Saturday, 24 September 2016

Post 222 Native bee hive installed

With my friend's native bees accepting the new entrance I made for their nest site I decided to bite the bullet and install the hive.

Here it is in place. Because of the position of the shelf (easier to drill into the mortar than the bricks) a spacer was needed to get it up to the right height.

This is a shot of the connector. Its a short piece of PVC pipe, pre-drilled with an escape hatch, which has been black taped over. It seems that once a new brood gets working in the hive this little hatch may reduce tension between the groups, until they are fully separated. It sounds like it will be a time of careful observation and fine judgement.

I set the hive in place in the gloom of dusk at about 16C. There was no action around the nest entrance. I came back at 930 and still nothing happening.  Back again at 1100 and just the one little guy buzzing around the outside. It was still pretty cool (22C) and the hive is in a position where it doesn't get morning sun, unfortunately. It seems that is a key point in siting a hive - to get them out of bed and working in the mornings.
So with no apparent action I took the lit off to look in through the perspex cover under the lid. Happily there were about 30 bees in the hive thoroughly checking it out. Early days indeed for a process that sounds like it will take months.

Boxed it all back up again and put the poly cover and tin lid on the top. The hive is on a really bad spot, exposed to the south west which is going to be hellish in the heat of the coming summer. If we could get this done by new year that would be helpful. The polystyrene cover is 20mm thick. That's equivalent to about 80mm of pine of 100 mm of hardwood. There is also a small air gap. So with the reflective colour it should be ok. There is another 20mm of poly stuck to the underside of the metal roof. Just to bring a little objectivity to the matter I've put a temperature  probe into the inside of the hive to keep an interested eye on the internal temperature.

The entrance is located towards the east, away from the afternoon sun. Ok bees over to you.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Post 221 Native bees

This year I've noticed we have a good number of native bees on some of our flowering shrubs and so started doing some research on them and where to acquire a hive. They seem to be a pretty hot item these days and a populated hive is quite expensive. I mentioned my research to a friend and he said 'oh yes I've got some of them nesting in a wall'.
Of course that was just too tempting. He was more than happy for me to come along and try to offer them somewhere better to live.
By connecting the entrance of such a wild hive to a constructed hive box and forcing the bees to move through the new hive there is a good chance they will take up residence. This is called 'eduction'.

The first thing has been to make a surface to mate the new hive to. Here I've secured a timber plate to the wall and a joint to insert a tube to connect to the new hive. The bees straight away just kept on coming and going, not too disturbed at all.

I then built a shelf to hold the hive while the eduction proceeds. Apparently this could take many months.

This is the hive. It is actually in two parts secured by an external skin of ply. On the front is the future gateway. To the rear is another port for the tube to the wall.

The location is up on a very exposed wall and over coming months will be very exposed to the sun for protracted periods. This is not good, so I thought the both insulation and a sun/weather shade might be necessary. This is the insulation layer - made of polystyrene, glued together with liquid nails. It doesn't need to cover every surface just those exposed to direct sunlight. The white surface will be a good reflector too.

And this is the roof. A nice piece of colorbond steel.

I'll give the bees another couple of days to settle and then fit the new hive into position to start the process. The weather is warming and there are plenty of flowers around for pollen and nectar; a good time for them to get building.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Post 220 Proof copy print

   After what has been months of work I finally uploaded my book for a proof copy print run of one. It is always the way for the first time at anything of course, but if only I knew then what I knew now; as we all say. Apart from the writing the whole process of self published typesetting has proven to be quite a task. I guess this all depends on the software you might use but each variation will have its own quirks.
   A couple of bonsai friends and my wife have also proof read for me. The result of that was another three runs through it word by word making changes and basically fixing things. It has made for a much better read, thanks. 

   I've rejigged the covers. Everyone says 'Ahh but you have to put a picture of a bonsai on the cover', and it's true that every bonsai book you've ever seen does just that. Getting the structure of a bonsai right, is important to carry the illusion of age and miniaturisation. So having a more structural picture on the cover sets the scene, I think. In the book I have encouraged a little pushing of the aesthetic and styling boundaries, so I might as well do the same with the cover design. Besides it does have a bonsai on the cover.

  First volume print run likely in October. Distribution by hard copy I'll do direct and find a channel for ebook sales on line.