Ma here. A few years ago, Pa spotted this cart in the road ditch on a trip into the city. We determined if it was still there when we drove back by it would be ours. Well, it was, and it got dropped on my head loading it into ole Blue, earning it it’s name. I have saved every scrap of wood for the last six years and we put a lot of the smaller stuff in here. Some people tell me just throw that away, but I say oh no! I tell ya them smallish scraps of wood have saved us so many times I can’t count. Nothing like finding something you can use, rather than cutting a whole fresh piece of lumber. Call me a packrat if you will, but if you ever find yourself in need of a small spacer, shim, or scrap for balancing I bet I can find you something that will work in the concussion cart.
A while back, our friend Wambulance Nance with Shit on Her Pants bestowed upon us a wonderfully hand crafted top bar beehive she made. She did a fine job on it. I think she said she found the plans online. She’s pretty much a female Bob Villa if ya ask me. Pa and I have been researching and studying on top bar bee keeping for well over two years now. It was always one of those things we planned to do, then other things had to take priority. Such is life.
With the addition of the Wadulisi girls recently I got downright inspired. I had me a serious cuss and discuss with Pa and told him of my desire to get that top bar going in serious fashion. Pa pointed out to me that he thought we needed to show the old top bar some love and do it up right… So began my first solo carpentry project and labor of love.
While I know that Wambulance Nance with Shit on Her Pants worked very hard on this hive. There were certain things I learned that caused me concern, though. I set out to revamp it. I will explain what I did and why. Hopefully the changes I made are good ones.
First off, I ran several screws in to draw everything back up tight as possible. I then needed to free up that follower board. The way it was set up size-wise, I felt each side was really only good for a nuc box. When I pulled the follower board out, I noticed a pretty good gap between the two removable screens, not at all good. The landing boards attached to the screens were quite loose as well. So I ripped it all out. The original top bars were flat, which in itself is not a huge problem, but they had no ridge in which to put wax foundation strips into, and were also not centered on the bar itself. I just didn’t feel confident in them. So I ripped them apart too. Now I’d really done it! I couldn’t go back at that point, so I went forward at full speed.
My first major obstacle was finding #8 hardware cloth locally. I tell ya, it’s pretty near impossible. I never did find any, but hear Ace Hardware carries it, so will check them out for my next build. Mr & Mrs Wadulisi were nice enough to give me a hunk and I was in business. I then discovered the close working quarters prevented the use of any staple gun we own. So I sat and pondered and thought to myself “What would Pops do?” Then it came to me. I cut me some 1×2’s to the proper length and wedged that cloth between them and the side wall. With some creative clamping work was able to secure it. Not as pretty as Pops would have done, but I was proud of myself for figuring a way out to do it. Thanks Pops for teaching me! Next up was that entry I blocked off. I guess entry location is a matter of preference, but I liked the idea of a top periscoping entry, and wanted to incorporate it into this hive. I chose three 5/8″ holes, which should be just fine, Pa drilled them out for me. Next came those top bars. Being a newby, I wanted to try to provide the best possible base for straight comb production. I found some cove moulding, which I cut to 12″ lengths and attached as near to center of the original bars as possible. I’m pretty pleased with the result.
Next I wanted to fashion the “entryway” for my periscoping entry. I found everything I needed in the concussion cart. I left a 5/8″ opening above the landing board. I made a little hollow area in which the bees can enter at the bottom, and travel up the wall before entering the hive at the top. I am hoping this method of entry will deter mice and other unwanted pests. If, for some reason it doesn’t work, I can always pull it off and go from there.
I couldn’t put in all this hard work and not give the hive a sleek new paint job. Wambulance Nance with Shit on Her Pants had chosen a pretty yellow color that had faded over the years in this hot Oklahoma sun. I chose the bright sunshine yellow that Fish Taco loved so much. Next order of business was to get that hive up off the ground to prevent an ant invasion. I thought on this dilemma quite a while. When I have a problem to solve, I just pull up a chair and sit, observe, and think. Geoff Lawton taught me that “the problem is the solution.” As I sat there thinking and looking around for ideas, I happened to glance into the paviliano and there sat my answer. Folding table legs that Fish Taco had clued us in on when they went on clearance at Orscheln Farm and Home. I’m the sentimental type, and know that every time I look at that top bar painted that beautiful sunshiny color standing on the legs Fish Taco suggested we get I will not only think of him, but ole Wambulance Nance with Shit on Her Pants too.
For the roof, I chose aluminum. Pa brought me home a few sheets of aluminum. I had never worked with it before, and again, did some hard thinking on my plan of attack. It isn’t perfect, a little Off-Kilter some might say, but for this farm that works. I added some simple handles so that I can remove the lid by myself without upsetting the girls too much. I did a test fit of everything and am pretty pleased with the results.
Finally, I knew I needed a feeder. This again required some serious pondering, research and another trip to the concussion cart. I decided on this set up. I saw it in a youtube video posted by lesky1mw. There weren’t any plans, but I created my version here. I asked Pa to drill me three 5/8″ holes on the front of the follower board in the proper position. I used 1×6 for the bottom plate, then scrap 1×2’s for the first level. I then placed #8 hardware cloth over the first level. This in essence created a small caged area where the bees could enter to feed, but could not get in to the area of the hive behind the follower board. I placed more 1×2 scraps on top of the hardware cloth, which sandwiched it firmly in place. On the outer 1×2 I made sure to extend it a little longer than the base so that it rested firmly on the hive wall when in place. That way the weight of the full feeding jar is not pulling on the follower board. I used scrap 2×4’s on the outer edges to prevent the jar from tipping back when in place. I then screwed the entire assembly to the follower board insuring the entry holes were properly open to the caged area. When I went to staple the hardware cloth to the feeder board above the holes I realized the staple gun wouldn’t fit. Mammit Dan! Gorilla tape to the rescue and it was complete. I’m pretty happy with it. I can successfully change the feeder without upsetting the hive at all.
Here is the final product! I love the viewing windows that Wambulance Nance with Shit on Her Pants incorporated into the design. They will sure provide countless hours of bee porn. By the time I finished her up it was dark, so the colors are a bit off here. Now to find us a colony to call this place home.
With that, I’m Off!