One is the Loneliest Number

With the weekend upon us, we took advantage of a calm, albeit cool, day outside to button up the hives for winter. We removed the sugar water, and installed the insulating shroud and rigid foam top on the hives.

Hive No. 1 was a little angry with all of the poking and prodding, but we got them put back together quickly.

Unfortunately as I was preparing hive No. 3 for the insulation, I didn’t notice any bees moving about. I put my ear to the hive and didn’t hear anything. Taking a chance with the cold weather, we cracked open the hive to confirm our suspicions. Hive No. 3 was empty. The hive died out basically.

We knew the hive was in trouble a few weeks ago, but with a queen and some brood, and lots of honey left, we figured they’d survive. Well they didn’t.

We pulled all the equipment off of hive No. 3 and cleaned it up. I’m going to extract the mid-sized super, 10 frames. We cleaned off all of the deep frames from the lower two boxes. One box was basically empty and the other had a decent amount of honey. Because we had treated for mite, and no telling how old, or what shape the honey was in the one deep box, we just dumped all the honey and wax scrapings into the meadow. We’ll probably have a bear problem next.

Hive No. 1 is still strong and will hopefully make it through the winter. If it gets big enough we can even try and split it next summer. We will not be buying new bees next year. We need a break from buying bees, and beekeeping in general.

One thought we had going forward was to embrace the fact that our bees will likely die out every year and start working on harvesting pollen and propolis. That sounds like a lot of work though. But at least we’d be using the whole hive when they die out.

Oh well, we have all winter to not worry about it. The bees we have are happy and there’s nothing left to do except wait for spring to arrive in the meadow.

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Last Bee Check for 2015

Yesterday was basically the last time we will have checked in on our two bee hives. Despite our warm Autumn, I’m sure it’ll get cold soon and we won’t want to open the hives anymore.

I think we’ve done a good job combating yellow jackets this year, as opposed to last. Neither hive shows any signs of yellow jackets raiding honey.

Hive No. 3 is not looking too good though. We don’t believe they have a queen anymore and their numbers are way down. I don’t think that hive will survive the winter. I’m not sure there is anything we can do anyway, as there isn’t enough time for them to re-queen themselves, and brooding days are over so no new bees will be emerging to replace the ones that die off. There’s one frame of capped brood but it doesn’t look viable. Bees live about 30 days in summer, and can live inside the hive throughout the winter. But there just aren’t enough of them really. They have enough honey  with one full super, and several deep frames in the middle box. We shall see.

Hive No. 1 is still going strong. We didn’t see the queen, but they still have a frame or two of capped brood that looks to still be viable. And there are still a ton of bees in there.

They had actually close to two boxes of honey up top. The one had several frames with a little bit of uncapped honey. We reduced both hives to two deeps and now medium super, so I took nine frames of uncapped honey out between both hives. Right now the frames are sitting out there, I’m letting the bees and yellow jackets raid them. I’ll go look and bring them back to the garage later today. I didn’t want extract any honey anymore this year. It’s just more work than I want to deal with. I will scrape off the nine frames and store them for next year. There really isn’t much honey on them, and it’s not worth taking full frames from the bees, to simply replace them with these meager frames.

I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to do.

I’ll put the insulation wraps on the two hives, and rearrange the hay bales later this month to protect them from the cold.

Basement is Done (Almost)

It’s been a while but most of the basement is finally done. Or at least done “enough”. We had a birthday party the other weekend at our house for our son, and the main behind the scenes star was going to be the basement. With seven kids plus adults coming over, we needed the indoor entertaining space done, or at least presentable enough to utilize for the party.

My brother and I busted our backs getting the tile in, and trim on. I fell short of grouting the tile, and painting the trim, but overall everything looked great and we were able to use the space without a hitch.

I was exhausted for days afterwards. More so than I’ve ever been in a very long time. But it was well worth the effort. Even in its unfinished state, the basement space looks fantastic. It’s like having a whole new house. And the possibilities are endless. At the very least we can finally start unpacking and going through everything that is in the basement. We can set out some furniture from the old house, that has been taking up space and collecting dust. I am looking forward to it.

Here are my notes and photos from wrapping up this phase of the basement project. I still have to do my office space (in addition to putting the finishing touches on the main part  of the basement). I have all the materials, I just need to find the time and energy to tackle that part.

Notes:

  • I hate tiling. I shouldn’t say I hate it, but I suck at it in one regard: cutting tile. I was cutting with a tool that scores the tile then breaks it cleanly in a straight line. Problem is I couldn’t use the tool very well. I went through $5 tiles like they were potato chips – cracking them and rendering them useless. I bet I wasted close to $500 in tile because I suck at cutting tile. I wonder how much it would have cost to hire a professional…
  • We went with 1×10 baseboards so that if the basement floods, we only ruin the boards, not the drywall. To save money I went with pine instead of poplar. I’ll have to fill in or smooth all of the knots in the wood, and then prime it…so definitely more labor on my part, but the cost was 1/4th of poplar or ripping down plywood
  • To mount the baseboards to the steel framing of the basement, I ripped down 1/2″ thick blocks and mounted them using low profile trim screws. I primed the treated wood blocks, to add a layer of moisture protection. Not sure if that was necessary, but hey, it couldn’t hurt.
  • The tile looks great. Most people assume it is real hardwood. Don’t be absurd. It’s porcelain tile, silly.
  • I found a great, simple circle mirror at IKEA. It looks great in the bathroom. I love shopping at IKEA.
  • The ceiling will be installed at some later date in the future. There was the suggestion that we simply spray paint the ceiling grey to give it an industrial vibe, while saving money.
  • I suck at drywalling. I had a piece of drywall I had to put in after the plumber moved the shower head. I tried to mud and tape it, and it was a complete disaster. So I called my drywall guy and he came out and rectified the situation in about ten minutes. I don’t know why I try to be handy. I’m not very handy at all. No patience.
  • I really hope I have enough tile – I think I counted right. Because with my luck they’ll discontinue the stuff before I’m done with the office. I went out and picked up six more boxes, which I think will be enough. Fingers crossed.