The living deck project
The new mud room/laundry room under the deck needed a rain barrier. I could have simply caulked between all the deck boards, or something equally Man vs Nature-esque. Instead, Nick and I built a planter box.
Very little new construction was required. I did strengthen below the deck to prep the location since this thing will weigh about a ton when it's full of wet dirt. The design is very retrofit permacultural. It provides waterproofing shelter for the laundry below. Rain from the roof gutters will drain right into the planter to water plants from their roots. The plants will be culinary herbs, growing right outside the back door for quick kitchen access. The deck will be a bit more lovely and fragrant, and the bees will have some forage right close by. If we choose some insectory plants, then the plum trees that overhang the deck might benefit as predatory insects such as ladybugs migrate over to eat the annual aphid bloom (happening right now, BTW).
Speaking of bees,
The hive rapidly outgrew the little "pony" hive I knocked together in one day. A full size top-bar hive is over 40" long, with about 30 top bars. A hive is quick to build. Top bars are not.
With Nick's help, I set up a jig with a circle saw to shave 2x2's down to 1.38 x 1.38 with a 1/8" guide rail down the center of each for the bees to anchor honeycomb to. It took us maybe 45 minutes to rip through a total of 64 feet of lumber. We completed the entire hive in one afternoon.
Then he helped me transfer the bees.
I borrowed a bee bonnet from our cohousing neighbor Jehanne. Smoldering toilet paper held in the central tube made a fine smoker. The bees got very subdued. I really couldn't have left this activity for even one more week. The comb up until two weeks ago is simply beautiful; nice and even and straight. As I pulled comb out, I saw four places in which the bees had begun filling in all the nooks and crannies and building comb connecting across two or three top bars. I completely removed two top bars with poorly constructed combs, one of which was full of brood and the other which was empty. The comb full of brood, Jehanne will take in to her class to share with the children.
The little ladies have gotten right back to their bee business in their new hive. When this 40" hive is full of bees and honey, it's going to weigh quite a bit. Oh my, I'd better start planning for the harvest!