How much Maintanace do bees really need?

brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)April 23, 2005

I was suggesting to someone (with alot of property and big gardens) that they get themselves a bee hive or two, not necessarily to get honey but just to keep the meddows and gardens for them. They however don't want to do alot of maintainance, and that includes hone extraction, so if they got a large hive going how much mainanace would they need to do just to keep the bees from dieing or becoming deseased?

Theye are insainly wealthy so they don't really need to make back there money, and swarming is a good thing.

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flathman(z9 SC)

i have been a beekeeper for 4 yrs and have 8 hives.most recommend that you have 2 hives. just so that if there is a problem with one the other can be divided to get 2 again. otherwise the bees really take care of themselves. most beeginers look in on the hives weekly. then as the newness wears off they look in monthly. i look in once during the winter on a warm sunny day just to see how they are making out. then in the spring to see if they need another box of frames, if they get tooo crowded they will swarm. then in september i like to see how much honey is in the hive and maybe take out a frame or 2.
that is not too much of a bother.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 10:31PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

So, How many years do you think a hive could go with out looking in on it? I'm not going to recomend that she get two hives, because I know that shes not going to reenforce the weaker hive, it would just leave the hive open to robbery.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 10:56PM
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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

It's cheaper for the lady to pay a beekeeper $75 per year per hive to keep bees on her property, and better for the bees. Plus the beekeeper might even give her some honey.

Don't even think of putting hives out on the property and just leaving them alone. That's like sending typhoid Mary to work at the day care. It's not good for all bees, let alone the ones placed on the property.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 8:09AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

isn't leaving a hive out sort of like a feral hive? I thought they were a good thing.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 8:25PM
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George_in_MA(z5/6 MA)

SteveInNC, is $75 the going rate for renting a hive for the season? The reason I ask is because a couple in the area who have a small apple orchard have inquired about renting a hive from me. This is my first year keeping bees, so I didn't want to commit to something like that. But apparently they can't find anyone around here (Massachusetts' South Shore) to rent them a hive. So I'm reconsidering, provided I can get some more bees. Seventy-five dollars won't cover my expenses, but it will give me another shot at some honey and a third more experience than I'll get with my two hives. Just wondering....


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 6:54PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

the going rate here is $45 per crop. apples take 3 weeks. the whole season... I don't know.

but leaving a hive of bees unattended without inspections is irresponsible, and will infest and infect hives all around. Feral hives everywhere crashed and died. That's why we have a problem. Why would you want to emulate that?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 12:44AM
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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

$75 isn't the going rate, but ask for it anyway in this special situation. It'll cost them $250 or more to put a hive out and ignore it, and then it'll be dead by next spring. It's an easy sales job.

The New York Times recently carried an article pointing out that the rate for bees is going up, especially in California, because of all the varroa problems, the lack of hives.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 11:13PM
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My father was a beekeeper and kept a hive at our house. He passed away three years ago and my husband attempted to take of the hive and then discovered he was highly allergic to bee stings. Since then no one has taken care of the hive. We figured that it would only last a short while. But to our amazement, it is still going strong. It actually had a swarm last week. Any insight as to why these bees have survived? We live in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky and we are on the outskirts of a park.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:36PM
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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

I hope they live. Maybe that hive will start the repopulation of feral hives in Kentucky. Cross your fingers.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 11:14PM
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A few hives do very well with no attention (both feral and those abandoned by a beekeeper), but the vast majority will fail within 2 years time due to disease or queen failure. Why a few hives survive no one seems to know for sure. Genetics possibly, but some feral hives that have survived for 5+ years crashed quickly when captured and placed in modern hives.

Yes it is possible to keep bees and not harvest honey. I know someone near me that is basically doing just that. You still need to inspect them periodically for disease and general health (queenright, etc.). I'd guess once every 3-4 weeks minimum. 2 hives is still recommended if for no other reason than to provide a queenless hive eggs they can raise a new queen from, plus you can split come spring if one dosn't survive the winter.

So you still need to buy much of the gear (smoker, veil, etc.) and spend the time learning the diseases, how to inspect, etc. It's still a good amount of work to get started.

Another option would be to offer it as a permanent apiary to a local beekeeper. If it's a suitable location (good access, water, forage, etc.), convenient for the beekeeper, and he is looking for another location, you just might get him to place 10+ hives for free and with no work. (Though there may not be a great chance of that).


    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 12:33PM
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