In England, like most places in the world (except Australia!) colonies of honeybees are infested with the varroa mite. This causes a lot a harm to the bees because Varroa mites feed off the bodily fluids of adult, pupal and larval honey bees, and may carry viruses that are particularly damaging to the bees (e.g., deformed wings, and IAPV), and accordingly they have been implicated in colony collapse disorder. The varroa mite cannot be eradicated but it can be controlled.
The medicine I will be using for my hives is called Apiguard and it comes in a can which you place on top of the frames in the brood box. The bees crawl over the medicine in the can and the mites fall from the bees. To accommodate the can on top of the brood box frames, a space needs to be created. The eke, I am going to show you how to build create this space.
I purchased two 2.4m by 30mm x 20mm timber battens. These battens are enough to build two ekes for a National Hive and each eke will provide a gap above the brood box of 30mm. The National hive is 46mm wide and I cut the two timber battons down to eight 46mm pieces. I use a tenor saw.
With a spare piece of the batten, mark the depth of the batten upon the newly cut pieces of timber.
Mark-up each batten, so the end of the timber has too equal pieces – I have marked mine ‘A’ and ‘B’ and put hatched lines over the piece I wish to cut out.
I have invested in a corner-clamp and the one above is made by ‘Record’. This tool is worth its weight in gold because you can get the perfect corner!
The battens are placed together to form a joint.
I drill a pilot hole into the lug of the joint to prevent it from splitting when I hammer in the nail. With hindsight, I think I should have drilled the holes into the lug of the joints before putting them in the clamp. Once the pilot holes are drilled I nail the corner together.
I continue nailing the eke together until it is fully assembled. The eke is very strong and corners do not move!
It is important that there are no gaps in the joints as this will create useful crevices for wax moths and other insects to live and get into the hive.
I use wood filler like ‘plastic wood’ to fill the gaps.
I give the wood filler 24 hours to dry then sand down the rough edges.
I apply Danish Oil to the exterior of the eke to give it a degree of weather resistance.
Give the ekes 24 hours to dry. You might wish to consider applying 3 coats of Danish Oil onto the exterior of the eke. Once dry you can place the eke on the hive above the brood box.
Part 2 of the this blog will show how the eke is placed onto the hive and how the Apiguard is applied.