Sunday, March 12, 2017

(Mar 12) Beekeeping Prep

We got our 1st bee box painted and ready to receive bees next month. We've been given an adoption date of Apr 28th. :)  That's when the 1st wave of bees will be ready for pickup. I'm a bit nervous. Not about keeping bees, about losing bees. I really want to do a good job managing them so that it's a win-win situation. I want the bees to be healthy by natural means as much as I can. I also want the bees to not only survive but be fruitful and multiply. It's kinda scary as I talk to members of our local bee club (Trinity Valley Beekeeper's Association) and hear about colonies that leave or don't make it at all. There are lots of possible reasons for this and I really want to avoid these scenarios where I have control.

I think that the bees should be given free reign to manage their own affairs where practical. I want to provide them with a safe environment to raise lots of little bees and store their crops (honey!). I want them to be disease free and manage the pests that are present to a tolerable level. I don't expect them to be completely free of things like varroa mites and hive beetles. This seems impossible these days, even with lots of chemical intervention. I would rather raise bees that are tough and savvy and able to defend their own homes without my drowning them in chemicals that are intended to help them but in the end make them dependent on such.

There is a proposed change to the statewide management of beekeeping in the state congress as we talk. After much examination and discussion about the content, we have come to the agreement that as it is, it would be worse for Texas beekeepers than the outdated laws that have been on the books since the early 80s. If you want to make a difference in beekeeping here in Texas, please contact you state representatives and senators. Let them know that the proposed bill (House Bill 1293) is too riddled with ambiguous language and errors. There are proposed changes to this bill but it's uncertain if they can or will make any of those changes in time to get them approved and passed this legislative session. There is a website that has been set up to let beekeepers monitor the progress of this legislation at www.savetexasbeekeepers.org. Please visit it to understand the issues at hand.

Any additional support from the public would be greatly appreciated!

Back to our situation. Here's a stand that we made out of steel that we had left over from building the house. It should provide many years of service for minimal effort and money. :) We built it to support 2 bee hives. One each, centered over the cross braces for support and safety in case the hive slides forward or back. We put a little shelf at each end as a place to rest tools and such. We made it wide enough to be able to pull a box off of a hive and set it in the middle as we work the hive. We set the width based on the need for frame support. The rails are the same width as the supports inside the hive boxes so that we can pull out the frames and hang them from the rails as needed. We left room to be able to put frames on both sides of the box as well. Not a very sophisticated stand but a lot of thought went into it and its use.



We will likely build several more as we will need to support 5-6 hives this first season. We can adjust the design as we get some experience. If anyone out there has any beekeeping experience and would like to chime in, we'd love some feedback. We've already had several people ask about our making/selling the stands commercially and would love to hear of any interest.

Here it is with a hive on it:



Also made some improvements to our bar. We added a glass shelf and are playing with some tiered shelves. Here's an updated photo. :)  We are still trying to decide what to line the inside walls with. We've found several nice options but they turned out to be as expensive as the entire cabinet! We'll keep our eyes open and hope something jumps out at us. lol





Just a final note on our electric use so far this year. January ended up at $11.90 in electric use. February wasn't nearly as cold and netted out at $1.10. For March so far, we have a 60¢ credit! :) Our solar panels don't put out huge amounts of power but It seems I've got them sized just right for our current needs. If I had added another panel (and inverter) for $400, I could be enjoying $0 bills - but it would take a long time to make up the extra $400. Better to pay the couple of dollars per month until we find that our use is climbing than be upside down and trying to make up the extra cost of the other panel. I think that makes sense!

Here's a chart from our electric company on our daily use. The orange bars are the electric use. The black line is the temperature that day. Dips below -0- are where the panels produced more power than we used. Great tool to teach you how to use your power conservatively. :)



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