June saw me part ways with toothpicks. I had spent the month of May dutifully inserting toothpicks between the hive bodies of my colonies to give them extra air flow in our unusually hot spring weather, a routine that I probably should have started in April this year. After a month of tediously wedging them in — and predictably losing them during the following week’s inspection — I gave up. My solution was inspired by Ruhl Bee Supply’s Vivaldi Board. (Nectar Bee Supply is currently offering an innovative two-port version of this ventilation/feeder board locally.) I took a piece of equipment I already had (my towel box spacer) and modified it with 1″ screened holes at either end. This fix was simple and inexpensive; I found I could modify about three boxes before I went to work in the morning and install them after I got home. When placed above the inner cover, the modified box allows the warm, moist air from nectar-curing to rise up out of the hive with much less work on the bees’ part, hopefully resulting in higher productivity and mellow bees.
Here are the newly-ventilated boxes installed, just in time for record-breaking temperatures!
An aside on yard management: In case anyone is wondering at the rampant vegetation in front of my hives…I am actually letting it grow on purpose. My colonies are closer together than I would prefer, and near a roadway as well. In allowing the plants to grow so near the hives’ entrances, I am forcing the bees to a higher flight path and hypothetically discouraging drifting and robbing behavior. I have not scientifically tracked drifting between my hives, but casual observation seems to bear out that the vegetation does seem to redirect colonies flight paths and screen them from each other.