in the beginning
i started ‘keeping’ bees in the spring of 2013. the hardware store/garden center down the road had an avid bee keeper and carried all the supplies. when they offered beginning bee keeping classes I was smitten. After three hours of lecture and question and answers, and a bee yard tour I was in love. I was going to save the world with my bees. Or, at least my little world.
i found a local bee keeper who was getting out of top bar hives and selling off his hives. i bought one and refurbished it. (something the books discourage.) this bee keeper told me how to clean it up and build additional bars. i moved the entrance to the end and added a porch. i reattached the bottom board to hinge at the entrance end so I could open it from the back. he told me to lightly torch the inside to kill off any bad things that might be there. but on inspection I decided he done a fine job during his demonstration so I didn’t need too.
locating the hive had me stymied for weeks. i needed sun for most of the day but not in the summer afternoons, when I wanted shade. i needed it out of traffic patterns but not out of my sight. i also considered winter shade and water-logged land. and the neighbors too. i didn’t consider winter winds but I should have. with an acre to work with I thought this would be easier.
i finally picked a spot at the edge of zone one. i could see it from the house, but house guest wouldn’t be nervous. the entrance faced east with the observation window facing north. it was left of center (northeast) as you excite the house so I would routinely approach from the back (the west). the wooded fence on the east property line ends three feet north of the hive so the morning sun breaks across the field next door and right into the entrance of the hive. it’s located on the east side of a mature black walnut tree. this allowed all the summer sun I needed with nice shade in the afternoon, but no shade in the winter. Black walnuts have a reputation for inhibiting the growth of or killing off anything that’s planted under them (not a quality food forest specimen) so this site works for the apiary.
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