Delta Wind Hive
Oct 22, 2020
Jason was interested in a bee hive for the Sky Lake Nature Reserve in Humphreys county, MS.
The property consists of cypress-tupelo wetland and adjacent woodland, open water and sometimes mudflat. The reserve is open to the public for nature enjoyment every day of the year. Water levels in Sky lake fluctuate widely. When the lake is at flood stage, most of the reserve is under water, when the lake is at normal levels, the forested area of the reserve has a very open understory.
The hive needs to be very sturdy and set high in a tree so that the humidity of high water levels does not perturb the homeostasis of the colony. The shape and size also need to be conspicuous for the public while the bees would remain at safe distance. I chose a double hull oval shaped hive with a large exterior shell.
For more information about the association and the property check at https://deltawindbirds.org.
The brood chamber is a cylinder of oval section for a total volume of 40 liters. It is made in red cedar, as I usually use. Red cedar has a good insulation coefficient, is light and easy to cut, presents a rough surface bees will propolize and does not rot. This chamber is assembled without nails or screws, it is glued together under pressure. The absence of metal close to the bees seems to me important to mimic the cavities they inhabit in a hollow tree. The exterior shell is made of Cypress, like the trees on the property. Cypress is extremely stable in humid environments. The exterior shell is just above 1 meter long with a large hat roof making it conspicuous even to an inattentive visitor. The various parts and angles are calculated in the spreadsheet below.
The interior and exterior shells next to each other and within each other.
The bottom of the hive is tucked within the exterior shell so that rain does not soak it. This is the way most bird nesting boxes are built for greater results. It makes the construction a bit more difficult but it is worth the hour additional of fitting. I stacked two boards of cypress on top of each other for this bottom and installed a water proof hand hole used in sailing boats for dry compartments. Jason will be able to access from below and peep inside the hive without carrying any tool and as the hole surface is very limited the bees are disturbed to the minimum and bear no stress. I have used this type of bottom on previous hives and I highly recommend it.
Beams maintain the shells at set distance while reinforcing the whole structure. The entrance holes are drilled through the walls of the shells and through the front beam. I used the insulation of food shipping boxes (Purple carrot). It is a great way to recycle a food grade insulation usually thrown away after a single use.
A plain top board of cypress to which the bees will hang the combs and a large roof in the shape of a baseball cap complete the construction.
The cap is brushed with 2 layers of boiled linseed oil for good order sake. The hive will be set in February and the project will be complete when a swarm has settled in. So more to come about the Delta Wind hive.