Did you know that bees poop?? I don’t know why it never occurred to me? I mean, pretty much everything poops…
This is our first year with bees (obviously… ahem). I picked up our hive kit and started researching the best color to paint it. Basic answer seems to be, it doesn’t really matter. Go plain, go crazy, or stay somewhere in between, the bees don’t really care.
I saw a lot of pictures of pretty white hives surrounded by garden and wildflowers.. and decided that was what I was going to do ~
Is anyone else a sucker for the romantic images of gardening/farming/livestock and now with bee hives? *Totally guilty* Anyway, in the south it is said to help with keeping the hive temps down, which isn’t an issue here in AK, but white is what I happened to have in the closet leftover from a previous project, so white is what I used.
The style of hive we are using is a Langstroth Hive :
Image courtesy Farmer’s Almanac
To start out with, we are using the stand, bottom board, one deep super and the inner and outer covers. We have put a sugar water feeder inside the super that takes up the space of two frames to keep them supplied with food for building out their frames until something, anything, starts to bloom around here. We still have a couple of feet of snow in places! Once they start to really fill those frames in, we can add another deep super box, and then the honey supers once it’s time.
To prep the hive, I applied a couple of coats of latex paint. I thought I had allowed it plenty of time to dry before stacking because I was afraid of the boxes sticking together. They still kind of did, so keep that in mind.
I put the hive behind an outbuilding in our back yard. It’s southern facing, gets tons of sunlight plus the back of the building really radiates some heat. I put a couple of coats of paint on an old table we had in one of the domes and placed the hive on it ~ our ground is still a nasty mix of water and ice.I was really pleased with the simplicity (and thriftiness) of it.
The bees came in a few days later and we drove into town to pick them up from a local bee keeper. The bees were flown up from California, born and raised in an almond orchard. I read lots of articles and watched tons of you tube videos on how to hive bees to where I was nervously confident that I could do it. Of course when I picked them up, to my dismay, they were not packaged in any way that I had seen and my confidence started to waver a bit.
By the time we got home it was very cool, like 38 degrees, they were slow moving and probably hungry. I put some fresh sugar water in their hive along with some of the pollen patty that they came with, and went to work opening the bee box and trying to get them in their hive. In the process, I dropped the plastic queen container down into the bottom of the hive. Dammit. I had no choice but to put my hand down in with all the pissed off bees and find it so I could remove the cap allowing the bees to have access to the sugar plug so she could be released. To seasoned bee people, this is probably silly. But I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at that point. BUT I did it! Fished that baby out of the buzzing abyss, pulled the cap off and put the container where it was supposed to go in between the frames. Phew.
I was instructed by the bee guy to wait 3 days and do a hive check, make sure the queen had been released. I made it two full days before I couldn’t stand it anymore, had to go see how things were going. I get out to my pretty white hive and see this ~
The bees were buzzing around, seemingly happy as could be but there was crap (literately) everywhere. Google tells me that yes indeed, bees poop. And since there is no external food source for them at the moment, they are hanging out pretty exclusively around the hive and pooping pollen patty poop all over their pretty house. Thanks bees.
But the queen was successfully released and everything appears to be good so far, so I am grateful for that. I think this is an investment we intend to make each year for the next few years, but I will probably not be painting any more of the hives white.
Any beekeepers out there? Have any great words of wisdom for me?