September 23, 2018 – As wind and cold begin to usher out summer, fall has become a time of preparation for me. As I looked back on my first spring of tapping trees, I see how much I learned and improved my boiling process and I’m anxious make it that much better in the year ahead. As I look at my two hives, bustling with activity on a warm (70s) September day, I prepare to wrap up my hives for the winter ahead.
The job of boiling maple syrup is all about surface area. As I went from two pots to two pots and two buffet pans last year, I was able to do double the amount of sap in the same amount of time. Unlike big setups, I’m not willing to spend a lot of money to make my own sugar shack. So, I decided to make a larger evaporator.
Last night I began removing part of my wildflower bed to include a spot for a larger evaporator. My goal is to once again double the surface area and hopefully reduce heat loss to speed up the process.
First step, leveling the area. Next I purchased 26- 8x8x16 and 6- 8x8x8 cinder blocks.
I purchased 2 more pans, giving me room for 4 total. Each being about 13 inches wide, it took just over 3 full and 1 half brick per wall. Playing with my son’s legos helped me learn to overlap the blocks so they didn’t have the same seams.
Next I added a total of six bricks in the back, offset a bit for the eventual chimney, followed by four bricks stacked to make my chimney. The pictures are much better at explaining it.
Should be a fun late winter!
Last Tuesday I added the Mite Away Quick Strips to my main hive the three days of rain didn’t help, as there were some dead bees on the landing board, but’s it’s possible they died of natural causes and the bees were simply unable to take them out of the hive due to the rain. I’ll take the strips off Tuesday night and check to see how many mites I have on the plastic under my hive. I also need to start feeding them again so they can prepare for the winter ahead.
I checked the nuc hive yesterday and all seems to be well. The queen is laying where she can find room, and they are taking down my 2-1 sugar syrup like a champ. I refilled it tonight after it was down to a fourth left. I made a nuc-sized bottom board and top cover tonight that I will transition the nuc to. That way they won’t have a hollow cavity next door. I’ll have to take pictures and add them tomorrow. I’ve also purchased some winter prep gear that I’ll install as it gets colder.
Did you know? The correct winter preparations can increase the temperature around the hive by as many as ten degrees!