Here in Eastern Indiana it appears we are getting ready for fall weather. The evening temperatures keep getting cooler and cooler. There has even been some spotty frost. Winter is coming. We are still having days when the highs are in the 70’s Fahrenheit, but it won’t be long and those will be a thing of the past.
Mice are going to want into the nice warm hives. Recently I was able to get together with one of my friends at his wood shop. I decided to quit using my metal mouse guards that required a screw being put into the bottom board in favour of wooden entrance reducers, mouse guards or blocks. All are different names for the same thing. I was able to make about thirty of them for free out of scraps that he had around the shop.
I had read a post on-line years ago about finishing these blocks with some non-toxic finishes. I opted for the method using linseed oil and petroleum jelly.
The simple process went as follows:
- soak the reducer in linseed oil for a couple hours
- remove the reducer and allow to dry
- once dry coat the entire surface with petroleum jelly
- that’s it they are ready to go into the hive
For step 1 I used a Metal 14 inch Mud Pan that I bought for ~$8 at Menards. This purchase has another use. It is being used in the solar wax melter and has more capacity than the little bread pans I have been using. I let most of the blocks soak for 4 hours, but some were in overnight. I noticed no difference in the results.
After the soaking they were removed from the pan and put outside on a piece of cardboard to dry. Linseed oil takes a long time to dry so they may need to dry for a couple of days, just be sure to bring them in if you think it is going to rain. There are not many pictures of step 3 because it was pretty messy. In retrospect I do feel I made one mistake. I used scented petroleum jelly and now wish I had not. I didn’t notice it until I was reviewing the pictures for this post. After winter is over I will evaluate how well this finish held up.
The new guards have been placed in all of the hives along with top entrances. Be very careful around your hives after you place these things. The days mine were installed there was much activity at the hives and the reducers caused a bottleneck at the entrances. After a while it made the bees VERY cranky. I went back about 2 hours later to observe the hive in the video and got stung several times. A cousin and fellow beekeeper was with me and found it quite amusing. I was not laughing.
Questions / Comments?
I’m definitely interested in the follow-up to how well the finish holds up. My entrance reducers are currently just unfinished pine and we get a lot of rain here in the winter.
You will get it. I am going putting it in my calendar for next year on 4/1 that I need to put a followup to the post about the mouse guards. It is getting cold here and I still have a couple of hives that need guards installed. That is going to be done thursday.