Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Activites: 2013-01-29

Since winter time activities for beekeepers usually involve sitting around and worrying about their bees freezing, it is a good idea to find something else to do for the bees.  Well, I've been busy with three different bee related projects for this upcoming season!

Nuc Building:

A "nuc" is a nucleus hive.  It is a smaller version of a standard hive.  They have many uses such as swarm capture boxes, bait boxes, hive split boxes, etc.  So it is a good idea to have some on hand if necessary.  Using the plans by D Coates, I built four nuc boxes out of a sheet of 1/2" plywood.  With a few minor mistakes here and there and two days out in the pole barn, I have them complete!  It was also an excuse to use the new air compressor and staple gun I received for Christmas this year!

Four waiting to be painted

Yes, Frames do fit!

All I need to do now is paint them and drill an entrance hole.  Nice!

Wax Processing:

The second project I accomplished was to take the beeswax I had collected and melt it down into a manageable form.  I have two different wax molds (another Christmas gift), a 1 oz. and a 1 pound.  After using both, I decided I didn't really have enough wax to use the 1 pound mold, so I re-melted that one down and made it all into 1 oz. bars.

I'll be using the wax for making lip balm and coating any plastic foundation I have.  I don't think it is enough to make candles out of.  It seems like that would really take a lot of wax.

Smart Hive/Arduino Development:

Thanks to another Christmas gift (do you see a theme yet?), I have a plan to build a "Smart Hive".  Basically a hive that I can attach an electronic monitoring station to.  I would like it to measure temperature, humidity and hive weight throughout the year.  I could then collect the data and see some nice trends as the bee population increases and when the main nectar flows are in my area by watching weight spikes.  All of this is possible through a little device called Arduino.  An Arduino is an open source electronic board that you can attach various sensors to.  From the reading I have done it seems like the temperature and humidity sensors will be easy to configure.  The weight sensors seem to be a bigger issue.  Most electronic weight measurements are affected by temperature changes.  In an outdoor environment, the temperature will obvious change quite a bit.  Hopefully I'll be able to post more as my progress on the Smart Hive continues!


Until next time, thanks for reading!


  1. The smart hive gadget looks a bit too technical for me. How do you find the ply for the nucs in relation to pine and do you use it in normal supers as well?

    1. Yeah, the Arduino is a bit out of my normal realm but there are a lot of tutorials with the kit, plus the web has tons of examples and I have some friends that can help if I need it.

      I have found that the plywood tends to throw off more splinters than pine. Although the saw cuts seem to have a much crisper edge without as much tear out (at least on the table saw). It holds screws and staples just fine, so no issues there so far. I will hopefully start painting them tonight so we will see how it takes paint compared to pine.

      No, I haven't used plywood in any of my other hive components. I guess it will take some time to see how it handles prolonged moisture exposure, etc compared to standard pine stock.