Beekeeping – Winterizing Hives

It’s been getting cooler in the evenings (down into the mid 40’s F), so I decided to make the cut over to solid bottom boards, reduce entrances, and leave vent covers in place for a bit more. Came back later that evening and put insulation on in the dark (after I finished a 4-H obligation).

Hint: At about 1:12 in the video you can see my reaction to one of the little ladies making a quick ascent up my leg inside my pants (sorry I went off camera though). I didn’t get stung, but the neighbors got a show!


Insulated Hives (2) Insulated Hives (1)

Beekeeping – Winterizing Observation Hive

I’ve really been troubled as to what to do for the colony in the observation hive. After a great deal of debate, I decided to put the queen and brood back down into the Nuc, move them into the shed and insulate them for winter… hope it works. Here are some of the details:


That evening, I moved them into the shed, insulated them and created a plastic entrance/exit out of the shed (pictures from the following day).

Observation in the  Shed (1)

Observation in the  Shed (3)

Observation in the  Shed (4)

Observation in the  Shed (5)


Beekeeping – 4-H Farm Day Exhibit

The Loudon County 4-H office holds an annual “Farm Day” in which they bring 4th graders from all over the county to Sweetwater Valley Farm for a day of exhibits and learning. This year, I was asked to be an exhibitor for beekeeping and wow, what an experience!

I decided early on that I wanted to build an observation hive for the event and after it was finished, I performed a split from one of my hives and asked a friend of the family to foster them until they could return. I don’t think it was too much of a hardship for Angie, she’s pretty eager to get her own colony as soon as possible (thanks again Angie).

Melissa created a really great tri-fold board; we gathered up wax chunks, candles, protective gear, a smoker, the solar wax melter, an empty hive, a model hive, captured some hive beetles, gathered propolis and comb along with all kinds of interesting display stuff and headed down to the farm. At the event, I had three 4-H’ers (Emily, Robby, Eion) that really stole the show, they did an outstanding job all day long talking to students and teaching them about honey bees. We were told there were over 500 students – 27 classes, probably 20 students per plus parents, teachers, event staff and tons more – how great is that.

News Harold Article –


Farm Day  (3) Farm Day  (4) Farm Day  (5) Farm Day  (6) Farm Day  (7) Farm Day  (8) Farm Day  (9) Farm Day  (10) Farm Day  (1) Farm Day  (2)

Beekeeping – Solar Wax Melter

So we’ve got some friends of the family and Al is a long time beekeeper with a pretty cool take on a solar wax melter using a plastic bin. I had looked over a few designs for wooden ones and such, then decided on a blend of materials for a model very similar to Al’s. Thanks Al.

Basic Materials

  • Plastic Bin – I went for the thicker material and square-ish design of the DuraBuilt bin with the yellow top.
  • A piece of sheet metal – 24″ x 36″ from the HVAC section, not the metals section as it’s twice the price!
  • Plexiglas –  18″ x 24″
  • Piece of Cedar (I already had) – I guess it was a 1″ x 6″ x 6′
  • Piano Hinge (already had) – probably 24″
  • 2″ x 4″ pine cut-offs from the waste bin (scraps)
  • A cheesy silicone pan from Goodwill as a catch basin for hot wax
  • Scrap pieces of that pink 1/2″ foam insulation
  • Black spray paint
  • Fine screen / cheesecloth for straining


Semi-Finished Product

Melter (18)

Melter (17)

Melter (14)

Melter (19)

Melter (15)

Melter (21)

Melter (10)

Melter (13)

As it set, the temperatures would run around 160° F, so I decided to line the inside with 1/2″ pink insulation and to paint the inside surfaces black which set the temps up to 210° F (high as I saw).

I ran it a few times playing with it and collecting the big bits and pieces, then ran my collections as a whole adding some cheesecloth to the process as a filter and changed the collection pan to small crock (also a Good Will find) and was really was impressed with the final product. A solid chunk of clean wax.

Bring on the wax molds, here come the candles.




Beekeeping – Top Feeder Insert Fix

I’ve tried a few styles when it comes to feeders and have determined two things:

  1.  I really like top feeders as opposed to entrance feeders (I just don’t like period) and frame feeders (I consider invasive for regular feeding).
  2. Bees are determined to drown themselves.

That being said, I especially like the idea of the plastic inserts…

Top Feeder Plastic Insert
Top Feeder Plastic Insert

but don’t know if anyone else has had the same problem with bees escaping and drowning (little buggers). At first, it seems like a really good design, but, after heavy casualties I decided to take another look at it.

The design appears to be missing something to keep the sides from flexing open, after some thought, I decided on a simple fix based on those metal bands you put on table cloths when you go camping.

So I grabbed an electrician’s fish tape as my material of choice and made a few bends in it. Here’s how.

Electrician's Fish Tape

Measure out about 3 1/4″ and bend over 90 Degrees like so

3 1/4" x 90 Degrees

Followed by another bend at 1 3/4″, again over 90 Degrees

1 3/4" x 90 Degrees

Cut off at 3 1/4″

3 1/4"

Add two small bends about a 1/2″ from the ends to keep it from digging into your screen

Slight Bends

Use the new clip to pinch the sides tight all the way down to the liquid level


Put the screw back in, this time trap your clip in place with the shoulder of the screw.

screw back in

Pay no attention to the sealant tape, I had to close a few holes (caused from a quick fix while still in the hive).


Hope this helps.





Beekeeping – Getting Started

The dead of winter proves time and again to be hard for me as I like to spend time outdoors, but don’t like to be too cold. I roam back and forth in the house (like a lion Melissa says) awaiting the arrival of spring. This last winter, I decided to research beekeeping a little more in depth as I kind of liked the idea and needed something to do over winter. As it turns out, bees are pretty fascinating.


When I decided to start keeping bees for myself (cautiously), the first step was to get hives but to be honest, I really couldn’t see paying those retail prices (the shipping alone was absurd) so I decided to crack the code and build my own. After a great deal of searching and deciphering, I finally came up with the plans to build what I thought would be some nice hives.


When I finished building mine, I listed them on CL just as an experiment to see if anyone else thought they were as nice as what I thought they were… they did. Here are some pics of the first set.



First Set

First Set
First Set
Bottom Board
Bottom Board
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management
Deep Box
Deep Box
Honey Super (Medium)
Honey Super (Medium)
Rabbit Joints
Rabbit Joints
Inner Cover
Inner Cover
Outer Cover
Outer Cover