So, WHY do YOU keep bees?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Hovey Hollow, May 19, 2006.

  1. Hovey Hollow

    Hovey Hollow formerly hovey1716

    Messages:
    913
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I want to keep bees for the following reasons.

    1. Something new to learn, both for me and the kids.
    2. Honey--we aren't big honey consumers around here but we might use more if we had a ready supply of it. I don't intend to sell any or if we do have surplus just a bit to co-workers, friends etc. Not looking into doing anything commercial.
    3. Wax-I would like to PLAY around with candlemaking, lip balm, and other hive products.
    4. Polinators--I'd like to have them around to service my garden and fruit trees. I've got plans to put in a small orchard, so the bees would be very welcome there.


    So, why do YOU keep bees? For fun? For Profit? If so, how big is your operation? How many hives to do keep. If for profit do you actually make one?
     
  2. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,143
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2002
    I posted the story of how we got into beekeeping (it was a while back) but here is the short version....

    When we moved into our current home (about 9 years ago) we had a feral hive in our front porch. The first thing we did was plant fruit trees, start a garden, etc. There was already a 1/4 acre patch of blackberries and some rasberries growing wild.

    First couple of years we had plenty of fruits and veggies, which I attribute to the feral bees as pollinators. Then we got a dog (huskie) and he liked sitting on the front porch...where he would eat the bees as they went in and out of the crack in the column where the hive was.

    We tried getting someont to move the hive and couldn't find anyone that would do it. DW had an exterminator in and the following summer we had terrible results for fruits and veggies. The pollinators weren't there to do the job.

    So we went to a beginners class through the farm extension and a local (actually 2 counties over) bee club. We ordered woodenware and a single Nuc. They had door prizes and we won a Russian Nuc (we just love saying that...probably gets the attention of the NSA). So we started with 2 hives. We found that we liked keeping bees and people like our honey.

    So now (6th summer) we run 20-25 hives (it varies slightly) and average about 60-65 pounds of honey a year from each hive. If it weren't for devoting our time to expanding our black walnut production, fruit orchard and other products we could expand to about 150 hives without too much trouble. It's not clear that we could sell that much honey without selling wholesale or bulk. Beekeeping suits us.

    I think the first thing you should do is try to get the opportunity to help someone else with their hives. Some people get real unnerved when angry bees come shooting out of the hive at them. That doesn't happen all the time but it is something you need to be able to deal with. When we hear the real "angry buzz" we just leave the girls alone until another time.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Mike
     

  3. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    116
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    I recently bought my property, but it will be a couple years before I'm living there full-time and able to have other livestock. In the meantime, I wanted a project out there (aside from building, clearing, etc) that could get started with only weekly maintenance. Something that my boyfriend's son (9) could enjoy and look forward to, and take some ownership of.

    This is my first season, and I've got three hives going right now. It's lots of fun, and both the beau and his son have really become involved. Our goals for the first couple years are to get these hives going, maybe catch a few swarms, and split them for increase. Though we love honey, I'm more interested in colony growth and wax production for right now...we'll be doing the crush-and-strain method using starter strips in most of the honey supers, because I'd like to get some wax to use as sealant for the earthen floor we'll be installing in a year or so.

    I've got a lot of blackberry and salmonberry bramble on the property now, and hope to plant a small orchard (hazelnuts, apples, pears) in the future. So pollenation is a bonus.

    I figure I have enough room in the apiary area for about a dozen hives, after which time I hope to find outyards to expand to about 50 colonies within a few years. Slow and steady. At that time, I hope to be able to rent a few colonies, maybe sell some nucs, and market honey and beeswax (and value-added products). Only then will I invest in harvesting equipment--in the meantime, I'll stick with crush-and-strain, selling bulk to meadmaking friends or small bakery operations.
     
  4. Ol'Reb

    Ol'Reb aka Mr T-Bone

    Messages:
    76
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Location:
    Piney Hills of Louisiana CSA.
    I do it so I can see the expression on people faces when they say "you do what?"...
    Actually, it's just one of those things I've had a long interest in and decided to go ahead and do it, also I got tired of buying our honey, because we use A LOT!!!
     
  5. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,421
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    My story will be at the end of the link below.
    I found out I love these tiny critters a lot. Don't know if I'll ever have 500 or a 1000 hives but I am going to try to keep as many as I can till it isn't fun any more. When that point comes I'll back off till it is fun again.
    We sell our honeyu to local customers for the time being. This year a packer will get some. We should have 40 colonies by summers end.

    http://oldgrumpy.fanspace.com

    :D Al
     
  6. Chickieeeee

    Chickieeeee Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    133
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Dd age 8 at the time wanted to start this for her 4-H project. Although I do love telling people that we keep bees. I really love telling people that they are "right over there" on the edge of our property and seeing their eyes bulge out. (Although you would never know that they are there).

    We don't sell any of our honey. Grandpa does kick down a couple of bucks each jar to granddaughter though. Mostly presents to family and friends.
     
  7. beaglady

    beaglady Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,224
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    When we first moved to our place, there were some bees living in the side of the house. We were also plagued with those annoying Asian ladybugs by the bucketful, so we called an exterminator. After the bees were gone, I realized how much I had enjoyed watching them & decided to attend the local beekeeping class.

    I was really put off by the chemical treatments that were recommended and spent a year reading how to keep bees without chemicals before getting any. I decided on small cell and am in my fourth year. I just picked up 4 nucs last week, so now I have 9 hives total.

    The same extermiantor that accidentally did in those first bees calls me to get swarms.
     
  8. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    I blame Mike in Ohio...

    He gave me my first hive (which I am using this summer) and then I talked to the fellow a few miles from here who owns Queen Right Colonies Beekeeping supplies. (Denzil St. Clair)

    My interest is to increase the production of my fruit trees and other crops. The honey will be a nice side benefit.

    Edited to add: http://www.queenrightcolonies.com/
     
  9. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,724
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    Well, I have always loved bees. I was the child that drove my parents crazy --catching bees, helping them out of the poultries waters, the dogs buckets and letting them crawl up my arm and dry their wings. They never stung me.

    Then about ten yrs ago, I started to notice a decline in the production of our veggie and fruits on the farm. Started reading about the decline in wild honeybees and decided I wanted a hive.

    I read everything I could find, trying to find out something about beekeeping. Called around and found the county beekeepers assc. Went to meetings for about a yr. and then ordered two sets of supers, hivebodies, tops, bottoms, feeders ...EVERYthing the book had to order.. in late fall. Put it together and ordered the bees after Christmas. I now have 10 hives, run two nucs and love it. MY hives are painted pretty colors, have copper English style tops, and sit on nice stand. I have met really nice, knowledgeable beekeepers, who don't mind answering all my crazy questions... It's been 6yrs. The garden orchard, vineyard and wild flowers, berries etc. are producing 10 times what they had 7yrs ago..
     
  10. cowboy joe

    cowboy joe Hired Hand

    Messages:
    1,641
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    western New York
    I blame everyone here...it's your fault...thank you! I've always been fascinated by bees but never thought that I could have my own hives. An apple farm out by where my folks live have an observation hive in their store. Like a moth to the flame, I couldn't help myself...The honey, the wax, & the pollination 'services' are all a bonus.
     
  11. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,143
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2002
    So what are you going to get me started in to get even?
     
  12. Hee Haw

    Hee Haw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    107
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    I do it as a hooby mainly, and am fasinated of their nature and the way they all work together with diffenent tasks to survive,but the reward of the sweet honey is the best part of it.
     
  13. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,440
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Missouri
    We had an elderly neighbor when we were first married that had a couple of hives and my DH got interested helping him. So when we moved to our first country place he decided to get bees. Had up to 50 colonies when we lived in MI and he was a state bee inspector. Down here in MO we have 12 colonies and are the only people for miles around with bees so our hives do really well. Concentrating on comb honey as that's what people want. People, I've found are always fascinated when you talk about bees. Most haven't a clue about beekeeping so we always try to talk it up as a hobby. Hubby worries where our next generation of beekeepers will come from. DEE
     
  14. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,421
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    Mutti, I agree with ya's on the next genaration of bee keepers, where they coming from????

    I must say I have been doing my share of educating the last week and a half. I've got three swarms from for somer strange reason in subdivisions. At all but one I have had a audience. Most stayed about 15 feet away but kept asking questions about honey bees. Had some real small frys at one I am sure went to school the next day with a story about the bee guy useing his bare hands to get hands full of bees to put in the hive. Gezzz I hate it when they wrap around the trees trunk instead of a branch.
    I thank every one that called me to save the bees rather than kill them, and explain about Vorroa destructor. I show them that the bees are no danger of hurting people and I ask them to pass that information along with the story they have.

    :D Al