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...