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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Hi!

    Title of my post says it all...

    How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees and the nectar/pollen flows in California this winter/spring?

    Another question: what specifically can I do to prepare my hives for massive rains should they come?

    I was in the massive El Nino in 1982 in the Santa Cruz Mountains when we had 24 inches of rain in 24 hours...any beekeepers up there when that occurred? I wonder now if any bees even made it through that storm...

    I was thinking of building a little temporary 10'x12' car port type of structure with the corrugated roof to shield my bees just in case a massive storm hits...

    Please give me some answers and some ideas beekeeping pro's if ya have some! Hopefully no one will say ""

    Someone hit the light bulb please!

    Ding, ding.

    Newbie Soar

    PS Hey JRG, never thought of it until just now...does anyone apply seismic bracing for beehives here in CA? Hehehehehe, man, I have been through the World Series ending 7.1 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the freaky Sunnyvale Tornado, and that monster storm Felton/Ben Lomond 24 inch Storm...

    I suppose there are some things that no amount of preparation would get the job done...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Unfortunately, unless you are in a higher ground, there is no
    way to avoid a flood when the El Nino storm hits. 1982 is too
    early for me but the 1998 storm almost flooded every street here.
    My advice would be to check on the map to see if your area is inside
    the flood zone or not. If it is then you need to do some real thinking and
    flood preparation in your property. I already seen the initial El Nino effects that in
    early October there should not be any rains but it did. So if the prediction
    is correct then this coming winter/Spring should be the reverse of the east coast this
    year. With the rains they got a bounty harvest, we got none.
    For the bees I will be buying in 50 lbs bags of bee flowers and plants to broadcast them in the nearby grass fields. Honey harvest should be good I think.
    Your eucalyptus should be in full bloom once the rains soaked into the yellow hard pan soil. Dig a big one acre pond to store all these excess storm water. Make sure all the nearby ditches are big enough to flow off the flood water from your property. Natomas has a 100 year flood situation but many new residents do not know about it yet. You don't want to 911 me to rescue you out of the flood situation. I'll be busy tending my bees in the high ground away from the flood zone here. Are you fully prepared?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    The carport/awning idea sounds great, I wish I had that kind of setup here. We can get some heavy rains some years and a carport cover just sounds good to me.
    20+ years, raise my own queens, feed when needed. I treat, but have not perfected varroa management yet.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Off the ground and a roof are excellent ideas, even if you stick 24" re-bar stakes into the ground and bend PVC tubing over the hives and tarp it. Tilt hives 1/2 inch forward lean so that what ever water does accumulate in the hive is expelled rapidly. A thatch box above the top super helps control moisture inside the hive temporarily. Gotta change the straw every so often. Thanks for bringing it up, Eagle!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Along with the rains will be strong winds too. Be sure to strap down your
    hives and carport. This winter I will be experimenting on the water absorbing gel, the
    similar ones use in the baby diaper. A bag of crystal gels at the orange store is not too expensive either.
    I will embed them inside a bed of rodent shavings all wrap up in a small landscape fabric bag for
    moisture control. One small crystal can absorb 72x its moisture content. No need to constantly changing the
    shavings/straws.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    My bees did fine through the 1982 storms. In those days, I was splitting my time between Idaho, SLO County and Trinity County, with bees in each location. The wet weather '82 and '83 encouraged me to add the aluminum offset printing plates you could scrap from newspapers over the top of my top covers (which were 6 inch green corral board - split and checked as it dried. In sorting through stacks today, I just saw a couple of those weatherbeaten covers still around with their very ragged thin aluminum roofs.

    The grass still turns straw white by September, even in the el Nino years. The black sage produces copious flow in May in the wet years, coffeeberry in June, and the Toyon has nectar in July. In my area of SLO, those sources fail in the dry years. My fading pencil scratching in my musty journal shows I went from 44 hives in spring '82 to 125 hives in June '83 (for SLO, I have no records for Trinity County) -- so there must have been good growth. I remember moving my Trinity bees from a Madrone grove to some big stands of Star Thistle in those well watered years. Honey sales were cash and mixed in my reporting with income from Chantrelles, Morels, and Matsutake, so I don't have production numbers -- but I extracted in both June and July in SLO (and broke the extractor -- a hand built affair). I had bee-boards, leaf-cutter bees for alfalfa in Idaho and Trinity, but can't remember how they did -- would guess the extra water delayed the last cutting (the one that is pollinated).

    A good windstorm will tear a hoop greenhouse or carport to pieces. I would stick with a good top cover and a heavy brick. Make sure the entrance porch drains -- the bees can drown in an 1/8" inch wet spot on the porch. The el Nino years are usually not very cold -- the arctic freezes happen in the dry years. The New Year's Storm in '97 had rain to the top of the Sierra Crest.

    These days, I reinforce the leaky covers with 30lb felt fastened on with "washer nails" on if they need some TLC -- I still scrap covers out of 6" fence boards. Patio pavers make nice weights.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    Unfortunately, unless you are in a higher ground, there is no
    way to avoid a flood when the El Nino storm hits. 1982 is too
    early for me but the 1998 storm almost flooded every street here.
    My advice would be to check on the map to see if your area is inside
    the flood zone or not. If it is then you need to do some real thinking and
    flood preparation in your property. I already seen the initial El Nino effects that in
    early October there should not be any rains but it did. So if the prediction
    is correct then this coming winter/Spring should be the reverse of the east coast this
    year. With the rains they got a bounty harvest, we got none.
    For the bees I will be buying in 50 lbs bags of bee flowers and plants to broadcast them in the nearby grass fields. Honey harvest should be good I think.
    Your eucalyptus should be in full bloom once the rains soaked into the yellow hard pan soil. Dig a big one acre pond to store all these excess storm water. Make sure all the nearby ditches are big enough to flow off the flood water from your property. Natomas has a 100 year flood situation but many new residents do not know about it yet. You don't want to 911 me to rescue you out of the flood situation. I'll be busy tending my bees in the high ground away from the flood zone here. Are you fully prepared?
    beepro, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I remember the 1998 storms. I remember driving for nearly a half hour on 205/5 corridor, seeing nearly every house with water up to the roof. My friend in Wilton lucked out, his house only had the water rise to five feet up the walls...but he was still deeply upset. The next year he built a 6 ft. berm and installed flood water pumps! He swore to never let it happen again. Wonder if a lot of our Bee Source friends in SC are experiencing this same type of flooding this week...

    We already have three ponds...wet weather ponds that fill fill each year, so I suppose we are ready.

    Last, I think we are approximately 25 feet above most surrounding valley floor, so I think we are ok...I will ask my neighbors what is was like here in 98' and 82'.

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    The carport/awning idea sounds great, I wish I had that kind of setup here. We can get some heavy rains some years and a carport cover just sounds good to me.
    Yes Ray, it wouldn't take much to put it in, and I could do it temporary by not setting the posts with cement.

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Off the ground and a roof are excellent ideas, even if you stick 24" re-bar stakes into the ground and bend PVC tubing over the hives and tarp it. Tilt hives 1/2 inch forward lean so that what ever water does accumulate in the hive is expelled rapidly. A thatch box above the top super helps control moisture inside the hive temporarily. Gotta change the straw every so often. Thanks for bringing it up, Eagle!
    Kilo Charlie, I like your idea about the 1/2 inch lean. I think I will slant the entire beehive stand a 1/2", that way the water can drain away from the hives...great idea! Can you share more about the thatched box? Never heard of it here before...

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    Along with the rains will be strong winds too. Be sure to strap down your
    hives and carport. This winter I will be experimenting on the water absorbing gel, the
    similar ones use in the baby diaper. A bag of crystal gels at the orange store is not too expensive either.
    I will embed them inside a bed of rodent shavings all wrap up in a small landscape fabric bag for
    moisture control. One small crystal can absorb 72x its moisture content. No need to constantly changing the
    shavings/straws.
    We are surrounded by 50'-70' Eucaplytus trees on all sides...they make a great wind break. But I will be careful to tie everything down.

    My concern with the absorbing gel is that it might begin to suck the moisture out of the bees! Not so sure about using that...

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    My bees did fine through the 1982 storms. In those days, I was splitting my time between Idaho, SLO County and Trinity County, with bees in each location. The wet weather '82 and '83 encouraged me to add the aluminum offset printing plates you could scrap from newspapers over the top of my top covers (which were 6 inch green corral board - split and checked as it dried. In sorting through stacks today, I just saw a couple of those weatherbeaten covers still around with their very ragged thin aluminum roofs.

    The grass still turns straw white by September, even in the el Nino years. The black sage produces copious flow in May in the wet years, coffeeberry in June, and the Toyon has nectar in July. In my area of SLO, those sources fail in the dry years. My fading pencil scratching in my musty journal shows I went from 44 hives in spring '82 to 125 hives in June '83 (for SLO, I have no records for Trinity County) -- so there must have been good growth. I remember moving my Trinity bees from a Madrone grove to some big stands of Star Thistle in those well watered years. Honey sales were cash and mixed in my reporting with income from Chantrelles, Morels, and Matsutake, so I don't have production numbers -- but I extracted in both June and July in SLO (and broke the extractor -- a hand built affair). I had bee-boards, leaf-cutter bees for alfalfa in Idaho and Trinity, but can't remember how they did -- would guess the extra water delayed the last cutting (the one that is pollinated).

    A good windstorm will tear a hoop greenhouse or carport to pieces. I would stick with a good top cover and a heavy brick. Make sure the entrance porch drains -- the bees can drown in an 1/8" inch wet spot on the porch. The el Nino years are usually not very cold -- the arctic freezes happen in the dry years. The New Year's Storm in '97 had rain to the top of the Sierra Crest.

    These days, I reinforce the leaky covers with 30lb felt fastened on with "washer nails" on if they need some TLC -- I still scrap covers out of 6" fence boards. Patio pavers make nice weights.
    JWChesnut,

    Wow, incredible amounts of experience for sure. And you remember those large storms too. I like how you have the specific types of flows for your part of the state memorized...man, I hope I can get that good one day!

    If I have heard you clearly, you are saying most people can expect a larger flow/harvest of honey due to an increase in rainfall. That JWChesnut, is good news. Thanks for sharing!

    Ok, a few important questions that I forgot to ask...

    1. What do bees do when it rains? Do that stay home and watch TV like most humans? Do they shut down all or most outdoor activity?
    2. What do bees do when they leave their hives for a foraging trip, but then a heavy rain begins? Do they seek shelter? Do they drown?
    3. Do bees have an intuitive ability to know beforehand when it will rain?


    These questions have been rolling around in my mind after reading for several weeks about the possibility of the "Godzilla" size El Nino storms that may begin to roll into the west coast of America...

    Thanks,

    Soar

    PS I should have done more reading before I posted this post. I just Googled, "Do bees fly in the rain?"

    The answer I found was shocking...kind of made me wonder why weather men do not ask bees before making their often times mistaken predictions...

    And I quote:

    Weather Affects Bees' Flight

    Bees can detect changes in air pressure. If it's going to rain and air pressure drops, they stay in their hives. Bees also do not fly around if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When it is cold, they cluster in their hive to stay warm. They use the honey that they make for food during the cold months when nectar is scarce.

    Wondering if this is really true or not...

    Anyway, here is the source:

    http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-bee.html
    Last edited by soarwitheagles; 10-07-2015 at 11:49 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Yes it's true. I've been out watching as the weather seems to be getting more threatening and have seen the bees flying back home just before it started raining. It's like a freeway with fast moving traffic, except it's all one direction, into the hive!
    20+ years, raise my own queens, feed when needed. I treat, but have not perfected varroa management yet.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Soar - we don't get those El Nino rains, but tropical stuff can last for days and sometimes just normal seasonal weather. What it does is wipe out all the honey as the teenagers sit around in the hive with the munches.
    Started 9/13, building slowly, not trying the no treatment anymore

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    If I flood, then all of you in the valley are screwed. I'm hoping for a great winter this year, and fingers crossed for good snow pack in the mountains.

    My bees will fly if it's above 40 degrees. Any colder then they are not out. When cold/rains occur, they cluster to protect the queen and consume honey.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    Yes it's true. I've been out watching as the weather seems to be getting more threatening and have seen the bees flying back home just before it started raining. It's like a freeway with fast moving traffic, except it's all one direction, into the hive!
    Yep. I've seen it with approaching thunderstorms.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    >how would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees and the nectar/pollen flows in California this winter/spring?

    Is there a conversion table somewhere to look up how many square miles a "Godzilla" is?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 41y 200h 38yTF

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by soarwitheagles View Post
    1. What do bees do when it rains? Do that stay home and watch TV like most humans? Do they shut down all or most outdoor activity?
    2. What do bees do when they leave their hives for a foraging trip, but then a heavy rain begins? Do they seek shelter? Do they drown?
    3. Do bees have an intuitive ability to know beforehand when it will rain?
    1. Bee stay home in all but the light mists. They will come out on the porch to inspect. If the porch is wet a certain number will "drown".
    The bees cluster in the hive, but at California coastal temps there is always some roaming about, gathering honey from cells and cleaning cells. My bees fly to forage into the mid-forties F.

    Bees burn a lot more honey (or syrup) at 45F than at 35F. You see this in California, and you see it in the March deadouts from stravation that kill hives that made it through the snowy winters. The Canada keepers that overwinter in potato barns will tell you that temp and light control are absolutely critical.

    2. In marginal weather, bees can get chilled and dormant, if the sun warms them up they will recover and fly again. If they stay chilled for about 12 hours they expire.

    3. The bee brain is pretty small and much of it is made up of the optical lobes. I've seen bees stream back to the hive before rain, dry wind doesn't have the same effect. They also explode from the hive when the storm is over. Tanging, the skill of drawing bee swarms to the ground, by rhythmic drumming is supposed to mimic rain and thunder. I've seen tanging change swarm behavior. My guess the little brain has a "weather" binary state, that tanging mimics. We know (from queen piping) that bees have some response to human audible sound.

    Has anyone ever made a tape loop of Queen Piping and studied an observation hive's response? What about running The Ramones Bliztkreig Bop on endless replay?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    When you tie down the hives make sure they are out of
    potential fallen branches and trees. Those big tree branches can
    fall in a windy and rainy weather.
    Once in a while on the CL ads, you will see boats for free.
    If you don't have one yet then a boat is good for your hives and
    in case of an emergency evacuation. Just don't mix the 2 together.
    Or just anchor the boat and enjoy the wavy scenery. Yep, a boat is the solution if you
    know how to operate one in case of a big flood. I doubt it though. Emergency supply is on!
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Let's hope your 3 ponds will hold up this time. Ask your neighbors if your
    ditches are big enough to channel out the excess water.
    My coworker just return from SC on 2 weeks of a vacation trip.
    She said the first 3 days was all sunny. Then the rains came for the entire week. She said they just stay home with nothing to do. It rains and rains and some more.
    Luckily she was on higher ground and is safe from the flood.
    Some lower elevation ground got flooded she said. She is glad to be back home again in sunny CA.
    But sure missed the hospitality from her trip that we don't have here. Nicer ppl she said over there than here.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    When you tie down the hives make sure they are out of
    potential fallen branches and trees. Those big tree branches can
    fall in a windy and rainy weather.
    Once in a while on the CL ads, you will see boats for free.
    If you don't have one yet then a boat is good for your hives and
    in case of an emergency evacuation. Just don't mix the 2 together.
    Or just anchor the boat and enjoy the wavy scenery. Yep, a boat is the solution if you
    know how to operate one in case of a big flood. I doubt it though. Emergency supply is on!
    beepro,

    You are funny! Obtain a boat for our bees? Dude, my wife would probably cart me off to the funny farm if I did that...straight jacket and all...and then she would probably paint the name "Noah wannabee" on the straight jacket!

    The three ponds are all natural ponds...no I do not think I am liable at all for what happens to them...because they have been there for centuries...untouched by man.

    On the other hand, I dare not make the mistake one of my friends made with his pond...even though it is very tempting...

    He grabbed his tractor and decided he wanted his natural pond depth to increase from 5-6 feet to 30-40 feet. Immediately after "renovating" his pond, who shows up? No joke, the Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, and I believe some other really well meaning people called...State Water Resources Control Board...

    Moral of the story: If you live in the super over regulated state of lovely California, leave your natural pond exactly as it is....unless you want to stir up a really mad beehive....

    Finally, I hear you on keeping the beehives away from the Eucalyptus trees...

    The first year we moved here I was shocked to hear the sound of breaking branches falling branches in the middle of the summer, no wind, no rain. Did my homework and discovered this is totally normal behavior for Eucalyptus trees...

    Also, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa recently paid out a $1,000,000 claim to the parents of a woman killed by a Eucalyptus tree...[see pics].

    I am very careful around Eucalyptus trees...especially when I cut them down myself!

    I learned to have a deep respect for large trees when living in a rain forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains for many years...those Redwood trees would have a habit of breaking off massive limbs, hundreds of feet in the air during wind storms...and those limbs were like 20-30 ft spears that would come crashing down, often spearing right into the ground...

    Moral of the story: don't tick off the Ents...we need them on our side!

    Eucalyptus tree falls 1.JPGEucalyptus tree falls 2.JPG
    Last edited by soarwitheagles; 10-09-2015 at 01:14 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >how would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees and the nectar/pollen flows in California this winter/spring?

    Is there a conversion table somewhere to look up how many square miles a "Godzilla" is?
    Wow! 49,521 posts here at BS? I feel as if I am a preschooler talking to a professor with a quadruple PhD! I know very little about bees, and even less about weather...but I keep seeing a pattern of weather forecasters using charts and diagrams describing what may be an unusually wet fall and winter here on the west coast...

    More and more weather "experts" are predicting a possible massive rain season on the west coast this year...there actually are charts describing the strange phenomenon of the eastern pacific ocean warming up a few degrees and causing havoc all over the entire world...not merely on the west coast of the USA.

    Here's CBS's take on the upcoming possible Godzilla El Nino. Notice they include not only charts, but also satellite images as well.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/godz...or-california/

    PS Hope they are wrong! We would like a nice healthy rainy season, not a flood...LA received nearly quadruple the normal amount of precipitation in 1997-98. In 1982, the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California received 24 inches of rain in 24 hours...

    el nino.jpg

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    For a good read Google great flood of 1862 rained 43 days straight!!
    David
    beebotanical.com 40 years-4000 colonies-treatment eo's

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidsbees View Post
    For a good read Google great flood of 1862 rained 43 days straight!!
    David,

    You are right...that was a good read! I never realized the West Coast had a monster Godzilla of that size and scope.

    This really blew my mind:

    "Approximately one-quarter of the taxable real estate in the state of California was destroyed in the flood. Dependent on property taxes, the State of California went bankrupt. The governor, state legislature, and state employees were not paid for a year and a half."

    Serious stuff indeed...

    Now I am beginning to wonder if beekeepers that bring bee colonies to California are monitoring the predictions of an El Nino...

    This could be a game changer...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How would a "Godzilla" size El Nino affect bees in California this winter/spring?

    Quote Originally Posted by soarwitheagles View Post
    ...Kilo Charlie, I like your idea about the 1/2 inch lean. I think I will slant the entire beehive stand a 1/2", that way the water can drain away from the hives...great idea! Can you share more about the thatched box? Never heard of it here before...
    The thatch box idea is a feature of Warre's hive design. For the rest of us who use Langstroth boxes, an inner cover with a hole in it goes over the top box of the stack, an empty box goes above inner cover, into this box we place a burlap bag full of pine shavings, straw, or other absorbent material, then the outer cover.

    I doubt I'll use the crystals for additional absorbing power. Just bust a bale of dry straw into a plastic barrel (I cut the top entirely off with a sawzall or a Skilsaw, and cover the barrel with the top 1/3 of another barrel), and change straw between rains. I have read the comment to not bother trying shredded newspaper - not enough water holding capacity.

    One more idea for those wishing to make a temporary Carport - dig post holes, fill them with post hole concrete mix, and stuff a 2" or larger diameter PVC tube into the middle. You can drop metal or other type poles into the PVC holes and frame your roof over it. I'd make the roof removable as well, if you ever want to take it down.

    The hoop houses do withstand considerable wind if you 1) make the diagonal braces as well as the cross-hoops, 2) tie ropes over the largest tarp areas, 3) clamp them properly, and 4) run "tent ropes" down to stakes in the ground. Mine hold up to a full gale, not hurricane winds. These work out fairly inexpensive, and the tarp should last a season, but have some spares handy if they don't.

    Note: A tipi is even stronger and more tolerant of the wind, if you only have a few hives. Make a canvas tarp into a half-circle, cut a small gap at the top for the sticks to poke out, and connect the strips down the straight side for the flaps. Google "designs and patterns for tipis". A 16-foot tipi houses up to a dozen hives with room to work, great with impending storms.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 10-09-2015 at 03:32 PM.

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