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How to Make a Solar Wax Melter Out of a Cooler. Takes 10 Minutes. No Tools Needed!

There are different ways to make a solar wax melter. The way I did it is probably the easiest and the fastest way to make one. That's why I chose this design, after all. I have an 18 month old child running around trying to throw his toys into the toilet. I don't have the time to build even the simplest of things. Here in Hawaii, we gets lots of sun and this design works great. However, I also include a few ways to make yours work better if you don't get as much sun.

Here's how you can make a solar wax melter in under 10 minutes

 

Materials:

  • cooler without a lid (or hinge) over the opening
  • piece of glass or thick plexiglass that is large enough to cover the top of the cooler
  • 2 clamps tall enough to hold the glass over the cooler or heavy rocks to put on the corners
  • #8 hardware cloth OR a strainer
  • aluminum pan large enough to cover the bottom of the cooler

 

A few things to mention about the materials. I used a styrofoam cooler because it was the...

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Beekeeping in the Summer Heat - Bearding, Robbing, Dearth & Hurricanes

Summer is a busy time for the bees. As a beekeeper, you may see the bees doing a variety of things that you're not used to - robbing, bearding, gathering water. I'm going to explain what all of these things are and what you can do, as a beekeeper, to help your bees. First, I just want to alleviate any concerns you may have because although the bees don't love it when it's over 100F out or when other bees are robbing them, this is very normal and something that happens every year. The bees have learned how to deal with these issues, for the most part, all on their own. As a beekeeper, there are some things you can do to help, but often beekeepers do too much and do more harm than good. So please don't try to solve all of your bees' problems for them. Trust that they have the equipment and knowledge needed to help themselves a lot of the time. 

What the Beekeeper Does in the Summer Time

In the Summer time or whenever there are a lot of flowers blooming and the bees are busy...

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What to do with old, dark comb

When bees secrete beeswax, it's white. As bees walk over the comb and fill it up with nectar and pollen, the wax turns various shades of orange and yellow. I can always tell the difference between my Spring and Summer honey because the Summer honey is bright yellow and so is the comb. It's almost neon, it's so bright. As the comb is in the hive even longer and especially in the brood section, then wax turns brown. This is mostly from propolis. Propolis is plant sap and super sticky and usually various shades of dark brown or a reddish brown. It stains not only wax but also clothing. It's why my white bee suit has brown stains all over it.

Why you want to remove old, dark comb from the hive

It's good practice to take out frames of comb that are a very dark brown because these frames are older and can harbor diseases. A good time to do this is in the Fall before you close up the hive for Winter or in the early Spring when the queen has just started...

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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Large, Commercial Apiary

Working as a beekeeper for a commercial apiary is very different than being a hobby beekeeper. In this podcast episode I talk about my experience working for a honey production company.

 

 

Some photos and videos from the commercial apiaries I worked for:

 

This is a video of beekeepers moving 100 hives from the Macadamia nut farm to an Ohia forest on the Big Island of Hawaii.

 

Me in the bee yard at a Macadamia nut farm.Laryssa in the bee yard in Hawaii

 

The bee truck on its way to the Macadamia nut farm in Pahala, Hawaii.bee truck driving to the macadamia nut farm in pahala, hawaii

 

Beehives in an Ohia forest at sunrise just after being moved.beehives in an ohia forest

 

Me giving a bee tour

me giving a bee tour

 

Thousands of bees are outside the hives when they are being moved. Honey bees do not like the vibration from the truck and may go outside to see what's going on.

Moving bees in Hawaii

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Overcoming Your First Hurdle - Getting Stung

Many people love bees and understand their value, but as soon as one comes buzzing by, their heart races, their arms start flailing and they run away. 

When I gave beekeeping tours, I would explain what to do if a bee got close to you. The tour was outside and there was only a screen between a live, open beehive and the viewers. Whenever a poor, unsuspecting honey bee would make her way over to the viewers, people would swat. I would try my best to calmly remind people that swatting wasn't going to help and the bee wasn't interested in them, she just didn't understand what a screen was and why she couldn't go in a straight line back to her hive. Despite this, eventually someone would still swat at the bee.

Watch Our YouTube video About Getting Stung

 

Don't bee too hard on yourself if I'm describing you! It is only natural to want to go as far away as possible when you hear buzzing. Elephants are known to freak out when they hear buzzing and...

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How COVID-19 is Affecting Beekeeping & Why It's Stressing Out Beekeepers

If you’re feeling under the weather or are just busier than usual, don't worry! Honey bees are pretty self-sufficient. In my experience, being an overeager beekeeper, and opening the hive more often than once a week is way worse than not opening an hive for 2-4 weeks. Right now, Coronavirus is still affecting many people throughout the United States and around the world. The most important thing to do is to keep yourself and loved ones healthy!

Ways to save time beekeeping

Right now, it's swarm season. If you don't have the time to prevent swarming, put a slatted rack under your first brood box. This gives the bees somewhere to go, but prevents them from building comb in this area and can prevent swarming.

Do Tasks in Advance Just In Case

Assemble boxes and frames in advance, so you have them ready.

Understand what you need to have and what you need to do for winter so you can order supplies now.

Harvest a smaller amount of honey now and a smaller amount later. You...

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How to Get Started Keeping Bees

Although people get into beekeeping for the right reasons, often hobby beekeepers, especially their first and second year, hurt the bee population more than help it. This is because people don't realize how much work it is to keep bees. Because of pests and long winters (not necessarily cold), it is common for a hive to collapse.

 

How to Get Started Keeping Bees

Step 1 - Know What to Expect

A lot of our beekeeping class students don't end up keeping bees. This is because its a lot more work than they expected. Beekeeping is a great hobby and its tempting to get started assuming you'l make the time for your bees, but its also really easy to forget about them or neglect them in the Summer months when you're busy. They don't require daily walks or to be fed, they're a distance from your home, not living in the house with you. You might see lots of bees flying in and out of the front entrance and everything from the outside looks fine. But inside, there...

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Epic Mistake! How to Fix a Box of Burr Comb

Bee space is 3/8". This is the ideal space for bees to move throughout the hive. When you leave more than 3/8", the bees almost always connect the comb in a variety of directions. We call this burr comb and it makes it almost impossible for the beekeeper to inspect a hive.

 It's not an ideal situation, but it's fairly easy to fix, though leaves a big sticky mess. Here's how you can fix burr comb. 

 

 

I've done this more times than I would like to admit. Usually what happens is that I don't have enough frames on hand and tell myself "I'll go get more later." Then I forget and a week later I open the beehive and see a box full of burr comb. It's super interesting to see what the bees do when given a big empty space, but not fun to fix.

It's important to have ready and waiting:

  • Frames with rubberbands on them so you can put the straight pieces back in the hive for the bees to finish filling up.
  • A bucket with a lid or large tupperware containers with lids
  • A...
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The Most Beautiful and Possibly the Least Affective Pollinator, The Butterfly

Butterflies! You've seen these beautiful creatures flying around and maybe even tried to catch one as a kid, but how much do you really know about them? Unlike honey bees, they're not great pollinators and they don't produce a delicious food for us to eat. None the less, images of butterflies are everywhere - on cards, notebooks, mugs. They add beauty to the world and are a source of food for many animals.

I interviewed Jessica McAtee, a butterfly expert on my podcast, The Buzz About Bees so we could all learn about these fascinating creatures and how we can turn our yard into a butterfly garden. Listen below or on any app that streams podcast.

 

The life of a butterfly

Just like bees, butterflies go through four life stages - egg, larvae, pupae, adult insect. When they hatch, their goal is to mate. The male's job is to find the female. Once they have successfully mated, the female butterfly looks for a host plant to lay her eggs on....

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The Role of the Worker Bee

The average honey beehive has 30,000-60,000 bees inside. There is usually only one queen, no matter how many bees there are. During the warm weather months, 1-2% of the population are drones, what we can the male bees. The rest are worker bees. They are all female. They are all sisters of each other and daughters of the queen.

 

Jobs of the Worker Bee

 So let’s get into the job of the worker bee

Clean Up Crew

When a worker bee hatches, her first job is to clean out the cell she hatched from. In these first few days of life, she will stay in the hive and take on the role of housekeeper cleaning the cells so they are ready for the queen to lay an egg inside to to be filled with nectar or pollen. Additionally, they will clean the rest of the hive which includes carrying out bees who died in the hive and unwanted debris.

Nurse Bee

After the role of housekeep has ended, the bee will go on to become a nurse bee. Nurse bees tend to their “baby sisters” by...

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