So it was in March that I ordered a new custom built hive stand from a local welding and machine shop. With my backyard apiary expanding (the girls are doing it on their own) - I had to order a durable stand that could hold multiple hives. With the help of Wesley Amos of Amos Welding and Machine Shop in Reidsville, we put our heads together to come up with a large enough stand to hold multiple hives and stand up against time and the elements. Wesley built my first hive stand two years ago, so I knew he was up to the task. This new hive stand will hold three booming colonies.
This past weekend was nice enough that I could get out and get my new stand ready. So with brush and roller in hand, I made sure there were no rust posts anywhere, then applied multiple coats of Rustoleum paint to seal the surface. I used the same paint on my first stand, which holds two hives, and with the exception of a few minor spots thats popped up in two years, the metal paint works like a charm.
Once the paint was fully dry, the task was to dig the eight holes to plant the legs in the ground. Each leg has a "foot" or metal plate on the bottom to keep it from sinking deeper into the soil, but to keep it from sinking at all, I poured Quikrete (concrete) around the legs and let it set for 24 hours to make sure it cured. After the concrete is cured and hardened, you can then put the dirt back to fill in the holes.
Let me add that you need to use a carpenter's level to make sure everything is..level. You want a slight decline in the front so any water from rain or snow or hive moisture will drip out the front and stay out of the hive. Other than the slight decline in the front, the stand is level side-to-side. That took me awhile to get it that way since the stand is so wide, but once I finally got it set, I poured the Quikrete around the legs and then the water and left it alone.
Once the concrete set up and the dirt was filled in, it was time to move my first hive to its new home. Since the yellow hive had a brand new package of bees who were basically building comb and little else, I decided to move them. I picked up the light hive and made the short trip to its new home. When I first hived this colony, I used a solid wood bottom board, but really like using screened bottom board. So I moved the hive, transferred the frames over to the second yellow hive body, and got ready to close eveything back up and leave the girls alone. After all, they already had a busy week of being hived and now moving to a new location. Talk about confusing!
Being that the girls were moved, and thinking that some of the foragers may be confused, I placed a piece of bamboo over the entrance. That's so they would re-orient themselves to their new location. And to catch any that may have gone to the old location, I put a carboard nuc there and sure enough, I caught about a handful of them and took them over to their new abode. The "obstruction over the entrance" trick works. I've used it a couple of times with great success. It forces the foragers to re-orient themselves to the area (after all..there wasn't a tree in the front door before) -- so chances are they will find their way back home. Try it if you have to move a hive.
So here it is, my new three hive stand. You can see that its close enough to my other hives so I can just go back and forth when needed. That should really come in handy when having to transfer frames and supplies between hives. And its very close to my storage building where I keep all my beekeeping supplies. I intentionally set it at an angle to keep the bees from the green and orange hive from slamming into the new bees when crossing flight paths. Will it work? I don't know, but in my head it will. Guess we'll see!
Here's the dimensions of my new hive stand. Remember it will hold three hives (especially heavy hives in winter when packed with honey). Each hive will sit in a 2 foot by 2-1/2 foot square on top of the stand.
Side to side length: 6 feet wide
Depth: 2-1/2 feet deep
Leg length: 24 inches (I bury mine. You could make them shorter.)
Top: Heavy gauge grated steel mesh (Proper ventilation.)
Body: Heavy gauge angled steel
Feel free to use my plans or tailor them for your own bee yard. And happy beekeeping my friends!
More coming on my adventures with a "piping" queen in my own hive!