The offseason is a welcome time to get caught up on many projects and repair work. As the summer wears on, we begin to notice certain boxes that are looking out of shape, and not up to our best standards here at Wildflower Meadows. Usually, around mid November, we begin to gather these weathered looking boxes, and switch the bees that are still in them into higher quality equipment.
These old four-way queen rearing boxes come back to our shop for refurbishment. First, they are sanded down, re-squared up, and given a new set of staples for reinforcement. After this, they are brought out back behind our wood working shop for painting.
Many commercial beekeepers use paint sprayers to paint their hives. We have always, however, enjoyed the peacefullness and simplicity of painting with a simple roller. Here, one of our beekeepers is enjoying a relaxing afternoon painting a set of four-way queen rearing boxes.
Painting four-way queen rearing boxes is somewhat more challenging than painting regular bee boxes, as each side of each mating box is painted a different color. Although adding to the tediousness of the painting, distinct colors for each side will assist the queen bees in finding the correct entrances when they return from their mating flights. Queen bees can identify colors, and the colored sides help guide them back to their correct home. We usually choose light pastel colors, avoiding darker colors, which can contribute to overheating of these relatively small colonies on hot summer days.
If it looks like our boxes have too many holes in them, it is because each box contains four holes – one on each side. Each serves as a separate entrance to house a small colony for raising queens. Some of the boxes even have two holes on each side, the second hole being a ventilation hole!