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Discussion Starter #1
This log hive is being made from a Monterey Cypress that we had to cut down because of the danger of it to the house. Unbeknownst to me, it had a big rotten spot probably caused by someone pounding nails in the tree before we bought the place over 40 years ago. In any case, the tree will live on as a log hive. At this stage, I'm done hollowing it out, the observation window is fitted, and the log has been picked up by Brian Vorwaller who will carve the faces of my three grand kids, with the idea being that the entrances to the hive will be through the mouths of the grand kids. It ought to be interesting. :)
http://solarbeez.com/2015/02/14/grand-kids-log-hive-progress-report/
Brian, the wood carver, thinks he can have it done by the end of March so I can set it up for swarm season. Last year I had 8 swarms from 3 hives. This year I have 8 hives. Since I'm a natural beekeeper, I don't medicate, feed, or try to thwart the swarm urge.
 

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Interesting I thought you just found hollow logs never thought about cutting one and making the hollow can't wait to see this one finished
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Interesting I thought you just found hollow logs never thought about cutting one and making the hollow can't wait to see this one finished
For me, hollow logs are hard to find. It's tough (and probably illegal) to get them off the beach, so when I'm interested, I'll ask a tree trimmer or logger if they find a good log that's not too big or too small. The one I'm using this time might be a tad big.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Very neat idea. I really enjoyed your blog and look forward to an update when the log is returned.
Thanks, BeeMoose. I'll give updates as I get them from Brian and Zada Vorwaller (the couple that's working on it now.)
In the meantime, here are a couple of 'prequels...'
This first one is the very beginning when I asked Brian to advise me on where to open the log up so he would have plenty of room to carve the faces. He wanted a good 4 inches so he drew it out.
http://solarbeez.com/2014/12/14/three-kids-log-hive/
The above post also has a video of Hal talking about his log hive. Hal is my mentor when it comes to log hives. When I first joined the bee club, he was the ONLY one doing something that really appealed to me. "Non-intervention beekeeping." "I'm not going to feed, medicate, or take any honey. The bees can swarm as often as they want." His log hive is actually bigger than mine and the observation window is a good example of what I'd like mine to be.

The second post has a short (sped up) video showing me un-expertly sawing the wedge out, but I was rather proud of my "chainsaw angle selfie." :) I just hope I didn't go too deep because every time I tried to saw out a section, the chainsaw cut deeper than I intended, then I encountered a big rotten section caused by some nails someone drove into the tree. I was surprised to realize how much rot resulted from nails.
http://solarbeez.com/2015/01/03/progress-on-3-kid-log-hive/
 

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Discussion Starter #13
How do you hang frames inside and get them in and out to do inspections?
I don't use frames, I do use top bars. The bees will build their natural comb just like in a hollow tree. I won't be doing inspections. I've built this log hive for the bees, not for the honey. I'm not interested in the honey because I feel that it's more important to give the bees a place to live, flowers grown in a poison-free environment, and be completely treatment free.

This log will be 'yard-art' until the bees decide to make it their home. I'm not going to drop any swarms in this time. It's their choice that way...not mine. Late last year, a swarm moved into another one of my log hives, one that had been recently more or less emptied out. This happened in August, not exactly great timing for a swarm. http://solarbeez.com/2014/08/11/bee-beard-is-back/ (In the emotional setting that followed the bees entering the log, my wife made the suggestion to have another log hive...(which I took as permission to get another one going)

That hive is going strong despite the fact that I haven't fed or treated it. If I follow the advice of my bee club, I'd be feeding sugar water (or high fructose corn syrup) and opening up the hive to 'inspect' it for eggs, larva, etc. and mites of course. I think the bees must adapt to the mites. I think the bees have a better chance of adapting to the mites if they aren't constantly having smoke blown into their hives, their frames pulled out and exposed to the outside air, and/or being sprayed with fumigellon, or exposed to mite strips. If you're killing varroa mites, you're also killing the other 30 kinds of mites, some of which might be beneficial.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Now we wait for a swarm to move in...
http://solarbeez.com/2015/04/22/grand-opening-for-grand-kids-log-hive/
Last year at this time we had had at least 3 swarms, the year before, we had had 4 swarms. This year I haven't seen any yet, but I've noticed the number of bees has increased so I'm hoping it'll happen especially since I've offered the extra swarms to a few people who lost bees last year. Fingers crossed. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I was starting to doubt myself, wondering whether I would get a swarm this year. The few swarms that I saw were small. We even had a small(ish) swarm land on the log hive only to move on elsewhere. I recalled Hal, my log hive mentor, say that he had to wait 8 months one time for a swarm to populate one of his big log hives.
But we were lucky...two days ago, on May 13, a big swarm came from over the trees and slowly made it's way up to the log hive. My wife was working outside and alerted me. The post below has some pictures and the video play-by-play...
http://solarbeez.com/2015/05/15/grand-entrance-for-grand-kids-log-hive/
To say that we were excited would be an understatement. These bees picked out our log hive. As it turns out, another swarm seemingly had designs on it too. The second swarm was arguably as big or bigger than the first, but they were about 20 minutes late and had to land on the outside where they stayed all night and left about 3:15 pm the next day.
Two days before the 'swarm event,' I had shot video of some 'bee disagreements.' Scout bees were trying to eject other scout bees. I'm wondering if it's possible that these were scout bees from different swarms fighting over the log?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My log hive mentor, Hal Strain, has come out with another log hive. Since he is pushing 80 and since he couldn't source an old log, he built one, out of full sized 1 x 12's.
http://solarbeez.com/2015/05/25/hal-nails-log-hive-4-patti-shows-us-her-garden/
I shot video starting in late March with the understanding that I wouldn't post it until bees had actually swarmed INTO his hive. Hal doesn't try to capture a swarm to put in, he wants the bees to actually choose his hive. That they did, sometime in early May. In our unofficial race to see who would get bees in their individual log hive first, Hal beat me by about two weeks.
In the video, Hal talks about his beekeeping experience, his thoughts on mite control, and how he built his log hive.
 
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