Monday, January 31, 2011

Day #111 White Wax and Cardboard Boxes

This past week has felt like a bonanza. Four separate orders of beekeeping supplies were delivered to my door. Four boxes of magic. At least it feels like magic to me. I now have a hive perch, an “inspector’s jacket,” three beetle blasters, a bee brush, an Italian hive tool, and a whole bunch of other goodies. Yeah!

One of those other arrivals was a one-pound block of white beeswax. As I get my top bars built, I’ll be applying a thin line of beeswax along the length of each bar, so the bees can use it as a roadmap for where to build their combs. I’m not sure the wax is an absolute necessity, but the bees I’ve ordered were all raised on man-made foundation. These sheets of plastic are stamped with a raised pattern of hexagonal cells that have been coated in beeswax. The bees follow that pattern in drawing out the comb (making each cell deep enough to hold eggs, baby bees, nectar, honey, pollen—all the necessities of life in a thriving hive.

But I want my bees to form their own comb, with no plastic guiding them. I’ve heard and read that a line of wax centered on the bottom side of each top bar will at least get them started in the right place. After that, it's up to Mama Nature. The problem with drawing comb completely all by themselves is that it takes a tremendous amount of effort and resources on the part of the worker bees. And, before they can draw the comb, the hive has to be warm enough to keep the wax malleable as they form it.

It will be my job as a beekeeper to make sure there is enough room in the hive so the bees don’t have to store their nectar in the brood chamber (because that would mean the queen would have no cells in which to lay her eggs).

My cats are delighted, because the four orders mean cardboard boxes for them to hide in. I have an empty bee hive in my living room, boxes everywhere for the cats, shelves overflowing with books I love, music on public radio. Life is good.

BEEattitude for Day # 111:
       Blessed are the beekeepers who give us enough room to grow, for they shall find honey in abundance. This beginning beekeeper hopes that is right . . .

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       My new hive net, so I’ll be able to enclose the nuc and the package I pick up in South Georgia in eight weeks. I don’t particularly want a bunch of stray bees getting out of the nuc on my back seat and flying around the car for several hours while I’m driving home.   


AggiePete said...

Sounds like Christmas in January at Fran's house! I do believe the Bees Knees Beekeeping are on their way to be open for business! God love you - it's all coming together. Hugs, Petie

Fran Stewart said...

Yes. My grandson was here after school today, and he had great fun exploring all the new items. The beetle blasters had him stymied. Maybe I'll explain them in a future blog post.