Capitalist honeybee aggression

Despite having lost 3 out of 5 colonies over the winter, I am working towards expanding the apiary. I am building another stand to hold 5 more hives.

I may have mentioned that one of the hives is somewhat aggressive. I don’t mind that much, except for 2 reasons: there are a couple little kids across the street, and I can’t do anything within 15 feet of the hives. Once the foragers are really active there’s no work happening nearby.

This queen is a red-dot, which means she is going on her third year! Although she is ageing, she is a phenomenal layer of bee eggs – perhaps the best I have ever seen. The downside is her progeny are aggressive. As much as I hate to say it, I may commit regicide and replace her with another, in hopes that this hive will lose the aggressive tendency. Like so many things in life, this is a crap shoot and I may end up with an even more aggressive hive, or a queen that just can’t lay eggs worth a darn.

Most of the building happens near the house where there is power and I can hear whatever I have decided to listen to while I work. Yesterday was The Disco Biscuits, today is Daft Punk. It is also far enough away from the hives that I can work unmolested. Even though I have a couple containers nearby of uncappings and honey that didn’t make it to the bucket, the bees are too busy cleaning them to be bothered by me.

Yesterday I measured out where the new stand was going to be whilst dodging aggressive bees. Waited until almost 7 pm to fire up the auger to drill the holes. Why an augur you ask? It’s really quite simple. I hate digging. Turning the goon spoon rates right up there with impacted teeth and walking on a broken ankle. I know this because I have been through these things. The augur was less than $200 and in my book has already earned its keep, having drilled over 20 holes so far.

One of the ladies cleaning a bucket

While starting the rails I also processed some wax, mostly uncappings and burr comb cut out of the hives while doing inspections. Put them in a pot of water and bring to a boil. The wax floats to the top, then a layer of nasty stuff, then the water with dissolved contaminants. I used a foam paintbrush to apply the melted wax to some plastic foundation. The rest of the wax was allowed to cool and harden. I will re-melt and strain it then pour into a container for later use.

Melted wax
Black plastic foundation with wax applied

Put the posts in and poured the cement, using stakes and small line to keep them level until the cement hardened. While I was out with the dogs yesterday, we stopped at the local lumber place and got the rest of the supplies to finish the project. I will spare you the details of the build, if you want to know that stuff contact me.

Posts in place

Today I built the rails and carried them up to the posts, only got stung once for my troubles. Think I will fire up the little mower and do around the house and wait until 7 tonight to finish assembling the stand.

So here is the result, newly finished. I still have to install eyehooks for the straps to attach to. Had enough for today, this wasn’t the only project on the list. Tried to get the wee mower to start, but I didn’t get all the old gas out of the tank and the plug is likely coated with varnish. How I miss the days of Gulf Purple (103 octane with real lead). You could leave the tank full of that stuff, let the bike sit through a northern New York winter, jump the battery and the bike would fire right up and do great smoky burnouts (soon as I let the oil circulate and warm up enough to vaporize the condensation from sitting all winter).

The finished product

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