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544 Posts By ben

  • FreeBSD 9.0: higher MTU & NIC bonding

    Here’s is some information that took me a good while to gather.

    With the igb driver in FreeBSD, the mbuf cluster size needed is a mathematical formula involving the number of CPUs & the desired MTU. Unfortunately, it is currently hard set. On enterprise machines with many cores and higher MTUs, it is quite easy to reach this set limit. It will express itself with the following error message after an ifconfig:

    igb0: Could not setup receive structures

    This limit can be overridden with the following in /etc/sysctl.conf

    kern.ipc.nmbclusters=131072
    kern.ipc.nmbjumbo9=38400

    These are the value that worked for 16 cores & an MTU of 9000.

    While we’re at it, it took me a while to nail the exact syntax require for NIC bonding so here it is:

    /etc/rc.conf

    if_lagg_load="YES"
    ifconfig_igb0="mtu 9000 UP"
    ifconfig_igb1="mtu 9000 UP"
    cloned_interfaces="lagg0"
    ifconfig_lagg0="laggproto failover laggport igb0 laggport igb1 192.168.0.123 netmask 255.255.255.0"

    As far as I can tell, capitalization matters…

  • Chicken Coop!

    It’s been over a year since our move away from the city and we’re finally getting back into chickens. Things take time, starting fresh at the other end of the country doesn’t happen overnight. We only got 5 layers  as we’re pretty late in the season, we’ll start meat birds next spring.

    The coop still needs some polish and a window but here it is in all its current glory:

    With a bunch of Rhode-Island Reds

    Works for toddlers as well

    As with the beehive, I drafted everything on Google Sketchup and it made building it completely devoid of surprises. The plan can be downloaded here.

  • Harvest!

    We’re finally getting some decent harvests! Everyday brings new vegetables & canning season is ramping up with tomatoes just around the corner…

  • Evil

    There is a new evil in the land, and its name is Manduca Sexta, or horn worm for us mortals. These fat slimy caterpillars have started pillaging our tomato plants.

    One of them bastards getting fat at our expense, what a cool pattern though, especially the eye.

    All they leave behind are the skeletons of what were once beautiful tomato plants

    We’ve been squashing them left and right but they keep coming and their camouflage is extremely effective. It looks as though spraying with an organic compound referred to as “BT” is the solution to our problem.

  • More top bar bullshit

    After the bee holocaust that was my first harvest, it became evident that I needed to monitor the hive more often for misaligned comb. They didn’t take long to fuck things up again by building shit all over the place.

    Well that’s just great

    As you can see on the above picture, they’re building from the walls, the ground and the comb on the bar to the right is slightly misaligned. What you are not seeing is that the layout of brood, honey & nectar throughout the hive is completely inconsistent. Where before brood was towards the front, honey the middle and nectar the back; everything is now all over the place most likely as a result of my adding empty bars and moving things around to encourage straight comb drawing.

    They started working on this mess a week ago and as soon as I saw it I ordered a bunch of these guys. Let’s ponder on the absurdity of the situation: the main argument for Top Bar Beekeeping is that it’s more natural, you let the bees do their things and yoink some honey every once in a while. Well guess what, you need the bees to build their shit exactly right or you’ll be decimating them every harvest for not much at all. I’m reduced to adding plastic foundation to my “natural” hive to enforce rather than encourage straight comb. And I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to fuck this up as well.

    This is my last attempt at fixing this, if they don’t get it right we’ll ditch Top Bar in favor of Langstroth next season.

    Cutting the plastic frames to specs

    A bunch of top bars with a slit a little wider to accommodate the plastic foundation

    Plastic top bar

    Good luck mis-aligning that

    I did every other bar in the area of the hive that was a mess

    As is becoming routine with top bar beekeeping: waste left for the bees to rob clean

  • Wasted harvest, or is it?

    Here is all the comb that was too bad to harvest after the “clean up”. I put it in front of the hive for the bees that were on it to make their way back and hoping the bees would clean it and get the honey back inside. They didn’t take long, it’s almost empty already.

  • Bee Bridges

    Separating bars always yields these awesome bee bridges

  • Beepocalypse – lesson learned

    The fact that every comb built since the beginning had been so perfectly straight made me loose the habit of checking every frame. Horrible mistake, what started as a little bump in an early bar became more and more angled resulting in comb crossing bars. When I caught it, it was simply too late and a major operation had to be done to set things straight. Comb fell, deep cutting needed to be done & a ton of bees died in the process. I lost half of my honey production & half of my colony. There was just no easy way to do this.

    The lesson learned here is to inspect often and all the bars, especially when the bees lay a lot of comb.

    Some crossed comb, when things weren’t ugly enough that I was still taking pictures

    Here are some tips to incentivize the bees to build straight:

    • lay some wax in a line that you want them to follow (I had done that and it worked really well for a while)
    • cut if they deviate, cut again until they stop
    • keep the following board close to where the last comb is built because it is a straight reference, in other words, don’t expand to far from the comb.
    • add an empty bar between the ones that had crooked comb

    I’m not sure how these techniques work but I certainly am religiously following them now. Hopefully this will save us from another traumatic experience.

    All in all this sucked and I feel really bad for failing my bees. I still got some 6 jars of honey out but I could have gotten a lot more. It’s the most delicious honey I ever had but every time I have some I am reminded of the beepocalypse.

    Lesson learned…

    It’s a freaking mass-grave in there

    Got some decent comb out

    Filtering the loot

    The loot

  • Bee Baby Boom

    The colony has been growing very dramatically in the past couple of weeks. All the brood I saw finally saw the light of day and the bees are now quickly filling their hive. All in all it took them a while to really get going. This is one of the disadvantages of top-bar beekeeping, the bees have to build everything by themselves so it takes the colony longer to establish itself. I think it’s a good thing, for one because it’s more natural but also because building comb is one less thing I need to do :).

    Given that population growth is now in full swing, I gave them quite a few more top-bars to expand on. We are approaching the maximum size the hive will allow though as I would like to keep a few empty bars to have room for shifting and rotating. It may be time to start thinking about a second hive.

    Bee population growth is not exponential, only 1 queen does all the laying although she can lay a few thousand eggs a day. So it’s linear and will probably turn asymptotic with older bees dying. I wonder how big a hive could get outside of its habitat limitations.

    Turn on the sound and hear the hive’s rumble.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1149.MOV1_.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.28.15-AM.png 688 387]

    The hive entrance is very busy.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1151.MOV.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.30.26-AM.png 688 387]

    I wish I had a high speed camera.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1150.MOV.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.32.24-AM.png 688 387]