Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busy Bees

On a completely different note ....

 While we are still waiting for the chicken legislation to pass that will one day hopefully allow us to legally keep a chicken or two in our urban back yard (I so would love to own a pair of silkies!), we have been toying with the thought of keeping bees for several years now.

Last year this plan of ours was tabled due to a possible job offer that would have relocated us waaaaay north (too north for my comfort, if you ask me) but this year nothing was going to stop us from adding a bee hive to our little old house.

After much research we decided to go for one of those new-fangled topbar hive - its simpler nature of construction and maintenance appealed to us, including the smaller amount of needed storage and heavy lifting (neither of which we have to waste nor feel too keen on doing). The drawback of a smaller honey harvest is no big deal for us since we are not looking into going into business with it. We are looking forward to 'harvesting' more sweet-swelling beeswax, and frankly, an expected 15-35 pounds of honey from a healthy topbar hive is still way more honey than we use in a year.

Soo, all that being said, when we received the notification that the apiary from which we are getting our bees and queen this year has begun preparing the bees for shipping, we frantically started building our hive.

And here it is! In all its glory, with topbars in place. It's a simple box, about 4 1/2 feet long. The inside is angled at 120 degrees and measures about 7" at the bottom board and 20" at the widest point.

Here you can peek into the cozy inside. We opted for a closed bottom for this hive (we might experiment later) because supposedly it's easier for the bees to maintain the proper interior temperature and humidity when they don't have to factor in a screened bottom that may or may not be open.
The screened bottom is often used as a tool in dealing with Varroa mites but we're hoping to avoid this issue altogether by buying hygienic, mite-resistant bees able to battle those pests by themselves without the 'help' of pesticides and antibiotics used in the hive.

Of course I had to pick up a few new flowers for the yard as well when I went to the Blue Box to buy the lumber! I added a few red salvias, orange bulbines, more bright orange and yellow lantana and Confederate Jasmine to our back yard. All of those plants do well in our climate, are drought resistant once established and bees like'em!

We also added a cute roof to our hive to keep the girls nice and dry. Here is the husband hard at work measuring and cutting the sides for our hive's roof. He's just as excited about the imminent arrival of our bees.

I poked around the hardware store for a lightweight roofing solution and finally settled on those light, clear but textured light box panels (you know, for those awful fluorescent ceiling lights *shudder*). We attached the panels with screws and then caulked over the screw holes to make sure no rain would seep through those holes, and voila! a roof!

Now we have to wait for a probably frantic call from the post office to come and get this 3lbs box of a buzzing nightmare busy bees and their queen. STAT! So stay tuned for more updates on this little side adventure!


  1. I hope to get honey bees as well when we move to our farm. I've never heard of a hive like this but I definitely like the look of it.

  2. Hey Ashley!
    Check out : http://www.backyardhive.com/ This is probably the best website to familiarize yourself with the topbar hive. We really like the idea of not having to store extra equipment (frames, supers, extraction equipment, etc.) and the less invasive way of handling everything. Plus, they look like cute little houses!