Weather makes my schedule

Some of the most needing of attention.

Some of the boxes most needing of attention.

Last week marked another period of sustained cold weather.  In the last week and a half or two there have been night-time lows near zero degrees F.  We also have had a couple of days peppered in there where it nearly made it to 60 degrees F.  I’m getting more than a little nervous thinking about what’s going on in the hives.  To keep my mind off of the uncertain status of my bees I busied myself with hive maintenance.  I have been working at our new place with no heat so extreme cold resulted in a schedule change.  I spent a couple of days being thankful that I had access to a heated shop.

Last Summer I purchased some used boxes for $2 a piece (see New Beekeeping Friend).  At the time I though I was making out like a bandit, but upon closer inspection I don’t know how I made out on the this deal.  Many of these old boxes were very loose in the corners and a lot of nails were backing out. Without serious attention they would not be usable at all.  Even with serious attention some of the boxes will be converted to swarm traps.

Three types of nips.

Three types of nips and a screwdriver.

I had a couple tools on hand to help out with getting these boxes in shape.  The next time you are at a flea market keep your eyes pealed for nips or nippers.  I have been using what my Dad called “Bull Nips” since I was a kid to pull nails.  These tools have many potential functions, so they are useful to have around.  Pulling nails was one of my most hated jobs growing up, but all that experience came in handy on this particular day last week.

nails from 13 boxes

nails from 13 boxes

Thirteen of the boxes needed to have nails pulled and screws put into the holes.  It really doesn’t seem like that many, but there was a considerable amount of time involved refurbishing these things.  Two inch, triple coated deck screws were used to tighten the  joints.  I hope they provide a couple years of service to justify doing this work and the expense of the screws.  Remember, I keep telling myself, they can always be turned into swarm traps.

I have been up to some other stuff too, but that will wait for another post.  How are your hives doing?
Hope you are busying yourself in preparation for the Spring.  Dandelions will be here before you know it.

Below are pictures of all three types of nips used last week.


Bull Nips - I have been using them to pull nails since I was a kid.

Bull Nips – I have been using them to pull nails since I was a kid.  A must have tool for me.

Tile nippers - but also awesome for getting under a nail.

Tile nippers – but also awesome for getting under a nail.

Another style of nips that are useful for pulling nails.

Another style of nips that are useful for pulling nails.  I don’t know what they are really for.

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11 Responses to Weather makes my schedule

  1. Jeff says:

    Got my frame jig built and tried putting together a few frames, which I can tell will go pretty quick once I get into a rhythm. I need to start getting my bottom boards and tops made…spring will be here before I know it! I’ve been spending some of my time organising this years garden and getting seed orders done for that, so I’ll be dividing my time between starting seeds indoors and getting the rest of my woodenware complete, among other stuff. Having a lot of fun with it and enjoying learning more about beekeeping, can’t wait to get started!

    • Jason says:

      Our garden is going to take a hit this year just due to time. I haven’t had time to even think about doing starts this year. Holly is going to plant some lettuces and some quick root crops, but this will be the first year in a long time we aren’t going to have a big garden. We have some friends who have already promised to help us out with some tomatoes, and I bet they will help us with some other stuff. Looks like I will be purchasing some produce at the Sale-Barn and canning it.

      Good to hear your frame jig is working out. I still have a couple frames to make. I have been painting bee equipment since the weather has been cruddy. I have been lucky to have access to a heated shop again this winter for painting. There will be a post on that soon.

      • Jeff says:

        I’m sure we’ll have some extra produce this year that you will be welcome to.
        Going out later today after work to tap some maple trees, I did some last year for the first time and got more sap than I had time to boil and I have even less time this year, but its a fun and another way to enjoy the outdoors.

  2. Mil says:

    You’re right, I can’t believe it’s February already. Since we only have one hive left, I don’t feel as if I have much to do…

    I know I want to start marking the year on any new frames that go into the hive. I would like to capture a swarm. We have been culling old frames and consigning them to a fireplace…

    • Jason says:

      If you are all ready you’re in the minority. Sorry about the loss. Read about it on your blog. My winter is not over yet here. There is still plenty of time to lose hives. A hum was heard at the hives that have been visited. Perhaps one may have expired, maybe more if we keep having highs of 32F. I need a 60 degree day off of work. or a stethoscope.

      Old frames burn hot and fast. I donated a truck-load to a friend with an outdoor wood stove.

  3. Larry says:

    Like everyone else I have been building the usual things like more bottom boards and migratory covers. I think I assembled some twenty plus hive boxes one afternoon last week. I buy wooden frames for my Langstroth hives assembled in discounted bulk quantities so that frees up time for special build projects.

    I built a half dozen Snelgrove boards and some “double deep”, “single deep”, and shallow frames for a resurrected Warré hive. When I get some spare time I’ll be adding a description and photos of the “new” Warré stuff to my website,

    A few weeks ago I started the face to face talks with folks to acquire more apiary sites. Once the weather is right I have a couple of cutouts to do of feral colonies in an old house to be demolished.

    • Jason says:

      Man your site looks good. I like the different hive desings, and working in the wood shop.

      What is your success rate with cutouts? success = queenright colony after extraction. I have had poor success rates until last year. I kept a nice donor swarm for frames of eggs for a couple months. Just a big nuc. Little insurance policy in case you damage, kill, or lose your queen. It saved me. There will be post on it this Spring. I will keep one again.

      Things are gearing up for you. It is a good idea to get started early. You are ahead of me.

      • Larry says:

        I don’t do many cutouts. I would rather leave feral bees alone and just put up a few swarm traps in the area. This one is a little different. The owner is going to demolish the old house so I can do it on my terms without being concerned about damage to the building. I plan to do a couple of exploratory cuts in the exterior siding and interior finish ahead of time to monitor what is going on in the nest. Then I can better choose the best time. The house has been abandoned for quite some time. It sounds as if there could be several nests. I was told there have been bees in this house for years and years. For bees that occupy bait hives I have real good success. I like to want until I see pollen being brought in to the bait hive before I move it. From my experience the success rate for clustered swarms is much, much lower. Many of those hanging clusters are going to fail regardless. That’s just nature. If the swarm has the abilities to make it to a bait hive they are already ahead of the odds.

        • Jason says:

          I normally only do cutouts when people say “they gotta go one way or the other”. I too would prefer to let them be a benefit to me in the form of free genetics as well. I was in on several last summer. They are a lot of work, and sometimes too many dead bees.

          I have had fairly good overwintering success with swarm trapped bees. They just seem to settle in and begin working better than what I remember package bees doing.

  4. Larry says:

    After another spell of bitter winter weather it’s now 44 F at 11:30 am and my bees are flying, life is good!

    temperature graph:

    • Jason says:

      Congrats Larry.
      I had bees flying on 2/7/13 also. I only had time to observe 3 hives. Only one of which was showing signs of activity. They will fool you this time of year. Some just won’t come out until higher temps are reached.

      My wife and daughter saw 2 dandelions on a walk last week. ?? what does that mean?

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