Monday, February 1, 2010

Modern Snowmen and Bees


February was to be a month of getting a lot of outdoor work done. What with the weather and an uncertain future here, none of that has been happening. Otherwise this post would be filled with images of getting our greenhouse going and building some rock-lined beds.

What we have been doing is housework, continued homeschooling, and several field trips.

Didn't there used to be a rapper called Ice Cube? I think this is where he retired.

We went to the local ballet, where several of our friends were performing and working...


crop20100122_4890 Color Enhanced

And the next day, Michael worked as well...


A group of us have been waiting for just the right time and a clean movie to go see together. We finally had success with "The Tooth Fairy". I thought it was hilarious. We all enjoyed it, and it was clean. Yay!

We've had a lot of wintry weather of late, so not a lot of outdoor events. But Michael, on a field trip to a Russian Folk Ballet performance,


tried his hand at dancing.

I cooked up this sandwich for Michael's breakfast one day. I didn't notice until I'd loaded the image that that it looks like a guy in a hat, with a goatee, a long nose, and sunglasses.


They were delicious! Not having an egg ring, I fried some beaten eggs in a wide mouthed canning jar ring, melted cheese on them, topped them with bacon, and served inside well-buttered and toasted sourdough french bread.

This might look odd, but it's my young son's weapons cache for Airsoft.


"The children were snuggled all safe in their beds, while visions of machine guns danced in their heads." Hmmmmm...

I received a wonderful surprise from a friend I met through this blog, some delicious honey! From their own bees! We have had a beehive in the past, but it did not last. I believe a raccoon got the hive. But we are hoping to try again. We've had our eyes on building our own hives for a while now, and we even attended a local bee meeting with some friends of ours who said they would donate some starter bees.

We've looked at several alternative methods of keeping bees, but the Top Bar method is the one that is intriguing me right now.


The object of a Top Bar Hive (TBH) is to be easy and cheap to construct, easy to work and having natural sized cells. A Kenya style (sloped sides) is so that the combs are more naturally strong and less likely to break and collapse when they are full of honey. This hive worked very well with no comb collapses. The small combs are easy to handle and not nearly as fragile as large free hanging combs. The pictures are, from left to right:

  1. Kenya style Top Bar Hive being constructed. The sides are one by twelves 46 1/2" long. The bottom is a one by six 46 1/1" long.
  2. The ends are one by twelves 15" long. None of the boards is ripped or beveled. They are just cut for length and nailed together.
  3. The sides are spread to where they fit the ends and the ends are nailed. I ended up using deck screws on the end because when I pried the bars over I would pry the end off of the hive.
  4. With bees. The top bars are ripped from one bys with a beveled comb guide glued and nailed on. You can see a bar on top of the hive on the right end. The brood nest is 1 1/4" wide bars and the honey is 1 1/2" wide bars These bars are 15" long.
  5. Comb from the KTBH. Can you spot the queen?
  6. A close-up of the queen on the KTBH comb.
  7. See through drawing of KTBH (thanks to Chris Somerlot).

The entrance to the KTBH is just the front bar back from the front at least 3/8" The top sets on top of a 3/4" top bar so the entrance is 3/4" high and 3/8" wide and is really just the gap in front of the first bar.

Parts List:

  • 2- one by twelves 46 1/2"
  • 2- one by twelves 15"
  • 1- one by six 46 1/2"
  • Any kind of lid 15" by 48"
  • 16- bars 15" by 1 1/4" by 3/4"
  • 18- bars 15" by 1 1/2" by 3/4"
  • 34- triangular comb guides cut from chamfer molding or the corner of a one by 3/4" by 3/4" by 1" by 13"
  • 2- four by fours 16" long cedar or treated for stand.

All cuts except for the triangles are square cuts.

Here's a link to a video about how to build one.

And a link to images of several Top Bar hives and pages.


Watchin' the snow melt...




  1. We're watching the snow melt, then it's snows 4-5" more, then melts then snows 1-2", then melt, well... you get the picture. You have to be careful as the path areas are now ice under snow, I almost fell yesterday!

    Hey, thanks for posting about the bee frames, that looks interesting and certainly doable, even by myself. I've been wanting to get a hive started, but friends had such failures the last two years I'm weary of putting that kind of $$ into them.
    Glad to see you and love your pictures, you guys do so many fun things. Not many choices here and what we do have are typically VERY expensive*sigh*, so we entertain ourselve here on the farm*wink*

    Blessings for your week dear friend,

  2. Hey Faith,
    Very nice post. I love the pic of Michael dancing....priceless.
    I have ersearched the top bar myself. It intrigues me as well. I had thought about adding it to the rest of ours to see what I get. I will be reading your links.

    Stay warm! Although our snow has is still cold! Hoping to tap some Maples in the next few days!

    Lori =0)

  3. Faith, you are more brave than I am. I love the fresh honey but, I don't think I could mess with the bees. My grandpa would find a bee tree and just go get the honey. It does not run in the family. Don't worry though, I won't kill honey bees. We need them too badly.

  4. Kelle,

    It's a wintry winter, isn't it!

    Bees have been tough lately. My neighbor had 7 hives, but in the last few years he's lost them all.

    Our hive box is in the feed/tack room. We need to pull it out and clean it - not something I'm looking forward to. But I want to try this other hive as well.

    Actually my biggest concern is the horses. Those darn creatures will knock EVERYthing over. LOL I didn't want to put the hive up by the house, but I may have to.


  5. SBF,

    Are you using standard hive boxes now? There were so many interesting links on the Top Bars, it's fun reading.

    I really wish I'd caught that bee swarm we had here last year!


  6. SFG,

    I used to be terrified of bees. We had a hive in a fallen tree near the house on the ranch where I grew up. Any time I was out mowing, which was at least once a week, they came after me and got in my hair, buzzing down to sting my head!

    Must have been that mower my family had. That and the tractor would set them off every time.


  7. I wish the snow would melt. It melts some and then stops for days. More snow coming.


  8. Thinking of you with Love...,.sorry bout the cold weather...out in the Northwest....Canada (But we are in the Southern part above Washington state/.....we are in British Columbia about 200 miles North East of Vancouver)...we have had unusually warn weather all snowed twice for 2 days each and that was it.....lovely....felt like Spring in January...odd a lot of the US has been so cold this year.....

  9. Hi there! I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you and your blog for the "Sunshine Award." You can read more about it on my blog, Beth Stone Studio at this link:

    I'm enjoying your posts! Have a great day!

  10. Wow, its March. I have not been posting much either. Hope you have time to keep posting, i have been missing your entries. Hoping all is well!


I always enjoy hearing from others. If you become a regular commenter, I'll assume you are being friendly and pretty much comment regularly right back. :o) God bless and have a terrific day!