Today is a chore day.  I have a huge list of things that need to be done around the house which happens to include a few bee tasks.  Since I desperately wanted to avoid most of the rest of my list, I started with the bee-related items.

Sometime ago I purchased plans from Brushy Mountain for a solar wax melter and downloaded one from beesource as well.  I just can’t seem to spend $85 for something that doesn’t appear that terribly hard to build.  Now, this is (of course) coming from someone who has touched a table saw twice or so in my life.  I rather suggestively left both sets of plans for my husband and he added them to his growing list of projects.  Because there are 15 (thousand?) things to be done before the melter, I gave in and decided this morning I would put together something on my own.

I went the cheap route.  Like incredibly cheap.  After a quick to WalMart and Lowe’s,  I think I spent $10 on the whole contraption.  I got the idea from the ever resourceful Beekeeper Linda (here are her photos, video, and the original diagram).  Bascially you create a solar box from a Styrofoam cooler and a piece of glass.   You put water in the bottom of a tupperware container, attached paper towel with a string to the top and then put clean wax on top of that.  The tupperware goes inside the cooler, the glass is placed on top and the sun does the rest.  I duck taped the edges of the glass per Linda’s suggestion so they aren’t quite so sharp.

Here’s my end result (warning: even the purple duck tape couldn’t make this  pretty):

Since it’s a million degrees or so today (my thermometer in the backyard is reading 99), I stuck the whole thing in the driveway with some wax to see what happens.  After about 30 minutes or so outside, here’s what I can see:

I’ll post another picture tonight after the wax is (hopefully) all melted.

Next chore?  Painting woodenware.  This is always loads of fun in the heat.  To add to the excitement, I’m an incredibly messy painter.  I tend to end up with equal parts paint on the item as on some part of me.  I just don’t have the patience to work slowly.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Wayne’s wheel barrow is now a beautiful baby blue.  I’m hoping he’ll forgive me.

Since I was finishing up, I popped out to the garden to check on the bees.  I was relieved to see there is quite a bit of activity from both the purple hive (which looks rather blue in this picture) and the big hive.

On the other hand, the nuc doesn’t look so hot.  We know there’s a queen, but I’m wondering if they need to be fed for a jump start.  We’re planning on moving them into the new box I just painted and I’m going to make some sugar syrup and honey bee healthy to get them going.

I’m going to have to get out there one evening this week and cut back the lambs ear which is crawling under the hive stand and the Carolina Jasmine which (as you can see) is sending runners out toward the hives.  Thankfully the hive stand location is shaded mid afternoon so they miss the sun during the hottest part of the day.

I’ve also decided to get a queen for the big hive.  The more I think about combining the weak nuc into the big hive, the more uncomfortable I feel about it.  I’ve left messages for both Tate’s Apiaries in Winston (Mark and Jared both used Tate’s and had great experiences) and Busy Bee Apriary in Chapel Hill and hope that someone will be able to send me a queen this week.

Wish us luck!


One Response

  1. Howdy Julia! How’s your hot, hazy, sticky, miserable Carolina almost-summer going so far? Haha! It has been miserable here! I wanted to tell you that they called me from Busy Bee this week and said they have a queen ready for me to pick up, so maybe they have some available now. It seems like it has taken them forever. This weekend, I’m going to do my first thorough inspections of my new hives with the queens from Tate. If the outside visual inspection of the in-and-out traffic is an indicator, they’re both doing fine, but I need to get inside and see how the queens are laying. Hope all is well your way and say hello sometime! -Mark

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