Tag Archives: wrapping

Bees Snugged I

The bees are almost wrapped.  They have their foam on, and I think I’ve really sorted out my wrapping method this year.

The hives each get foam on three sides plus tar paper, that wraps the front of the hive too and absorbs heat.  The foam I’ve figured out how to get it on quick and easy.  First, the three sided “box” is made.Look at my fancy two step carving- a nice seal.  Foam is so easy to carve. Then I tape that together with Tuck tape, including a strip up the whole seam.

All that crap needs to come off the hive first- the strap holding the supers together (in case of wind), and the scabs on the eke, and the arms that hold the lighting board.  Nothing screwed into the hive parts any more.  Then the foam hugs the hive, right up to the bottom of the outer cover, and two straps of Tuck tape right across the face of the hive hold it on – avoid the handles and openings so nothing sticky is accessible.  Done.  The tar paper will be next stage, but in the meantime, they just got a big R-factor upgrade.Naturally, I did this one after dark,  with a headlamp, because temps were falling, and I forgot the critical step: sealing the bees inside the hive, temporarily.  I was hugging the hive, jostling the foam into snug place, and then bzzzzz!  What’s going on out here?  My sleeve came away from the upper entrance with eight cranky bees on it, and more came out the bottom door.  Then I had to be very patient (I was in no mood to be patient- in the dark with a headlamp in falling temps), while each bee decided there was nothing to be concerned about and wandered back inside, one after also exploring the inside of my sleeve.  I did not get stung.  After they went in, I sealed them in and finished up.  They all have absurd and excessive extra “coverings” at the moment because of the forecast rain and snowstorm (right now hammering down).  It’s important to not get any water down between that foam and the hive, soaking into the wood, before I get the tar paper wrap, and I want to wrap them dry.  It’s very wet right now.  My lids all need a rebuild before they’re winter ready too, so in the meantime- draping.

My big idea this time is to wrap the tar paper in such a way that I can still get the lid off.  Then I can feed them through the winter, and monitor the moisture in the straw.  If we get wild episodes of warmth like we did last year, I’ll be able to take those lids off without unwrapping them.  We’ll see if I can do it.

Gift wrapping the bees

It’s time to wrap up the bees for the winter – December 1st or before the snow flies.

This year my hive is much stronger, and larger, and they will be wintering in two supers, plus the Salon.

One 2×8´sheet of rigid styrofoam is perfect for a two-super hive – three 32″ pieces.img_4765

Three sides get wrapped with foam, tar paper only on the front, so the black helps them heat up inside on sunny days, maybe enough to go for a cleansing flight.  All this is what I learned from my “bee guru” at Bello Uccello.img_4766 I cut the foam very precise to use the overlap designed into the foam (which means the back piece is custom).  Otherwise the corners will leak cold.  Then a couple of pieces of Tuck tape to hold it all in place for the tar paper wrap.

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The white tarp stuff is actually the normal lid- built with scrap lumber and some tarp stapled over the flat top.

The 2″ thick foam sticks out farther than the outer cover/lid, so I also cut a step in the foam to nest the lid into.  I’m doing it a little different than last year.

Then the paper:img_4768

It wraps flat around the front of the hive, covering the doors and shutting the bees in completely for a few minutes.  They can’t love that.  img_4769

There’s a little artful paper slicing required to make everything fold flat and smooth around the alighting board.  Lots of staples on the front – no wrinkles.

Then it’s time to cut out the doors.img_4772

Oh!  There’s a bee!img_4775

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No one at the downstairs door.

The Salon, aka drone cafe – the empty/feeder box above the inner cover (I’ve called it the Salon since they started doing art installations in there) is already filled with straw (to help insulate and absorb moisture), and the bees just finished their second last jar of syrup for the year.  Now they will be closed in with their last jar.

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The Salon filled with straw
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Last jar full, situated directly over the inner cover hole

I did this thing last year with the lid/outer cover, and it worked quite well so I’m repeating it.  One piece of basic “pebble” styrofoam cut exactly to size, jammed into the underside of the lid.

Then a piece of corrugated cut to size as well, so the bees aren’t in direct contact with the styrofoam ever.  This gives them an inch of insulation on the ceiling.  When I took it apart last spring the cardboard was damp on the edges and I threw it away.

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Just after I closed the lid and was doing the final touches on the edges of the tar paper, the bees started buzzing outside in droves.

I thought I’d agitated them, but it may have been that time of the day, or the sunny day had warmed up enough right then to go for a fly, but they were on a group cleansing flight, which I realized when I noticed all the bright yellow poop dots on my hands and sleeves!

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This is what I’m doing differently this year.  My final step was taking another piece of tar paper over the top of the lid, folding gift corners and taping it down to the sides (instead of tacking the tar paper to the lid).  In theory, if I need to get a jar in there in the early spring, I can take off the lid by slitting the tape and tape it back up; it won’t be very disruptive.

Then I put a metal sheet (actually a piece of shelving that happens to be a perfect size) over top of the whole thing and ratchet-strapped it down.  The oversize temporary winter lid puts an extra 8-10″ of eave over the front doors.

Only two days late- that’s as close to on time as I get around here.  Seconds after finishing, while I was carrying tools away, snowflakes started to fall.

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Last year I was so worried about them.  They’d re-queened three times in the year, their first,  I got them late, and they didn’t have good numbers.  But they made it through.

This year I’m a little more confident.  It’s interesting to me, all the local former beekeepers (no one nearby currently has hives) never wintered their bees!  They bought nucs in the spring and they died in the winter.  Sounds expensive.

Having been told how to do it, it seems easy.

Christmas Gift Sacks

Consider a reusable alternative to gift wrap.

Gift wrap is lovely, and fun to be creative with, but it does take time to fold all those corners.  Personally I’d love to be a mall-wrapper, at least once, but not everybody enjoys wrestling with gift wrap.

Paper is single-use, and generates waste (bigtime).  img_4660

There’s enough time left before the holidays to make some fabric bags to “wrap” with.

These use up scrap fabric, can be gifted back and forth, utilize waste, and frequently are part of the gift, as they might get used year-round to put things other than gifts in (like my Kindle, socks, and headphones).

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It’s just a square or rectangle of fabric folded in half, sewed up bottom and side, and turned inside out.  The pinked edge is a nice touch, and a ribbon can be tacked on, as shown, or…

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You can get fancier and sew a pocket with one or two drawstrings.

My mom made all of these, and many more.  They arrived in last year’s Xmas box, and some of them will go back this year (sneak preview!).

She also used new dishtowels and  facecloths (the small bags that just fit a hand, or a bar of soap, were promptly used in the shower).  Some had shoelaces for drawstrings (getting masculine – bootlaces in corduroy bags).

The smallest are the washcloths, and they range up in size and dimensions to … very large.  The size of a big pillowcase (speaking of which, a pillowcase would work great with a ribbon).  The sky’s the limit really.