Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science. It's a Rim Spacer

I'm not so sure... this might be rocket science after all because it is hard to get it just right.

I have a few rim spacers in two sizes. What I notice is that if the sugar baggie is very full I need to stack two spacers together to allow enough room for the baggie and the bees on top.

But give them too much space and they find it irresistible. They must build comb!

This just might be a new version of the Goldilocks fairy tale... trying to get it just right.

I mentioned in my last blog how my first year I got to the bee yard with my baggies and spacers. I set the them down on top of the hive and discovered that the rim spacer wasn't tall enough.

Oops. The choices were to either let some syrup out or use a second spacer.

If you're new to beekeeping it never hurts to check things out at home first before you go "live" at the hive. I laid my baggies on the counter and tested with my spacers, discovering I needed two small spacers stacked instead of one medium one.

As things ramp up in spring and it gets warmer be prepared to see lots of bees on your inner cover or on the bottom of your hive feeder. And they'll probably want to build some comb.

[Pictured at left are thousands of bees that have collected and built comb under my hive top feeder while a rim spacer is on the hive. Why both? The rim spacer is used to give some space for treatments such as Formic Acid pads but in this case the spacer was too big and the bees were naughty.]

Originally rim spacers weren't used in beekeeping and you'll see many of the diagrams in books that show the parts of the hive but they don't show the rim spacer or the screened bottom board--both newer inventions that have been created to help deal with pests and hive treatments.

[Pictured - an inner cover with centre hole].

Rim spacers are also very handy to set things down on when you don't want things set down on a flat surface. Using the outer cover is the best choice and is great to set the hive parts on because they provide enough depth that bees don't get crushed.

One thing we learned when picking up either honey supers or feeders is to check underneath before setting them down. Sometimes there are tons of bees collected on the bottom that can get crushed.

Every few days this spring as I open the hives to check baggies I'm seeing more and more activity on the top bars. The bees are gathering there to eat and they are clustering and measuring with their bodies--they're getting into comb building mode.

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