Monday, 21 May 2018

Short Lug Hive Tool

The beekeeper's Hive Tool has remained unchanged for about 100 years, might even be older. It looks very basic made from a flat piece of steel sharped at both ends with a 90 degree bend at one end and a small hole in it. Despite it's simple construction it's actually something of a Swiss army knife. The long flat part is used pry apart hive boxes the bees have propolised together, the angled part to pry frames apart, both ends have uses removing burr comb and propolis and the hole is for pulling out loose nails.

Hive Tool, it's seen a bit of use.
There's been a few innovations on the hive tool but the only enduring alternative seems be the J-Hook which is flat and has a J shaped arm used to lever frames upwards. Some beekeepers prefer one, some prefer the other. I occasionally use a J-Hook on some of my Nucs where there isn't much space to prise frames apart but other than that I use the regular hive tool. There's also hybrids which are standard hive tool with a J hook sticking out of one side.

J-Hook Hive Tool
To separate frames with a regular Hive Tool the flat right angled part is inserted between frame top bars and the tool twisted to push them apart breaking the propolis seal. It works well, the longer the tool the more leverage you have, if you use one in each hand you can work very quickly. However the tool works better for users of long lugged frames like the National as it can go between the lugs where there are no bees walking around. With short lugged frames like those in my Commercial brood boxes (or Langstroth, Dadant or Smith hives) the tool is inserted between the bars where the bees are. This means there's a risk of squashing a few bees. Whilst it's only a small risk chances are you're doing it on both sides of each frame that's 22 small risks per brood box. I take a little extra care to avoid squashing bees which slows down hive inspections a little, not a problem if you're dealing with one or two hives but ideally inspections should be fairly quick to reduce the impact of opening the hive and if there's a few to go through and the bees are bit edgy the time stacks up. Over the past few years I've given this a lot of thought whilst going through my brood boxes and I've finally got round to modifying a Hive Tool to better suit short lugged frames. I had a few different ideas including cutting out a part of the 90 degree blade or replacing that end entirely with two pieces of bent rebar but as I use that part of the tool a lot I soon ruled them out.

Modified Hive Tool for short lug frames
My modification is the simple addition of two round metal pegs on the back of the tool with rounded ends. I think it's fair to say when it comes to welding I'm a little bit rough. The sum of my welding knowledge comes when I went to pick up a SIP Weldmate 100 stick welder I bought on eBay from a chap in Skirlaugh and he gave me quick two minute tutorial to show me it was working.

Securing one peg with the grabby bit to weld on
I know welding clamps exist, but I don't have one so I used the grabby bit of the welder to hold the pegs in place as I worked. This went okay although one is noticeably a few degrees off of vertical but still works. I use a really cheap pair of welding goggles but had to change the lenses for darker ones as the arc was still too bright, unfortunately that meant until the arc was blazing away I couldn't actually see what I was doing so I reached a compromise using two different shade lenses, one for each eye and switch to the darker one once the arc is struck. It's not ideal and means I have no depth perception but I'm unlikely to do enough welding justify electric autodarkening goggles.

And the second peg
I just used General Purpose 3.2mm E6013 welding rods. Not sure what the voltage was set to but seems to have done the trick.

Two modified hive tools and my SIP Wedmate 100
It's not the most complicated modification. Basically I took a 5mm diameter metal rod, some sort of steel, cut off two 2.5cm pegs, welded them to the hive tool and used a Dremel to round off the cut end and tidy up the welding a little. I decided to go with 2.5cm pegs so that in use there's a space for bees between the flat of the tool and the frame top bars when it's being used.

Pair of modified tools, cleaned up a bit with a Dremel
I've been using these modified tools for a couple of months now and have been quite pleased with how well they work. My welds have held up so far too. The modification still leaves both blade parts of the tool intact which is fairly important as I use them regularly, but it does render the nail puller unusable. I'm not sure how useful the nail puller really is anyway as I've always preferred to use a claw hammer or purpose built nail puller with a claw anyway.

Here's the tool in action. I think it bothers less bees than pushing the regular tool edge between the bars and as the part making contact is rounded rather than a right angle edge it's probably a little easier on the woodwork.

The Short Lug Hive Tool in use.

It's a very easy modification for anyone with rudimentary welding ability and a very old stick welder but it'd be nice if someone starts selling hive tools like this. I think it probably has a potential market out there especially as a few outfits are currently pushing Langstroth hives in the UK. I wanted to call it the rather catchy Frame Seperator X2000 Mark 1 Two Peg Modified Super Lucky Hive Tool Deluxe but beekeeping tools tend to be named after what they do or who invented them so I'll go with the less imaginative but quicker to type the Short Lug Hive Tool which tells you what it is and what it's for.

Two Short Lug Hive Tools


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Swarm Traps

After last Winter's surprisingly high losses my bee stocks are a bit low and demand seems to be pushing up the cost of new colonies. Normally I'd be looking at splitting existing colonies to make new ones but at present colonies aren't strong enough for that to be an option so I've decided to make some swarm traps to hopefully catch myself some passing swarms. Through a chance meeting I happen to know where there's  a chap who keeps bees and very unwisely does no swarm control at all so assuming he got some bees through the winter there's a likelihood of swarms from there at some point.

A swarm trap isn't really what it sounds like. It's not so much a trap as a rather nice house with the door left open. It's left out in the hope a passing swarm will spot it and move in. They can be as simple as a bucket or a cardboard container stuck up a tree, an unoccupied hive stuck on a shed roof, a purpose built wooden box and I've just seen a new one that looks like an empty kick bag too. I decided to build a couple of wooden boxes myself to place in trees.

I started roughing out some designs and measurements and designs. They're not the most complex things to build. You just need a box with a hole in it that you can open to remove the bees from. I decided to make mine to hold a few frames which should make bees easier to remove rather than having to deal with wild comb, it also means I can store frames in themm when they're not in use. Depending what you read bees will be seeking a 20-70 litre cavity. Some people use 5 frame National Nucs with success but that's probably on the small side. After some drawing and capacity calculations I decided to save a little time and money by making mine out of cut down brood boxes.

A couple of spare Brood Boxes about to be repurposed
First thing to do was use the trusty table saw to cut the boxes to size. To save time I used two of the existing corner joints already on each box. I cut two sides so that the finished boxes would be 30cm wide. Actually I cut one wrongly so had to do an extra cut and reattach a piece of wood to get one side the right length. Oops. The sides that would become the box fronts I removed some of the screws from the joints and cut them flush to the inside edge. The finger joints that got cut off I just glued them back in place. As swarm boxed they're not going to be weight bearing.

Precision wood butchery
I wanted to be able to put deep frames in and originally planned to use the existing rebate in the box sides to support them, however I decided the boxes would be stronger with an eke at the top to hold them together and increase the space inside for the bees.

Taking shape. The shape is an oblong.
A 1/2"  thick floor was screwed and glued underneath each cut down box and I made a little eke with rebates for the frames. The ekes were attached with nails in guide holes and more wood glue. They were then left for the glue to cure overnight.

Hook for hanging
The plan is to hang the traps from trees so borrowing an idea I saw on YouTube I added a vertical piece of wood with a large hole drilled near the top. My plan is to knock a big nail into a tree and use the hole in the plank as a hook. The vertical piece is going to be stuck between the box and a tree so I used tanalised wood to protect it from damp. It's on the outside of the box so the bees probably won't be making much contact with it. I gave the side that'll be against the box a coat of Shed & Fence paint before attaching it with more screws and glue - don't want the boxes dropping off afterall.


Usually bee hives are fee standing and the roof is able to sit on top, with sides reaching down around the box below, however as these are going to be hung in trees I couldn't do that. I opted to use a hinged roof attaching the hinge to the vertical support. The roof is just cut from some thick plywood.

Toby the Cat handling Quality Control
-yes, he's pretty clueless
I attached a batton to each of the short sides so I had some way to carry the boxes. I do the same thing with brood boxes. The whole lot got an uneven coat of  badly mixed bklack and brown Shed & Fence paint then I cut entrances with a wide drill bit. I actually drilled straight through a screw making one of the entrances which ended the working life of the drill bit which was a bit unfortunate but did give a natural non uniform looking hole.

One door opens..
Once occupied I'll need to move these boxes to get the bees into a hive so the entrances needed some sort of closing mechanism. I opted for a simple rotating door. As a hinge I took a regular wood screw and filed down part of the thread near the top. This went through a hole in the door with a washer between the rotating door and the screw top.

Entrance, Door and Doorstop.
I also added a door stop to reduce the chance of accidentally knocking the door open whilst moving the traps with bees in them. To keep the lids closed I attached a couple of brass plated hooks attached to screw eyes and drilled holes in the battens for the hooks to go into which will secure the roof closed.

Bitumen Paint and closures
I'd already given the roofs a lick of Shed & Fence paint where they don't make contact with the bees but decided to finish the roofs with some flash tape so I could form some sort of drip edge to guide rain away from the boxes. It's a lot more expensive than roof felt but easier to apply and more robust.The tape comes with some water based bitumen paint to prime the surface before applying the tape. I painted both roofs black and went inside to do something more interesting than watch paint dry. A few hours later I went outside and found it'd rained so reapplied the bitumen.

Pretty sure this will be the weakest point.
I think the hinge is the area most likely to suffer rain damage so I painted over the moving part and the side on the roof I also painted with bitumen then flash taped over. The vertical part is going into treated wood so should be okay but when I take them down at the end of the season I might give them a squirt of polyurethane varnish or something for extra protection. I applied the flash tape so it always overlapped and made drip edges by simply folding the tape back onto itself and then back to the underside of the roof. The roofs are larger than the boxes themselves with an obverhang on three sides.

Labelled so mice and birds don't mistake them for birdboxes
A few seconds scrawling on the front with a huge sharpie had the boxes labelled, just in case anyone gets curious and finds them occupied before I do. Each box holds 7 Deep Commercial Frames with a little more space at the bottom than a regular broodbox on a hive floor due to the eke on top. I think they've got a capacity of about 25 litres each. Believe it or not when looking for a new home scout bees measure the capacity of the cavities they find.


I loaded each box with a couple of old frames of dark comb, bees seem to like moldy old comb. Strange. I also gave each a couple of frames of undrawn fresh comb to give any swarms moving in something to do and filled the rest with empty frames. I also added some swarm bait and a little slumgum.

Big nail, that'll do it.
The swarm traps completed the next thing was to put them up trees. I found a couple trees in the area I was thinking of and put a nail in each high enough to keep the boxes just above head height. One tree I was able to climb a few feet, the other I just had to reach up and try not to hammer my thumb. As the holes in the traps wooden supports were fairly large it was easy enough to get them on the nails without being able to see what I was doing.


Once hanging from the nails the traps needed securing so they didn't rock or get blown off. One I stabilised by wrapping with a bungee chord, the other wasn't level so I wedged a piece of wood behind it and wrapped a ratchet strap around the whole thing to hold it still.

Half a brood box stuck up a tree.
Bees won't find that suspicious at all.

I've not tried this approach before and my placement of the traps is based more on them being out of the way of people and for myself to be able to remove them easily rather than the best position to attract bees but I'm going to see how it goes. I've also filled an empty hive with frames and a swarm lure at the apiary too so now I'll just cross my fingers and wait.

The second trap, also up a tree.

Monday, 30 April 2018

2018 Beverley Beekeepers Auction

Conflicting with Whitby Goth Weekend this year was Beverley Beekeepers' Annual Auction. No doubt this caused sleepless nights for many beekeepers in the East Riding as they deliberated whether to dust off the New Rocks and head for the coast or empty the back of the estate and head to Woodmansey in search of bees and woodware.

Jars, buckets, woodware, shiny things, fondant..
The Auction started at 11am on the Sunday morning, I rocked up at half past. The hall was noticeably fuller than previous years. As expected alongside the usual hives and Supers there was a huge range of equipment on offer, ranging from buckets of formic acid pads and sugar to microscopes and a cuddly toy.

Bucket of 10 Formic Acid Pads, went for a pound
Hard to imagine an apiary without one of these
Actually the bucket of Formic Acid went for £1, the cuddly Winnie the Pooh dressed as a bee and accompanied with a few large flowers went for £6. The acid is for treating Varroa, the Pooh bee and flowers are props for educating children about pollinators. I'm not sure what the Brunel SP20 Microscope went for but there was also a binocular microscope amongst the lots too.

Beekeeping isn't all banging nails and burning stuff
As usual there were a few shiny motorised extractors standing out against the boxes and wood. I bid on a couple of those but was unsuccessful so if I get a honey crop this year I'll be extracting with my trusty two frame manual extractor.

Motorised Extractor, it's gone to a new home.

One thing that caught my eye was the Honey Twin-Spin. A two frame electric extractor which appears to have been designed by some guy was hugely into fifties sci-fi and probably saw flying saucers in his sleep. It's a two frame radial extractor but unlike every other extractor I've ever seen holds the frames almost horizontal. It's made by Brinsea Products who are still around but nowadays focus on poultry rearing.A quick Google finds the extractor  mentioned in an old Kent Beekeepers Association Newsletter. The writer comments on how efficiently it extracted as well as being particularly easy to clean too. It didn't generate much interest and there was only myself and another chap bidding on it, he got it for £16. It's an odd looking and bulky thing but £16 for a motorised extractor is quite a steal.

Flash Gordon's Honey Extractor
In previous years there's usually been a lot of Nucs on sale, probably because most beekeepers get free ones with their first colonies and later it's probably one of the first things they build for themselves. I've made four myself, and still have a couple of others knocking about. This year the Nuc contingent was limited to a group of five brightly coloured wooden Nucs and a couple of Poly Nucs with built in feeders. Perhaps people are keeping their spare Nucs for making splits later in the year.

How come that bear is in so many photos? :-o
A couple of Poly Nucs
Of course the main draw was the bees. Winter losses over 2017/2018 have been seriously high across the UK, Europe, USA and Canada, figures I've heard bandied about have been up to 90% for some. This means there's going to be a lot of beekeepers looking to replace stocks and conversely far less bees available for sale.

Bees for sale

There were 12 colonies for sale this year. 8 of them were 5 frame Poly Nucs with July 2017 Queens ready to be hived.They went for £240-250 each. From the descriptions I think these nucs actually contained bigger colonies than my surviving hives at the moment. I've long since realised that trying to predict bidding is impossible so I wasn't hugely surprised when two full sized colonies in National Brood boxes complete with floor and roofs containing 6 and 7 frames of brood respectively went for £230 and £240 each. That's less than the smaller colonies in the Nucs and basically includes a usable hive. A Poly National hive with 6 frames of brood and four spare empty Supers also went for £240 and the last colony another Poly National but with a half filled Super and 3 spare empty Supers went for £250. The last colony I bought at a previous auction was £150 and one year in York I saw 2 Nucs going for £50 each, the prices this year probably reflected just how heavy the recent Winter losses have been.

These bees couldn't wait to get to work

It was really cold outside but a lot of people braved it for the bee sales. Before proceedings went back inside a gazebo and a 6x4' trailer also went under the hammer. Whilst probably not the first thing most people think of a Gazebo would've been really useful for me over Winter when I was working on hive floors in the snow. I've also had the weather change after painting hive parts and hd rain completely wash off the wet paint in the past.

The right place for a gazebo or trailer


Back in the warmth the hall was noticeably emptier. Probably as a lot of people had come specifically to buy bees -have I mentioned those Winter losses?.. I guess a few will also be going to the York Beekeepers' Association Auction on May 12th. After the bees have sold and the crowd has thinned a little is a good time for bagging a few bargains. A few people got honey buckets with lids at four for a pound, mesh floors went for a pound each too. I picked up a solid wooden floor for £7, that'll be going under a spare hive at the apiary in case a passing swarm feels like moving in. They're also handy to have around when you're moving full Supers and extracting.

Perfect for Asda
There's usually something unusual at these auctions and this time the oddest thing was probably a wooden box on wheels. Inside it on one side there were a couple of net curtain wires attached to the frame to hold things in place. The were also six swarm boxes on offer but they didn't meet their reserve.The swarm boxes are lightweight boxes the size of a 5 frame nuc with straps, a close fitting sliding lid and mesh areas for ventilation. When you're moving bees it's important to keep them cool. Being based in a city I've not had to travel far to collect a swarm yet so I just bring a Nuc when I go to collect them. If I was travelling further I'd probably think about one of these ventilated boxes.

Ratchet Straps, Uncapping Tray and Fondation

As the Auction progressed I picked up a box of beekeeping books and a medium size bee suit for a fiver, quite a few people are interested in seeing my bees so I got that for visitors. There was some steelware in the form of a couple of uncapping trays, that always gets interest. A large honey warming cabinet went for £30, useful things, this one looked like it could take a couple of buckets at a time. At the moment I have some jars of liquid honey that's granulated so they'll need a spell in my warming cabinet before they sell.

Honey Warming Cabinet
Something which didn't sell but would save someone a lot of labour was a motorised Honey Creamer. From the outside it looked a lot like an extractor but inside instead of a cage for frames there was a little propeller near the tank floor. You load it up with liquid honey, add some existing creamed honey from th previous year, turn it on then go do something else whilst it mixes. At the moment I use a strirring device that attaches to a drill and cream the honey in 9 litre buckets. It's still fairly hard work and takes a long time mix it consistently.

Honey Creamer
Stainless Steel Settling Tank with Filters
The second to last lot was a heavy little stack of glass rectangles. It turned out they were glass quits, basically a glass Crown Board. Each was in two halves and each half made from two panes of glass joined together. They allow a beekeeper to see where the bees are in the hive without fully opening the colony. I'm not sure why these are in halves but it might be to do with weight and strength, it'll also mean not having to open up the full hive at once which should reduce flying bees. Nobody was interested in them although polycarbonate quilts had had some interest earlier in the day, so I them up for £2, making them £1 each. I'll see how they are to use -if I like them I may be popping up the road to Jack's Glass for some more. The last item was a very tall stainless steel Settling Tank with built in filters. I was interested in that but so was everybody else so it was soon bid out of my intended budget.

Section Racks
Towards the end I managed to pick up a pair of Section Racks with metal spacers. There was the usual boxes of jars and foundation. I didn't need any foundation this year having traded in a load of wax for foundation last year. I did pick up 72 1/2lb jars with lids for £12 and 72 1lb jars with lids for 17. Not the most interesting purchases of the year but jars are quite an overhead for beekeepers so any chance to save on them is welcome.
Solid hive floor and a little reading material
 When I got home with my little haul the first thing to do was scorch everything - well okay not the books, that'd've gone pretty badly, but the floor, section racks, their metal spacers and even the smoker, whilst it doesn't come into contact with bees it comes into contact with gloves that probably have.

Snelgrove Board, front and back views
I had bid on a couple of Snellgrove Boards but didn't win, however the chap from Green Man Honey who had won them was kind enough to sell me one after the auction. They're made from two thicknesses of ply with cutaways at the exits on one side, an unusual way to do it but will certainly make for a strong board. When I scorched it the glue holding the mesh liquefied so I scraped it off, burnt it off the mesh then stapled the mesh back in place.

This Smoker reminds me of The Klangers.
It was a fairly busy day, with three different auctioneers taking the gavel. The impact of the Winter losses on attendance was pretty obvious. As usual the auction is a handy place for beginners to quickly and cheaply stock up on kit. As well as the sales mentioned above National Hives assembled and painted, complete with two supers were going for £40-£50 each.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Floored

In response to last Winter's losses which were worse than all my previous years added together I've decided to switch from treating Varroa by trickling oxalic acid solution to vapourising it instead. The main difference for me is that whilst both treatments work best when there is no brood in the hive trickling can only be done once a season whereas the Oxalic Vapour treatment can be repeated. Last Winter was warm enough in November, December and the first half of January for the bees to continue raising brood, this delayed my application of Oxalic Acid solution and also reduced it's efficacy. If I was vapourising I'd've been able to apply it two three times a week apart. My regular open mesh floors would need sealing up to use a vapouriser  which would be a bit awkward so I decided to make new floors to better accommodate a vapouriser.

Rather than reinventing the wheel I looked at a few floor types and decided to make a version of the "Kewl Floor." Terrible name sounds like something from an 80's teen oriented music magazine, possibly it was invented by a chap with an unfortunate name - doubt it though. The Kewl floor is based on the Dartington Hive floor and similar to a Heather Floor.The entrance is a set back vertical 8-9mm wide slot which mice can't get through and the bees can better defend from wasps by having guards on both sides.

There's a few webpages with plans and descriptions of the Kewl Floor, my starting point was a post on The Apiarist's blog with lots of handy pictures and even a cutting list for National Hive size floors, I use Commercial Brood Boxes which are (meant to be) 5mm longer and wider than Nationals and based my floors on wood available from B&Q as, fairly typically, I decided to start work in the late evening and they were still open. As per usual I took a tape measure along as wood is sold using "nominal" measurements which seems to be wood yard speak for "we're shortchanging you."

I found the B&Q's nominal 47x75mm meant 46x72mm, their 22x75mm was 21x70mm and their 25x100mm was actually 21x96mm. So a difference of 1 to 5mm depending on which measurement you're looking at. Whipping out an Android Tablet and firing up the excellent Google Keep I knocked out a quick design based based on three different sizes of wood with a 465 x 465mm footprint. My plan was to make floors that I could treat using a Vapouriser from below the mesh floor.

Google Keep diagram - just add 22mm battens on top

To accommodate a vapouriser the rear wall of the floor which would be below the mesh needed a 14x90mm slot cutting into it. That meant a quick trip out to buy a chisel. I'm pretty sure with a bit more time and patience a semi decent carpenter or trained monkey could've made a nice uniform cut but I was working outside, it was cold dark and snowing so I just did it quickly and tidied up the face with a file.

14x90mm slots to accommodate vapouriser
I decided to build the floors using wood glue and screws. That may be a bit of overkill given the strength of modern wood glues but with a few supers and an artifical swarm on top the hives can be extremely heavy. Marking the outside surfaces with a rough map of where the pieces would go I drilled pilot holes for the screws.

You know the drill

I used a drill with a screwdriver bit and lubricated the screw threads with a little wood glue. Using such long screws turned out to be a complete pain the proverbial. I had problems with screws getting stuck part way in and the drill stripping the heads so I'd have to stop and use huge plumbing pliers to grab the head and slowly remove the things before trying again with a new screw.. eventually I switched to nails. I gather nails have a greater shear strength than screws although screws are better for holding pieces tightly together. Switching to nails with pilot holes and a little wood glue really sped things up.

Stripped screw head. Again.
Clamping the pieces to screw and nail together took a little creativity with the clamps, I gather corner clamps exist but I don't have any. What I ended up doing was attaching the rear piece first then the front pieces and finally clamping the middle vertical piece tight against a 9mm drill bit to get the correct gap size for the slot.  It took a little knocking with a hammer to get the middle piece of wood in place. There is a bit of wriggle room in the 8-9mm slot with really as it's intended to give room or the bees to pass back to back. The important thing is not to leave a gap over 9mm wide otherwise your hive becomes a Winter Mouse House.

9mm drill bit as a spacer

Snow! Fantastic...
With the main structure and the entrances complete the floors needed a mesh section over the main area. I had a couple of mesh squares knocking about from previous projects and ordered another ten from Simon the Beekeeper. Initially I took a mesh square and cut out an area slightly wider than the entrance slot and stapled it in place then put the 22mm battens forming the top edge over it. Cutting a slot in the mesh was a bit of hard work. I later cut a rectangles big enough to cover the hole but small enough to fit inside the battens and stapled them in. I used stainless steel staples to hold the mesh as I don't want condensation to rust them -that and I a load left from re roofing my chicken coop.

Two down, eight to go
I was initially measuring and cutting the battens to fit the floors but decided a faster and more accurate way was just to attach the whole batten butted against an off cut then cut the excess then repeat butted against the previous piece. This saved a lot of time, accommodated tolerances across the pieces and removed of wastage from measuring mistakes ..which I did manage a few of earlier - used them to fuel the chimnea I'd lit to supplement the three pocket warmers I was using as most if this was done across a few freezing February evenings.

Sliding Bottom Boards
The bottom boards were made from thin plywood I'd found someplace. I made thin wooden runners to go underneath the boards making a very close fit and attached a batten under the rear of each board to function as a handle underneath.. I actually only made three of these wooden sliding boards as I only had a little plywood and make the rest from correx. The correx ones are just to use as regular sliding bottom boards for checking varroa drop but the wooden boards should be able to support a hot vapouriser. I'm only going to be able to vapourise one hive at a time anyway so three wooden boards should be okay. You can buy correx sheets but its easy to find free as it's used for signs which often wind up in skips or just fly tipped.


One completed floor with fitted wooden bottom board
I made ten floors in total. I don't really intend to have ten full size colonies in the foreseeable future but it's handy to have a few spares around in case something unexpected happens. I also like to be able to swap out floors for fresh ones after winter to remove any dead bees and detritus and sterilise them.

Art Attack
I gave the finished floors a lick of shed and fence paint on the outer surfaces leaving the inside and pack of the entrance area unpainted. I used some badly mixed brown and black paint to give an uneven coloured finish making the floors look a little less tempting to others and making each one unique which I hope will make it easier for the bees to identify which entrance is their own hive and reduce drift.

10 Finished Floors
I'm quite pleased with the finished floors but it later occured to me they could be improved by having the lower part on the entrance sloping down instead of horizontal. It would mean making an angled cut along the back of the landing board so it fits flush to the back of the alcove and make drilling pilot holes a little tricky but would have two advatages. Firstly rain would run off and secondly anything the bees drop out of the entrance it such as dead brood, bees, wasps, bits of wax, newpaper from unites etc would fall away too.