Winter Thinking . . .
Going to pots.
My bee equipment is shot. It’s been 13 years since I bought new equipment to setup a test yard. Initially I stopped mite treatments and selected for survivors. Then I tried formic acid, essential oils, mineral oil, Russian queens, powdered sugar, oxalic acid, small cell and eventually natural cell.
I’ve painted the equipment four times. And now the corners and lids have developed a bad case of dry rot. It’s just the paint that’s holding most of the stuff together. So, it’s time for some new equipment.
I thought it is an opportunity to get away from the dodgy mix of equipment that tends to accumulate over time. Time for a clean break, a new start. Out with the Langs and in with the top bar hives. But it’s not going to be as easy as I thought.
Migratory beekeeping is a necessity here. There are few locations here, that can provide enough bee forage, for proper nutrition, throughout the season. At least I hope there are a few. And I hope to find one. But that will take some time. And I would like to test the location out for a couple of years. But that’s probably longer than my equipment will last.
Top bar hives were the ideal migratory hive when I had a full size pickup, hand cart, and ramp to move them. They were:
- Low to the ground
- Stable on the cart
- Low center of gravity
- Bee tight
- Easy to seal
- Didn’t break apart when tipped
My three deep story Lang hives were opposite the top bar hives in all respects. But they had one advantage the top bar hives didn’t. They could be smoked and split apart to reduce weight if needed.
When done, it’s a nasty operation with confused bees crawling around in the dark. Some get lost. And the beekeeper gets stung.
Now, I only have a toy truck, a cart and no ramp. The narrow, short 6′ truck bed isn’t big enough to use a cart with more than two top bar hives. So, it’s back to the good old days of hefting them by hand. And that’s an impossibility when they’re heavy with honey, ready for winter, and I’m by myself.
Moving might be a necessity, whether I can find a permanent beeyard location or not. For the last decade, all my beeyards but one, have succumbed to the same scenario. I find an out of the way location, protected from the wind, with a water source and as much biodiversity as I can get. I forge a trail there with my truck. Then the landowner and others can drive down there. And someone realizes it’s a good location. Next thing I’m moving bees. And a house is going up on the spot I’ve leveled off for my beeyard.
- Get a bigger truck or trailer
- Reduce my hive count
- Standardize on a moving friendly hive
Something to ponder as the next winter storm rolls in. The valley should have about 10 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. I’ll get double that here in the foothills. This is the fourth major snow storm this year.
Keep warm and dry. And just bee natural.