new beekeeper, needs advice

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by justgojumpit, May 14, 2004.

  1. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

    May 5, 2003
    North Salem, NY
    budget: $75 per package of bees, $150 per hive, $10 viel, $10 hive tool, $25 smoker. don't forget your shipping costs!!

    get a good book, A Guide to Beekeeping or Beekeeping for Dummies will do. Check the links page and visit some of those sites to lear and for suppliers.

    Plants: forsythia is a good early bloomer, clover is a good nectar crop, as is buckwheat, fruit trees, and more. I'm not planting for my bees, as they will find flowers on their own. we have clover mixed in in the horse paddocks, and well-blooming forsythia at the neighbor's (she must fertilize it or something...) between these crops, the bees will find other flowers on which to forage.

    I wouldn't worry about carrying capacity... as long as there are flowers around somewhere all the time (yes this includes maple flowers and black locust flowers, another good honey crop) your bees will do fine.

    the amount of honey fluctuates according to how the weather impacts the bees' foraging abilities and nectar production in plants, along with colony strength of your bees.

    you are better buying new supplies, because then you can be sure it has no diseases.

    I spend about a half hour per hive per week once it is up and running.


    and hey, welcome to the forum!
  2. kosh

    kosh Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    There are lots of ways to get prepared for getting bees next year. Most beekeepers recommend starting with 2 hives. Search the net for local beekeeping groups to connect with. If possible take a local beekeeping course. Read a few books on beekeeping. Justgojumpit posted some great links on the board for sites that have info and sites that sell equipment. You can probably get started for about $300-$350 for 2 hives with 2 supers each, basic tools. A package of bees is around $60. I've purchased all of my supplies from . They have reasonable prices, good products and fast shipping. The generic bees most people seem to start with are italians. There are many other breeds you can try as well. You should be fine with 36 acres for your bees. You could support many more hives than just 2 if you really got into beekeeping. Bees will forage 2-6 miles from the hive to find nectar, pollen and water.

    good luck,


  3. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

    May 11, 2004
    <How much should I budget for beekeeping supplies?...>

    Most, if not all of the beekeeping supply company’s sell starter kits for beginners. These kits include everything you will need to start your first year in beekeeping. They come with a complete hive w/frames and foundation, hive tool, veils, glove…and most come with a video or a beginner’s book. Depending on the kit, they can range from $130-$160. I just checked some of my supply catalogs and Rossman Apiaries in south Ga. Has the most for your buck with their Deluxe Beginners Kit. Western Bee Supplies, in MT. they are always having some type of sale going on you can check with them. This does not count the bees that you will have to buy. Some kits will NOT have everything that you will need so be careful and check the list of items before you buy.

    It is also better if you start with more than one hive. I like to tell people to start with 3, but you can do it with 2. So if you start with a kit and add another hive to it then that will throw the price up another $100 or so.

    $160 = beginners lit
    $100 = 2nd hive
    $70 = 2 packages
    $100 = I’m sure I missed something(treatments, extra veil…ect)

    $430….That sounds about right, give or take a few.
    You can build the hives your self and save money that way. Here is a site with just about every set of plans that you will need.

    You can also build Top Bar Hives (TBH) this will cost you even less. I think justgojumpit has TBH and can tell you more about them than I can. Here is a web site on them.

    <I doubt that I would ever get beyond two or three hives, if that changes anything.>

    Good luck! Most beekeepers I meet started with one or two hives and end up with 20 to 40…or more. It’s real hard to watch a swarm fly away, but if you try real hard I guess you can keep it down to only two.
    <What should I be thinking about planting, and how should I evaluate the carrying capacity of my existing vegetation? or are these factors irrelevant?>

    Location is very important to a beehive. The more floral sources you have the more honey the bees can produce. Here is a site that has 120 bee plants listed on it. One of the longest post That I have ever seen is about honey plants on If you really want to read about planting for bees this will cover it It has 206 replies to the post, and was started in February of 2003. Your area will depend on what you can plant and what will produce the most honey for the bees.

    <How much honey should I expect to produce? I mean this both as a metric of how well I am caring for my bees, and as well as how much honey should I plan on producing, or are these numbers too dynamic?>

    The amount of honey depends on a number of things…weather, plant/nectar sources, hive strength, your location in the country. I know this is not the answer you are looking for but as with all things in agriculture, we can only control so much. It will be better for some one in your area to let you know what your average honey yield is and how much honey it will take for a hive to carry through winter. Here in Georgia the average is 120 lbs. but I have seen as much as 300 lbs during a good year and you know what you are doing. Yes if you take good care of your hives they will produce more honey.

    <Who can I ghet supplies from?> Mann Lake ltd. The Walter T. Kelly Co. Dadant and Sons Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Rossman Apiaries Western Bee Supplies Inc.

    Here are a few, but not all. You should have some local suppliers in your area. Check with a local Beekeeping club, to see where one is located. Check the link below to find a club or association in your area.

    <Is used stuff okay, or am I better buying new?>

    I like to tell beginners to buy new. The main reason is beginners do not know about the diseases that they may be buying with the used hive. Even American Foul Brood (AFB) can be covered up with treatments. Once again get in with some local beekeepers who can help guide you. Most of them know who to and not to buy from, or they can go with you to look at the equipment before you buy.

    <How much time will it take to manage a hive properly? two?>

    You will spend about 15 to 20 mins per hive per week. That’s about average, but you will end up spending more time with them because they are sooooooo cool.

    <What I not asked that is really important to get right?>
    You’ve started out perty good so far. Read read read, “The Hive and The Honey Bee” by Dadant and Sons is one of the best, “ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture” is another. Besides that I’m going to leave this one open for somebody else.

  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Some of the information that you need is best if gotten locally.

    For example, here in Kanas, to winter the bees over we need 2 full boxes of bees and their honey and pollen. Where you live the winters are colder, and you will need????????

    Here in Kansas the average hive only produces 65 poundsdof honey more than the bees need, but I have been told by a respected beekeeper that hives up North tend to produce more than that. Again, you need a local bee club to give you local data!

    Honey in Kansas currently sells for $3 a pound because there is a shortage of honey right now, so bees CAN be a wise investment.

    Lastly, you will need extra hive boxes and frames to give the bees room to make honey. They will gather the nectar and spread it out in many different cells so that it concentrates. You can make the hive boxes yourself if you are handy.
  5. unixguy

    unixguy Member

    May 13, 2004
    I wanted to thank you all for your guidance and information. I have just started trying to hunt downa local contact to guide me, as I think that this is the best way to proceed. I will keep you posted.

    Thanks again,
  6. zathrus

    zathrus Member

    May 11, 2004
    Hi Unixguy,

    Everyone else has covered most of the things I thought about and planned for before I started. Here are a few other things I did not see from skimming through the other posts:

    1. Make sure there is a good source of water nearby your hive. It can be a hydrant that drips, a stock tank with a board floating in it, a river, lake, stream, or a 55 gallon barrel you place near the hive and fill as needed, again with a floating board for the bees.

    2. A good location away from where people, cars, and other animals may disturb it frequently. Usually you want a south or east facing with protection from prevailing winds,. It is also best if the hive is located on a slight incline on a mostly dry patch of land. If you have really hot afternoons in the summer (90+), ideally, you want the hive to be in full or partial shade in the hottest part of the afternoon. Place the hive as close as possible to the nectar and pollen sources you have available.

    3. Check to see what nectar and pollen sources are available for your bees from spring to fall. Given that you have 36 acres and are in Georgia, you shouldn't have a problem, but it wouldn't hurt to check. To maximize your potiential, plant different types of nectar and pollen producing plants that the bees can use from spring to fall. Many have already listed those plants in posts already made to this thread.

    All of the above is mentioned to MAXIMIZE the effeciency of your hives. If you can't do any of the things listed above, your bees will still probably do just fine, they are amazing workers. If you can make things easier for them, they will produce more.

    Good luck!


  7. Billy Bob131

    Billy Bob131 Active Member

    May 11, 2004
    I did not think about the water. Here is a good idea if you live in a neighborhood and don’t want your bees to ending up drinking the neighbors pool water.

    Take a shallow pan of some sort, like a pie pan. Fill it to the top with sandy soil. Set it under the condensate drain from you air conditioner. The water from the drain will keep the pan full all summer, and the sand will keep the bees from drowning in the water.

    I do like the use of sand better than a floating board. The sand will slow the water from evaporating, and it will help filter it out. Lastly, you have no fear of the bees drowning in the water. If you fill it to the top with sand and the water overflows, it will drip over the side and out onto the ground.

  8. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

    Sep 3, 2003
    If you get the 10 frame langstroth plans from you should be able to build a deep brood box and a super box for about $20.00. I would buy the frames mail order or locally. The frames would be tough to build.