ABC's of Beekeeping

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Calico Katie, May 11, 2004.

  1. Calico Katie

    Calico Katie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Texas
    I'm so excited to see this forum get off the ground! I know nothing about how to keep bees and would love to see a resource thread detailing, in the simplest ways, how you get started. Kind of a Beekeeping for Dummies thread. :)

    For example, how many hives do I need to start with? Can I start with only one or two hives? How much space do I need for them? When is the best time of year to start your hives? Is their an average amount of honey production you can expect? Does the honey have to be treated or something after you collect it or do you just put it in a jar and enjoy? Like I said, Beekeeping for Dummies! :haha:
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Calico, I'm glad to see you're enjoying the forum! You can start with as many hives as you want, but fewer is better in my opinion, like two or three. that way you don't have too many, but if one hive doesn't make it for some reason, you still have another one or two. You really don't need much space for a hive, just a quiet area to set them in where there isn't too much activity, like behind the shed or something like that. spring is the best time of year to start a hive, as they need to build up their stength before the winter, but i would think you could start as late as june and still be ok. honey production depends on the nectar flows within about three miles of your hives, and also on the weather, and the strength of the hive, so it is hard to predict. don't expect too much in the first year, though. you just put the honey in a jar and enjoy, no processing other than that. the honey has such a high sugar concentration that it cannot ferment. just keep a lid on it to keep the ants away. I would definitely recommend that you read a book before getting started, such as Beekeeping for Dummies of The Beekeeper's Handbook. both are very informative.

    enjoy the forum,
    justgojumpit
     

  3. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

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    <the honey has such a high sugar concentration that it cannot ferment>

    All nectar/honey contains yeast. It is differnet from the yeast that is used in cooking and making alcoholic drinks. They grow only in rich sugar solutions. Normaly honey contains 19% or less water, but if the water content ever goes above 19% you do run the risk of fermenting the honey. I have seen capped honey with a water content of 22%. This is rare but can happon.

    This leaves the beekeeper with only a few options.
    1. pasteurize the honey, to kill the yeast. (heating it above 160 deg. F)
    2. keep the moisture content below 19% (17% to 18% is what you are looking for) most beekeepers let warm air pass through the supers for 24hrs. before they start extracting.
    3. freze it or keep it in the frig...this will crystallize the honey faster, but it does work.

    Formus are great for quick answers and advice, but buy and read alot of books on honey bees. Even then it will take a year or two, to really get the hang of it. Join a local bee club or association and try and meet with beekeepers in your area. They will be able to answer your questions about what works best in your area.

    BB
     
  4. You forgot option 4. Add a lot more water. About a gallon for every 3 lbs of honey. Throw in a tablespoon of lemon juice, a cup of black tea for tannins and a package of ale or champagne yeast if you can get some. Otherwise the wild yeasts will do an ok but less than satisfactory job. Wait anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on conditions I won't get into here. Then you have mead. Sweet, delicious, intoxicating mead. I just bottled some last night.

    Mmmmmm. Mead. The honey can't spoil once you've turned it into alcohol and hidden it cleverly in your bloodstream!

    The Vikings swore that this was what the Gods drank in Valhalla. I think they were on to something.

    -Jack_cville (login not working for the last month)




     
  5. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm glad to see this forum too. :) When we started in bees we got just one hive and consentrated on keeping it healthy for the first year. My suggestion for you would be to contact your local bee keepers assoc. We took a master beekeepers class through our local club and it was the best thing we ever did.There was a lot to learn that we had no idea of. We met a man who became our mentor and he walked us through all the different processes that go into keeping a sucessful apiary. We still attend the club meetings and its also a good place to get used equipment. After that first year you could add more hives as we did. Good luck to you, its fascinating working with the bees.
     
  6. Calico Katie

    Calico Katie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for all the great advice! I really want to start out small and see how it goes. I'll probably start with two hives. I have a large rather secluded backyard and that wouldn't overwhelm the neighborhood with bees. I'll also check to see if there is a bee club in this area. Maybe next spring I'll be ready to become a beekeeper!
     
  7. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

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    Jack_cville,

    I stand corrected. :D

    BB