This is the time of year that drives me the most insane! I always look forward to winter. I like sweaters, scarves, and warm boots. I am also usually excited for the cool down because I've survived another Texas summer. Then January and February hit. It is still winter. We can get some of our worst winter weather in these months, but...Texas likes to throw in the occasional 75 or 80 degree day. Just enough to make you throw on some shorts and go outside! Spring Fever is a real thing and I suffer unbearably every year. I try to remind myself, there are those who aren't as fortunate. There are those who don't see the glimpses of spring we do.
Count your blessings, I say to myself.
Spring will be here before you know it.
The more warm days I see, the more restless I become.
Come on, already!
My only choice. Stay busy! This is the time of year for preparation. January and February are perfect months to think about your beekeeping equipment. If you are new to beekeeping, this is the time to get those orders placed. If you already have bees, this is the time to evaluate old equipment and think about the plans you have for your apiary. Are you purchasing nucs or package bees this year? Do you plan on increasing your apiary via splits? Do you have a nice size hive and anticipate a larger honey crop in 2018? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will need some equipment. Evaluate your needs, make your lists, and get your orders placed now. Hopefully you attended my presentation in the February general meeting on Equipment. If not, have no fear, I will cover my basic recommendations in this post.
You may be an experienced beekeeper. You may not even have bees yet. I think we can all agree, a lot of beekeeping preparation is based on an educated guess. Will my hive be large enough to split? Will I catch any swarms this year? Will the nectar flow provide an abundant honey crop? I wish I had the answers to these questions. The facts are...we are engaged in agriculture in Texas! There are too many factors to vary in. Our best option is to learn as much as we can regarding the livestock we manage, and do our best to prepare for everything!
Keep in mind, price is not everything. In my experience, the cheaper the cost, the lower the quality. This is not always true, but best to investigate and ask questions. When it comes to wooden ware, the biggest question is the grade of the lumber used. Most suppliers will offer a Select grade - this is the best lumber available. It has fewer knots and flaws, and the cuts are typically more precise. This is huge when it comes to assembly. A box is only going to be as square as the cuts allow. I have purchased commercial grade equipment in the past. After wrestling with it during assembly, I had to settle for a box that was not square, or if I forced it square, the wood would split. Building equipment is fun. It is even more fun when you have a quality hive that can last for years to come.
I will leave you with a recap of the equipment I recommend for one hive. In an ideal world, you will order and build prior to receiving your bees. This list is only an educated guess on what an average size hive will need. I have seen hives exceed these requirements with proper management.
- Screened Bottom Board
- Two - deep or brood boxes, with frames and foundation
- Two - Supers, with frames and foundation
- One lid