Roughing It
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Thread: Roughing It

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Default Roughing It

    One of Tom Seeley's points of Darwinian Beekeeping was to make the inside of the hive rough so the bees would put propolis over the entire surface, just as they do in a tree hive. The propolis is a natural antiseptic and helps to improve hive health. The thought is that more propolis in the hive is better.

    In my long hive, I used some old rough cut fence board for the inner cover. Indeed, the bees have covered it with propolis and its as if it has a thick film of shellac on it. The sides of the hive are smooth lumber, and have no propolis on them.

    So, I want to make a few hives with rough interiors to see how the bees respond, and see if it creates any difficulties in beekeeping. I'm not sure I can measure the effectiveness in health of the additional propolis, but I can surely see the amount of propolis they add.

    How might we do this?

    1 - Are there any box suppliers making standard hive boxes that are rough cut on the inside? Can you even buy rough cut 3/4" lumber in sizes adequate for a deep box? I know I can buy 3/4" fence boards, but they are usually only 6", maybe 8".

    2 - Know any small scale or innovative box makers that we might convince to try a new line of products and make a few boxes?

    3 - Do you have any ideas how to roughen up the inside of some pine boxes before assembly? (or after assembly) I have tried wire brushes, tree saws, scrapers, and some other techniques to try to roughen up the wood. I haven't come up with a method that I'm satisfied with yet. Got one or two more things to try, but thought I'd get the collective wisdom of the group thinking on how we might do this.

    4 - Have any of you ever made some rough cut boxes that you can report on how the bees behave compared to smooth boards?

    If we find a builder, or a decent method of modification, anyone else want to try out a few boxes come spring?

    Do the bees stop adding propolis in the fall the same as they stop making wax this time of year? (my guess is yes, but I don't know for sure.)

    Know any college kids that need a research project?

    Just thinking out loud on a Friday night.

    Cheers, Phil

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Hi Phil.
    On the basis that pushing wood across a table saw will create a 'rough-cut' surface (not as rough as from the timber-mill, admittedly), you might consider 'wiping' a hand-held circular saw with the blade held as flat as possible across the surface you want to roughen. I've never done this, but I suspect it could work ok. You'd need to hold the wood very firmly of course, to stop it from shooting across the workshop.
    One other possibility is the use of a 'twist knot' wire brush (a totally barbaric tool) held in an angle grinder, and again, wiped fairly lightly and quickly across the grain of the wood. Speed of wiping is important insomuch as the 'cuts' into the wood really need to be separate for maximum effect. I use these brushes quite often for removing old paint from boxes, and only the lightest touch should be employed, as otherwise they'll very easily carve their way into the wood.

    Although I usually paint my boxes internally (principally to prevent the pallet wood I use from swelling), I've noticed that the internal surfaces of boxes made many years ago from (unpainted) smooth plywood have been ignored, propolis-wise, whereas Long Hives made with roughened wood (old condemned scaffold planks) have become very nicely coated - despite their initial 'undercoat' of paint.

    Marla Spivak also enthuses about (what she calls) the 'propolis envelope' surrounding the bee nest.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Interiors of trees are rough (actually not always, it depends on the species)> Bees coat them with propolis> Propolis has healthful properties = making insides of beehives rough is better than leaving them smooth?

    Maybe having rough sides, which need propolis to be comfortable and safe, merely increases the work-load of bees.

    I use quilt boxes with fabric floors, my bees often propolize the under surface of the cotton. Some bees always do, some bee do it quickly, some only after the QBs have been on the stack for a few years. The cotton is as smooth as you can get.

    While propolis has properties that we define as beneficially healthful maybe those are merely side effects. And there is no primary health benefit to propolis, so more propolis is not better for the bees than a lower amount. And it certainly takes effort to gather and install.

    Maybe that cost:benefit ratio is positive when the interior surfaces are dangerously rough, but less so when the surfaces are made smooth by a beekeeper.

    My point being do we know (as opposed to hypothesize) that a more-propolized environment is better for the bees in ways besides providing mechanical protection and safety (which can be easily created by a planer)?

    Maybe bees propolize the interiors of some tree cavities for other reasons than smoothing them. They certainly coat the fabric of my quilt boxes with propolize for some other reason than making it smooth.

    Nancy

  5. #4

    Default Re: Roughing It

    Apitherapy uses the air from the hive.
    The substances are volatile, so they are part of the inner climate of a hive.
    The bees will probably not be allergic

    Since the substances have an antibiotic effect, it is probably better if there is as much propolis as possible in the hive.
    The propolis can also be taken up by the bees and rearranged to e.g. to line the cells.

    Everyone knows that in a crisis the bees use a lot of propolis and that brood disease is on the rise, because this behavior of the bees collecting propolis has been bred away.
    So it's not just technical reasons that the bees collect propolis.

    There are plastic lattices on the market, which can be attached to the inside of the hive walls to promote the propolis entry.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Sandblast after making all cuts so the occasional embedded grit does not quickly knacker expensive dadoes. Simple 2 slice rabbets would be no problem for carbide blade.

    Enjambres words carry some weight: Propolizing may be only coincidental for other reasons than colony health benefit. Closely controlled experiments needed to see whether a person would only be entertaining their fancies! A google search does not qualify!
    Frank

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Ten years ago I built 2 - 5 over 5 nuc boxes (for overwintering) out of rough cut 1 x 12 lumber from a local saw mill because its much cheaper. Two years later I built 8 more and they are as good as the day I built them. Bees only add a slightly thicker film of propolis to the inside surface compared to commercial made equipment. While bees overwinter great in 5 over 5 boxes in my area it has nothing to do with the interior surface. Bees in the smooth surface equipment are every bit as healthy as the bees in rough surface boxes. The advantage is cost savings. If I were to buy those 10 nucs today it would cost around $800.00. I built them for a fraction of that.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    If a colony kills a large intruder, such as a mouse, they then proceed to embalm that organism with propolis. That seems to me to be very purposeful behaviour - when the obvious alternative would be to just leave it 'as is' to putrify and eventually decompose naturally. So why invest so much effort in behaviour which suggests anticipation of future decomposition ? Perhaps bees have a much better approach to dealing with some bacteria (but clearly, not all) than we give them credit for.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  9. #8

    Default Re: Roughing It

    I googled some more

    https://www.apidologie.org/articles/.../03/m09142.pdf

    This is what the OP wrote:
    So, I want to make a few hives with rough interiors to see how the bees respond, and see if it creates any difficulties in beekeeping.
    And I would be very grateful if he ( she) takes action in roughing up the walls and update because Im very interested! Perhaps try myself, I have smooth surface now.
    He (she) seems to be happy with the rough boards or would not want to make smooth boards rough!

    hankstump
    Do the bees stop adding propolis in the fall the same
    No, they collect for propolis much more in fall to close up the hive. At least mine do or they do it because they are near collapsing with mites

    MJC417
    do you treat your hives?

  10. #9
    Join Date
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    I have a few hives made from barn wood. It was barely 13/16" so I only planed it on one side.

    I haven't noticed any obvious benefits although I haven't thought about it too much in medicinal terms. I can say the bees that propolize have a much better handle on SHB control. When I remove the inner cover I always find SHB carcasses entombed in the propolis at the point where the inner cover overlaps the ends of the frames. It looks as though they herd them in and close it off leaving them to starve. Sometimes they are alive when I pull the cover but they are easy targets for my thumb.

    The colonies that don't propolize heavily I get lots more SHB in the swiffer sheets and DE trays.

    049 (640x480).jpg

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  11. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    "Are there any box suppliers making standard hive boxes that are rough cut on the inside?"

    Yes, Brushy Mountain...

    https://www.brushymountainbeefarm.co...e-ProPlus-Deep

  12. #11
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    Apr 2018
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    Northern Colorado, USA
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Quote Originally Posted by hankstump View Post
    3 - Do you have any ideas how to roughen up the inside of some pine boxes before assembly?
    Have you tried one of the wires brushes that you put in a drill? They seem to remove paint and other stuff well, so I think they will quickly roughen up wood.


    link to a couple of different styles
    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Avanti-P...D01G/202831063

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    They have some new oscillating power tools out in recent years with a variety of shapes and grit/file surfaces that would be much easier and safer than the rotary tools. Do a heck of a lot better getting into corners too.
    Frank

  14. #13
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    Cullowhee Mountain, NC USA
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    I've heard and read about this as well.
    A V groove-router bit set shallow (bout 1/8") with cross pattern (bout like a GO board) is what we're trying with our new line of Honeycomb Hives
    Plan to do 6 hive comparison tests next spring of "A" (with grooves) against "B" (without) Not exactly scientific research but may be informative..

    We're just going to focus on roughing up the inner center part of the sides....don't see a need for propolis all over as with rough sawn lumber

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    A twist-knot wire brush - if used on it's side - will get to within a millimetre (or two at the most) of a box corner.



    They are what I use for all sorts of rough work. Just mind your fingers - it's a barbaric tool which has no respect whatsoever for human flesh.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    A twist-knot wire brush - if used on it's side - will get to within a millimetre (or two at the most) of a box corner.



    They are what I use for all sorts of rough work. Just mind your fingers - it's a barbaric tool which has no respect whatsoever for human flesh.
    LJ
    You need to take a lesson from porcupines with that animal you picture LJ .You know how porcupines "do it"? Very carefully!
    Frank

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Beekeepers are always looking for that special tweak in their equipment or type of hive that will somehow miraculously make them a big success. I have old smooth factory boxes with thick coatings of propolis inside. I never wasted time roughing them up. I have also had brand new hives in their first year make huge crops of honey in all brand new equipment on new foundation. The best technique to get well propolised equipment is to keep bees in old neighborhoods with stands of huge old trees and forests within flight range. If they have access to propolis they will collect it. Not so much in new suburban neighborhoods, they are lacking in a variety of old sizeable propolis producing trees.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Pick out the roughness you desire and buy & glue sandpaper to the inside of your hives.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim KS View Post
    Pick out the roughness you desire and buy & glue sandpaper to the inside of your hives.
    Or brush on thinned glue and toss on a bit of fine sand.
    Frank

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    Metal bristled brush comes to mind. Several posted above about drill bits to speed the process. I wonder if any study has been done to compare hives with high levels of propolis vs those that don't and nosema and other nasties. None of the hives I've looked into around here seem to have much on the walls. I wonder if our heat influences it.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Roughing It

    They propolise timber in the brood area, rough or smooth. Less so the honey areas.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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