Since were on the topic of Honey Houses, I wanted to describe the event flow. Yours may or may not be the same, but this is a run down of the most common ways.
Hot room—> Supers to uncapping bench—> Frames into uncapper or hot knife—> From uncapper to dripping rack/tank—->From dripping tank to edge of extractor to be loaded—->into extractor for 15-20 minutes variable speed—->Honey free flows into double stainless strainer 600/400 micron—->Honey flows into stainless steel holding vat tiled down to pump (or goes into bucket if you don’t have vat)—->Tank vat pump has automatic kickin switch and takes honey up to and expels into 50 gallon holding/settling tank for minimum of 24 hours—->After 24 hours honey comes out of stainless steel bottling valve into jars/bottles/barrels—->Jars/bottles/barrels are packed for distribution.
Frames and Super flow:
Hot room—> Supers to uncapping bench—> Frames into uncapper or hot knife—> Empty supers to outside rack for 1 coat of white paint to sit/dry for 24 hours minimum—->From uncapper to dripping rack/tank—->From dripping tank to edge of extractor to be loaded—->into extractor for 15-20 minutes variable speed—->Wet frames go to holding rack until supers are done drying from paint (min. of 24 hours)—->After 24 hours of super drying, frames back into supers—->24 hour old supers/frames back onto hive (bottom or top supering). Or if done for the season, place into storage room with wax moth protection.
Hot room—> Supers to uncapping bench—> Frames into uncapper or hot knife—> From uncapper to dripping rack/tank—->Capping’s sit for min. of 48 hours and to be crushed/rotated—->capping’s into melting pot—->From melting pot to wax molds—->Out of molds to wax paper or plastic Ziplocs—->Wax to shelving storage.
This is not an accurate and definitive list, its more less a guideline from the research I’ve done from other beekeepers with their past experiences on what they do or do not like. Your plans may or may not be the same. Before building/construction, please contact your local and state departments for permits and regulations. Please let me know if there is something I’m needing to add, take away, or modify from this list to be able to build a “perfect” honey house.
Slopped pitched floor.
Large “cattle” floor drains.
Window air conditioners
Windows with bee escapes
Stainless steel table for primary use cutting honey comb (chunk and comb honey)
All electrical plugs GFC with twist lock hanging from ceiling
Utility mop sink
Use of gravity for the flow of honey (Place extractors on stands).
Wooden ware repair area
Extra water tank for honey house with hot water a little above norm but within codes (to clean honey out faster).
Skylights for extra heat and lighting.
Hot room for supers
Water pipes under floor in hot room connected to broiler.
Wood burning stove.
14-16 foot high ceilings in hot room or where supers will be brought in.
Multiple hand wash sinks
3 compartment sink stainless with drain boards for utensils.
Restroom with hand wash sink.
100 amp 220 volt circuits #12 or 20amp.
Municipal sewer or approved septic
Drive-in area for unloading supers and equipment.
Loading dock truck height.
Smooth non-absorbent easy cleanable flooring
Fiberglass walls at least up to super height for washing down.
Epoxy or cement sealant on floors (questionable since there are different reports on the acid of honey that can eat through this, need more research).
“Pex” plumbing. Used for medical grade, will not leach chemicals and frost resistant. Stainless steel plumbing is said to be overkill for a honey house. Stay away from common pvc though.
First aid station and eye wash station
Office, break room, clock in for employees
State, local and federal posters and regulations for employee referrals.
Office for honey or equipment sales
Nitrile glove rack
Ceiling fans (or large exhaust)
Laundry machine and dryer
Dirty bucket storage
Clean bucket storage
Clean area for bottling
Refrigerator (depending on what for example: medications, honey frame freezing or regular employee food) separate from each other. Keep bee stuff out of human stuff.
Incubator for grafting
Everything food grade and BPA free equipment. Stainless everything
Chemical room/cabinet storage.
Dolly, Hand truck, movers dolly storage area (to prevent accidents).
Dr. Patrick Angel, forester, soil scientist and beekeeper in Kentucky talking about the tree Basswood (linden) (Tilia americana) and honey production from this pollinizer.
1. Basswood: Heart shaped leaf.
2. Branching is alternate.
3. High nectar producing tree for honey bees.
4. Known as the bee tree or linden.
5. Grows throughout eastern US. About 70-80 feet tall, 2-3 feet in diameter, dense crown. Ornamental and seen in many cities.
6. Pale yellow in clusters several inches long, appear in mid summer in June/July.
7. Somewhat erratic in nectar flow. 2 2 1/2 week nectar flow.
8. Its been cutback for its wood, but its making a comeback.
9. Honey is almost water white in color, some people feel its too strong, but its a good blend for table honey.
Questions to Dr. Angel and be sent to email@example.com
How to Crush and Strain Honey Extracting Honey by Handwith regular wax foundation instead of plastic foundation.
This helps new beekeepers extract honey without purchasing an expensive extractor the first few years. Do note that you will have to purchase more foundation after doing this procedure (unless your using a topbar hive with natural comb). Basically cut it out of the comb into a straining bucket lined with new cheesecloth or a new laundry bag and let it filter out over a few days. Honey will be cloudy with this process, but its only because its bubbles that will eventually rise to the top. I like to do another strain with a stainless steel colander after this process to finely filter.
Steps: (Create your honey straining bucket)
1. Obtain some clean, heavy duty, food grade and BPA Free buckets. You can get these from a hardware store for less than $4-5 dollars. Or grocery stores deli departments (cake area) will have 4-5 gallon buckets they wash out and sell or give to customers that had icing in them. You will need 2 of these (1 will go on top of the other to drain comb). Have all of your equipment ready for the process. Make sure to wash your hands, wear a hat and apron and bee as clean as possible.
2. Drill holes in the bottom of one of the buckets near the middle section and not around the outside so honey doesn’t drip down on the sides of the bottom bucket (this will be the bucket you set on top and put the cheesecloth and honeycomb in to drain down to the bottom bucket). You will have some plastic protrusions as a result of the drill, but cut them off with a razor blade or wire cutters. Be careful since these protrusions can be sharp.
3. On the second bucket (bottom collection bucket), cut a hole that is large enough to let the top bucket drilled holes drip through, but just enough to let the top bucket sit on top and rest on the edges. Again be careful because the edges can be sharp.
4. Clean out the buckets once more to make sure any plastic is out of the buckets.
5. Now you will have the two buckets where the one with the drilled holes sits on top of the bottom bucket resting on the edges that you didn’t cut. At this point you can use either cheesecloth or a different type of strainer like a colander to drain your comb. They make strainers from big box beekeeping companies but they sell them for $40-$50 (plus shipping) at the time of this writing. You want to get stainless steal with dealing with food processing and you can get a colander that is stainless steel from big box local department stores that can basically do the same thing and have bucket arms.
6. When I do a crush and strain, I use new cheesecloth and a colander that is dedicated directly for this process. You can use your hive tool for this process or a similar object. If you have plastic foundation, you can scrape the come directly off the plastic into the cheesecloth/colander/strainer. If you have natural foundation, just cut out the comb and dump on top of the cheesecloth/colander/strainer. If you have a wax foundation, then cut out the comb and into the cheesecloth/colander/strainer. Some beekeepers will use wired frames, if so, then you’ll have to work around these wires and sometimes a wire will break free so be careful to make sure it doesn’t get into the honey or if it does, then just fish it out. Your colander and strainer will filter this out.
7. After all the comb is into the cheesecloth/colander/strainer area, then you can use your hands to crush open the cappings (this will be messy!). After about 24 hours the honey should be all strained (depending on the amount). You can hold up the top bucket (careful not to get any on the floor) and see if its still dripping. Usually I’ll rearragnge the cappings/honey in the top strainer (sorta like flipping it over or stiring it up) in order to let more come out.
8. Be sure to cover your buckets with a clean cloth when you leave them out for a few days for the bubbles and any sediment to rise. This will help prevent your honey taking on water from the air. I usually take the first top layer of the honey off for my personal usage since the sediment doesn’t appeal to some people purchasing honey (You want to display a good product). Bottle at least one for customer use after this and make sure the honey is clear of any particles. You might see some particles in the honey and if you want this out you can strain at least 200 micron filter (us plastics food grade ez bucket strainers are good to use and cheap (200-400-600 microns). If you go below 200 microns (like 100 microns), then you will filter out the pollen but it will be a good clear particle free honey (takes longer to strain if using a finer strainer). To note, 100 microns is a finer strainer than a 1000 or 600 micron.
1. Make sure you have all your tools needed as well as a plan on what to do. Have your smoker, bee suit, veil, brush, extra smoker fuel, hive tool, sugar water, spray bottle with sugar water. You will need a 1:1 ratio of sugar water (1 pint of water to 1lb of sugar mixed well).
2. The day before you get your bees, make sure you have your hive already setup with the front of the hive pointing towards the East to South direction. If you don’t know or don’t have a compass, then know where the first ray of sunlight comes up and point it in this direction (this is East). This will allow the bees to get out early to the fields for nectar and pollen. Have all parts of the beehive ready to go for tomorrow.
3. When you pickup your bees inspect them to make sure they have not overheated in the process of shipment. If they have then notify the package provider. Take the bees next to the hive that you will be installing them in and spray the screen about an hour or two before you install them. This will let the bees eat and become honey full where they don’t want to sting as much nor fly as much. This will also calm them down. Be sure not to over spray where it will drown the bees. Every so often check on the bees to make sure they are calm and spray again if needed.
4. Transport the bees to the hive area with your gloves on and take a few frames out of the center. This is where the bees are going to be “dumped” into. Spry the bees if they are becoming restless.
5. Remove the top stapled door with your hive tool and remove the can of sugar water then the queen cage while placing the panel back on top (Hold it down with your free hand). Inspect the queen to make sure she is alive and her attendants are alive. She will be the one with the larger abdomen. Set the queen cage aside in a safe place.
6. While still holding the panel/door with your free hand pick up the box and knock the box of bees on the ground opposite of where they come out. This puts the bees in the bottom most position of the caged/screened box.
7. Take the panel/door off and invert the screened box where the hole is facing down over the beehive so the bees drop down into the area where you took the frames out. Shake vigorously the box up and down and side to side so the bees come out and land into the bottom of the beehive. At this time there will be around 10-15 thousand bees circling you. Don’t be afraid because you have your suit on, smoker and they are engorged with sugar water and less likely to sting. It could take up to several minutes for most of the bees to come out of the box, but they eventually will. Prop up the screened/cage box in front of the hive entrance with the hole in the box pointing towards the entrance (This will allow the bees to come out of the box and fly into the hive).
8. Puff a little smoke if you wish and place the frames back into the hive gently.
9. Remove the cork that is located on the candy end of the queen cate with a small nail. Do not remove the candy though. What will happen is the bees in the hive will eat through this candy in a few days (2-3) and release the queen. During this time they will accustom themselves with the queen and are less likely to kill her or reject her.
10. Put the queen cage between two frames with the candy side upwards. Some queen cages will have a white plastic tab on it so you can gently nail it to the top of one of the frames to hang down. Either way, make sure that the queen cage does not drop down to the bottom of the beehive.
11. Feed the bees in however manner you wish. A new caged/screened box like this will have a metal sugar water mixture which is fine to use in a top feeder, but most new installs are done with a borman feeder (front entrance feeder) until the new beekeeper knows how to use other advanced feeders. It is very important to watch the sugar water level and keep it always filled during the first week of installing the bees until you see the queen lay eggs and/or brood developed. With the response to feeding the bees, they will develop and “draw out” the cells of the foundation in order for the queen to lay eggs.
12. After 3-5 days the queen needs to be checked to make sure they have released her. If they have not, then some beekeepers will chip away at the candy themselves with a small nail to help the process or they will spray 1 spray of water on the candy to help it dissolve. If she is out of her cage, then you can remove the queen cage from the hive.
13. After another 3-5 days, inspect the hive again and make sure they queen has started laying eggs which will appear as extremely small grains of rice inside the honeycombs. You might need a magnifying glass or a headset in order to see them.
14. If you see eggs, then congratulations on your first beehive setup! Ask me questions and I’ll try to answer the best I can.
I use this method for wax moth/hornet control where I live. I catch dozens of moths and hornets at a time and the banana peel keeps the honey bees away from the trap.
Empty 2-liter bottle
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (apple cider)
1 large banana peel
Cut up banana peel in to small pieces and then mix all ingredients together and put into the 2 liter bottle. Place cap back on the 2 liter and cut two holes opposite of each other about quarter size on each side of the bottle (up near the curve of the neck). Hang from a tree about 3-4 foot from the ground. Within days you will see hornets and moths drowned in the mixture. There will be no honeybees because of the banana peel.
A Dark Honey Producer’s Association Meeting will be held Thursday, May 8, 6:30 p.m. at the Jackson County Extension Service. The meeting will begin with finger foods. Each family is asked to bring sandwiches, chips, drinks, cookies etc. for the meeting. No chicken will be provided for this meeting. Yvonne Harrison from the EKU Center for Econmoic Development Entrepreneurship and Technology will be presenting a program on marketing honey. This should be an excellent educational program so please try to attend.
Painting beehives is pretty straight forward and almost anyone can paint a beehive with a little knowledge beforehand. Here are some recommendations, opinions, techniques that have been around for quite some time. Many beekeepers have controversial opinions about this subject, which is why beekeeping is so fascinating.
Saw Horses to hold painted beehives
What Type of Paint for beehives?
When I first started thinking about which color, how many coats, which type of paint, I got really confused and started doing research on what seasoned beekeepers have done before in the past. I decided that I wanted to be as chemical free as possible for the bees and human health, so I researched what is actually in paint itself. I found out that regular household paint can contain up to 10,000 different kinds of chemicals, many of which are toxins and some are linked to cancer. What I concluded was to go with the lowest level of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) as stamped on the pail of paint. The federal government has regulations on voc content at no more than 250 grams per liter (g/l) for your flat paints and around 380 g/l for any other type (semi-glosses). The ones that I have tried and use have <50 g/l and some stains have 5.5 g/l, which are easily found at your local hardware paint stores.
Satin or Flat? The rougher paints will tend to attract more dirt and mildew than a regular satin paint with a smoother finish. This will keep your hives cleaner and maintain their color longer.
Stain or Paint on beehives?
If you do decide to go with a stain over regular paint, make sure it is a water based stain so it will not harm the bees. Also do note that some wood preservatives can leach arsenic just as pressure treated wood contains chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which is a pesticide. There are some natural oil stains that have a low VOC rate at around 5.5 g/l and will darken the wood slightly but not make it overly dark that is sold by some beekeeping supply factories. As with many stains, you would have to reapply these every 3-4 years in order to maintain the protective qualities. If you do opt for stain, then go with one that voids out UV rays to prevent graying (Unless you like that look) of the wood. Also, there is nothing more pleasing that a natural wood look with bees pouring out the front of a hive.
What Color Should I paint my Beehive?
The main thing to remember is the lighter the color, the cooler the hive, and the darker the color the warmer the hive. Dark colors attract heat, light repels. The color of paint doesn’t really doesn’t matter but does depend on where you live in the world. For instance, if you live in South Florida, you would want your hives to be a white or lighter colors. If you live in colder climates like on a mountain side in Northern Canada, you might want to go with a darker tint color to keep the bees warm.
Bees primary colors are blue, green, ultraviolet, and can distinguish oranges, purples, and yellows. Bees will see red as a black and of course black as black, so keep this in mind when you are painting your hives so that you can cross paint your hives in order for the bees to distinguish their own individual hive to prevent drifting from one hive to another. Some beekeepers will paint specific patterns like all circles on one hive and all squares or triangles on another hive to provide hive identification and to prevent drifting.
Traditionally beehives were painted white. I have heard many things on this reason; One is because beehives contained a food product and this would promote cleanliness of the honey just as a doctor and dentist wears a white smock lab coat (To show they are clean). Another reason is because that was primary the color of barns “back in the day” that was lying around after a full day painting, thus the next day was to paint the beehives.
Some urban beekeepers like to paint their hives to match the building they live in or to conform to urban regulations in the area. Also, if you have hives that are in an area where it would be easy for thieves to steal your hives, then you would want to paint your beehives to blend in the area. One of my friends hives is a cool camo in color and he mentioned that there were thieves that drove by his apiary that was on the edge of a tree line.
Another fun way to get young children involved is to let them paint the hive with different drawings. Imagine 20 years from now your hive having a child’s painting on them to show them when they are older? Have them draw flowers, the sun, bees, trees, wind blowing, water, farm animals, houses, stick people, beekeepers, or anything their little hearts desire. If you ever do a hive give away for a local charity, then look into taking your hive to the local elementary school for the children to paint the hive for you, which you can give them a pizza party or a part of the donation charities.
Best Paint for Beehives
I’ll leave this up to you, but if you use a paint that dries fast and requires less paint because it already has a primer built into it, then the more time you can spend watching your bees. For instance, I painted beehives without a primer and it took three times as long as if I did it with one that had a primer mixed already in. Also, smudges were leave by the roller without a primer.
Roller or Flat Brush to Paint Beehives?
I personally prefer the flat brush technique because I just enjoy the painting part. If you want something quick, then use the roller. I’m sure my opinion will change over the years but I feel that I get a better coat with the brushes.
My Beehives are Sticking Together After Painting!
A lot of new beekeepers will stack their hives to the brim and use a roller up and down until they are done painting. After a few hours they come back to move the hives and they find out that the hives are stuck to one another. One way to prevent this is to put a spacer in between the hives like a washer or some pennies so that you can easily move them after painting. I have used anything that will “slide” one hive off the other with great success. Also, I have put end to end saw horses with two landscaping ties across to hold the hives up off the ground and allowed to air dry. This brings the hives up to waist height and will not hurt your back as well. I can quickly paint a few dozen hives in a few hours this way.
Spacers used to paint beehive
What Parts Of A Beehive To Paint?
Remember one thing; Consider a beehive as a food container. Therefore nothing on the inside should be painted. Bees like to use propolis to create a antibacterial cavity for themselves as well as for them to provide a smell of pheromones specific to their hive. If you watch bees, they really like to do house keeping chores, and if you looking into washboarding from bees, you’ll understand why. Therefore do not paint anything that is inside the hive. Paint or stain only the parts of the hive that is exposed to the outside elements.
Some beekeepers like to paint the “rims” or the top and bottom parts of the beehive where one chamber will physically touch the other when stacking. Other beekeepers do not prefer this technique because on a hot day some paints will make the two hives stick together and it will be very hard to come apart, especially when there is propolis glued along with this. If you have a old hive you could do more damage to the hive if they are stuck together. Some beekeepers this doesn’t matter and they will paint the under and top rims.
Do NOT paint the inner cover, the frames, the entrance reducer (bees chew on this), nor metal tops of outer covers. No painting of the outer cover (inside). Do not paint the inside of brood chambers or supers. Do not paint the inside of a slatted rack, queen excluder, or bottom board screens.
Glue on end grains of beehives?
If you take a look at the common ends of a beehive, you can see the grains of the wood showing. This is the most susceptible part of the beehive that wears out fast. The end grains draw water into the wooden ware like a straw. A good friend showed me that if you take some waterproof glue like Titebond III and smear it into these grains before painting, then your hives will last a very long time. Another method that I’m going to do research in is with a product called Log End Seal. Since I live in a log cabin, I know the first effects of the end grains of logs drawing in water. I purchased Log End Seal and applied it to my log home and haven’t had one bit of water drawn into the wood. Now, with all this being said, I need to do the research first to see VOC levels, safety of the bees and other research before testing.
Do I Have to Paint My Beehive?
No is the short answer. But be cautious that your hive will warp, grey and leak to some extent, and that your hive will not last as long as one that is stained or painted. However if you are trying to go 100% organic beekeeping, then keep in mind that you need a non pressure treated wood as well.
I know there are many more methods, techniques on painting and staining beehives that are not covered here. My purpose was to expose you to some of the most common methods in painting beehives in todays world. If you have a technique worth sharing, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration on it being published here on this website. If you have colorful hives you would like to show off, please send them as well and I’ll post them in the galleries.