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That Crunch Moment! : 35 problem of

That Crunch Moment!

Don Honey

utting aside the passion that most beekeepers have for their own particular type of hive, mine being the WBC that clearly looks the most picturesque in the garden, I always find myself looking for improvements to how it works.


Many beekeepers consider the beauty of the WBC’s lifts not worth the truouble when it comes to removing them when it’s time for inspections. I can see their point, but I do think that effi ciency can sometimes get in the way of appreciating the benefi ts of the WBC. Certainly, woodpeckers have a harder time trying to peck their way through this double-skinned hive. I also think that the cavity effect must balance temperatures throughout the seasons. However, I do covet those hives that have a fl at roof that can be fl ipped over and used as a work surface.

Table Top Arrangement

Space in the apiary always seems to be at a premium, so with that in mind I had a eureka moment. What if I could use the lifts to support a table top arrangement? Well, I’m not a great carpenter, but I thought it wouldn’t take much skill to drop a piece of wood on top of the removed lifts.

I did a bit of measuring of my August 2013 Vol 95 No 8

WBC lift and went to my local big name DIY store where they cut wood for you. I asked for one piece of MDF 20 inches square and one 18¼ inches square. The cutting service was free when you buy the timber – brilliant and very accurate. It was then just a case of sticking the two pieces together with equal space all around the edges and ‘hey presto’ – a table top that just drops onto the WBC lift. So now my annoying lifts that got in the way when moving round the hive become a useful surface to put all manner of things on. No more bending down. No more backaches. Well that’s not totally true about the back aches, but every little helps. And with that in mind, it’s that crunch moment. Putting heavy supers to one side and then replacing them on the hive always has its moments for an ageing beekeeper. Despite trying to hover the super a few millimetres over the brood box while the bees sort themselves out, invariably it ends up with the crunch that says I’ve squashed a bee. None of us likes this happening and I’m sure the bee or bees in question also aren’t too happy about being fl attened. Apart from the funeral expense (I joke, I do love my bees, but the fl attened ones do get fl icked into obscurity), I am sure that the colony as a whole reacts unfavourably to this and may start to get

agitated, something that we strive to avoid. So here comes eureka moment number two.

Avoiding Crushed Bees

If I could make an eke that was slightly bigger than the footprint of a super and put the super in this while I was inspecting the rest of the hive, I might be able to reduce my bee mortality rate by half. So this is what I did ... I went back to my trusted DIY store and got four pieces of wood cut to length (free again) and made a simple frame. I put nails on the inside surface, just a bit away from the bottom, to stop the super from sitting directly on the base, and hey presto, no more fl attened bees. It was at this point that I went into overdrive and thought ‘How about combining my table top idea with my eke?’. It was a simple exercise to combine my two projects into one, just glue and nail them together. The eke was made more stable and also it meant only one extra thing to take with me to the apiary. I’m still working on the

Simple construction of a table top

hovering the super when putting it back on the brood box, but as my mum always said, ‘Every little helps’. Now some people, I don’t know them personally, say that beekeepers are a tight lot and don’t like to spend money. With this in mind, and an offcut of MDF left over, I considered another sight I had witnessed a few days earlier. Lots of bees were returning

from a pollen shop fully laden. Their legs were so overloaded with bright yellow pollen that it wasn’t diffi cult to see them coming into land. The problem was that it was a windy day and many were being pushed off course. Their poor little wings couldn’t cope with the turbulence and many ended up on the ground just under the hive. I could see them taking a breath and then struggling to get height, re-align their angle of approach and come onto the landing board. If only the landing board was a bit bigger they would have more space to aim at, use less energy, spend less time fl ying, suffer fewer bruises and become more effi cient bees. And what do more effi cient bees do? Make more honey! So when I get a spare moment I plan to make some sort of extended landing board with my offcut, probably with white lines painted on and landing lights! ¤

Eke to minimise crushing of bees

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