Though the hive was “technically” finished in my last blog post, there were a few last things to make.
FINAL PREP LIST
So I reaaaaally should’ve included this in the hive build but I just WANTED TO BE DONE. The hive technically wasn’t complete without them though so oops. The follower board’s purpose is essentially to make a top bar hive smaller by restricting the bees’ access. See, with the warre or langstroth hives, you’re constantly making the hive bigger by adding boxes, whereas with the top bar hives you make them the “final size” and can’t add on to it later.* SO, when installing bees, you want to restrict their space so they aren’t overwhelmed with the sheer GRANDEUR of a hive you’ve created.
*Don’t tell me what I can do! I mean, as with anything, there are ways, but they aren’t easy.
As such, the follower boards have to fit…very snug. Because, bees are sneaky little ladies who WILL NOT BE STOPPED by your attempts to box them in! A lot of people actually start their hive making with the follower boards, then lean the outside boards against the followers and make the hive like that so that they KNOW their follower boards will fit perfectly. I…am not that person. I though, “hey, I have a template for the outside end, how can this be a problem?” Not remembering I am the Queen of Problems.
Needless to say, they aren’t a PERFECT fit. But I also can’t tell if that’s my fault, my template’s fault, the warped plywood’s fault, or my circular saw’s fault. I’m ready to assign blame to any and all animate and inanimate objects at this point. Per some random article I read if you want to try and make them fit better you can put plywood, masking tape, or wax along the edges. Since I already had the wax and I was ready for a rematch, I decided to do that. IT WENT MUCH BETTER.
After that, it was off to my brother’s house where he kindly assisted me by attaching my follower board to a flat top bar I had made (basically same process as before just without making the wedge). I decided nail guns were indeed MOST FABULOUS.
This is basically a follower board with a hole in it so they can crawl there. HIGH TECH.
Can you guess how I made this?
If you guessed “made a follower board then drilled a hole in it” YOU ARE CORRECT DING DING DING!
I’m sure there is a real name for this but for some reason “access board” sounds cool. So I’m rolling with it. THEORETICALLY I could use one of my extra corks to close it and make it a normal follower board because I used the same size drill bit (3/4 in.). I doubt I will, BUT I COULD.
At times when food is scarce or when LIFE IS CHAOTIC (ie. you and your thousands of sisters just got dumped into a new hive after being driven across the country) the bees get sugar syrup. (Or candy boards but that’s another topic for another time.) There are many ways to set up a feeder but the second most simple way I could find in my situation is by making a board that fits in the hive that holds the jars upside down. The problem is, I AM THE QUEEN OF PROBLEMS. I had a hack saw but it was the world’s most difficult saw to use (is the blade dull? I DON’T KNOW) so I decided I’d drill a thousand tiny holes and then hit it with a hammer.
SPOILERS THIS DIDN’T WORK. In fact, it resulted in the board snapping at the other end where I had managed to hacksaw my way to creating a circle. Now my beautiful circle was broken.
I was pretty upset and NOT ABOUT to do that whole thing over again so I just used random scraps to brace it back together. It’s trash but YOLO.
The next one I was smarter about, and used the bigger drill bit. Then I hacksawed off the little pokey pieces, and used a dremel to round it off a little more. Like I said, it’s trash but it works.
Oh, also, obvious but make sure you use your jar lid to make the template.
I then also cut a piece of plywood to fit above the feeder so the bees can’t get up in the roof area.
Next was the feeders themselves! I got my jars and jar lids out, grabbed a thumb tack, and punched a bunch of little holes in the lids.
I thiiiink I shouldn’t have used such large jars, btw. It seems to leak fluid too quickly. I don’t know. Queen of Problems, remember? Hopefully it all works out.
I thought this was the easiest part. Put water in, put sugar in, heat and stir.
LITTLE DID I KNOW (till AFTER) that YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HEAT SUGAR. I don’t even want to go into it but apparently there’s a BIG OL’ FIGHT about it and MAYBE SCIENCE says it can kill them because reasons. So AFTER I had used 4 lbs of sugar and made a motherlode of this stuff I discovered that. CLASSIC KATIE. Anyway if you feed hummingbirds that might be something to keep in mind when making hummingbird food (since it’s the same thing).
I made another batch this morning (heat the water THEN turn off the heat THEN put in sugar) and did half and half. So if I’m killing my bees I guess I’m only half killing them. *CONSTERNATED SIGH*
Btw this is a 2:1 (2 parts water 1 part cane sugar). The ratios change depending on what time of year you’re feeding because BEES ARE COMPLICATED LADIES.
I started out with 10 empty top bars for them to draw comb in, then an access board, then the feeder, then the follower board.
So open, it looks sort-of like this:
And this is what it looks like closed:
Left to right: 10 top bars (near the open entrance), access board, plywood over feeder, follower board.
I closed up all the entrances with corks except the one desired:
And that (until I put the sugar syrup in) means I’m READY FOR BEES!!!