Sunday, April 13, 2014

Building Top Bar Bee Hives, a race to the finish.......

.....the bees are coming, the bees are coming!! I got word that the bees could be delivered April 15 so a new urgency set in. When I last left you on the TB saga, I was putting the peeping windows in, the hives were ready to be put together. Rosanne was back from Arizona and she and Sue came last Thursday, armed with cordless drills.

Morris was there to greet Sue and demand his share of attention.

It's a good thing we had three of us, it took that to put these together. At times I felt like we were the Keystone Cops running around, getting in each others way. Letting go when we were supposed to be holding, coming up with different measurements and then deciding it was "good enough." Actually, as the day wore on, "good enough" was our mantra.

Doing the roof was a challenge because we had no directions but when has that ever stopped me? I found that Rosanne was a fountain of woodworking knowledge, the things she could make that table saw do! Who knew you could make angle cuts where each one was the same? Eureka!

The poor table saw took a beating, this wood was extremely hard, it is old and the blade is dull. So dull that during one cutting session, blue smoke rolled out and drove us out of the shop. I think it was time for a rest, and a new blade. Well, not a new blade but one I found on the wall and we thought it was better than the one in it. Rosanne even knew how to change the blade, Eureka!!

By the time the roof was framed, our brains were fried and we were exhausted. I felt sorry that Sue and Rosanne had to drive an hour to their homes, I only had to go 1/4 mile to crash on the couch until I regained some energy.

After a good rest, a can of Coke and some chocolate, a cure all, I went back to the farm and finished the roof. I had no idea how to shingle with wood shingles, but when has that ever stopped me? The thing I learned  is that no way would I want to shingle an entire house but I think the roof is kind of cute. I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment to have one done, only two more to go!

Tuesday is looming so I was up bright and early Friday morning to work on the next two roofs. I was so happy to get a phone call from Rosanne, saying she could come again. The first roof just lifts off and its rather bulky and hard to get off and on, I can only imagine how it might be with a bunch of bees buzzing around my head. So I decided the next two roofs need to be hinged so it was back to the drawing board. 

It was a challenge, we had to scrap the measurements of the previous roof and strike out in a different direction. But we persevered and soon had a roof, I scrounged around and came up with some hinges. But we found out the different roof plan necessitated adjustments in the top bars. They had to all be cut on an angle so the roof and hive body met. Once again Rosanne worked her magic on the table saw and she was soon happily sawing away. I found some tiny latches in Leo's shop that worked perfectly on the observation windows. We were getting close!!

We had Rosanne's hive done and was working furiously on the last one when we killed the table saw, again. Much to my dismay, I killed it one other time but the next day it made a miraculous recovery and lived to saw another day.

This is Rosanne standing proudly by her Top Bar Hive, showing off the inside...... 

....and the second shingled roof, done a bit differently. 

We loaded her hive and she took off for home, I went home to rest, again, more Coke and chocolate, a cure all for most everything in my book. Later I was back at the farm to work on the last hive roof, I kept trying the saw but it refused to budge. Bruce was in the field so I was watching over the cows, the weather had been lovely and the herd was dropping calves quite regularly. When I fed the cows, our old friend, #72 was laying on a dirt mound and it was obvious she was in labor.  I decided she might as well  carry that calf in so I was able to convince her to move into the yard with the other cows and calves. #72 saw the feedbunk filled with silage and decided the calf could wait. 

She ate and ate and ate, you just don't get silage every day of the week, every so often she had a contraction and two little white feet would appear, then recede as it went away and she went back to eating. This went on for over an hour, I finally called Bruce and told him and he said he would be home in about 15 minutes. He watched awhile then decided we better pull the calf.

 It was an easy job, he was a little guy and slipped right out, it was as though  #72 said, "I'm old and tired and if you want out, you are going to have to climb out."

Last evening she had her new baby out in a fresh pile of shucks, basking in the sun with #14 baby.

The mothers standing by to make sure no harm comes to them.

Besides having another healthy baby calf, the table saw came back to life and I was able to finish cutting and trimming all the Top Bars. The last job yet to do is placing the hives at the pond so they are ready for the bees. The weather took a turn for the worse, it's cold and snowing, yesterday we were in shirt sleeves, today we were in full winter gear.

 So stay tuned for news of the bees arrival, I wonder if I'll have to put tiny little heat lamps in to keep them warm. Or knit little bee sweaters? Bee long johns?


  1. Amazing job on the bee hives......looking forward to more stories after the bees move in :-)

  2. OH, I can't wait to see what happens next!! RosannaVan