Assembling bee equipment

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Curious fact: It is illegal to keep bees in the old-fashioned straw “bee skeps” often seen decorating gardens (you know, the type of hives for which the “beehive” hairstyle was named). Instead, nearly all modern beekeepers use the Langstroth hive, which uses removeable frames and stackable boxes like those above. This type of hive allows for easy inspection by the beekeeper as well as by State agents (every state in the U.S. has a “bee inspector”) to check for the presence of disease and parasites.

Adventure update: My equipment arrived last week and we spent the weekend putting stuff together. Our friend came over with his four children and we made a party of it. Assembling the brood boxes and supers turned out to be a surprisingly kid-friendly project. The guys glued them together, and the kids put in the nails. We had children ranging from two years to eight working at any one time, and they needed only minimal guidance to get the job done. I stood around and supervised, with the baby in the sling.

On the other hand, assembling the frames and foundation turned out to be a major PITA. John and Carey and Jack got all the frames assembled, but I am still bit-by-bit working on the foundation. You actually have to break part of the frame (it’s *designed* to be broken–how crazy is that?), place the foundation in place, then glue *and* nail the broken piece back on. This takes… a long time. Then you’re supposed to cross-wire the wax foundation to strengthen it, which requires tools I didn’t even know I’m supposed to have. So I had to order more stuff.

I’m also working on painting the exterior of the hive parts, which is going more slowly than one would hope thanks to the difficulty of accomplishing anything with a baby in the house. Everett’s actually been very easy to get along with, but even an easy baby is time-consuming. Once the hives are painted white, I’m going to set Monty (7) and Eli (4) loose with some pints of colored paint to decorate them.

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