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Beehive moving screens are needed when transporting honey bee colonies. You can purchase one from beekeeping equipment sellers or make one yourself. Buying an already made beehive moving screen or making one is a decision that is up to the individual beekeeper to make. Of course, if you are good at woodworking, then building your own beekeeping equipment when you can, gives you the best assurance of quality and durability. You can also customize the beehive moving screen to suit your unique needs better. Customizing any pre-made beekeeping equipment that you buy, requires making modifications that could result in voiding warranties and affecting the life of the equipment. Here is a guide on how to build a beehive moving screen and how to use it.
A beehive moving screen can double up as a robbing screen. It should allow resident bees to leave and enter the beehive while non-resident bees cannot. Robbing among honey bee colonies is a problem that can cause major losses in a beekeeping operation.
There are several designs you can use to build your moving screen. The complexity of various designs varies depending on the functions you want the moving screen to carry out. Those that you intend to use as robbing prevention screens, will require opening and closing mechanisms. They thereby tend to be more complex than the moving screens that are only to be used to close up the entrance when transporting honey bee colonies.
Beekeepers therefore have a lot of designs to choose from. In this article, there are steps for building 3 moving screens of varying complexity.
Building a Beehive Moving Screen
1. Preparations to Make
Various materials and equipment are needed for building a beehive moving screen. These might include a hammer, nails, screws and appropriate sized screen mesh. You also need to have some lumber. Other parts and additions you are going to add to the moving screen should be well thought out in advance and adequate preparations made.
Most beekeepers with enthusiasm for DIY projects are going to use wood and metals in their beekeeping equipment. Few beekeepers with DIY skills will use plastic in beekeeping equipment they make, due to concerns about its safety in human food. Additionally, plastic is not very friendly to the environment. If you use any plastic in the beehive moving screen you make, it is best to make sure you use food safe plastic only.
2. Sourcing For Wood
The simplest moving screen you can make involves attaching a mesh of suitable size to the entrance of the beehive you are moving. You can use various attachment methods to achieve this. Screws are great for attaching entrance screens to a beehive. They allow easy driving and removal from the wood used in Langstroth beehives. A beehive moving screen of this simple nature is only useful for short distance transportation of beehives. It is also not very secure.
You can make a more effective beehive moving screen by following these steps:
- Source for pieces of wood at least 1 inch by ½ inches in cross-section. You should have enough pieces of wood of adequate length to go into the beehive moving screen. The type of wood you can use can be up to 2 inches by 1 inch.
- Availability of these pieces of lumber and the state of finish they are in, will vary by your location. Get the best pieces with the best finish. It saves you the trouble of having to sand-papering the lumber.
- You can use different types of wood for the beehive moving screen. Honey bees can be very particular at times. The wood you use for your beehive moving screen should not be treated with chemicals that are repulsive to bees or harmful to them.
- Some types of wood are better suited for use than others, based on the type of tree they came from. Pine and cedar are wood types that are most commonly used for beekeeping equipment. They are readily accepted by honey bees and are easy to work with.
3. Making Cuts
Measure the pieces of wood against the space you want to use up on the beehive entrance. The screen you make should go over the entrance without blocking it. For this reason, the mesh should be made such that the two pieces of wood running down the beehive box are in contact with the beehive.
- The two pieces of wood running horizontally across the beehive box should not be in contact with the box.
- They are best when over the wooden pieces running down the beehive.
- The thickness of the pieces running down the beehive, spaces out the mesh you will use on your beehive moving screen.
Cut your pieces of wood to size. Use the tools at your disposal to take accurate measurements. Cutting the wood should also be done in the best way possible to give you a smooth finish on the wood even after making cuts. You can also sand-paper the wood lightly around the edges after making cuts. When making the necessary cuts, have it in mind that you will be making joints with your pieces of wood.
Can I use Power Tools to Build a Beehive Moving Screen?
You need a suitable cutting tool for this project to go well. Precision tools that are power driven can be used in this project if you have them. They make your work progress much faster. Power tools also give you a great finish on the final product of your work.
Pay Attention to these Cuts
Some important cuts you should consider include those for allowing entrance into and exit from the beehive. The position of your exits could be anywhere along the top of the beehive moving screen. The top bar is made in a way that it has closable passage points for honey bees. These are achieved by having a closing and opening mechanism.
- On the wood, a cut of about ½ an inch into the wood, allows you to chisel out an opening through which bees can leave the beehive.
- Aim to chisel out at least 1 inch of wood in each opening. Two openings are enough for most beehives. You can also have one small opening and a large one. They enable control of traffic into and out of the beehive.
Some beekeepers alternate the opening used every two weeks or so. Honey bees in the resident beehive learn which entrance to use easily, while robber bees take a lot of time. Changing the entrance in use on the beehive moving screen helps keep denying intruders entry into the beehive.
4. Beehive Moving Screen Frame Assembly
Using available joining materials bring together the frame of your beehive moving screen. Some wood glue and screws make a great combination. The joints you make should be strong. If you are using screws, you might consider making some holes in the wood for attachment to the beehive while you are at it.
- Two or more screw holes through the two pieces of wood running down the beehive box do the job.
- Nails can be used in the joints of a beehive moving screen. They give good joints when used well.
- Aim for a rectangular shape of the frame you assemble.
The horizontal pieces of wood should be long to take up as much of the beehive’s bottom as you can manage to. Space immediately outside the beehive entrance allows for bees to crawl out and search for exits in the moving screen. This is important when the moving screen is used as a robbing prevention screen. During the moving of beehives, space around the entrance allows for adequate ventilation The screen prevents bees from getting away from the beehive, but allows air into the beehive.
Assembly when it is also a Robbing Screen
For a screen to be used to prevent robbing, its height important. It should be high enough to allow dissipation of beehive scents coming out of the entrance. A height of not less than 7 inches is needed for this.
- An intruding robber bee drawn by beehive scent, is denied entry into the beehive by the mesh of a beehive moving screen covering the beehive entrance.
- The bee or other intruder, flies about the entrance seeking an opening through which to enter the beehive. In its flight, it moves away from the beehive scent it was tracking.
Dissipation of the beehive scent triggers robber bees and intruding insects to move back towards where the scent is stronger. This is why you need the mesh to extend high up enough in a robbing screen. When the height of your screen is short, intruding bees can easily find the openings and render the screen ineffective.
5. Laying the Mesh
The mesh you use for the beehive moving screen has to be one that does not allow bees of any size through it. It can also be aimed to keep out insects of various smaller sizes when the screen is to be used as a robbing screen. When buying mesh, size 8 mesh is fine. You can go for smaller sizes if you cannot find any size 8 screen mesh. The mesh can be metallic or made of other materials.
Lay a suitable mesh over the outer side of the beehive moving screen. The pieces of wood running horizontally across the surface of the beehive box, will hold the mesh away from the surface of the box. They prevent the mesh from covering the beehive entrance. It is best that the mesh you lay over the frame is accurately cut to not go over the face of the beehive moving mesh. Tucking the mesh on other surfaces of the screen, might cause you problems in later building and use of the screen.
6. Attach the Closing Mechanism
Attach your closing mechanisms over the beehive moving screen if you made such openings. A simple shunt on a screw or nail is enough. It should be movable to allow for opening and closing. The shunt should also be tight so that it does not shift positions without you doing it intentionally. It would be very disastrous to leave the shunt in one position and find it in the other. Bees could starve, robbing could happen, or a colony would be missing when the screen is used as a beehive moving screen.
How to Use a Beehive Moving Screen
The beehive moving screen described in this guide is simple to use. You only need to attach it to the beehive surface that faces the beehive entrance. It covers the entrance for you to carry out the activity you need. Screws are great for attaching the screen to the beehive surface. They allow for easy attachment of the screen and removal from beehives many times. Using nails risks damaging the screen when you remove it from one beehive, and use it on another one several times.
- To use this screen mesh as a beehive moving mesh, attach it onto the beehive to cover the entrance. Check that the movable shunts over the openings in the screen are in the closed position. The screen prevents bees leaving the beehive. They can only go as far as the space within the screen.
- Open the movable shunts to make this a robbing screen. In their open positions, the shunts allow honey bees to leave the beehive and come back through the top openings in the beehive moving screen. Intruder bees do not know the location of the openings.
When to Install a Beehive Moving Screen
Attaching the beehive moving screen is best done in the evening or at night. It ensures that all the bees are in the beehive. You should not attach a screen over the entrance when there are bees outside the hive. They may not find their way back into the beehive. Honeybees have to end the day as normal and wake up to a screen over the beehive entrance. They re-orient the entrances they have to use and can find their way back into the beehive later. This requirement for proper timing applies to changing the opening in use by honey bees on the beehive moving screen.
A Final Word
Beekeepers love making some of the beekeeping equipment they use. Langstroth beehives are standardized. Equipment designed for one size of Langstroth beehive works with every other beehive of similar size. Building your own beekeeping equipment allows you to tailor it to your preferences. It also assures you of the quality of the equipment. Moving beehives sometimes becomes necessary, deepening on your beekeeping operations. You will need to move a beehive or prevent robbing at least once in your time as a beekeeper. Use this guide on how t0 build a beehive moving screen in preparation for that day.
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