Friday, September 01, 2006

"The Beekeeper" vs ? ? ?

When I decided to establish an Apiary in my backyard, I wanted to protect the bees as well as my neighbors. I placed the hives at the rear of my property line in a fenced area. The property line has about 10' of overgrowth (bush, plants, weeds, etc...). I felt this was an adequate barrier and would prevent any unwanted attention from the neighbors.

I purchased UV rated green nylon mesh cloth (seen behind the hives in this picture) and "hung" it on the chain link fence. This would further obscure the hives from the casual onlooker and ensure the flight paths of the bees are immediately elevated above eye/head level. This will prevent inadvertent collisions between humans and bees.

I used zip ties to attach the nylon mesh to the chain link fence. When I installed it, I secured it over the top rail of the fence. Within a few days I noticed that a couple of the zip ties had "broken" and the mesh was now hanging away from the fence. I thought it was odd but didn't think much of it, I just replaced the zip ties. To date, I have replaced about 50 zip ties! I've now become obsessed with finding out what is causing these to "break". At first I thought maybe the zip ties were brittle due to heat exposure. I used a pack that had been inside my truck for a couple of years. I purchased new ones and guess what........they are still breaking! Next thought was perhaps some of the neighborhood kids were playing games with me. I have never seen any kids near my backyard, so that wasn't a reasonable explanation.

I noticed squirrels use the top rail as sort of a "highway" across my yard. The area I live in has an enormous population of squirrels and I love seeing them in the yard. I have to admit it never occurred to me the squirrels were chewing through the zip ties. I asked my brother (Brian) his thoughts on who/what may be the culprit. He's convinced it's the squirrels and suggested attaching the mesh fencing but not draping it over the top rail. Brian seems to think they don't like walking across the mesh. I'm not totally convinced the squirrels are the root cause, but decided to taken Brian's advice and adjust the mesh so that it's not over the top rail of the fence. It's been 3 days and not a single broken zip tie. It would appear Brian was correct and my 5 month mystery is now solved.

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