Thursday, May 29, 2014

Remodeling - Running wires, better than wire nuts

I had to move a couple of switches, and install a new closet ceiling fixture at the rental.  While I was doing it, I tried to get up to code as much as I could, so I installed junction boxes for two of the connections.  Another one had wires too short to make an accessible junction box, and I couldn't replace the wires, so I just reconnected them.  I found these at Lowe's.  I hate wire nuts, especially with thick wire, and these saved a lot of trouble.  They come in different sizes to connect 2, 3, or 4 wires together and you just strip the wires and then push them in.  They have a possible downside that they aren't removable (at least without a lot of trouble) but if you know you're hooking up the right wires, that shouldn't be a problem.

Anyway, as far as I can tell electrical code requires junctions to be in accessible boxes, so I used these single-gang outlet boxes.  I couldn't find blank plastic face plates for the normal metal junction boxes, and I didn't want ugly metal plates.  These will take a standard blank faceplate.  They also attach from the front of the 2x4 instead of from the side, so no swinging a hammer in a small space, and the lip automatically aligns it to sit flush with the drywall when it is finished.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting rid of "popcorn" texture

My wife started painting some of the ceilings at our rental, and the popcorn texture just made a huge mess.  It kept coming off and dropping paint everywhere, sticking to the roller, etc.  So I took one of these floor scrapers that we got from Harbor Freight to scrape up linoleum.  It worked wonders.  The picture below is the after picture.  That makes it much easier to paint, and is closer to the more modern "orange peel" textures.  Just be careful; I didn't have any problems, but I imagine you could gouge the ceiling if you don't stay flat with the scraper blade.

The scraper we used

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rearranged the hive - Sometimes the adventures suck

I rearranged the hive, and it was not a good day.  I don't have any hive pictures of import, as nothing really looked any different.  They were filling out the empty foundation that I had moved closer to the center.  But they really didn't enjoy me splitting the brood into a new box.  I got stung twice, once in each thumb.  The first one, I didn't feel at all.  I just saw her stuck to my thumb, and while I was wondering what was going on, she left her stinger behind as she crawled away.  I guess she hit dead skin.  But I got hit on the other thumb right after I pulled that first stinger out.  That picture on the left is what it looks like after 2 days; just a tiny blood blister, sorta, and feels like I have a splinter or something.  But at the time, my thumb was going numb.  I put my gloves on fairly quick after that.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ad: Harbor Freight, something I didn't know - Retroactive coupons

Harbor Freight Tools - Save 25% to 50% Off!
I signed up as a Harbor Freight affiliate, and got their 20% off coupon up.  I don't think I had ever read the fine print on it, except to see what it WOULDN'T let me buy, like generators or toolboxes.  What I had never noticed is that it is not good for purchases made more than 30 days ago without a receipt.  What this really means is that if you bought something 28 days ago, and have the receipt, you can take the coupon and receipt up there and get your 20% off.  That's pretty cool.  The link to the left takes you to their page with the big 20% off entire purchase, etc, but you have to spend 100 dollars or more.  Below that is another 20% off "click for coupon" banner, and that one is off a single item regardless of price.  Both have the same retroactive wording in the fine print.  I wonder if all of their coupons do? (Update: Apparently the 10/15/20% off entire purchase coupons expired on the 30th, so I've changed the link to the weekly sale, which should have a 20% off one item at the top, plus any freebies.)

FYI, I'm trying to do "affiliate marketing" as another possible line of small side income.  With a blog that only gets 300 hits or so a month, I don't have a lot of hope, but that's standard with me anyway.  I signed up for CJ Affiliate (used to be Commission Junction) and I only have to make one sale every 6 months to keep the account open.  Of course, if I don't, they charge me 10 bucks and close the account, so I won't be out much if it fails.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Burr comb and Queen Cups

I did another hive inspection last week (you really are only supposed to do it every other week or something, but it doesn't hurt TOO much to do it every week, or so I've been told) and things were a little weird.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My new theory on dogs burying stuff

I've developed a new theory on why dog's bury stuff; maybe they don't do it on purpose.

These two dogs are monsters.  The German shepherd, in particular, is a frisbee monster.  She loves to chase them to the point that she can't help herself, regardless of how tired she is.  I use it to give her exercises until she's to the point that she can't keep her tongue in her mouth.  When we go in the house, she just flops in the floor, normally after splashing water out of her bowl to lay in.  (Here, they were playing and biting each other, and I thought it looked funny.)

Anyway, the German, Ruby, loves to chase it, as I said, but she's also figured out that she can "throw" it for herself.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association Potluck

I went to the Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association potluck on Tuesday.  Not really a meeting, but I did get my questions answered.  For one, I had forgotten that the queen mated with up to 12-15 drones (according to wikipedia).  So she may have mated with one german drone or something and that's why I get a few dark bees.  I was also told that even the pacakged bees probably won't kick out the drones until the summer dearth, so still seeing drones is also normal.

I also finally found my queen.  I was updating my bee log by going through the pictures and counting frames of brood vs honey, etc. while also checking for the queen again.  Sure enough, I found her at the bottom of a frame, with her paint dot barely visible.  I may not have seen her in the flesh, but I at least recognized her shape in the photo before I even noticed the dot, so that's something.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New ant proof hive stand

When I installed the screened bottom board, I also moved the hive onto a new ant-proof stand.  I hadn't gotten a picture of it until now, so here it is.

It is based off of a design here, or at least the idea of using high-temp grease in upside down cups instead of vaseline is.  I don't trust pounding a single pole in straight, and my wife doesn't want anything pounded in at all, for fear of hitting a sprinkler line, so even two per end wouldn't work.  So I welded a full frame up.  I originally tried it with an oxy/acetylene welder, because I was out of gas for my mig, but the welds just wouldn't hold.  They looked fine, but broke when I pounded on them.  I  finally remembered that I had some flux core wire laying around and used that.  1.5 hours per joint per attempt, several attempts over 3 days with the oxy welding, vs 15 minutes tops per joint with the flux-core.  So even if the oxy welds held, I wouldn't use that for something I really needed done soon unless I absolutely had to.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Remodeling - Foundation Problems

Another problem we found with the house after we pulled the carpet is a slight foundation issue.  We new there were a couple of cracks on the outside of the foundation, but the inspector thought they were probably "surface cracks", since he didn't find any cracks running through the brick.  And we found doors that didn't close and one with a pulled-apart casing(?), but it looked like the previous owners were trying to fix things, and were just doing a lousy job.  For instance, the door with the cracked casing hasn't been painted yet and still has the label on it, but doesn't fit in the frame.  So maybe they bought a wrong sized door, or hung it wrong, or something.

But now we find that one of the foundation cracks runs right up to that cracked casing.  So the casing may still be pulled apart because the previous owners didn't know what they were doing or something, but it may be that the reason they were fixing the door was because the foundation had shifted enough to keep it from working anyway.

Monday, May 12, 2014


We've recently bought a house to rent out and have been remodeling it.  One of the things we are doing is splitting the master bedroom up into two rooms.

The house smells like cat so the first thing we did was pull the carpet, and then we found out that the master used to be two rooms, pretty much the way we were going to divide it.  In this photo, you can see the marks on the floor from the original walls, and the floor was apparently tiled.  I've got two walls built, and sheetrock torn out for the end of another wall (a walk-in closet will go there).  The open door leads to a hallway.  So basically, we extend the hallway to the walk-in closet, with a door to the left (foreground) and a door to the right (background).  The foreground room will have the new walk-in closet, as well as keeping the master bath.  The background room will keep the existing, smaller closet.  (The two leaning boards aren't supporting anything, they are just just leaned out of the way.  I think they are the ones I cut for the top and bottom plate of the doorway to the background room.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Missing Queen, and Big Black Bee

I did a hive inspection today, the first since I added an extra deep while switching the bottom board out for a screened bottom.  I didn't get to do my inspection then to see if they were ready for the deep, but I figured they had to be close, so I added it anyway.  It turns out, they still only have 6 of the 10 original frames drawn out completely, so I'm too early.  But I don't know if there is any harm in having it there, so I'm leaving it.
I got my camera back from my daughter, so it's easier to post pictures this time.  I still need to pull other pictures off of my phone and my camcorder (if I can even find it) and when I do I'll go back and update the other posts.  For now, here are some pics...

Switch to Screened Bottom Board

I want to leave an entrance reducer on to prevent robbing of my boardman feeder, while still leaving enough ventilation for the summer.  So I replaced my bottom board with an SBB from plans at last Sunday.  I screwed up the dados, because 1) my tablesaw drifted up while making the second pass at the wide dado and 2) I mis-measured the second dado.  So the sides don't sit right, don't meet well enough for glue to hold, and are only held on by nails.  Also, the frame sits 1/8" too low, which I forgot about when cutting the back filler board, so I ended up with an extra entrance that I had to cover with mesh.
The only 1/8"x1/8" mesh I could find was gutter/vent screening by New York Wire at Lowe's, but it's only 8" wide.  So I had to use three strips and basically sewed them together to keep bees from getting between them.

The only intentional difference from the plans is that I used 2x4 instead of 1x4 for the side rails.  I'll get a picture of it soon, but they are crooked because of the crooked dados, so I'm probably going to add a front end board to act both as stop for the sticky board and to reinforce the side rails.

Once I got the hive on the new base, I tried to shake the bees from the old base into the hive, like when I installed them.  Apparently, this only really works if they are wet, as they just ended up in the air.  My wife got chased around the yard by one of them, so I figured it was probably a bad idea to also try to do a hive inspection.  I did one today instead, and I'll post about that next.

I did move the hive onto a new ant proof stand and put the boardman back in front with an entrance reducer.  I filled the now empty top box with 4 plasticell and 6 foundationless frames, figuring the bees should be about ready for it.  The two center frames are plasticell, with foundationless outside of those, then plasticell again, and the final outer two being foundationless.  I don't have starter strips or anything, so I figure the interspersed plasticell will help keep the combs straight.