Archive for the ‘Natural Beekeeping’ Category

Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11, but that swarmed moved on without us capturing it.

Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11 of this year, but that swarm moved on without us getting it.

Sept. 23...Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 23…Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 17...These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I'm starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don't understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into the winter shadow.

Sept. 17…These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I’m starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don’t understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into their second winter shadow.

Here's a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

Here’s a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in. This is at 125x (digital zoom) and not as sharp.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in.

May 14...The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice went into swarm mode.

May 14…The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice log hive went into swarm mode.

May 14...Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I'm happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing lots of pollen. They can be seen flying well here... https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byp0gCTqCQ6rZjBJVmZOa0FJZzQ/view?usp=sharing

May 14…Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I’m happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing in lots of pollen.
They can be seen flying well here…

Sept. 23...I'm down to only one Warre hive now. It's doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive 'shuttered' in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I'll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Sept. 23…I’m down to only one Warre hive now. It’s doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive ‘shuttered’ in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I’ll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Bees head into the Warre loads of pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven't taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Bees head into the Warre loaded with pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven’t taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Sept. 23, 2015...Sad to say, this hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.

Sept. 23, 2015…Sad to say, the Grand Kids Log hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.  The Grand Kids are back.

Sept. 3...Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 3…Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 21...Looking up into the empty combs, this hive is clearly NOT going to make it. When the wasps start attacking, I'll plug up the entrances and wait until spring. Maybe I'll get lucky with another swarm...

Sept. 21…Looking up into the empty combs, I see a lack of bees.  Clearly the queen isn’t laying and I’ve seen a few drones exiting.   Footnote:  This hive must have superceded a queen, because there are not only new bees, but also new comb.  This is the only hive I can see from the house…from where I eat actually, and I gotta say, I’m so happy to see the bees flying to and from this hive when I sit down to eat!!!

Steve says his swarm 'is hanging in there,' but he's starting to feed again because they haven't built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

Steve says his swarm ‘is hanging in there,’ but he’s starting to feed again because they haven’t built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

We are headed into autumn with four hives, which is all I ever really wanted, but I had really hoped that Grand Kids Log hive would be among the survivors.  It begs the question…are smaller hives better?  I’m beginning to think so.  I’ve thought about partitioning off the big log hive, but then there might be air flow issues.  The birdhouse bees seem to deal with lack of air flow, so maybe it won’t be an issue.  Right now I’ll let nature take it’s course and hope I can attract another swarm in spring.

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Growing turnips for the bees and for us

June 22...I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn't get hot enough to kill the seeds.

June 22…I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn’t get hot enough in the bin to kill the seeds.

Two years ago we planted turnip seeds in July and had the happy surprise of turnip flowers in January.  The bees appreciated having a nectar/pollen source in the middle of winter.

Last year we tried growing turnips for the bees again, but for some unknown reason, most of them didn’t germinate…only a few in the middle row.  We were looking for a place to bury crab shell and dug it in on both sides of the few turnips.  They must have liked it because they grew HUGE.  Since there were so few and since my wife makes a delicious turnip soup, those turnips never got to go to seed.

This year we’d like to try it again…with lots of crab shell, and lots of turnips.  This is our attempt to ‘grow for the bees.’

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn't keep very long before getting really rank. It's in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don't want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it's not protected.

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn’t keep very long before getting really rank. It’s in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don’t want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it’s not protected.

A bucket of kitchen garbage...

A bucket of kitchen garbage…

...and a bin of crab shell...

…and a bin of crab shell…

...go into the trench.

…go into the trench.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

July 9...The drip water grid is in place. We're ready to plant.

July 9…The drip water grid is in place. We’re ready to plant.

July 10...Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

July 10…Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

Deer net hoops set up.

Deer net hoops set up.

July 17...It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

July 17…It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

August 1...Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

August 1…Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

We'll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

We’ll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

I'm going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

I’m going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

August 1...I'm watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to stronger.

August 1…I’m watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to grow stronger.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave 'her' garden.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave ‘her’ garden.

Aug. 9...If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let's add some more on this side.

Aug. 9…If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let’s add some more on this side.

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don't want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you're wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants...inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I'm not planting that many tomatoes, but it's costly to get rid of the tires...anyone want some free tires?

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don’t want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you’re wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants…inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I’m not planting that many tomatoes, but it’s costly to get rid of the tires…anyone want some free tires?

August 23...Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23…Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23...Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 23…Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 29...Freshly picked turnip 'thinnings.'

August 29…Freshly picked turnip ‘thinnings.’

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a 'pest protection' floating row cover.

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a ‘pest protection’ floating row cover.

August 29...Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. :)

August 29…Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. 🙂

September 2...More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata.  Soooo very delicious!!! After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening.  If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

September 2…More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata. Soooo very delicious!!!
After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening. If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

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The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well.  From the lobelia in the front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well. From the colorful lobelia in front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

July 3...Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

July 3…The Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

July 3...The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already.  It's older siblings can only watch with envy.

July 3…The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already. It’s older siblings can only watch with envy.

This deer seems to be asking me the question...

This deer seems to be asking me the question…”What are you doing out here at this time in the evening, this is MY time?”  In the video you’ll see why she looked up…she picked up the sound of the camera’s zoom lens.  Their hearing is phenomenal, but luckily their eyesight isn’t that good.  I’m standing in the sunlight just a short distance away, but she can’t see me very well.

Arrrgh!  Deer damage!

Arrrgh! Deer damage!

I'm not sure if there's any reason to net what's left of these potatoes.  They have been stripped of their leaves by the 'cute' deer. :(

I’m not sure if there’s any reason to net what’s left of these potatoes. They have been stripped of their leaves by the ‘cute’ deer. 😦

I mulched this corn in the morning...by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it.  A temporary fence is now in place to protect it...I hope it recovers.

I mulched this corn in the morning…by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it. A temporary fence is now in place to protect it…I hope it recovers.

This tomato's only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

This tomato’s only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice.   We're so happy to finally see the blooms, but we've yet to see the bees on them.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice. We’re so happy to finally see the blooms, but we’ve yet to see any bees on them.

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A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler.  I spotted it here before it took off.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler. I spotted it here before it took off.

June 19...Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

June 19…Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

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Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

 Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could.  Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down.  Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.


Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could. Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down hard. Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I've ever caught.  I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I’ve ever caught. I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

First bucket is full.

First bucket is full.

After another catch in the sack, this bucket was full.  The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time...

After another catch in the sack, this second bucket was full. The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time…

Even more bees in the bee vac which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid.  I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees.  I'm happy to report that no dead bees were found.  The dimmer switch worked perfectly.  Plans were found at beesource.com .

…which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid. I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees. I’m happy to report that no dead bees were found. The dimmer switch worked perfectly. Plans were found at beesource.com .

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it's safe to say, the queen is within.

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it’s safe to say, the queen is within.

Big Swarm has a new home.

Big Swarm has a new home.

June 18, 2015...Steve reports that his 'girls' are doing well.

June 18, 2015…Steve writes, “Just an update, “girls” doing well.  Happy pollinators week!

The above swarm worked out well, but it was only after we abandoned our efforts to try to bag the swarm below.

This was a 'pancake' swarm,' lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.   Are they going in? It looks like it...but they decided not to enter the bait hive.

This was a ‘pancake’ swarm,’ lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.
Are they going in? It looks like it…but they decided against it.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve's Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang...not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve’s Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang…not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I figured,

I figured, “okay, they made their choice,” but a couple of hours later, I found them going back to the Lang.

...all grouped up on the SIDE of the hive.

…eventually grouping up on the SIDE of the hive.

Since the swarm had been without water, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang.  They would have to go into it to access the sugar water.

Since the swarm had been without water or sustenance for a few days, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang. They would have to go into the hive to access the sugar water.  That ought to work…it didn’t.

Then the bees move over here about 5 feet.  I set up some moss water...

A day later, the bees moved over here about 5 feet away. I set up some moss water…

...and an inverted swarm catcher.  I called Steve saying I didn't think he would want this little swarm.  It's possible that it's a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can't fly.  He agreed.    Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge.  We both agree we're glad we waited.

…and an inverted swarm catcher. I called Steve saying I didn’t think he would want this little swarm. It’s possible that it’s a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can’t fly.
Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge. We both agree we’re glad we waited.

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Where else would you see a sign like this?

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the “Friendly Street” neighborhood. When I visited Eugene, I made an effort to find out the story of the sign.
The kids who live here attend the school where Jen Hornaday has donated a bee hive as a school project. In learning about bees, the kids have found out about their importance in nature, importance to our food supply, and how important it is to grow gardens in a poison-free environment.
Hence the sign.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in the front yards.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in front yards.

This is Scott's garden.  I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans.  I wondered how he would pick the beans at the top.

This is Scott’s garden. I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans. I wonder how he will pick the beans at the top.

Scott had to point out another of his creations.  I asked him what it was...

Scott pointed out another of his creations entitled “Coyote eating garden gnome,” sculpted during a wild creative evening of gin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.  Black Cumin seeds are some of the most revered medicinal seeds in history.  Photo Credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I wanted to ask the owner of Crow Feather Farm, about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.

I wanted to ask the owner about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this. Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

Carmella's corner lot garden.

Carmella’s corner lot garden.

This one year old is intent on one thing only...getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This one year old is intent on one thing only…getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This is Jim's front yard.  He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out.  I can relate.

This is Jim’s front yard. He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out. I can relate.

Where does the Friendly Street go?  To the Friendly Park, of course.

Where does the Friendly Street go? To the Friendly Park, of course, which is how I discovered this lovely neighborhood when my daughter walked us to it.

Playing at the park...You just might see the resemblance on

Playing at the park…You might just see the resemblance on “The Grand Kids Log Hive.”

Other reasons to like Eugene…

…Beyond Toxics is located in Eugene.  Beyond Toxics works to guarantee environmental protections and health for all communities and residents;

Sam Bonds Brewery,  just celebrated the first anniversary of the Tasting Room Opening;

Eugene Bike trails are quite extensive;  and it’s a great place to live.

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May 31...The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work.  We like it so much we're going to add more on the other side.   The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we're growing...some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

May 31…The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work. We like it so much we’re going to add more on the other side.
The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we’re growing…some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung.  The bees probably don't care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung. The bees probably don’t care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

Are these drones?  It almost looks like it.  Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)...I'm hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. :)

Are these drones? It almost looks like it. Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)…I’m hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. 🙂

May 31...The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure.  This is a 'before' picture.

May 31…The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure. This is a ‘before’ picture.  I’d like to make a little path going past the hive and circling back past the sunflowers I just planted (if the slugs don’t eat them first.

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This is far from National Geographic video quality, but it does show the intimate relationship between the bee and the flower.  The bee lands on the flower petals, spreads out the lower ones, then triggers the pollen release possibly by pushing something with it’s head…I couldn’t see that part, but when it happens, it’s sudden and strong, like an explosion.

I sooo wanted to see a bee on this variegated Scotch Broom blossom but I never saw one.  You can tell that a bee has been there though, because the stamen have popped up.

May 3…Here’s a pretty variegated Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius).   You can tell that a bee has been there , because the stamen have already popped up.

Pollen Alert...bee triggers pollen shower, stamen pop up and rub her back.

Pollen Alert…bee has triggered a pollen shower, stamen pop up and rub anthers on her back.

This bee knows what she's doing as can be seen by the amount of pollen covering her body.

This bee has learned well how to trigger the pollen release as can be seen by the amount of pollen on herself.

I shot this video to show what our bees are doing when they leave the hive.  It may surprise you. 🙂

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May 3...My wife suggested putting some logs around the new bee-flower bed.  I declined knowing how much work that would be.  Finding some dead trees that were long and straight enough, cutting them to size, and cutting rebar to hold them in place.   As you can see, she talked me into it.  I think it looks good.   Walker's Low Nepeta will go behind the lobelia, then some thyme, artichokes and various other bee-loving plants to flesh it out.

May 3…My wife suggested putting some logs around the new bee-flower echium bed. I declined knowing how much work that would be, finding some dead trees that were long and straight enough, cutting them to size, and hack-sawing rebar to hold them in place.  You can see who won out, but I think it looks good. Walker’s Low Nepeta (a real bee lover) will go behind the lobelia, then some thyme, artichokes, and various other bee-loving plants to flesh it out.  The Tower of Jewels echium has started blooming already.  Three plants (out of 6) made it through two winters.

I started this project about a week ago.  It kept getting bigger and bigger with all the ideas that were percolating.

I started this project about a week ago after we decided to improve the neighborhood around the new Grand Kids Log hive seen in the background.

The transplanted echiums shot up recently, 8 - 10 feet.  I transplanted them in November 2013.

The transplanted echiums shot up recently, 8 – 10 feet. I transplanted six of them in November 2013, but only 3 have wintered through.

April 29...They are starting to bloom already.  I'm looking forward to watching all kinds of bees partake of the nectar and pollen they will provide.  Footnote:  I've asked my son to practice up his guitar version of

April 29…They are starting to bloom already. I’m looking forward to watching all kinds of bees partake of the nectar and pollen they will provide. Footnote: I’ve asked my son to practice up his guitar version of “Stairway to Heaven” to accompany my video of it in full bloom.

We noticed a pile of top soil on our morning walk.  Someone had dumped it up the road from us after they were done rolling out their new turf.  My wife spotted it.

We noticed a pile of top soil on our morning walk. Someone had dumped it up the road from us after they were done rolling out their new turf. My wife spotted it. “Let’s get it.” That we did, the equivalent of four big wheelbarrow loads. Here she is raking out the treasure.  Then she put in Phacelia started from seed, lobelia, and mowed around the bed to ‘spiff it up.’

March 9, 2015...you can see how much it has grown in less than two months.

March 9, 2015…you can see how much it has grown in less than two months.  This was taken before we trimmed the branches in the background for the new log hive.

I started this post out as a garden update, but we’re so happy about this new spot for bee flowers, I wanted to post it first.

July 14, 2015...In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the echium.

July 14, 2015…The Towers of Jewels echium is standing tall in the background.  The other bee plants are filling in nicely.

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April 17, 2015...I wonder if I should hang a sign declaring,

April 19, 2015…I wonder if I should hang a sign declaring, “Top Bar Log Hive Ready for Immediate Occupancy.”

March 30, 2015...Brian Vorwaller, the wood carver is on the right...you know who on the left.  We're both happy it's delivered and set up.

March 30, 2015…Brian Vorwaller, the wood carver is on the right.  We’re both happy the log hive is on site in time for swarm season.

The very beginning of the Log Hive  or when I was still calling it The Three Kid Log Hive.

January Progress Report  Not being an expert on the chainsaw, I had been worrying about how I would be able to make the vertical cut.  I wanted it to be straight.  I didn’t want the cut to widen out in places while being narrow in others.  I used the weather for an excuse, but eventually I had to face up to the challenge so I could get the log back by April.  It worked out well.

February Progress Report

Brian Vorwaller talks about sculpting the grand kids faces

March 17 visit to see the log hive

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