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I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

Posted by buckeye_brian 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 11, 07 at 15:47

Hey all...newbie here. I have been reading intently on this forum for the last week or so. I got to admit...I am developing a desire to get my own bees.

My grandparents lived next to a beekeeper when I was a little boy (Mr. Baker). He sold his honey with the comb in the jar. Once or twice a summer I would walk to his little stand (while visiting grandpa)and he would always give me a jar to take to my dad. My dad used to work on his farm when he was a kid and Mr. Baker was very fond of him. That honey was unbelievable.

I always thought the beekeepers were "super-human" individuals impervious to beestings. Reading all these posts has really educated me in "what you guys do." It really got me thinking about getting some bees.

I have already visited the bush farm website (lots of info) and have written down all the Bee books recommended. I will be checking the library soon.

I live on 7 +/- acres in SW Ohio with corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see around me. There is also a lot of woods and veggies gardens everywhere (I will have about a 1/2 acre garden myself). I live on a creek so there is a fresh water supply. How do you think my place would do with bees?

I do not know of anyone around my area that has bees. But like so many of you guys have said...some of your neighbors wouldn't know you had them unless you told them...so maybe there are some???

Thanks for the info...I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Brian


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

Brian, Welcome to the forum. I'm glad to hear that you are excited about bees. A friend put two hives in my yard for a year and he showed my the ropes as I helped take care of them and I was hooked.
It sounds like you will have a good spot. Corn is wind pollinated for the most part,but bees will collect corn pollen sometimes. Soybeans are good. You'll benefit from a wide variety of plants that provide a continued source of food.The spot where I live is less than a mile from main st but I'm on a dead end st with a brook and a river going by and wooded hills. There is a never ending cycle of trees and wildflowers to provide nectar and honey. Lots of basswood and the city planted hundreds of flowering ornamental trees. Add to that the town flower gardens and plenty of back yard gardens and it's a bee paradise. There are also many wild berries, japanese knotweed and golden rod to round things out. Oh, I should also mention dandelions, one of the first good sources in the spring. Let them Grow.
Check out Honey Plants of North America for a list of good bee plants.
Get a journal and write down all of your observations and all the manipulations you do with your hive or hives. It's imporrtant to have detailed records to look back on. I can look back on the last few years and see what date the dandelions bloomed, when I put supers on, how much honey we extracted etc.
A Word of Warning: Try to find a club or at least another beekeeper. Once you get started you will want to talk about bees and share your experiences with someone. I know my wife goes crazy listening to me talk about my bees. I guess that's why we have these forums.
Another great forum is Beesource.com good luck and keep us posted Tony


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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

Tony...Thanks for the "Welcome!" Like I said in the original post...I have been reading this forum for about a week. I am trying to get the "terms" down...SUPERS, 8-Frame, 10-Frame, Top-Bar, queens, drones, workers...etc, etc. It sounds so confusing. This forum has had a wealth of knowledge running through it.

For the novice like me...it is all Greek. I like that nothing is explained (processes) in details because it makes your read and research. The more websites I visit...the more I get hooked and the more I learn.

I have a couple of questions...if you don't mind. As follows:

1) I am working overseas and will not finish this contract until 1st week of April. If I had all my supplies and hive(s) (- bees) set up before I got home...would it be too late to start a hive(s) from a NUC or package once I got home 2nd - 3rd week of April?

2) Everything I have read...the Italian bee seems to be the most docile bee. Would that be the bee for the beginner?

3) How much time do you average a week working your hives? I have read numerous posts that "you experts" suggest starting with 2 - 3 hives (to gauge potential problems). How much time per week to manage my bees effectively with 3-hives?

4) I would like to sell my honey (- what we eat of course) and my wife is really into crafts so I am sure she will be interested in making candles etc. If the market was available in my area (which I am sure it is)...how much money could I expect to gross from my hives on an average season?

5) I know I have read in several posts that an average hive produces about 110-lbs of honey (some 200-lbs). How does that compute into 1/2 pint, 1-pint, 1-qt jars of honey? I would think honey would weight a lot more per gallon than say water or milk?

Do not get the idea that I am thinking strickly about the money...because I am not! When I get home in April, I want to semi retire (it pays well over here) and I would like to know what to expect. We have a huge garden, goats, chickens and soon to have meat rabbits. I have been slowly building a nice herd of goats the past 4-yrs and think I might break even or be in the "black" on them for the first time this year. We love the country life and if I could start these bees...who knows...diversity is awesome.

I am just excited thinking about my little black / gold pollinators in my own garden. No more flowers falling off my pumpkins because "ZERO" bees to pollinate them.

Sorry for rambling...I am just excited!

I will continue to hang on "your guy's & gals" every word...so keep the posts coming. I am only up to about the 10th set of posts so far...so a lot of "back dated" ones to read. Hopefully by April I will have it all figured out (the process anyway).

Sorry...one last question. How many times a week do you get stung...and...do you ever get used to it?

Thanks,

Brian


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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

  • Posted by ccrb1 z5 IND (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 12, 07 at 23:12

Brian, are you far from Indiana? Check out the link...

Here is a link that might be useful: Indiana Beekeeping School


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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

1) I am working overseas and will not finish this contract until 1st week of April. If I had all my supplies and hive(s) (- bees) set up before I got home...would it be too late to start a hive(s) from a NUC or package once I got home 2nd - 3rd week of April?

Answer. It's important to get your packages ordered early. They always sell out. I order packages from Betterbee in Greenwich NY It's about 1 hr 1/4 away from me. They'll be taking package orders starting on Jan 4th. They usually have 3 or 4 delivery dates (saturdays) starting around april 15th
Picking a date is hard because it all depends on the weather both up here and in Georgia where they get their packages. Delays from one week to 3 weeks aren't uncommon. You want to get your bees off to a good strong start but anything can happen. My first year I had a late delivery date. I was thinking that all the established hives would be building up while I was still be waiting to get bees. Well the weather here was cold and steady rain so the delay didn't hurt.
Nucs usually come later because they have to be established already.
I'd advise starting with package bees because you will be learning right from the get go. You'll have to install them in the hive, check for queen release, check to be sure she's laying a good brood pattern. In other words you'll be involved every step of the way and you'll learn more, and things will be gradual.

2) Everything I have read...the Italian bee seems to be the most docile bee. Would that be the bee for the beginner?

answer. Italians are what I started with and still have the most of. I also have some Russians. It's all a matter of opinion. I don't find my Russians to be any more aggressive than my Italians. Russians have many good traits. One thing I definitely noticed with mine is they overwinter in a smaller cluster and consume much less honey. When buying a package, you may not have a choice as far as the type of queen you get.

3) How much time do you average a week working your hives? I have read numerous posts that "you experts" suggest starting with 2 - 3 hives (to gauge potential problems). How much time per week to manage my bees effectively with 3-hives?

answer: You have to remember that this is agriculture so anything can happen and will, and it's all variable
You'll plan your sight and get everything ready to go ahead of time which will take some work.
On the big day, plan to spend a couple of hours being your first time. Once you have the hang of it you can install a package of bees in a matter of minutes. The first time you'll be double checking instructions and going over all of the details. You will be very excited and nervous at the same time.
After your successful at that you do a check back in about 3 or 4 days, only to see that the queen has been released.
At one week you'll check for signs that she's laying.
You'll probably be feedin 1:1 sugar syrup to help them build up.
In general there's lots of work in the beginning, less in the middle, lots toward the end.
It's not an everyday thing and sometimes more than a week between any actual work. You want them to do their work without too much disturbance

4) I would like to sell my honey (- what we eat of course) and my wife is really into crafts so I am sure she will be interested in making candles etc. If the market was available in my area (which I am sure it is)...how much money could I expect to gross from my hives on an average season?

answer: That's the toughest question of all. The saying goes the first year is a building up season, the second is a harvesting season, but it's all relative. (remember the agriculture thing)I've had 1st yr hives that gave a surplus of over 100 lbs and others that only made enough to get them through the winter. This year with some established and some new hives I got 375 pounds from the 5 that produced surplus. It ranged from over 100 to 35 lbs. We kept about 150 lbs and gave some away and are selling some. I'll probably gross about a grand but I'm not making a profit because I'm putting it back into bees and equipment. I hope to make another few hundred selling lip balm, salves, candles and soap. My first year I made enough to cover about half my costs.
You'll get some wax from cappings but it won't amount to very much. You'll need to buy more for any real amount of crafting

5) I know I have read in several posts that an average hive produces about 110-lbs of honey (some 200-lbs). How does that compute into 1/2 pint, 1-pint, 1-qt jars of honey? I would think honey would weight a lot more per gallon than say water or milk?

answer: Honey has to be sold by weight, so you'll be dealing in half pound, one pound jars etc.

Do not get the idea that I am thinking strickly about the money...because I am not! When I get home in April, I want to semi retire (it pays well over here) and I would like to know what to expect. We have a huge garden, goats, chickens and soon to have meat rabbits. I have been slowly building a nice herd of goats the past 4-yrs and think I might break even or be in the "black" on them for the first time this year. We love the country life and if I could start these bees...who knows...diversity is awesome.

I am just excited thinking about my little black / gold pollinators in my own garden. No more flowers falling off my pumpkins because "ZERO" bees to pollinate them.

Sorry for rambling...I am just excited!

I will continue to hang on "your guy's & gals" every word...so keep the posts coming. I am only up to about the 10th set of posts so far...so a lot of "back dated" ones to read. Hopefully by April I will have it all figured out (the process anyway).

Sorry...one last question. How many times a week do you get stung...and...do you ever get used to it?

answer: That's pretty variable too. A lot depends on the demeanor of your bees (demeaner dey are, da more you get stung)Actually if you work them at the right times and move slowly you may not get stung very often. This past year we worked our 10 hives mostly without gloves and sometimes in tee shirts, moving slowly and being as gentle as possible. I probably got a half dozen stings over the course of the season. If the bees seemed like they were getting angry we just backed off and waited, and wore gloves and long sleeves when it seemed necessary. A friend with a feisty hive got a half dozen at once, so you never know.

Thanks,

You're very welcome


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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

Thank you both for the follow-ups!

ccrb1...I had looked at that site once before. I won't be home yet when the schools take place. I found the local beekeeping association for my area on-line (SW Ohio Beekeepers Association www.swoba.org). Their beekeeping school is the last week of March and I will miss that one also. Lot's of good information and contacts on SWOBA.com site. I signed the guestbook and am looking forward to hooking up with these people. I actually found a beekeeper that lives around 10-miles from me. He is a "newbie"...but by the time I jump in he should have been through 1st season.

tonybeeguy...the answers were exactly what I was looking for. I have been raised in the country all my life...so I know the "ups & downs" to agriculture. Weather, disease, disaster all play a part in whether your "crop" is successful. The Arabs over here constantly say INSHALLA...which roughly translates into "If God wills it..."

I was looking on Dadant website for equipment. The hive bodies, frames etc, etc where very inexpensive IMO...but the other stuff like harvesting / processing equipment was WOW! Stainless steel holding tanks, melters, pots? where out of this world. But then again I am sure if you take care of your equipment...it would last a lifetime. Now I think I understand why beekeepers have more than just a couple hives. You have to balance out the expense some how.

The more I read, the more I am learning. I have been overseas for 3+ years. The "honey-do's" (no pun intended)have piled up and I am going to build another barn in the spring. I am really trying to figure out if I should jump into this thing with both feet or wait and learn all I can this next year going to beekeeping meetings, help the guy that lives close and start collecting equipment. Then in spring of '09 I am kind of like a Sophmore beekeeper.

Does this make any sense...or do you guys think I should get my own bees from the get-go?


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RE: I am falling for bees...and I don't even have any!

Question: I am really trying to figure out if I should jump into this thing with both feet or wait and learn all I can this next year going to beekeeping meetings, help the guy that lives close and start collecting equipment. Then in spring of '09 I am kind of like a Sophmore beekeeper.

Does this make any sense...or do you guys think I should get my own bees from the get-go?

my answer at least> Two sayings come to mind. "Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today" and "there's no time like the present" I would say give it a go. Start with just two hives. Just buy the necessities.Who knows, there's always the chance that you won't like it. All you really need to start are your complete hives with supers, a veil,a hive tool and a smoker. You don't need a fancy bee suit. I wear a loose fitting pair of painter's pants and an old long sleeve shirt, a veil and sneakers.
With what you mentioned, you'll have a fellow beekeeper within driving distance and belong to a club, so your support system will be up and running.
Forget about heating tanks and all that stuff. Between last year and this year we extracted close to 800 pounds of honey and I don't own an extractor. A fellow club member has a 3 frame hand crank that he lets us borrow.I have one of those plastic uncapping bins. We just use uncapping forks We extract, run it through a double filter screen on top of 5 gallon honey buckets, then fill jars by hand. In exchange, I make some hive equipment for him such as varroa screens, slatted racks etc.
Members of our club all help each other out when needed.


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