Thursday, April 14, 2016
Summer-izing the Hives
Today had me switching the hives over from the Winter build to a Summer one. For about half the hives all this really entails is removing the entrance reducers I have in place since I took the insulation off the end of March. The other half of the hives however takes a bit more work.
I use extra deep Winter inner covers on first year hives since those hives only have bottom entrances. These types of inner covers have extra ventilation holes and are deeper so I can add dry sugar on top of the Winter ball if stores become low. They work well for Winter but they are deep enough that the bees will begin building comb in them come Spring so they need to be removed and replaced with traditional inner covers.
You may notice that many of my hives have bottoms with landing boards that I paint crosses on. These bottoms are my own design I use in place of purchased screened bottom boards.
The theory with screened bottom boards is that the screen allows mites and other vermin to fall through and not be able to get back in. They work moderately well but in my opinion are too open for Winters around here and the pine used for their constructions tends to dry rot quickly even when painted. So I designed my screened bottoms a bit more tailored for my local conditions.
I reduced the size of the actual screened portion and made the entire thing deeper and more sturdy out of much heavier pressure treated lumber. I also designed a pull out tray. This way if I need to treat the bees with powdered sugar so they will remove mites from themselves I can but the tray also acts as a staging area for other hive vermin like ants and roaches. The bees cannot enter the tray area which allows me to place insect traps down there safely.
Adding these traps below the hive body reduces the amount of vermin the bees have to defend the hive from and still allows me to treat or remove the tray to help ventilate the hive if needed. Bait traps for the ants kill off the colonies with no chance of the bees getting into them.
I must admit the hives seem to be handling the ant and roach problems much easier since I started introducing these bottom boards to my apiaries and placing these traps every few weeks.
Once the hives get to a full two brood chambers I also replace the traditional top cover with a hybrid migratory design that also includes it's own top entrance. Placed over a traditional inner cover it allows good ventilation and bee access without creating a space so large that the bees build comb in it.
As I said I have managed to supply about half my hives with my own bottom boards and will steadily phase out the store bought ones as they need replaced.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!