Transitions Are Tricky

I spent a little bit of time yesterday leveling my beehives. Why do that, you ask? Well, I’m slowly shifting from using foundation in my frames to using only foundationless frames, that’s why. And when bees build comb into thin air (and it is beautiful and perfect comb…I don’t know why we ever ever ever ever switched to using preformed, recycled beeswax as a guide) they let gravity lead them. And gravity always pulls one way…if the hive isn’t level, the comb will not be straight in relation to the hive. See? It could get quite messy.

So, as nice and “homey” as those hives look up on the unlevel hill, I had to straighten them out.

From Home Depot I bought enough cinder blocks (of various sizes) and 8′ 4×4’s to construct a platform for the colonies. I have enough room on this platform to add one more hive; and I have enough material to construct another platform. Deb’s gonna freak out when she learns we now have material enough to hold 8 hives.

I also raised the hives a little bit. This will keep the rascal mice out and the skunks and possums from disturbing the bees.

In the after-leveling picture, you’ll see a blue tarp in front of the hives…I’m killing the tall grasses that grow right in front of the boxes because I think it may be disrupting flights.

I’m transitioning all around…from using foundation to foundationless frames; from 10-frame deeps and 10-frame shallow supers to all 8-frame mediums; and from bottom-entrance hives to top-entrance hives. These transitions will take some time, but I think they all make great sense. So, once I move to top entrances, the grass won’t matter too much because the bees won’t need to reach the bottom of the hives. But, for now, I have to kill the grass and raise the boxes.

Unleveled hives

Don’t you think the raised cover below makes Tomboys (center hive) look like a little tomboy with her baseball cap tilted back? I love it. She looks like my friends do in the summertime…happy, relaxed, sweaty, worn out.

Leveled and raised hives

I’ll be glad when I get to lower the new platform a little bit. I don’t love seeing it, but I guess it’s the best alternative for now.

View from the yard of the leveled hives

2 thoughts on “Transitions Are Tricky

  1. Moondancer

    Well, tomboy does have her hat to the back, lol. I’ve seen a lot of beekeepers with their hives raised. :)

    I’m curious, why is it important to straighten out the hives? I know you mentioned if the hive isn’t level it will cause this problem.

    • metilton Post author

      Hello there, Moondancer. Yep, Tomboys needs a a glass of iced tea to cool down.

      It’s only important that the hives be level if you choose to work with foundationless frames—left on their own, the bees will build their comb perfectly straight down…and I want to let them do that. But if the hive isn’t level and the comb goes straight down, then you’ll have a major mess on your hands when you begin pulling frames…comb will break and eggs, larvae, brood, and honey will be ripped apart. A crooked hive holding perfectly plumb comb is a bad combination.

      When bees live and build their comb in trees or in other structures, those structures don’t need to be level because in those situations no one will be managing the hives. Bees don’t care at all if the structure is level. My hives need to be level only because I want to do a combination of two things—1) let the bees build their comb on their own without foundation as a guide, and 2) manage the hive by inspecting and moving frames.

      Whew. That was a long response. Sorry.

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