Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Table Project - Post 0

As some of you may know, I have a short attention span for projects. I'll get an idea in my head, and if I don't complete it soon, it falls to the wayside and never sees the light of day again. I understand this is an issue for a number of people. Occasionally, though, an idea will come to me and I can't shake it. A great example of this is my honeybees. I was interested in keeping honeybees, so I started looking into it. My wife, wisely, would not let me get anything for beekeeping unless I still wanted them after some [lengthy] period of time. During that time, I did more research on bees, as much as I could without actually having any. So, the spring after we bought our house, I acquired the equipment for two hives and the bees to go in them.

Actually having the bees is great, and it has spawned interest in other areas that I hadn't much considered before, such as woodworking. I researched building my own bee boxes, found a table saw on craigslist, bought some lumber from The Home Depot and made my first pair of hive bodies (currently the top box on each of my hives). I have since acquired a router, router table, and drill press—which allow me to make boxes better and faster. However, it also put other ideas in my head. Ideas of doing more with woodworking than beekeeping equipment.

One of those ideas I have not been able to shake, I keep coming back to it, and I have the feeling it's like the bees. It's something that I will have to see through to the end and see what other things it leads me to doing. Like the bees, it's something that will require a good deal of research and new skills on my part, but many more skills than the bees required.

I want to make a solid wood kitchen table.

Or, more specifically, a pair of solid wood kitchen trestle tables of the same dimensions so that we can have a larger table area when need be, and break down to create more open area as need be.

Since this idea popped into my head late last spring, I have spent many hours on the internet looking at trestle tables, general woodworking, furniture making, and other related information. I still want to make the tables. Today I figured I might as well document the entire process from this point (very near the beginning) going forward.

Things I know I want:
  • Two identically dimensioned solid wood tables
  • The tables to be easily broken down and set up
Things I'm greatly considering, but unsure about:
  • Trestle tables
  • Oak, Mahogany, some other hardwood?
  • Carving the supports in a celtic or norse style, perhaps with the locking pins functioning as the eyes
  • 2 or 3 adults to the long sides
  • Tusk Tenons
  • Danish Oil Finish
Ideas I'm tossing around:
  • Iron banding across the width of the tables
  • Built-in handles to make relocation easier
  • Chains for keeping track of the pins
Things I need to decide:
  • Table thickness
  • Trestle style
Things I need to learn:
  • Joinery
    • Table top: Unknown
    • Breadboards: Unknown
    • Legs/Supports: Unknown
    • Stretcher: Tusk Tenons
    • Support-Table locking pins: dowel pins? tapered?
  • Carving - the decorative elements, such as the supports mentioned above, this will take lots of practice
  • Equipment usage
  • Finishing
  • Support math (will the legs hold the table)
Equipment I currently know that I need:
  • Pipe clamps
  • Planer
  • Joiner
  • Band-saw
  • Saw for cross-cuts (my tablesaw won't do it)
  • A way to sharpen my chisels
  • Probably additional chisels
Plan of Action:
  • Learn the bits I can as I can (for instance, grabbing a chunk of 2x4 and start carving again)
  • Sketch out the basic table design (without decorative elements)
  • Adjust design to lock in dimensions
  • Render detailed plans (with and without decorative elements)
  • Acquire tools
  • Create prototype from pine using plans
  • Source lumber
  • Build tables

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hive Inspection 2015-05-10

Inspected the hives today, and James assisted (though he is quite scared of bees—or any flying insect for that matter—he was quite brave and didn't flee).

Hive 1 is doing quite well, all but one frame are fully drawn, and the final frame is half comb (it's a foundationless frame). All the cells I could see had something going on from storage, to brood, to cleaning for next use. The half-comb frame had eggs in every cell—I tried to show James but he was unable to see the eggs. I swapped two non-adjacent frames from the top box with empty frames from the now 3rd new box I've added. Remember, I'm running all medium equipment, and that three medium boxes is equivalent to two deep boxes. To further mess up the standard beekeepers, I'm also running all 8-frame equipment, instead of 10-frame. So, all-in-all, hive one is doing quite well and growing exponentially.

Hive 2 is still putting along, they seem to be using only half of each brood box (the left half if you're looking at the front of the hive, or the downhill side if thinking about it in terms of the yard). I shifted some frames around, hoping they will grow a bit, but this hive has been much slower than Hive 1 from the beginning.

TLDR & Highpoints

  • James assisted in the inspection
  • Hive 1 is doing very well
  • Hive 1 got a 3rd box
  • Hive 2 is growing, but more slowly than Hive 1
  • Eggs seen in both hives
  • Did not see Queen in either, but was not looking too hard either
  • No queen cells in either hive
  • Both hives appear healthy

Monday, April 06, 2015


After years of book/internet study, I finally have bees. Tomorrow night I will have had them for one week. I've made several posts about them on my Facebook account, but for some reason have not put them down in blog form.

Here is a brief accounting of what I've done:

  1. I attended the local beekeepers club last month (this month's meeting is this upcoming Thursday)
  2. I ordered my equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
    • A traditional 8-frame medium beginners kit, which comes with:
      • A fully assembled hive with two 8-frame medium supers, the 16 frames to go in them, 16 wax foundation sheets to go in the frames, an entrance feeder, and an entrance reducer
      • A veil
      • A pair of gloves
      • A bee brush
      • A hive tool
      • A smoker and fuel
      • A basics DVD
      • and finally, a beginners book
    • A complete unassembled hive of the same style (though with different frame style – the BeeGinners kit came with grooved top and bottom bars, all others I ordered with grooved top and divided bottom bars)
    • An extra unassembled 8-frame medium box for each hive, with frames
    • A "regular" 8-frame deep box and frames to assist should I get my bees from a nuc
    • An entrance feeder for the second hive
    • And a queen excluder (to assist in phasing out the deep box – so that I can standardized on medium equipment)
  3. I assembled all of my equipment last weekend (a week ago, not yesterday)
  4. I began looking for a source of bees - it seems everyone is sold out this time of the season
  5. Last Tuesday, I finally found some package bees at Lookout Mountain Honey Bees, but they had already been in their packages for several days and I had to pick them up that day, so I…
  6. Left work half an hour before I normally do on Tuesdays (I normally leave half an hour early so I can make it to Cub Scouts), and drove to Gadsden, AL to pick up two packages of honey bees (each package comes with about 3lbs of bees, a queen in a cage, and a can of syrup to keep them fed)
  7. I installed them that night with my wife's help, in the dark, just before a thunderstorm - pretty much the exact opposite of best conditions for working with bees - but the bees were gentle and went into their new homes just fine. They each got a single box with the 8 frames that have foundation (from the assembled hive I ordered), as I haven't put the guide strips in the other frames yet. I filled their entrance feeders with 1:1 sugar syrup and went to bed
  8. Each morning and evening I've refilled their feeders – they suck down quite a bit of syrup
  9. Friday afternoon I opened each hive and pulled the queen cages (one cage was empty, the other contained a dead worker – both queens had been released) – the girls had been drawing comb nicely, and Hive 1, which I had thought was doing poorly, was actually doing better
  10. I started adding green food coloring to the syrup so I can more easily see the level in the feeders and so that I can avoid taking capped syrup thinking it capped honey – I will maintain this unless I find compelling evidence to stop
  11. This morning there was minimal activity in Hive 2 when I refilled the feeder, so one of a few things has happened (possibly more):
    • The bees, like me, are lazy and didn't want to be up so early
    • All the bees are dead or dying
    • The majority of the bees absconded, hanging around just long enough to build their strength
    • The majority of the bees absconded, but not before the queen left enough eggs to continue the hive
    • The queen died, some of the bees left, some stayed trying to raise a new queen
    • The package was mostly older workers and have just died off while they build up new workers (emerging later in 2.5 weeks at the earliest)

For those of you wondering, I have been stung five (5) times: once installation night, and once each morning and evening the first two days – each time it was my fault, for either not paying attention, moving too quickly, or both. I have not been stung since.

When I opened the hives on Friday, they were still drawing out comb on just a handful of frames, I will open the hives again this upcoming weekend and check them again. If it looks like they are doing well, I might put another box on, though I won't -need- to until the following Saturday (Friday afternoon would likely be safer). As that Sunday (19 April) is the earliest the first batch of brood will emerge, and the hive could get awfully crowded awfully fast. From what I understand, when starting from a package, from then until that point is like the initial uphill climb of a roller coaster. Your adult bees are having to do all the jobs until the new bees emerge, dying off the whole time, then there is a sudden explosion in colony population, then the remainder of those original workers die and your first generation is having to do all the work, but with new generations being born fairly constantly after that point.

This is an adventure I am enjoying, even though at this time it's simply extra chores (mixing sugar syrup and refilling the feeders) – I am looking forward to the rest of the adventure though.