Thursday, October 13, 2011

Death of a Home Build

Before you get to start building and get financing from a bank, you need an appraisal, just as if you were buying any home.  The appraiser uses your house plans and elevation drawings to compare it to other houses sold in the area (as if it were already built).  The number of foreclosures in the area has continued to drive down home values, and like people attempting to sell their homes, we were going to be 30% underwater before we even built the home.  This, of course, negated bank financing.  If we had cash, we could still build, but we didn't have that kind of cash, and financially it made no sense to do so.

For a long time, my wife has been saying that there were signs that we should not build, but I was determined to complete the project.  This was the last nail in the coffin.  Sad, but true, we will not be able to build the house we worked so hard on.  Southland said they had experienced problems with appraisal values of other houses, but had worked through them.  I'm guessing the clients brought more cash to the table to offset the appraisal difference on some of the smaller houses, but we just didn't have that kind of cash.  This project was over.  Killed by foreclosures and banks.

We sent a certified letter (receipt required) letting to Southland requesting that the contract be terminated.  We received the green "receipt" card, but no further communication.  I can only assume that the contract is terminated, and no further action is required.  Ultimately, it cost us $2500 for the drafting and estimating.  They definitely earned the money, and I'm sorry that it ended this way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adding Sugar Water Feeders to the Hives

I'm using an "inside the hive" feeder method.  The hive on the left was set up yesterday with just a veil on and no camera crew, but today I figured, I had the bee suit, I should use it.

A little puff of smoke to let them know I'm here and to not bother me (it causes them to take on honey and masks the alarm pheromones):

Take off the top and give them another puff through the top inner screen:

Now it's fully open, nothing stopping them from attacking, but they don't seem to mind (bees really are pretty calm):

Now I place the inner top on upside down (so the notch faces the hive frames). I don't want the notch up, which is the usual method, which allows bees to come in, then down the center hole, because I'm going to cover the center hole with the feeder.  This way, they can still use the top entrance to get to the hive, and the feeder can be accessed later without opening the active part of the hive.

Container of sugar syrup (1:1 sugar to water):

The lid has a series of 1/16" holes drilled into it, that when the vacuum forms, just allows drips of sugar water to hang for the bees:

Positioning the feeder over the hole in the inner cover:

Stack on a couple of empty supers to cover the feeder:

Reinstall the inner screen to ensure no bees get in through the top (not really necessary):

Then put back on the telescoping top (metal covered lid) and cinch down the straps (so no animals can get inside):


Monday, October 3, 2011

Picking up Bee Nucs

So, the normal way to start beekeeping is to order and build your equipment in the winter, take some hands-on classes, then patiently wait for your 3 lbs package bees to arrive sometime in late spring (early spring if you are lucky).  Well, this gives you a slow start, as you've missed alot of the big pollen/nectar season of early spring (Maple trees, for one).  The bees spend most of the nectar on energy to drawing out new comb and feeding the baby bees.

The less traditional manner is to jump right in and order a nuc from late Spring, Summer, to as late as Fall.  A nuc is typically 5 frames of drawn comb with brood, pollen stores, and honey--all covered in bees.  You bring this home and put it in your super with 3 more empty frames for growth, give them sugar water solution to build up some stores for winter.  Some bee farms will sell these as late as early October.  It's a bit of a gamble, but if all goes well, you get a head start on the next season, and you could be harvesting lots of honey the first year.

Bill's Honey Bees of LaFayette, GA, offered to sell me two nucs at a good price and give me a crash course for free!

Sure enough, just after scheduling my nuc pick up, I herniated a disc in my lower back.  Under heavy pain killers and muscle relaxers, I was in no shape to drive.  Luckily, my loving wife was willing to load up the entire family for a 2.5 hr road trip to LaFayette, GA on a Sunday afternoon.

Dylan was a bit surprised at the size of their operation, and it was a bit intimidating at first, but their bees are quite calm.  They just want to do what bees do, and provided you don't try to squash one, they really don't want to sting you.

Here are some pictures from Bill's Honey Bees:

That's me in the veil.  Bill uses no protective gear and was only stung once after pilfering several hives.

Bill holding a frame of bees.  You can put your hand on them and pet them. They don't seem to care a bit.

This is the process to add new (flightless) bees to an existing hive or nuc.  Since they are young, they have no issue switching to a new queen.  With a good hard shake, the young, flightless bees land on the rubber mat on the ground, and the older bees fly off back to their original hive.

Here is what you are left with (a bunch of flightless bees on a rubber mat).  It takes this bunch a bit before they figure out where the nuc box is (smell of beeswax or the queen lures them in).

But once one finds the nuc, she raises her abdomen and fans her wings to spread the scent and the rest follow.

Live action motion:

We also found this bug eating a bee.  Bill had not seen this bug before, so he asked me to take a picture.  After posting on Beesource Forum, I got a quick answer--a Bee Assassin Bug.  Not considered a real threat to the bee population, but occasionally, they get a bee.

My new hives, positioned for early morning sun:

First morning out, and they've already found the basil in our garden and are bringing in pollen from our neighbors flowers:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ultra Breeze Bee Suit

My Ultra Breeze Bee Suit arrived today (well, a few days ago, but I caught a few photos of my son trying out the gear--yeah, you can rap in them). This sort of reminded me of the hampsters in the Kia Soul commercial.

See the resemblance?    He is in the XL sized suit, which fits me, but swallows him up.

Overall, a very well made suit and easy to work in.