Bee shed: design

Having recently finished the duck island project, I will of course take a break from building… nah! I’m already designing my next homestead project: a shed to store beekeeping equipment.

I’ve actually had a plan for this for over a year, and received delivery of building materials for it and other projects back in April last year. But this project has finally bubbled to near the top of my queue. 

Here is a stack of building materials waiting in the hoop house:

Building materials

And more lumber (only about half of these will be used for this project; the rest are spare):

Building materials

Beekeeping involves a fair amount of equipment, which we currently store in the back of our workshop (along with other stuff, e.g. a cider press):

Beekeeping equipment

Beekeeping equipment

There’s plenty of room back there, but it’s a bit of a trek from the shop to the hives, so it’d be more convenient to have the equipment closer at hand if we need to add a hive box or something. 

And hey, we have this old potting shelter that we inherited with the property:



It is conveniently near the beehives:




So I plan to enclose it with more 2×6 boards and corrugated galvanized steel panels, with clear corrugated panels for windows, and double doors. Inside, it’ll have U-shaped wooden shelving in the back half, weed mat and rubber flooring on the ground, and even a mirror and coathooks for our bee suits.

Yesterday, I took that photo above as a background and sketched the boards and panels onto it using Linea Sketch on my iPad Pro with Pencil. The perspective isn’t quite right, but close enough to indicate the design:

Bee shed design

Imagine clear corrugated panels in the gaps of the walls, and U-shaped plywood shelves on top of those supports.

Here is a time-lapse GIF of the drawing process (warning, there are quick flashes of blue as I hid the background layer while drawing, if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing):


Since this is an outside construction project, it is weather dependent — with the big snowstorm we’re expecting over the next few days, I likely won’t start for a week or two. But I’m looking forward to it. Stay tuned for updates!

More ducklings day 7

Your daily dose of ducklings. Plus I went to the feed store to get more food for them, since I was almost out.






This is the non-medicated start & grow food I give both the newer ducklings and older ducks. They have this from day 1 until they’re old enough to start laying:

Duckling food

(As the name implies, there is a medicated variety, that I feed to baby chicks, but ducklings don’t need that medication.)

Yes, this is chick food, but suitable for ducklings too, supplemented with some brewer’s yeast for the niacin ducklings need, plus some rolled oats to cut down the protein:

Duckling food

More ducklings day 1

Welcome to day one of the latest ducklings!

In case you missed it, the TL;DR is that we were concerned about having more boys than girls, which can lead to fighting and other issues, so decided to get seven more female ducklings, so we’ll have a total of five males and ten females — two girls for every boy (reminds me of a song).

Today those new ducklings arrived at our local post office, so I headed out to pick them up.

As usual, I secured them on the front seat in the truck:

Ducklings in the truck seat

The new ducklings in their box, with me about to remove them (photos by my wonderful wife, Jenn):

Ducklings in box

Notice the other setup in the duck house (since I decided not to do a followup to my previous prep post): the shelf liner flooring (to give traction to wobbly ducklings), the Brinsea EcoGlow heating panel, the lowered heat lamp, the thermometer, and the duckling-sized waterer and feeder. It won’t look as clean for long.

Ducklings in the box, with their gel food and heat pack:

Ducklings in box

Ducklings in box

Duck info:

Duck info

The first one out, the Blue Swedish:


The Buff. I’m not sure what’s on her head; I’ll have to take a closer look at that (I’d guess either gel or poop):


The Khaki Campbell, about to have her bill dipped in the water to introduce the concept of drinking:


One of the Rouens:


Another Rouen; there are four of them, so I’ll skip the other two:


Everyone out and exploring:




The temperature is too low in these pictures, as the pop door was open shortly beforehand. It should be 90°F initially; it raised later:






A couple of hours later, already starting to accumulate poop, and the temperature is at the ideal level under the lamp:


The Buff sitting under the EcoGlow (which could be a bit lower; I forgot how tiny day-old ducklings are!):

Duckling under EcoGlow

I hope you enjoyed seeing brand-new ducklings again! (And did you see and listen to the video?)

I currently plan to continue with the daily posts like I did for the earlier batch, though I may decide to reduce the frequency or simplify in some other way. It’s almost a rerun of the earlier ducklings, though no doubt there will be differences.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again: more ducklings!

Yesterday I posted some musings about getting more female ducklings, to address the current imbalance of five males and three females, and expected issues that will cause as the males mature.

After sleeping on it, we decided to go ahead with that idea.

So, we just ordered seven new ducklings, all female. (Hopefully there won’t be any errors this time!) To keep things simple, we got the same four breeds as before, so there will be two females for each male of each breed. Not that they care.

That includes one more female Buff, like Betty (adult duck pictures from

Buff Duck Pair

Plus one Blue Swedish:

Blue Swedish duck

One Khaki Campbell:

Khaki Campbell ducks

And four female Rouens, since we have two males:

Rouen ducks

(Click those links to learn more about each, if interested.)

So, just when I was thinking of winding down the daily duckling posts, I’ll be starting again! It’s good timing, though, since the ducks don’t need the duck house anymore (other than to eat, which they can do outside), but I still have duckling food, and can leave the temporary run in place for when the newer ducklings are old enough for it in a few weeks time.

You can look forward to lots more cute baby duckling pics again starting in about a week!

For a preview, you can review the earlier duckling posts; this link will show them all in chronological order. I’ll use a new tag, imaginatively titled “ducklings 2020 again”, for this second batch of ducklings.

Two new nucs

Yesterday we drove two hours to Eugene, Oregon (and two hours back) to pick up two nucs — nucleus bee hives, i.e. small starter hives.

The bee pickup was quite a streamlined production, with a line of cars, and people loading the nucs into vehicles:

Bee pickup

Interesting plastic nuc boxes:

Plastic nuc boxes

A sign of the times on the way home:

Stay Home, Save Lives sign

We stopped by the feed store on the way home to get some chicken and duck supplies, which resulted in some escaping bees (here our truck is parked on the grass near the hives):

Escaping bees

The straw and other supplies squeezed the left nuc box enough to let some bees escape. The lids weren’t as secure as they could be. It looks like a lot of bees, but isn’t all that many really:

Escaping bees

We’ve ordered components for a sixth hive, but they haven’t arrived yet, so we used a temporary base and a bit of plywood for a lid:

New hive

Opened nuc:

Opened nuc

Frame with queen. Can you see her? We didn’t spot her at the time, but noticed her in this photo, at the bottom just right of center (the long dark bee):

Frame with queen

A brood frame:

Brood frame

The new hive with the five nucs frames added, and a pollen patty for extra food to get them started:

New hive

Nuc for the “hot pink” hive:

Nuc for hot pink hive

Some nice brood frames:

Brood frame

Brood frame

Brood frame

We spotted this queen; the long dark bee on the left of the picture:


A closeup of some bees:


The empty nuc box; we shook most of these bees onto the top of the hive, so they’d find their way inside:

Empty nuc box

We took a look in the older hives. In the cedar hive, we saw their queen (near the top):

Cedar hive queen

Nice new comb in the yellow hive:

Nice new comb in yellow hive

We didn’t see a queen (or sign of one) in the yellow hive, but saw many queen cups, so they’re working on making one. Remember, we recently split the yellow hive to the cedar hive, so now we know which one got their queen, and which one is making a replacement. We’ll check again later to make sure they’re successful:

Many queen cups

A nice honey frame:

Honey frame

We now have six hives:

Six hives

A closer look at the purple, temporary new one, and yellow hives:


A closer look at the cedar, hot pink, and orange hives:


All six from the other side:

Six hives

Home Depot delivery for greenhouse, compost, bee shed projects

This past week I received a delivery from Home Depot of materials for the greenhouse plumbing project, the compost bins project, and the bee shed project.

In normal times, Home Depot delivery is great for materials that are too large for our truck. In these pandemic times, delivery has the extra benefit of not having to go to the store.

Since there’s a fixed $79 delivery charge for any amount of materials, I tend to bundle up multiple projects into one big order, to make the most of it.

I’ll discuss those projects in future posts, but briefly, the greenhouse plumbing is adding taps and irrigation in the greenhouse (currently underway); the compost one is building new compost bins, since our current ones are small and overflowing; the bee shed is enclosing an old potting shelter near the beehives to store beekeeping equipment.

Here’s the delivery truck; as usual, we’re the last order on the delivery route:


The longest boards in the bundle are 16 feet long, so the driver had to lift it high to get above the veggie garden fence to deliver into our hoop house; skillfully done:

Lifted high

The delivery items:

Delivery items

Delivery items

A closer look; pipes for the greenhouse (and lots spare); wood and corrugated steel and clear plastic for the bee shed; other wood for the compost bins:

Delivery items

On the end, a box of smaller bits — roofing screws, PVC adhesive, door hardware, corrugated gap fillers, etc.

Delivery items

On the other end, irrigation tubing and parts:

Delivery items

Stay tuned for more on these projects in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Gas holder & feed store supplies

Before I could mow I needed to get some gas (petrol for non-US readers) for the mowers. Securing the gas cans in the bed of the truck is always a bit tricky, so on a whim I whipped up a wooden holder for them, that contains them securely:

It’s attached to the bed both via a bungee across the top, and a hook directly onto an attachment ring, so it won’t slide around:

I also did my monthly run to the local feed store (15 minutes away; the closest shops to home), where I got several bags of chicken feed, bird seed, and peanuts for the jays:

Homestead life: supplies

About once a month I make a trip to the local post office to check the PO Box (usually just junk mail), to the feed store for chicken & bird food, and the gas station for mower gas.

The feed store supplies include medicated chick feed for the youngsters, layer chicken feed for the adults, sunflower seeds and peanuts for the bird feeders, and pine shavings bedding for the coops.

We go through about 10 gallons of gas each month, mowing all the lawns & field.  (Usually I also fill a 2 gallon container, but that wasn’t empty this time.)