First thing this morning after the fog lifted, I headed out to the bees to check them and take some frames. In two of the new hives, I found the queen pretty quickly, and they are motoring along just fine. In the third new hive, there were a LOT of bees. And they were not happy when I disturbed them by popping off the inner cover. Unfortunately, I could not keep my smoker lit for some reason, and all the pine needles out there were wet from yesterday’s rain – I’m going to have to keep a bucket of pine needles in the shed just for that. In any case, I did not spot the queen on my short trip into that hive, but there are more bees now than the last time, so I figure she’s there. I popped open established hive #2, and they were also not very happy, but I took three frames from them anyway and replaced them with empty frames. Then I dragged all my equipment on the wagon from the orchard to the garage. I can see a golf cart sort of vehicle in our future here. People may ask, why not use the tractor? It’s very loud, and the vibrations from it would disturb the bees, making them even more difficult to deal with when the hive is open.
After bringing in the frames, we had to let those wait until the afternoon, since Gabs and the monkeyboy would not be available to test out our new equipment in the morning. So, I got started on the first framing for a compost tumbler.
Make the Ts for the sides.
Stand it up, measure 17″ from the top to drill a hole to slide the rod through.
Drill the holes in each side T, the drill out a hole on either side of the barrel. Slide the rod through, adding the PVC bushing (outside the barrel), locknut and threaded PVC connector (inside the barrel) on either side, and slide the rod through the other T stand. Put the lid on, and presto! Tumbling composter.
I added a bracing board at the bottom to connect the two uprights for stability and strength, and trimmed the conduit on either side. The rod holes in the barrel are slightly above center, to make sure that the top part is always upright when the spinning stops. I also drilled a series of small air holes on either side of the barrel: three evenly spaced holes in each of the rings you see there on the barrel. It’s high enough on the frame that when the compost is ready to come out, a wheelbarrow will fit nicely under it so it can be dumped and shoveled out very easily.
It’s not terrifically heavy, but it’s heavy enough to withstand the types of storms we get around here. This was the first one, and it took less than an hour. The second one, however, took forever, and involved much cursing: the board that formed the uprights was, for whatever reason, one of those boards that seems to be impervious to drilling. I wound up with half screws and half nails in that one, because it was such a massive pain in the ass. But that is done as well, and now we have one, and Gabs can take one home. Then I’ll have to build another one or two for us here at the ranch, as we have plenty of stuff that needs to be composted.