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Discussion Starter #1
I've been planning to put in my first hives this spring. I've compiled a list of the hive components that I want to order based on a couple books and lurking in this forum.

The part I haven't sorted out is the bees themselves. There are a couple suppliers that are relatively local to me, and I figured I'd order locally so that I can pick them up directly.

I'd planned to line that up earlier, but this year has started getting away from me. When do I need to be ordering bees for pickup next spring? Do I still have time?
 

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You can order packages most any time after Oct for the spring of 2015 pick up. Earlier you order better chance of getting what you want with a price lock before next springs over winter reports come in.

:D Al
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, all.
I thought that the ordering period was coming up. I know that most of the sites show sold-out, but those are still listings for spring 2014-delivery.

I am going to do some calling, and hopefully ordering tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So, I got on the list for spring bees this morning. Turns out that I'm actually a little on the early side. The local guy I had been planning to stop and check with first, only had 6 other buyers down so far. He quoted me $95 for packages, and $120 for nucs, if I brought him the box to install the frames in.

The local guy is a supply house, run out of his workshop, about 40 minutes from me. I thought I'd just stop in and check availability and be on my way, but I spent a little over an hour and a half with him. I didn't want to impose on his time, but he kept bringing up other topics, wanting to make sure I understood what I needed, and showing me the parts he makes and his workshop. I'm sure it is a small operation in comparison, but he did have two people in the workshop and two assistants out working his apiary.

On his advice, I ordered two nucs, and a package, so I'd be sure to have a good start but could also get to see what the difference was in installing a package, and how they did compared to nucs over the first year.

I had planned to order my first hives online and start building my own expansions from there out, but I think I'm going to get the first parts right there from him. The prices he quoted me were really competitive, and he told me that he'd do a little better than the prices on his website if I came in and bought the stuff locally. Obviously, I can buy the hive parts assembled, or in pieces, but he even offered; "Son, I'll send you home with one each of the parts so you can pattern them and start building your own. You can just bring the parts back with you the next time you're in."

He offered to let me put on a veil and follow one of his assistants around anytime I wanted.

I had been struggling with exactly what combo of hives to use/build...deep, med, shallow / 8, 10 frame. He recommended that I start with a deep brood box, a medium super, and a second medium super in case the bees really took off the first year. The reasoning being that some people eventually like to use 3 mediums for brood, for a little more brood capacity, and use deeps for supers, and that with a deep-brood, and medium-supers at startup, I'd have that flexibility later.

Bottom-line, I really got a warm/fuzzy talking with the owner of this local shop, and I think that I'm going to use him for everything to start with.
 

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Sounds like you found a great supplier/possible mentor. Does he ship packages? I'd be interested in ordering if he ships. Does he have a website?
 

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Nucs are $125. If you want to do the thing where you bring the box I'd do like the other seller and knock $5 off.

I'm hoping to have a web site up and running in the next week or so where folks can go and reserve nucs.

Depending on the demand next year I'll either go through a hive with you if you are a beginner and point out the main things to look for and what the queen, workers, drones and different stages of larvae look like. If there is a lot of demand, I'll end up scheduling beginners classes on Saturdays. I just about got overwhelmed this year with all the beginners I was working with and really should have just scheduled classes rather than working one on one.

I'm also hoping to have beekeeping information specific to east Texas on the web site.
 

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Ya! make sure to post the site here so we can check it out!

I'm not a total beginner. I had bees in op bar hives for 2 years before they went and got africanized and I had to whack them. Then of course the hubby ran off and I had to move in with mom...She won't let me have bees, chickens, ducks or dogs here. :awh:

I spend a lot of time on the computer watching youtube videos of beekeeping and farming. I'm hoping to move out to the farm next spring.

I'll have to find out how to transition bees from frames to a top bar.
 

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I'll have to find out how to transition bees from frames to a top bar.
Make the dimensions of the tbh such that the width of the top bars are the same as the length of a standard frame. Then just cut the sides and bottom off of the frames you get and trim the comb to fit in the top bar hive.

My website is now up and running! I'll be adding a lot more content soon. This is my first website. :bouncy:
 

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You got lucky finding George. He is a fine beekeeper and a true gentleman.
Not sure exactly where you are, but there are great bee clubs in the following counties near you.

Forsyth, Davidson, Rockingham, Guilford, Randolph, Alamance. Go to a couple of meetings at several counties and you will be warmly welcomed and able to get all the local assistance you ever want.

You can find the details of each at this link.

http://www.ncbeekeepers.org/
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Sorry for the necro-post, but I'm installing my first two packages today (as soon as it warms up a little bit). Has been a hard-studying winter, so I'm more excited than nervous, finally. Have a third colony going in in a couple weeks - nucs weren't ready yet.

Will post pictures post-install.
 

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Got busy last night and didn't get around to posting, but here are the promised pictures.

I took the install instructions from two different books and my dealer, and compiled them into what seemed to make the most sense to me.

Got the bees on Saturday morning, but we were in for a freeze on Saturday night, so I held them in the basement overnight. Waited until late enough on Sunday afternoon for the temperature to get up to a little over 50f.

All set up and ready to install:
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I made up a gallon of syrup, with Honey-B-Healthy added, and misted the bees. I also sprayed down the frames with some, and put a couple drawn frames from my dealer into the bottom body of each hive.

Cracked open the package, pulled out the syrup can and queen cage. Removed the cork from the queen cell, and drilled a starter hole through the candy with a toothpick. Put on a queen spacer, and put the cage, mesh down, spanning the two drawn frames.

Ready to get the rest of the bees out of the package:
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That was actually a pain until I figured out some jarring and shaking techniques to get the bulk of the bees out. The second package went much smoother, emptying the package out in ~30 seconds.

Put on another medium body (going to use three mediums on each for the hive), and put on the feeder. I ended up going with the double top feeders, with no top-cage installed, so I could use syrup under a float on one side, and pollen patties on the other. This one has about half-gallon of HBH mix, and a 2" brood-booster patty on the other.
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The wife even got involved. She was a little nervous about the no-gloves idea, but she did end up with naked hands for the next one. Obviously, neither of us got stung on the install, but it was a little nerve wracking for both of us at first.
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And here's the second one, all buttoned up and ready to go to work:
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