Hand-Forged Top-Bar Hive Tools: They’re pretty, they feel good, and they do the job

If you want one, I can make one for you

I use these top-bar hive tools a lot at this time of year. They’re terrific for reaching deep into the hive to gently detach brace comb the bees have attached to the side walls.

I’ve hammered the curve in the handles flat in order to pry apart those propolized bars.

I think they’re pretty! I like it when a tool is not only functional but is pretty and feels good in the hand.

I’m hand forging these myself, and I have a few for sale…no two alike. If you’d like one for yourself, contact me for images and pricing (liz@two-honeys.com).

Soon we’ll have the Products section of the website working…which means you won’t need to contact me via email to place your order. It’s a process though, Reader, and right now I’m still deep in bees.

The Honeycomb-with-a-Drop-of-Honey T-shirt

Reader, the newest installment of the TwoHoneys t-shirt is now available for purchase: $15 for a handoff exchange; $20 if we need to mail it.

You, too, can wear your very own glorious 2012 rendition (designed by the wonderfully taletented Nicola Mason) by contacting me (liz@two-honeys.com). Tell me if you prefer your design on the front or on the back and tell me your size. I wear a medium. I can also wear a large if I shrink it just a smidgin.

See how this shirt makes your shoulders and your back look friendly and strong and your waist look slim? Perfect.

TwoHoneys t-shirt


Bob checks out the truck

My Beekeeping Truck

No, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with my truck, Reader. Well, one of the many eight fine cylinders isn’t firing. Which is Not a Big Deal, and a mechanic will soon fix it.

But my friend (and architect and fellow beekeeper) Bob LOVES old cars, and he has delighted in my truck. He could hardly hold himself back from digging into it.

We stopped at Bob and Kim’s house and somehow the talk turned to my misfiring 5th cylinder, at which point Bob grabbed a handful of tools and said, “Let’s check it out!”

Of course, once he got into my truck, he needed more than the few tools he brought with him. When this occurs (and it always occurs), my job is to run to the basement and then bring to Bob whatever tool he requires. I think he’s surprised that every time he asks, “Do you have a _______?,” my answer is always, “Yes.”

Bob checks out the truck
What Bob does for fun on a Friday night

These sorts of jobs almost always engage whoever is around. Which means that Bob employed his wife, Kim, to Google and research the firing sequences of 1972 Chevy pickup cylinders. She was the one who told us which of the cylinders is the 5th cylinder. She was also the one to fire up the truck.

Bob and Kim fire up the truck
Okay, Kim, start 'er up.

And, in case you’re wondering, Reader, yes, I also ended up flat on my back in my driveway under my truck and getting my hands quite filthy.

It’s very good to know and be comfortable in the guts of your own truck.

Bob is currently building four top-bar hives that will knock your socks off. If you want one, let me know. Worth every penny of whatever he decides to ask for them.

My Truck

I have a new truck. It’s 40-years old and drop-dead, head-turning gorgeous, and I’m not blowing smoke.

Front view

She’s a 1972 Chevrolet Camper Special, 8 cylinder 350 engine, 8-ft bed, all original parts, paint, etc. It’s spotless. I think it spent its first night outdoors last night…and only because I haven’t figured out how to get it in the garage yet. That part’s gonna take work and some fancy maneuvering.

It's long

Last evening, I drove my new pickup truck home from Indianapolis, and I had some time to discover why I love it and why I was not satisfied as I tested the newer-model pickups. I listened to my gut, and my gut told me I needed this one.

  1. There is no A/C. So I get to hang my arm out the window and feel the breeze. And I can talk with people who admire it at stop lights.
  2. But there are two awesome vents…just pull a black knob that pulls a long lever, and two big baffles open up to allow steady rush of wind all over my feet and legs.
  3. After a rain, this breeze of which I speak is simply glorious.
  4. No power windows. Just roll them up and roll them down. No problemo.
  5. Oh, but there are some beautifully tall and wide side mirrors. Very sweet.
  6. No automatic door locks. Which means I’ll probably lock it less…if at all.
  7. Which means I’ll probably stop hauling a bunch of stuff that I think needs protection.
  8. I mean, please. Why on earth do I need to carry stuff that I have to worry about?
  9. I just want to get in my clutter-free pickup and drive it.
  10. The radio doesn’t work, so there’s no news, no noise, no disturbances. I can think without interference as I drive.
  11. There’s no power outlet, so I can’t plug anything in. Again, no disturbances, no distractions.
  12. I’ll want to stay off of my phone while I’m in the car because I can’t recharge it as I go. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.
  13. And there is no Bluetooth…I consider Bluetooth the work of the devil. It is responsible for the demise of our society.
  14. So if I don’t call you right back, Reader, I may be driving in my truck.
  15. There’s no cup holder. Which means fewer messes and fewer places to gunk things up.
  16. Of course, because of the no-A/C part, I’ll want some bottled water on the seat with me.
  17. There is a long and sturdy bench seat. And it’s spotless. Did I say “all original”? Yes. I did. It is. Even the upholstery.
  18. And this bench seat does not sag. It hasn’t been driven enough over its 40 years to sink. It seems glad to have me.
  19. Bench seats are friendly and simple. The dog can ride up front with me and Deb.
  20. The steering wheel doesn’t have every control known to man installed right on it.
  21. It’s a simple, skinny, tough steering wheel, and it’s big and wide. My hands look good holding onto it. I admired them the 2 hours from Indianapolis.
  22. Right smack dab in the middle of the steering wheel is a horn. It gives a deep and strong call. It doesn’t beep. It doesn’t honk. It sings. It sounds like my dog, Murphy, when it sings…it’s a baritone. I wish you could hear it.
I love it

T-Shirts for Sale

TwoHoneys Bee Co. t-shirt design

Reader, as you know, I’ve got some mighty fine bee t-shirts. My friend Suzanne started us off with some very cool designs…so cool, in fact, that I’m hoarding them. I don’t want anyone else to have one like it. Just me. I may eventually loosen up with this stinginess.

There are now two wonderful t-shirt designs available to you…the one above has been designed by our very own Nicola Mason. The t-shirt plus shipping will cost around $20 (even less if I get orders for a few of them). Simply email me (liz@two-honeys.com), and I’ll get one to you.

And I still have Bee Love shirts for sale…same price…$20 each.

All the shirts with the designs shown here are available in white, American Apparel, v-neck. The designs spread across the back in the shoulder-blade vicinity, and they are perfect. They look good and feel good. I know because I wear one almost every single day.

Bee Love: TwoHoneys Bee Co. t-shirt design



Back to the Table Saw

The replacement part for my table saw arrived from Sears (the part cost $3, but the postage to get it here was $8). I know I need to get out there and replace the darned “collar” because, although my friend Bob cobbled together a workable solution, the saw cuts just a little tiny bit off. After a few cuts, though, that little bit of “off” translates into some weird looking pieces of wood.

A number of people still want to start top-bar hives this spring, and I’m plumb out of the hive bodies…I’ve got to keep building. I kept the last hive body on hand for less than 48 hours. So, today I’ll try to fix my damned saw.┬áBut it’s hot as hell, and I don’t want to do it.



Fire Up the Air Compressor

Friends, what is the one tool that makes building a million hive boxes and 8 million frames so much easier? This puppy. Which I bought on sale at Home Depot (once again, my good friend Patty Grady pulled through with good pricing and priceless customer service) and with which I am spending endless hours building and building and building in my basement.

Porter Cable air compressor, nail gun, and staple guns

You Gotta Envision Beauty, and then It Happens

Don’t you think I’d look awesome driving this truck, Reader? And can’t you already envision the words “TwoHoneys Bee Co” nicely hand painted on the door? And maybe “Call Lizzzzzzzz!”

Ford E3
Ford E3, side view

Right now, I’d rather dream about this truck than all the wet bees we installed in a downpour yesterday. Seriously…bees do not love rain and thunderstorms. And although my installation schedule is tight, I have to wonder if I shouldn’t have waited to introduce the bees…both for the bees’ sake and for the sake of those new beekeepers who may be starting off their adventures on a sour note. Then again, if they can handle yesterday’s adventures with a positive attitude—and they did—then they’ve already proven they’re cut out for the worst of it.

I’ll check on the wettest of yesterday’s group today to see that they’re flying and getting to know their new neighborhoods. This morning’s forecast is better, and I’ll be introducing 5 more hives to their new homes through early afternoon.

I’ll write more about all the installations once they’re complete. But right away, I have to thank Nicola Mason for being such a Godsend and for sticking with me and the bees under the worst possible circumstances yesterday. I mean to tell you, she was terrific and composed.

Oh. And this is what the interior of that truck looks like right now. If it becomes the future beemobile, we’re gonna have to do a little more work. I ain’t sitting on that seat. (But I’d love to shift that thing, and I can already sort of feel my feet working the clutch.)

Ford E3 interior


Building Top-Bar Hives

Selecting and Operating Beekeeping Equipment

Yes, I know…I haven’t posted much about the bees lately. Why? Because Jody’s getting married soon, and today we’re hosting her first bridal shower. So I’ve been busy with that. Right now, as I type, I’m smoking 15 pounds of pork shoulder that is simply to die for. I can’t wait until we figure out a way to send aromas over the internet. Stop over at 1PM for a taste of it. You’ll also freak-out love my mother’s 3-week cole slaw, jalapeno cornbread, and Vidalia onion pie. This is not your typical bridal shower, Reader.

I built three top-bar hives yesterday, though. I swear, there was sawdust everywhere. Because I so often suggest new beekeepers try their hands at top-bar hives, and because I’ve been asked to build a few for some clients, I’m trying to determine a fair price for the hives. I think I should charge for TBHs the way bee suppliers charge for Langstroth hives (the hive in the above image is a Langstroth hive)…they charge by the piece: for the hive body, the individual top bar, the lid, the stand, etc. That makes sense, yes?

For some reason, it’s hard for me to remember to take pictures as I build. I’ll do that next time and include notes on how to construct your own TBH. I know I keep reminding myself that the bees don’t care that I’m not a precise carpenter. And if those top-bar hive novices are really into owning spectacular looking hives, then they’ll have to construct their own or find an experienced carpenter to do it for them. Mine are simple. Fortunately, the bees don’t mind; they gladly repair and improve on my inept skills.

Now, I’ve gotta go throw a handful of wet applewood chips on the fire.