Beekeeping

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mike in Pa, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Can someone tell me What kind of money I'd be looking at for a minimal amout of bees to start with and what equipment I'd NEED. This would be only for home use.

    Do I need a bee suit(I know I COULD get away without one if I don't mind being stung a billion times but is that what would happen?)?

    Can I make a box? Honey easy to extract by hand? OK around children?

    Sorry for too many questions. I want to know the "basic basics" before I buy a book and begin purchasing.

    Thanks! Mike
     
  2. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    About $ 40 for a package of bees, There are some starter beekeeping sets available for around $150. You can buy used boxes and rewax them. You could work with only a veil but you'll get stung a lot. Honey can be extracted buy pressing or melting if necessary. You've probably got bees flying around your kids now. If your kids kick over the hive once , they probably won't do it again.
    Beekeeping isn't that hard. You may have local clubs to ask for help.
     

  3. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    There are places where you can find plans to make your own hive - books,internet,etc. If you have the tools/time.
     
  4. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Not only am I on a tight budget but I also don't want to put a lot of $$ out only to find this isn't for me. So I was thinking of the heavy materialed (canvas?) Carrhart coat and overalls? Then buying a veil.
     
  5. A good plan is to talk to a beekeepers club in your area
     
  6. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I went to my local county ag extension office, and they gave me a list of phone numbers of area "bee people".
     
  7. Modern bees are pretty mild. I had a hive one summer and only got stung once. I used a bee veil and gloves only.

    The trick to bees is to move slowly and gracefully, and don't wear leather or wool. As long as you don't act like a predator they will not treat you like one. Predators make quick movements and are furry, so don't do that. No wool. Don't knock over the hive, either. Bears do that, and if you act like a bear they will treat you like one.

    We could open a hive and take out a frame without getting stung, no problem.

    However, the bees did NOT like my kids. I think it is because kids are quick and wiggly. At any rate, the bees tended to hover around the kids and stare at them, so I saw the writing on the wall and I told the kids to keep their distance.
     
  8. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Dang. I never knew there were so many "bee people"! I've never had this much feedback this quick.

    I'm looking on ebay at "crimped wire foundation" ... what's that for? Are there alternatives? It had 150 sheets ... do you need to change them regularly?

    If I can pester you people for just a little more info, I think I'm going to get a book and sstart ebaying it for supplies. I guess I need to start in early spring.
     
  9. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    Dont forget to advertise locally to buy used bee equipment and hives.
     
  10. TallGuy67

    TallGuy67 Guest

    http://www.reil1.net/Forge1.shtml#New

    that link is a page by a guy who does a little diary of his experience with bees.

    I'd like to keep some someday.

    Phil

     
  11. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Mike in PA,

    I currently run 20 hives. I do not have a bee suit. DW wants to get one this year. I'm going to wait till she gets hers and see how she likes it. I wear a hat with veil and heavy canvas pants over very light microfiber cargo type pants. I wear a light cotton t-shirt under a heavy canvas (no lining though) zip up jacket with the collar turned up. I also wear gloves. In 3 years I have taken a total of 5 stings (all from my own carelessness). It does get hot in this getup in the summer. It should definately be light (preferably white) colors as the bees are more likely to go after dark colored "animals" (as in bears that steal honey kind of thing).

    Having said that, there are times I will do some tasks without any gear. For example, if all I'm doing is removing the outer cover I don't worry. I definately wear gear when I am weed whacking around the hive bases. That noise REALLY gets the bees worked up.

    My best suggestion if you only want to try it out is to contact a local beekeeper and ask if you can help out. Offer to do it for free except for some honey. They might even have an extra hat and veil you can borrow. This gives you a chance to try it out, learn about it from someone more experienced and not have to lay out any money. If you do this with several different beekeepers you can compare what they say/do to help you decide what you want to do. It will also show you different breeds (I have italians, russians and carnolians). The nature of the hive will be determined by the nature of the queen. A skittish queen means a hive that gets riled up easy. Each hive has it's own personality.

    You'll learn real quick whether it's something you want to do. Especially if the bees are making an angry buzz (hint...walk away and do something else).

    Wired foundation is generally used for brood frames (deeps). I use it for honey supers as well because it seems to help keep it from coming apart in the extractor. If you are doing cut comb you don't want wired foundation. For each frame in the hive body you will have 1 sheet of foundation. If you have 10 frames in the hive body you will need 10 pieces of foundation. You can also take a strip of foundation at the top of each frame and let the bees build comb from that. It's not quite as nice and neat as using full foundation but it saves some pennies.

    I'm of the opinion that replacing brood foundation after 3 years is a good practice. There have been studies that show the thickening cell walls result in smaller cells and smaller bee size.

    If you decide beekeeping is for you, you might be able to buy a hive or two from someone who is retiring. There are a lot of older beekeepers in our area that just can't do it any more due to age or disability. Maybe agree to provide them with a certain amount of honey over the next couple of years. Sort of a passing of the torch.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling. Hope this helps.

    Mike
     
  12. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that helped a lot Mike. I've come a long way in the last few hours :D

    I'd like suggestions as to where to buy a kit. I don't want anything I don't need and of course I want it at the best price. I bid on a book on ebay already. I emailed my local county ext office. All of the suit I need is a hat/veil ... I'll handle the rest.

    I'm looking to jump right in real soon due to the time of the year.

    Should I buy things in pieces or go with a kit? 3lb of bees, Italians? I found them for 48.00 so far.

    Be warned ... I won't use chemicals of any kind ... that's just me. With that in mind, should I destroy the hive and salvage all the honey at the end of the year? Or do I have a chance to carry them over without disease?
     
  13. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    OK now ... don't forget my previous question ... but here's one more :D

    Is it possible for a beginner (idiot) to produce edible bee pollen or royal jelly like found in health food stores.
    Thanks!
     
  14. Browsercat

    Browsercat Well-Known Member

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    About that bee suit...I took a beginner's beekeeping class this last spring and learned the hard way some of the things that beginners need to know:
    do not wear wool or leather or dark clothing near bees.

    Get a good smoker, and don't use burlap in it unless it was used for food (like coffee beans). Look around for a retiring beekeeper if you can find one; I bought enough to do a half-dozen hives and equipmenet from the get-go from one locally at a really good price.

    Find a local beekeeper and work with him/her; there are things you can pick up from a beekeeper that you would never learn from books. Move slow around the bees; think Zen, think calm.

    If you buy used woodenware, you will have to flame it (run a flame on the surfaces) so that you can avoid foulbrood. Never use commercial honey to feed your bees, and read, read, read. Subscribe to either the American Bee Journal or the other big beekeeping publication, and read, read, read some more.

    Check out beekeeping sites on the Internet; Cornell has a new master beekeeper program, too: http://www.masterbeekeeper.org/.
     
  15. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Mike in PA,

    Here's a few well known vendors that you can get kits (some assembled) from:

    Walter T. Kelley Company www.kelleybees.com

    Mann Lake www.mannlakeltd.com

    Betterbee www.betterbee.com

    You could also try Beeline Apiaries in Greencastle, PA (don't know how close that is to you) 717-597-7059

    I would hold off on pollen and royal jelly till you get the basics down. If you are interested in consuming the pollen yourself you will find plenty in raw honey. We just strain ours through cheesecloth. The downside of course is that it is more prone to crystallize. I don't collect pollen or royal jelly personally. I am thinking about putting some propolys traps in because I have someone who has expressed an interest.

    If you are really set on jumping into beekeeping I suggest that you get a subscription to Bee Culture Magazine - www.beeculture.com

    As far as what you should get, I'd be hard pressed to give advice. A kit is likely easier but a little more money. When I started I went to a 1 day course from a local bee club. Then I put the woodenware together myself.

    Personally, I'm partial to carnolians. Good hygenic behavior and seem to be good workers. This is the first time I'm overwintering them so I don't know how well they will handle the winter compared to my russians and italians.

    I know some people that don't overwinter their bees but that is more because of the current high value of honey than disease. If you are really set on not using chemicals then you better learn up on IPM (Integrated Pest Management). I hear people talk about fogging with FGMO (Food Grade Mineral Oil) but I haven't seen any definative studies on the benefits. You can also do menthol patties for tracheal mites. I highly recommend screened bottom boards. This year or next I will have finished switching over all our hives to them.

    Personally, I want to carry over hives as best I can. It varies from year to year as to what the loss rate is.



    Mike
     
  16. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    If you are just wanting a few jars of honey for your house, you can squish the combs and let them drip through cheescloth. The wax will be lost but the bees will make more.

    If you are wanting to SELL a little honey, it takes 6-7 pounds of honey to make a pound of wax, and honey out here is going for $3 a pound right now. That means the every pound of wax you squish cost you 6 pounds of honey that you could have sold for $18. If you sell honey, an extractor will very quickly pay for itself.
     
  17. ....go to your local library and borrow a good beginners type book on bee keeping through them- they can get one via intra library loan if necessary- they may also have a good video tape you can borrow. There is too much to know to discuss it over the web, but I have found that after buying the lumber to make my own boxes it is within just a few cents to buy knocked down boxes from some outfits and just add some nails and glue.
     
  18. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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    You can go to www.thehealingpath.com, it outlines info about organic beekeeping . Even has an online course.
    I've heard of a guy who uses the essential oils(wintergreen, spearmint, etc..) mixed with the sugar syrup you feed them, to keep them hardy. He has had good luck without chemicals for 4 years. I believe this mentioned to use on the website above also.
     
  19. There is a book called titled “Beekeeping for Dummies”. It will give you a good basic foundation about beekeeping without getting too technical. It is a good book for the beginner to read before jumping into beekeeping with both feet. You can probably find (order it) at any large book store or get it on inter-library loan from your local library.
    Beekeeping is a rewarding and fascinating hobby but it does cost a bit to get into it. You can save money by purchasing used or making your own equipment but you will probably be better off buying new stuff till you get the feel for the hobby. Getting involved with any local beekeeper clubs or taking a beekeeping class at your local college will help with acquiring both used equipment and practical knowledge. Clubs also usually have access to larger equipment (extractors, lifts etc.) that you can use or borrow..
    Over wintering bees (in my area) is the hardest part of bee keeping but it is probably the most rewarding part of the hobby. Attempting it without medications can be very difficult. I would not recommend trying to keep bees without meds for the beginner but your best bet is to decide on a plan (meds or no meds) and stick to it. Good Luck