Bee Keeping experience

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by South of Forty, May 11, 2004.

  1. South of Forty

    South of Forty Active Member

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    HI

    I thought it might not be a bad Idea to introduce ourselves in way of bee keeping experience. Reading about it from a book is fine, but I like to hear from folks that have actually done it. Unfortunately I am mostly self taught-having no one to actually show me, I had to learn by doing, and made some mistakes and learned some bad habits.

    I have been keeping anywhere from 2-8 hives as a hobby for about 8 years now. After starting out reading a lot on the subject and getting the magazines for a couple of years I guess I have settled into the lazy mode of not keeping up with the latest news. I put little effort into my bes other than treating for varroa, checking for winter stores, and placing supers for honey. I guess Im a lazy beekeeper. But I must be doing something right. I havent had to purchase any new bees or queens in over 4 years. And I always have a surplus of honey selling anywhere from $150 to $300 worth every year, plus give aways to family and of course eating a bunch myself.
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    North Salem, NY
    I am a new beekeeper, after a year and a half of obsessive research ;) i feel i know quite a lot, but i know i will learn the practicalities (is that a word???) as i go along.

    peace

    justgojumpit
     

  3. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    I'll post my experience ONCE I GET SOME! I need bees! I built a hive and have done a TON of research but can't start without bees.


    I'm looking for wild ones but a guy with bees down the road has a lot and most come from him. He didn't seem overly friendly but said he'd sell me some for 100.00 later. Too much for me ... besides I'm trying a Top-bar hive not modern and he "won't let me do that". Oh well, I'll wait til next year if I have to and do it alone.
     
  4. beaglady

    beaglady Well-Known Member

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    Pennsylvania
    I have 2 hives that are on their 2nd summer (made it thru winter!) and just got 2 more packages. With luck, I'll also get to make 2 splits this summer.

    After taking the local beekepers club's course, I decided I needed to find out how to keep bees without all the chemicals they recommended. After lots of reading, I ended up using small cell foundation, Housel positioning and unlimited broodnest. You can read about all of this in Dee Lusby's articles on beesource. So far, so good.
     
  5. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We're new to bees this year and started with 2 hives. We're doing our weekly check this afternoon, it's week #3. I will hopefully get more pictures of their progress and get them posted to our site.
     
  6. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have ten hives and two nucs. I have been keeping bees for four years and love it! It is addictive, as are most homesteading hobbies (or is it just me). I started with two hives and they flourished so the nexy year I did four more and the next year I did splits! They over winter very well. I have the nucs this year to 'hold' queens for winter losses. I had to combine a hive early this spring because the queen was dead and I could not find anyone who had any. I learn something new, about bees, keeping them and equipment every day.
     
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Technically, I started last year with feral bees.

    But, in August they swarmed, leaving me with a laying worker. I didn't have the knowledge to know the difference, until they started capping the brood. All of those drone caps in worker comb let even me know what was wrong.

    I looked at the age of the bees, their lack of numbers (They were drifting away by then), and the lack of winter stores (The drought was terrible last year!), and I decided there was nothing I could do because it was mid-August ant there was no sign of the drought breaking. I let them die a natural death.

    I took a beekeeping course last fall, and I have installed 2 packages on April 22.
    ..............................................................................
    Alas, I just checked hive #2 and there are no more eggs, and very little uncapped brood. I think my queen has been superceded. The last check was a brief one, just saw eggs and closed up, I didn't want to disturb a new hive more than I had to. That was perhaps a mistake.

    If they used some of the first eggs she laid, there could be a virgin running around the hive. They ACT like a hive with a queen, the 2 queenless hives that I have seen in my life were both bone lazy and these are not.

    I will check in one week and in 2 weeks for eggs. If they don't have any I will give them some eggs from Hive #1.

    Hive #1 has almost drawn all of the comb, so I will super them soon.
     
  8. irishstars

    irishstars Member

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    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    HI all<

    We are just starting a new bee pollination business, but like others have had a slow time getting started with the shortage of bees this year. We have 5 hives at our place and 2 at a friend's farm. We have 3 w/supers now and of those, two are ready to split. Decided to try my hand at queen raising as they are also in such short supply. We hope to have 26 hives by fall, so we qualify for farm/business status for tax purposes. Main objective this year is to make splits and practice making queens. We will get pollination contracts next year, and maybe sell queens, too. We will sell 85% of our honey in bulk to other processers, the rest we will use ourselves or give to family. Long range goal is to be near 1500 hives in five years. Thankfully, we have an older couple that have 2000+ hives that have taken us under their wing. Their vast experience has and will continue to be a major help getting this business profitable. Our state bee course was great to start with, and dh and I are now both "certified" but experience beats book learning! What kind of bees does everyone have? We have a mixture of 3 banded italians, and smr mix.
     
  9. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

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    Georgia
    I grew up around honey bees, and helped my dad with them. He got out of beekeeping in the late 80’s, and I guess I did too. I didn’t really start back until 5 years ago. I now have 21 hives, and planning to split all of them at summers end. I’m a moderator on the beesource.com chat room and I work part time at the UGA Honey Bee Lab. I will finish up my Master Level beekeeper certification next month (still have 2 more years to go to get Master Craftsman). I’m the Chairman of my local beekeeping association. I’m very active in the Ga. State Beekeepers Association, and I still don’t have a clue about beekeeping. &#61514;

    Always Learning
    BB
     
  10. zathrus

    zathrus Member

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    Location:
    Iowa
    I am new this year, installed my first hive on April 10th this year. Before I got into beekeeping, I did A LOT of reading and research and took a class through the county extension service for $25.00. I took the class with another couple and together, we started with three hives. Another friend decided to get into it and got his package about 10 days later, so we were up to 4 hives. We had a problem with that last hive that was added (queen laying only drones, not breed) so we had to destroy her and re-queen that colony. Since we'd had a problem, we decided to get another queen and setup a 4 frame NUC incase any of the four hives had a problem through the summer. That way, we'd have a replacement queen on hand right away. Next year I hope to have 3-4 hives and to continue to expand and gain experience. So far, things are going great, dispite the problem with the one hive.

    Sean
     
  11. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have been keeping bees off and on for about 15 years. We moved several times and that is what has interupted my beekeeping. I have been serious about it for about 5 years now. I was up to 10 hives of my own and 10 that I was keeping in partnership with another family. I broke my leg last year and let the partnership venture go. Then had a farmer spray us with a crop duster in late summer and that caused a massive die off . I ended up with only 3 of my hives making it thru the winter. I caught a swarm today and have been contacted about removing a hive from a barn later next week.
    Tana Mc
     
  12. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The wife and I have been at it about 8 yrs. Officially, she's the beekeeper and I'm just the assistant. The assistant is the guy who does all the work. I doubt that we spend more than 8hrs. a year on a hive and we do as well as the rest of the beekeepers around here. We're not marketing well on our honey, though.
     
  13. kosh

    kosh Well-Known Member

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    Apr 6, 2004
    Location:
    MA
    Hi,

    I am new to beekeeping this year. I read 'Beekeeping for dummies' and 'Beekeeping: a practical guide', then took a local course on beekeeping. I have started with one hive this year. I installed the packaged Italian bees on 4/18. They have been doing super well. I have had an offer from my vet to put a hive on his property, and my parents (who live about 15 minutes from me) are interested in having hives on their property<as long as they dont have to work the hives!>. So it looks like this winter i'll be busy buying, putting together and staining/painting hives to get them ready for the spring next year. I think this year i will continue to just stick with the one hive to get the experience and get comfortable working with the bees.

    Peace,
    Jason
     
  14. cherGarr

    cherGarr Guest

    I just installed my first package yesterday!!!! I've read Beekeeping For Dummies but have gleaned most of my useful info from the Beesource.com forums! The beekeepers on that site are awesome! Glad to see you here BillyBob...I linked over from beesource too. Anyone else here with a new handle? Michael Bush...are YOU here?
     
  15. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    West Central Minnesota
    I have kept bees for around 8 years. Number of hives fluctuates because I travel a lot and some years I am not around to work them as much. Right now I have about 80 hives. I have enough frames and boxes already built to expand to around 120 hives and I may make some splits if conditions are suited for it when I get all my hives home from pollination. We pollinate citrus, blueberries, eggplant, watermelon, cucumbers, and sometimes strawberries. I sell mostly extracted honey, and occassionally sell comb honey when good customers request it. I have raised some queens for my own use and would like to raise some commercially when I have more time to devote to it. I also sell nucs.
     
  16. SilverFox

    SilverFox Member

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    Location:
    Washington
    Contact some of the bug extermators in your area and let them know that you're looking for bees, alot of companys won't touch established hives. But prepare to work if you get a call, they might be in walls, cealing, or who knows where, make sure that you don't get in over your head. Careful on the ones in walls, find out how far the homeowner wants to go, and let them know how far you want to go, repairs could cost you more than the bees are worth. If your a contractor, you could just add it to your bill. I always let people know that I just remove the bees and don't do repair work, and leave them to decide. I feel that $100.00 for some bees is a little much and you should be able to keep them with out the seller telling you how and in what to keep them. YOU BOUGHT THEM.
     
  17. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    North Salem, NY
    Mike in PA, why don't you just tell him you're gonna keep the bees in a langstroth hive and then actually install them in your top-bar hive. He'll never know. And if he does find out somehow, tell him the bees in the langstroth hive swarmed and you caught the swarm for your top-bar, then sold the langstroth to a friend who wanted to get started with beekeeping. what you do with your bees is up to you, not him. Besides, if he has a lot of bees, they're bound to swarm, and you can catch one of the swarms if you're lucky. then these bees are yours-free-and you can manage them however you'd like without stepping on anyone's toes.

    justgojumpit
     
  18. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    I want to attempt to try this "organically". This guy is the county inspector. This is where it gets into the "let me" thing. I really don't even want him to know I have them! Really gets psses me off! He shouldn't be able to tell me how to run them unless they are directly affecting someone elses hive. It's not like I'm going to TRY to catch them a disease/pests. The way I understand it he has the "right" to burn my hive if it's infested. You'll hear about it in the news if it gets to that point ... I assure you. Maybe one of you nice folks can bail me out :p
     
  19. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    In some areas, top bar hives are illegal, and all bee hives are to be inspected yearly. This is a matter of law, not of personal preferance.

    I found the laws pertaining to my city on the city website under "animal control".

    If you find another place to keep your bees, a farm, for instance, it is usual here to give the farmer a gallon of honey or so.
     
  20. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mike, it sure sounds as if you have gotten off too a bad start with the bee inspector. You might want to rethink your approach, both to him and to beekeeping. Around here, I consider the local bee inspector to be my best resource as a beekeeper. He was indispensable to me when I first started with bees, helping me with everything from handling the bees to buying equipment to learning nectar flows, disease and pest control, extracting and bottling, selling, crop pollination, you name it. I haven't had time to experiment yet with top bar hives, but am I not correct in thinking that the bars are removable? If so, then they are legal here in Florida- it is only required that the bees be kept in a movable frame hive, doesn't necessarily have to be a Langstroth-type of hive.
    Check to see what the law actually is in your state. But, please do yourself and the rest of the area beekeepers a favor- before you start up a hive- educate yourself so that you will understand, and then hopefully, be willing to comply with, the laws governing beekeeping. For instance, in my state, the bee inspector does not have the right to burn hives infected with Foulbrood, he has the OBLIGATION to do so. If I learned that a local beekeeper had foulbrood and did not burn his hives I would be screaming for enforcement. That particular law was placed in effect not only to protect other beekeepers, but also the farmers who depend upon beekeepers for pollination services. Don't forget that your bees will be travelling up to 5 miles to forage, and so will all the other bees in the area. So concievably, a beekeeper as far away as 10 miles from you could be infected with pests and/or diseases from your bees.

    Silver Fox offered good advice, you might also let your county extension service know that you are willing to collect swarms. Bees are swarming like crazy in our area this year- I am turning down most of the calls I get cause I am too busy, but I did pick up a really nice swarm Sunday night- it was in a bird bath pedestal in someone's backyard. I was reluctant to take the call but the woman was frantic, and she said that I could just take the birdbath rather than fool with transferring comb at her house. I wasn't going to charge her for the work since it was such an easy gig, but when she offered me $20 I took it for gas $$. If you lived near me I would have given you the swarm cause I don't need it right now. But, there should be plenty of them in your area too.

    Good luck, hope you can find some bees and get started this year.