Feeding Shim

Posted in Bee Tools, Neat Idea on October 26th, 2010

Shim with pail In an attempt to standardize my equipment, I have all my hives equipped with all medium supers. This allows me to switch frames between honey supers and brood boxes. It makes repairing equipment easier. This is not without problems. When it comes to feeding the standard pail feeder requires a deep or two mediums to be placed on top of the hive. I made a multi-purpose feeding shim. These have been around in different forms but can be used for feeding with the pail feeder, feeding pollen, sandwich baggie medication feeding, and some mite treatments.
I make mine about 2 inches high with two small cross bars.

Pail with superClose up of pail

Smoker fuel, Get it now.

Posted in Bees on October 22nd, 2010
Pine Needles

Pine Needles

Every time I light my smoker, I kick myself for not stocking up on smoker fuel. Now I am turning over a new leaf.  I am filling several of the large paper yard waste bags with pine needles. I find the best place to pick them up is the side of the roadway where they collect in piles. Trying to pick them up off the lawn or in the woods to too time consuming. The Staghorn Sumac Blossoms are also widely available.

When I am ready to use the smoker, I start with a sevearl peices of torn up egg cartons. I light this and add some small twigs. Once I have a base burning nicely, I add a layer of mostly pine needles and a few leaves. A Sumac Blossom will burn and smolder for a long time. It has been reported that burning Sumac will help knock down mites. I don’t think the small amount of Sumac smoke reaching the mites is enough to control them.

Simple mouse guard

Posted in Bee Tools, Bees, Neat Idea on October 18th, 2010
Mouse Guard

Mouse Guard

Mice can cause huge problems in hives and can be hard to permanently get rid of. In early fall they will enter a hive and mark it with scent. Once a hive is marked the mouse will return in late fall and hide out until winter. They are bad house guests and make a huge mess inside of the hive.  I have been told mice can fit into the large hole with a standard entrance reducer. Small mice can fit into holes the size of a dime.  They build nests by eating part of the  comb of several frames and filling it with grass. If you check your bottom board during the winter and find a large amount of  wings and legs; there is a good chance you have a mouse. If temperatures are extremely low you may not be able to remove the mouse until spring.  I was fortunate enough to have a beekeeper friend give me one of these mouse guards when I  started beekeeping.  It is a simple and effective designed at almost no cost.

To “build” you cut hardware cloth (metal screen) the width of your entrance and about 7″ tall. One of 7″ sides are cut smooth. This will be the bottom. The top cut you with the small metal bits sticking out. They are sharp so watch out.  Then you bend it into a U, about 3″ from the smooth side. Then angle the top spikes facing up, about an inch in from the end. When I do this I use leather gloves and a piece of wood to help bending.

Mouse Guard side view

Mouse Guard Side View

Insert the guard into your hive with the exposed sharp points sticking up.  It should be a tight fit but not dig into the wood. The sharp points are designed to keep skunks away. When the skunk attempts to scratch the hive, their paws get cut on the spikes. Bees do not seem to mind the guard and I have watched bees carry pollen into the hive with no problem.

I gave this to a beekeeper who was finding a mouse in their hive every weekly inspection for a month. Once the guard was installed the mouse did not return.
UPDATE: The screen size is 1/2 inch and will get a little smaller when bent.