so we really couldn’t see what was going on.  The follower board doesn’t quite fit snugly, so there was a little gap where the bees were trying to get in above the window.  It is tight enough so they can’t make it in, but I’ll have to do some mods to the follower board so it fits better.

Bees through the window.

Looking in through the window with some bees trying to get in at the follower board.

So a new adventure begins – Sarah is going to learn about bees and beekeeping, and I’ve got a new hive to take care of that’s not in my backyard.  It should be a fun summer!



Julie · May 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm

That is so kind of you to build Sarah a hive! It looks fantastic, and its new home is just — WOW!

Very curious to see what you think of end entrances vs. side entrances after you’ve had some time to work with them. Phil Chandler says that once you try side entrances, you never go back. LOL! From my own observation, I might agree with him when working with a new hive. However, in working with an established colony, I’m not sure it matters. However, I haven’t tried side entrances, so I’m curious to hear what you discover.

    Don · May 4, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    It will be an interesting experiment – especially since I have mine near the end and not in the middle. I took that from Les Crowder’s design (except I’m using holes instead of a slot). Also, I can easily convert to a top entrance by plugging up the holes if I want to try yet another way! I’m building another one that is similar, but I’m putting a screened bottom on that, with a removable bottom board so I can dump the detritus every now and then and do mite counts. My plan is to make a split from BnB2 when I get it finished and put it in my next door neighbor’s yard. Still no egg/larva in the queen cups, so I think I’ll have time to finish it before I need to split to keep them from swarming. But that’s for another post!

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