i would recommend waiting till spring. however, you should order your bees as soon as the bee suppliers start taking orders in order to make sure you get the bees you want. Also, buy your woodenware now and set it all up when you get time so that all will be ready when your bees arrive, probably in early may, depending on weather.
During the winter, bees live off of the stored honey and pollen. If you set up a hive now, you would need to supply them with 50 odd pounds of honey, and buy pollen for them.
If you start in the spring, however, you can just provide them with sugar water to supplement what they are gathering. It's both easier, and cheaper. By fall, they will have made enough wax comb and stored enough honey to see them through the winter.
The NEXT year, you can expect a surplus of 50-100 pounds of honey to sell. Honey right now is retailing for $4 a pound.
It is easier if you start out with 2 hives. If something happens to one queen, you can give the affected hive some eggs from the strong hive, and they will raise a queen to replace her.
I would recommend getting your woodenware and gear this fall. Start early. One of the things I've seen with beginners starting in the spring is that they often seem to get caught up in a time bind.
Another thing you can do is find a local beekeeper and volunteer to help. You may not be all that much help to them but it's an opportunity for you to learn.
If you are storing your frames with foundation in them over the winter you need to make sure that vermin can't get at them. Otherwise you will be replacing them again in the spring. I generally use a fine screen on the bottom and just have inner and outer covers on the top. I generally don't use queen excluders anymore so I'll put one on the top of each stack (below the covers) as an additional rodent keeper outer.
Order your bees early and ask around for what is a good delivery time for your area. Be prepared to do some feeding to get them going. I always recommend that people start with two hives and be prepared for losing one or both of them (you generally won't lose both but you would be amazed at the variety of ways to lose a hive.)
Ditto what said.
I've ordered my nuc's in January for the top of list last spring.
Buy woodenware, supplies in the fall gives you time to paint and being familiar with the workings of the hive. Try a fire drill to work in your protective gear, this will give you a heads-up on what to expect, and planning for the spring.
This fall you will have the hardware and time to gather books to read.
Maybe look into a local beekeepers group. I've join a county group about 15 active members, the benefits are immeasurable.
I found this website by mistake three days ago (freecycle.org) It's a national websit for your local areas where everyone gives away unwanted items. You can list items you want/need or items to give away. Everything has to be free, hence the name (freecycle)
I asked for equipment or supplys for beekeeping. Yesterday, I was offered everything - hive, bees, queen, smoker, veil&hat, etc. all free and delivered.
I didn't think for one moment that I would actually get a response, but hey.
It hasn't arrived yet, so we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.
Someone is moving and isn't able to take their bees with them. I 'm just all giggly.
But, I'm also apprehensive, it's happening all so quickly and now that I'm really going to get them, I'm beginning to doubt myself.
Did you all feel this way when you first started? I hope that this is not just a dream I haven't woke-up from yet.
But, when I tried it, I got this:
August 28th, 2004
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First of all, I want to thank everyone who replied to my post. I appreciate all the advise.
Next, I want to say that my receiving those free bees and all the other stuff I was going to get, must of been a dream.... The lady called me to say that her former landlady has had them removed from her property. (They supposed to have had an agreement on how long they could stay after she moved) The landlady won't tell her who took them either.
Anyway, I don't expect to hear from her again, but she says that she feels like she has been ripped off and will persue the matter.
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