Building a cat shelter: roofing

Continuing my series on building a new cat house (previous post: finished painting), over the last few days I did the roofing.

But first, I put the walls back onto the floor:

Here’s a view inside, showing the feeder storage area on the left, and the shelter on the right:

The roof and facades also back on:

I then added metal drip strip to the edges of the roof. This helps protect the edges from rain:

Also on the awnings:

Then added roofing underlayment tar paper, which serves as a layer of waterproofing:

Tar paper on the roof:

Next is a shingles starter strip, which has self-adhesive underneath, and a strip of adhesive at the bottom of the top side, to help secure the first course of shingles. While not strictly necessary, without this starter strip, the bottom edge of the shingles wouldn’t be as securely attached, so could blow up in the wind:

Then the asphalt shingles were added, with each course offset (for a nicer appearance, and so the gaps aren’t all in a line):

The shingles are nailed in the center, so the nails are hidden under the subsequent row. They have adhesive at the bottom, which sticks when the shingles heat up once they are exposed to the sun:

Here’s the roof almost completed (just the very top course not installed yet):

Starter strips on the awnings:

Shingles in progress:

The roof fully completed:

With the facades added back, you can see the wall-to-roof flashing on top of the shingles:

The awnings finished. The nails at the top of the awnings will be hidden under trim boards. The one on the shelter (left) side will also serve as the bottom frame of the windows:

I may have over-strained myself doing the roofing yesterday; my hand was feeling pins-and-needles for hours afterwards, and is still slightly tingly, though improving. So I’m taking a day off construction and other garden projects today to rest.

Like painting, doing the roofing was a major milestone; it’s looking much closer to being finished now.

Next up: installing the windows, window trim, doors, etc.

Bees at the fast food restaurant

For new beehives, that are building up their brood frames and their own honey reserves (and not yet producing honey for us to harvest), we feed them a 2:1 mix of sugar and water, that I call bee juice.

This is the bee equivalent of fast food: rather than flying to harvest nectar from flowers, and arduously converting it into honey, they can just sip up the sugar water from a convenient feeder right in front of the hive, and store that away for later.

(Fun fact: an average worker bee will produce only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. And yes, the workers are all female.)

Of course, bee juice isn’t as good for them, and we certainly don’t want to feed this to bees producing honey for us (we want real honey, not sugar water), but it really helps young hives get off the ground.

I refilled the dispensers on our two new hives this morning. With the plastic jar removed, you can see several bees sipping at the sugar water (the wooden base is hollow, so they can crawl from the hive to under the feeder):

Here’s the feeder with the jar in place:

Each hive will typically go through a jar of juice in about a week. Each jar contains 4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water, which takes quite a while to dissolve in a pot on the oven hob. (For comparison, hummingbird juice is 1:4, i.e. 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water, which I can dissolve just using hot water from the tap.)

Building a cat shelter: finished painting

I’ve now completed painting the new cat house, including two coats of the four colors, and touch-ups. (Previous post about painting here.)

Here you can see several of the pieces: in the foreground is the feeder side door and several bits of trim for around windows; behind them is the floor, then the walls, and in the top-left is the facade front door:

Here’s a closer look at the facade front door (sitting on a pile of wood):

The walls, from the front-right side. The unpainted top of the awning will be covered by roofing materials:

The back-right of the walls:

The back of the facades:

I was supervised by Pepper, one of the two feral cats that live in the shop:

Next up: roofing for the awnings and roof!

Bee inspection & second harvest

Yesterday we did a bee inspection and the second harvest from the Flow hive (see the first harvest in a previous blog post).

We did a full inspection of all of the hives (except for one box of the purple hive, as they were being extra cranky). Here’s Jenn starting on the bottom box of the Flow hive:

And the top box:

A frame with a bunch of honey:

A bunch of worker brood:

Harvesting honey from the Flow hive:

Jenn relaxing while waiting for the honey to finish, as we enjoyed the shade and quiet (other than some cranky guard bees):

The haul: six pints of honey (about 3 liters). About half as much as last time, but still not bad for three weeks:

Five years

Yesterday marked the five year anniversary of moving in to our homestead.

It was already landscaped when we bought it, but we have done lots of additional improvements, including planting lots of trees (and removing some too), adding bark and other decorative touches, adding and extending garden beds, and much more.

It’s impressive just looking at the tree growth over these years.

Here are some pictures from five years ago, and the corresponding views today.