Well, the slab has been poured for the workshop, the pieces and parts of the building are on site and we will start putting the puzzle together Memorial Day weekend. I figure it’s going to be like a larger version of the greenhouse — a much larger version — but I’m hoping that things go together better! The metal is clearly sturdier, so if the holes are drilled in the right places, things should go well.
The concrete needs to cure for 28 day days before we apply stress to it, so the first task is to just build the frame. We’ll add the insulation and siding in June when the foundation can withstand a wind load. This will be my big red barn and hubby has promised to put a cupola on top once he gets a chance to build one. I’m excited, especially as the cupola will do double duty as a bat house. I really enjoy watching the bats swoop between the trees at dusk, and I hope they eat love-bugs as the first of those are making an appearance already.
The PVC pipes are our electricity, water, and drainage access lines for the future. The large pipe on the right is simply a conduit that runs from one side of the shop to the other to allow for easy expansion of things like wiring if (when?) we find the need to change our original plans. Before we left on Sunday, we spread wheat straw around the slab to minimize the splatter of clay onto our bright, shiny, new concrete with the rain we anticipate over the next week or so. I threw a couple more cups of buckwheat seed out with the straw. After all, why waste space that can be used for nectar producing plants?
Another decision we made this past weekend was to replace the RV with a small mobile home that will later become the business office for the apiary. We’ll live there until we get the house built. I’d intended to live in the RV until we finished the house, but the lack of closet space combined with the abundance of mice slowly started to weigh on my mind. The darn mice love to chew on my wooden spoons in the kitchen drawer, so I replaced the spoons with silicone spatulas. The mice then ate the silicone. We keep plugging up holes, and they keep finding new ways in. The most amusing evidence was the time I arrived to find about 9 feet of toilet paper unspooled — it’s actually pretty funny to picture a mouse trying to climb up the toilet paper roll, but still disturbing!
So, by the end of summer, we should be upgrading to 762 square feet of home, but we’re not the only ones looking for a larger living space: hubby arrived just in time to see bees swarm from my hive into a tree on Wednesday evening. He put multiple swarm traps out, but they still headed toward the creek the next morning. While I love having that hive up by the RV, it tends to be the last to get checked, which means that it doesn’t always get checked when it should. That will change in summer when we can check a few hives a day instead of trying to get to all 38 on a weekend. We did check hives Saturday afternoon and upgraded most NUCs to 8 or 10 frame hives and added supers to some of the existing 8s and 10s. While doing so, we checker-boarded frames with fresh foundation in the brood chamber and moved nectar frames up to the supers. The nectar flow is incredibly good this year and all of the queens are laying well. We only found one hive with swarm cells, and we distributed them to NUCs.
We’re experimenting with starter strips instead of full sheets of foundation this year. We put a mixture of both into each hive this time to see which the bees prefer. I installed frames with starter strips into a couple of hives last trip and the bees are drawing really pretty comb onto them.
The weather is probably not going to be conducive to a trip this coming weekend, but that gives us time to pack up a few more things to take with us the week after. There’s one thing for sure — when you keep bees, you’ll never run out of things to do whether you’re in the city or the country, so life, as always, is good.