Friday, June 14, 2013

FREE-BEES....bee ready!

it's SWARM SEASON - it's your chance for FREE-BEES!

ok - a CHALLENGE for you - fellow beekeepers...have you made yourself a SWARM CATCHING BOX?  The one previous to this one (shown) - I made from a nice heavy duty PRINTER BOX.  (and it's served it's days well...but I've been THINKING about "improvements" every time I've used it.)

Now - some beekeepers might pull-up with an open bed truck...and just catch the swarm directly into a prepared 10 frame hive (with the bottom board probably NAILED in place - for non-slippage).  and this method is perfectly fine for those with TRUCKS :)

However - I find that I like a little more ENCLOSURE of the bees - when I have to use the CAR.

My preferred box is a nice big - heavy walled kind...WITH A LID.  even if it's without LID - you could use a SHEET too.  I make my "catch" into this box and make a quick get-away home to HIVE THEM FOR REAL.  I guess we could call this the TWO SHAKE method :).

My previous box was big enough to catch the swarm WITH or WITHOUT a 10-frame box inside.  Yes - I could set a 10 frame deep inside (with frames)...but I found that this SLID AROUND in there and would crush bees. It also made it pretty HEAVY.  Heavy is fine on the ground...but balancing on a ladder?  In doing a couple catches with or without frames inside - I decided that I think the bees DO LIKE something to hang onto.  With the frames inside (either drawn out or not - doesn't matter) bees CLING to the frames.  Without the frames - they're pouring up the sides of the box.

So - the DESIGN changes I made in my new box.  First off - I built this one from scratch - from a product I have at work called COROPLAST - (corrogated plastic) I could get the dimensions I wanted inside to HANG THE FRAMES.  I used the thicker 1/4"...which I believe you can purchase something similar at a Menards/Fleet Farm as a 4 x 8 sheet (1 sheet is enough for your box and lid). A VELCRO lid - easier to get on quick without crushing bees.  An optional use VELCRO TRAP DOOR with ramp on the bottom for bees to march in from ground level.  A securable/expandable area inside to hang frames from, and ventilation in the cover.  Besides the one sheet of coroplast, I used duct tape, a very sticky double sided tape, a utility knife, straight edge, measuring tape, and adhesive velcro hook & loop and some window screen.  No nails or glue or power equipment required.  A HINT if you're working with a product like coroplast.  "score and bend".  When you make the main box bends from base to walls - don't cut all the way through - score and bend it.  Jot down your measurements and make yourself a small scale prototype on you know where to cut and where to score/bend.

You could mess around with the dimensions.  This box is big enough for a LARGE swarm....looking at it in it's DONE could have been less than 31.5" long.


Jeff Champagne - our President - hosted a field day at his apiary in Oakfield this past weekend.  A complete success.  Everyone is commenting that they learned so much through the HANDS-ON approach.  There's nothing like EXPERIENCE as a teacher ;)

Monday, June 3, 2013

ECWBA Newsletter - May 25

1.  Here is the current list of meeting dates and places for 2013: 
  • June 8, 2013, Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm.  Field day at Jeff Champeau’s bee yard in Oakfield (see note below).  This is a change from the original announcement of June 15.
  • July13, 2013, Saturday morning at 9:30 am.  Meeting at extension office in Oshkosh (see note below).
  • September meeting to be determined.  Most likely in Ripon on September 14.

2.  June Field Day.  The field day this year will be held at Jeff Champeau’s bee yard in Oakfield.  There will be no formal meeting conducted.  Just come prepared to look at beehives in various stages of development.  This is a good opportunity for new beekeepers to see what established colonies look like.  Start time will be 1:00 pm.  Address and driving directions: N3415 Highway Y South, Oakfield, WI.  Oakfield is located about 10 miles southwest of Fond du Lac.  Take Highway Y (same as Oak Street) south out of Oakfield (past the old Belle Reynolds School) for about a half a mile.  The place is on the east side of Highway Y between River Road and Highway F.  Some parking is available in the driveway – overflow parking will have to be along the road.  Please bring your own hat & bee veil, gloves, coveralls, strings or something to tie off pants legs, or anything else you think you might need to feel comfortable working around bees.  There will be no rain date for this field day.

3.  July Meeting.  The July meeting of the ECWBA will be held at the Winnebago County UW Extension Office.  Meeting date and time is Saturday, July 13, at 9:30 am.  The address for the extension office is 625 East County Road Y, Oshkosh, WI.  Driving directions:  Take US Highway 41 north bound to the Highway 76 & Jackson Street exit.  Exit Hwy. 41 onto Jackson Street south.  Drive south on Jackson Street about a mile (or two) to Hwy Y at stop and go lights.  Turn left, traveling on Hwy. Y, and drive approximately a mile to address.  The extension office is on the right side of the street, located in the James P. Coughlin Center building.  There will be a meeting with a presentation focused on the summer and fall management of colonies for the newly established (first year) beekeeper.

4.   This issue of the ECWBA newsletter is mainly a reminder of the upcoming field day and the July meeting.  At the July and September meetings we will again try to establish a committee for a beginner’s beekeeping class for early 2014.  I was contacted by a representative from the Wisconsin DATCP about using a registration list to assist beekeepers in the prevention of pesticide spray damage.  Hopefully, this representative will be able to give a presentation at the September meeting or at one of the meetings in the spring.

Beekeeping Notes:

  • Queens!  If you plan to split surviving colonies, develop a plan for additional queens – Are you going to purchase queens?  Are you going to raise your own queens?
  • In spite of its late start, spring is coming on fast now.  Be ready for swarming to start and be prepared to add supers to provide plenty of room for the increasing bee populations.
  • Attend the June 8th field day.  Jeff will be talking about his one brood chamber method of beekeeping.  This will also be a great opportunity for new beekeepers to get some “super”-vised hands-on experience.

I look forward to seeing you all at the June 8, 2013, field day.

Best of Beekeeping,
Jeff Champeau

Madison Bees