organic beekeeping

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by CountryFried, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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    Just Wondered If Anyone Practices Organic Beekeeping And Has Had Good Results? I've Tried For A Couple Of Years To Do The Standard Way , And Am Having Bad Luck. I'm More Interested In The Organic Ways , With No Chemicals .
     
  2. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I try and use integrated pest management (IPM). This doesn't swear off using chemicals but does minimize their use. This year I didn't use apistan (haven't used checkmite because I hear it is nasty stuff and I'm trying to avoid it). I think mite counts were down here this year because of all the rain. That's the only thing I can think of.

    Using screened bottom boards makes a huge difference for VM. It also helps keep the hives cooler in the dead of summer. Not as much bearding.

    I haven't had enough of a track record (3 years) to say with confidence as to what impact some of the changes will have. I'm also leaning towards going with all carnolians. I also run russians and italians.

    With the way the weather has been I'm thinking I'm going to see heavy losses this winter...maybe 50%. The past few years I've done much better than reports from other beekeepers in the area. I was just thinking about what I am going to order for packages and/or nucs for this spring.

    Well, enough rambling on my part.

    Mike
     

  3. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    If you do not use fumadil or medication for foulbrood, and a miticide you are pretty much organic.

    I have never used anything other than a miticide, and I see no real alternative there. In about 60 years of small scale beekeeping I have had one case of foulbrood, That hive was destroyed, the wax melted and burned, the honey poured down the drain, and the woodenware burned with the wax.

    I'd love to see an organic miticide, but so far that is a pipe dream.
    Ox
     
  4. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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  5. I think you just have to accept the fact that there will be losses. I know one fellow that runs 150 or so hives and is not overwintering any. He figures what he would leave in honey is worth a lot more than the cost of getting packages in the spring. Personally not my style though.

    Mike
     
  6. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I've used food grade mineral oil as a treatment and that is all. Check it out at www.beesource.com
     
  7. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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    THANKS VERY MUCH , I KEEP LOOKING. I CHECKED INTO ESSENTIAL OILS GIVEN IN SUGAR SYRUP. www.thehealingpath.com talks about organics in beekeeping.
     
  8. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Where in TN are you? Do you belong to any beekeeper organizations? There are a few people in my area that have quit using anything but FGMO. Maybe there is someone local to your area that has tried some of the natural treatments. I have read many on beesource trying oils but very little documentation.
     
  9. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had really good luck using FGMO last year. Unfortunately, I spent most of the year recovering from a badly broken ankle and trying to play catch up when I finally could get around. I didn't fog my hives as often as I should have and I can tell. I am hoping to salvage the hives that are left. Started with 7 hives and I am down to 4 or 5.
    I have gotten some wintergreen and plan to give it a try with my feeding. Looks like I am going to have to start feeding a couple of the weak hives this week.
    Tana Mc
     
  10. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I was out and took a look (external) at the hives. Based on activity I'm thinking I'll end up with 10-12 decent hives in the spring. That's with going into the fall with 17 (had a couple weaker ihves I combined). I'm thinking about 10 packages and maybe 2-3 NUCs. The NUCs I'll use to do splits to help build up additional hives. I'm also assuming I'll pick up a few more hives through swarms. My goal is to go into next fall with 27-30 hives.

    Mike
     
  11. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    Do you'll raise the Bee's for fun or are there co-op's that you can join that will buy your honey regardless of the quantity that you produce each year???What does it cost to get started and how many hives should a person with no prior experience try to care for to build a knowledge base and gain experience??? Hope I haven't asked too many questions , fordy :)
     
  12. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I sell all my honey in direct sales. I sell at th Farmer's Market in the summer and once people know that I have it, they often will just drive out to the house to buy it. I have one health food store that is my best customer. It is more than a hobby for me but not my full time job either.
    For a begining bee keeper, I would suggest no more than 3 hives. Do a good job with them and then expand or quit :)
    Depends on where you are as to the start up expense and how much gear you want to wear. Bare bones, you will need a veil, smoker and hive tool. Each hive will run somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 each. I have bought full hives with two brood boxes for $75 each.
    Tana Mc
     
  13. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    Tm, thank you for your response. I've always been interested in bee keeping but just never to the point of "check writing". Doesn't sound like it would be to expensive to try and see if I might want to get further involved. thanks, fordy :)
     
  14. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Tana that 2-3 hives would be a good start. I wouldn't start out buying an extractor. You should ask around your local bee club or bee woodenware supplier if there is one you can borrow or rent. In a pinch you can always (carefully) scrape down the honeycomp and strain it through cheesecloth. You won't get quite as much honey production (but more wax) because the bees will have to reconstruct the comb.

    If you do buy complete hives (I've seen them this year in the $75 to $100 range) make sure they have been inspected and you have a certificate of inspection.

    If I have a chance I'll post a picture from us selling at the Kent State Folk Festival. Retail is the way to sell. To a large extent you are competing with supermarkets (70% of all honey in the U.S. is sold through supermarkets). The other key is repeat business.

    Mike
     
  15. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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    Beeman,
    I am located in Maryville, TN. I belonged to the Blount Co. assoc. I didn't go too much this year, as it is mainly a guy hobby and I feel a little out of place there. My husband is more into hunting and such. I plan on starting back up maybe this spring, hopefully I'll get over it! The FGMO is something I'll look in
    I've been at this about 4 years. First hive a bear got. Really destroyed it! The second year I bought 2 hives and moved them , along with my dad(he got 3) on a hot day in August. That was educational! The bees were so mad, and we finally got them home around 11:00pm. whew! One hive died before spring. It was too weak to begin with. (Pays to have someone check them for you first). I had one Buckfast left and got a nuc of latshaw bees. Requeened the B.fast in the fall , and that's when I lost them . This year I've just held what I've got to see If I could go the whole year with them , and have. I guess having bees is more like " on a wing and a prayer", instead of this sure bet they'll be here every year.
     
  16. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The wife and I have been beekeeping for about 8 yrs. now with varying results. Some years are better than others.
    One of our bee club members has a film on a large scale beekeeper that starts new hives every year and destroys the bees at the end of the season, salvaging all the honey. I admit that that is a practical method of organic beekeeping but I'm not sure I could do that.
    We've attended the state meetings and have talked to people using essential oils but they report varying results. I strongly reccomend making the state meetings when you can. They're a great source of info and equipment. We got an electric 4 frame extractor for $80.
     
  17. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Allowing the bees to die every year used to be very common for northern beekeepers. The price of the honey outweighed the cost of buying new bees, but that has changed over time.
    Our bee assoc. is run by our local bee inspector and she is a woman, it's the Davy Crockett Beekeepers Assoc.. Very laid back bunch of people that would help anyone. UT has a class every year for beekeeping and might be something you would want to look into.

    Ck this www.tnbeekeepers.org
     
  18. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Here's the pictures I promised. This first one is our apiary #1 which consists of 21 hives:

    [​IMG]

    This is close to our house and you can just see the corner of our chicken coop (hasn't been used for fowl for several decades). We are developing 2 more apiaries which will have roughly 50 hives each.

    This next picture is me selling honey at the Kent State Folk Festival:

    [​IMG]

    Mike
     
  19. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

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    Looks Like A Good Set-up. The Bears With Honey Is A Nice Touch For Getting People To Buy. I've Yet To See That One Around Here. Although Most Sell At The Farmer's Co-op. I Hope One Day To Progress To Half Of What You Have Done!