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Thread: Record Keeping

  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Alberta, Canada
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    I am new to beekeeping, having just aquired 32 wintered hives before Christmas. I am wondering if there are any websites etc which would help identify the do's and don'ts of record keeping. I know there is a commercial software package but I would rather develop my own records.
    Thanks for any direction / help from a new"Bee"

    Bryan

  2. #2
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    Sep 2001
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    Neodesha, Ks
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    Bryan, Find a local experienced Beekeeper and see if they will work with you. Hands on is a great way to learn. Also try to join a club. The beekeeper can help you find one. Just my thought on starting right. Dale

  3. #3
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Just started and you bought 35 hives. You jumped in with both feet. Since you don't have a beekeeping style or list of things you usually do, you'll need to work that out first. Then I'd assign a number to each hive. For each hive every time you open it, you want to make notes on your observations on the health of the hive. Did you see the queen. Did you see newly hatched eggs. Did you see mites. Did you see bees with chewed wings. etc. Also make note of everything you did. If you moved something etc. Keep track of the genetics of the queen, if you bought a queen from somwhere. (Italian, Russian etc.) Keep track of supers of honey taken off. etc. This way you can keep track of hives that are doing well and hives that are not. I'd make a checklist of things that need to be done in the spring and fall and check them off when they are done.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Brushy Mountain sells a colony record book. It is a three ring binder with 50 loose leaf pages. $12.95 ++
    Get the ABC&XYZ, and The Hive and the Honeybee books while your at it.
    Also subscribe to Bee Culture and American Bee Journal.
    35 Hives? You stepped deep into this one. Good Luck...
    Bill

  5. #5
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    Jan 2003
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    Alberta, Canada
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    Thanks for the record keeping help. I find the forum extremely useful. Has anyone developed any access databases or excel spreadsheets for keeping their electronic records ? Would they mind sharing primary categories of information they keep ?.

  6. #6
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    I think the problem with trying to keep bee records on the computer, if we are talking about beekeeping and not bee business, is that when you need to read them you are in the field. When you need to write them you are in the field wearing a beesuit.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2000
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    NE Calif.
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    Quicken Basic works real well to track income and expenses for the business end of it.You know where your money is going and how much you are losing!
    For beeyard work I just mark on the lid with a lumber crayon,use rocks(if handy) and write down relevant stuff in a notebook,like date yard was worked,number of hives and supers(if you dont count them each trip how will you know how many were stolen ?)also what to bring next trip,and when to come next.I use marks on the back of the hive to show the year the queen was put in and her origin.Like 4/02 HI CL means a Heitkam Italian was put in and I clipped a wing.You can use whatever abbreviations seem sensible.It pays to mark all hives w/problems so they can be dealt with pronto.Also hives that show disease and mite resistance .
    ---Mike

  8. #8
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Bryan, My advice on record keeping is keep it simple. Don't get too involved with recording minor details about every hive because you will end up spending too much time keeping notes when you should be beekeeping. You will soon get tired of blowing pagers and lost pencels. I keep record of beeyard manipulations and observatios on a calender. The general information allows me to plan my beekeeping year better and also allows me to compaire from previous years to let me know where I’m at.
    Learn about bees and keeping bees and before you go to the beeyard, have in mind what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how you are going to do it. The best advice I have ever got about managing beeyards was to treat the beeyard as a single unit, instead of a yard of individual hives. That way you can go into a beeyard, know what you should expect, manipulate the hives to the same stage of development and get out.
    What I do when I come about problem hives that need re-examining, (queenlessness, disease, ect) is I mark it with something distracting, so I remember which hive was the problem. Also leaving indicators to represent manipulations are also handy.
    I leave queen cages in newly intorduced hives to remind me later on that year that she is a new queen. I also stand the hivetop brick on its end to represent queenlessness or queens needed to be replaced.
    Simple things like that are handy and quick, and I think somewhat nessicary to good beekeeping management.
    In my opinion you learn about bees by working with them, not by keeping detailed notes on them.

    Ian

  9. #9
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    Bryan, who sold you the 32 hives? Have you ever had bees before or you a total beginner?

    If your not total green than is it ok but if this is your first time keeping bees, it was not fair form the seller.
    I would they, this beekeeper was only interested to get rid of the bees and making a quick money.
    If you would come to me, I would never sell you so many hives at the beginning.
    You can easy end up in a chaos during the first season. It can cost you lots of money and all the fun is gone.

    When I help beginners they start with 3 hives. One hive to play with and learn how to handle the bees, and two for the first honey.

    A beginner has so much to learn, about bees, queens, hives, honey, diseases, how to find out when bees are sick, even how to handle the diseases.
    If your totally green go and look for a nice beekeeper in your neighborhood I’m sure he will help you.
    One tip, in case you’re really new. Never ever go back to the seller and ask for advise or help. You’re on the wrong person.

    Only one question, don’t be shy and tell me what you would do in the following situation.
    And to all other beekeepers here on the group – please don’t answered! Hey Michael I mean you too. <G>

    OK. The year starts great and the bees are flying, bringing lots of honey. Now, suddenly you find in 25 from your 32 hives lots of queen cells. Two hives have no eggs and the last five hanging in a tree?



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    Bowdoinham, Maine, USA
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    Sad

    Axtmann, I think asking a question like that is unfair. This forum should be a place where anyone, especially a beginner should feel comfortable asking for advice. Asking someone's level of experience is fine but to then possibly set them up in that way may make them shy about using this forum at all. If I was a beginner and wanted to buy 32 hives, if you would not sell them to me I would look for someone else. The question was about record keeping not whether he is right or wrong to buy this many hive at once. We all have our own way of doing things. When I first started beekeeping I was going to buy 50 hive to start, I had plenty of potential beeyards and was single and saw it as another source of income. Looking back I feel I could have done this with few problems. Money was what made me start on a smaller scale. Would I suggest anyone doing that? Probably not without knowing something about that person, but I would not try to test their knowledge on a public forum either.
    What is the weather like in Germany? Do you face the same kinds of issues beekeeping there as we do here? Weather, winter, mites, medications? It is nice to speak with beekeepers in other parts of the world. When will your honey flow start and how long does it last? I will be out in my yards in a couple weeks, we are having below zero temps right now so I spend most of my time in the shop next to the woodstove. )
    Happy Beeing.
    David

    ------------------
    Maine-ly Bees
    David Wallace and Family
    Bowdoinham, ME
    dwallace@llbean.com

  11. #11
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    Jan 2003
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    Alberta, Canada
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    Sad

    Thanks for stepping in David. I am sorry if I appear inexperienced, but I did indeed ask a question as a beginner in what I believed was a forum for beginners. I am sure I will make mistakes and I do feel right about my decision to get into beekeeping at this time in my life with this number of hives and will continue to solicit help from experienced beekeepers who are willing to help me out.
    Thanks to all who responded with info on record keeping, it has helped a lot in my setting up a system which I believe will work for me to get me going.

    Bryan

  12. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    Evansville, IN, USA
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    Mainelybees - Thanks (David) for helping to set the correct "tone" for this (or any) forum.

    Bryan - Please keep the questions coming!

    Dave W

  13. #13
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    mainelybees

    <<<Axtmann, I think asking a question like that is unfair. This forum should be a place where anyone, especially a beginner should feel comfortable asking for advice. Asking someone's level of experience is fine but to then possibly set them up in that way may make them shy about using this forum at all. If I was a beginner and wanted to buy 32 hives, if you would not sell them to me I would look for someone else.>>>

    I can’t see anything wrong with my question and I’m the last beekeeper who wouldn’t help a beginner. This forum is for everyone and the beginners will get answers for all questions.
    “ There are no stupid questions possible, only stupid answers”!

    Your right, if I wouldn’t sell the 32 hives you would go to someone else. But, I always tell beginners what can happen when they start with so many colonies and why they should go a little bit slower in a business or hobby like beekeeping.
    It’s not only buying, bring them on the right place and let they work!

    When we started beekeeping (I have bees since 1965), we had not all the problems we have now. For example, there was no Varroa or Small Hive Beatle you have now!
    You know if a beginner starts with success and has fun with his bees he probably keeps bees for a lifetime. Starting with problems, trouble, loosing hives and fights endless without success against the diseases it’s not a good way to begin.
    I don’t know his background and why he starts with 32 hives and all that. In my article I say always “If you’re a beginner with no help in the neighborhood”\

    You asked about the weather in Germany. I live near Mainz that is on the 50th latitude. The weather can go up and down like an elevator. For example, we had in December from +14°C to – 15° (57 F to 0 F).
    We have all the same problems you guys have in North America.

    It would be terrible for Bryan to run in an “open knife”

  14. #14
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Axtmann wrote,
    >If your not total green than is it ok but if this is your first time keeping bees, it was not fair form the seller.
    I would they, this beekeeper was only interested to get rid of the bees and making a quick money.
    >One tip, in case you’re really new. Never ever go back to the seller and ask for advise or help. You’re on the wrong person.

    Although I see your point, i think you gave some extreemly bad advice. Bryan, my advice to you is to keep in close contact with your beekeeper seller. Not only are you buying the bees/equipment from the beekeeper but you are also buying the beekeepers knoledge. That is what I was told when I bought my bees, and from several beekeepers alike. You would be surprised how much you can learn from an old pro in just a few hours, if you know how to listen. Bryan, ask him to lead you through the beeyard, to give you some hands on tips and advice. I'm sure he would jump out of his chair to start you off right.

    Ian

  15. #15
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    Well you can see it this way, but I don’t, I have seen to many crooked things.
    I sell you (as a greenhorn) 32 hives and you have no idea in what trouble you can run into.
    The time will come and the worst thing will be happen.
    Oh, now you’re coming back for help. . and I have all kind of part left, frames and supers and so on and nee a buyer.
    Great, sure I’m very helpful. I tell you what to do, but you need lots of other thinks. I have all you need and it is a “bargain”.
    With all that trouble you have now, you absolutely need a helper, I like to give you some advice, but can I do it week after week for free? In this case with 32 hives it is not a matter of hours.
    I can play this game longer but I think in is enough for now.

    Now I tell you a real thing.
    I know an immigrant who left Switzerland in the 80th and bought a beekeeping business in Saskatchewan.
    The rule from the Canadian government was, or still is, if you’re interested to go to Canada you must buy a business and hire at least one Canadian.

    He found this “great” business in the newspaper and everything sounds OK. He was a beekeeper and trusted does Canadian beekeeper, because he meets him in Canada and he was really a “trustful and nice guy”.
    He could see all the hives I the bee yard (approx 600) a house and a barren with many more.
    This greenhorn from Switzerland (greenhorn in Canadian business not in beekeeping) went home and a realtor made all the paperwork for him.

    After a few months he immigrated with all his belongings.
    He came with his family to the property and moved into the house.

    Oh wonder what’s happen with all the beehives? There was only a small amount of hives left because the other hives was not from the yard owner and gone.
    He discovered, he got his 600 hives but it was all that scrap in the barren.
    It took him 5 years hard work with two helpers to start a running beekeeping business. Now the time was right to repair and extend the barren. OK he looked for a permit and, o good, the barren was illegal build and half on the other property.
    I don’t want to make the story longer but I meet him and he told me with tears in his eyes how “nice” his new life started in Canada.
    Don’t tell me thinks like this can’t happen again.
    But I tell you what, not all beekeeper are crooks most of them are really nice. Especially in Canada! <G>

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Lumberport, WV USA
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    71

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    Axtmann,

    You sound like you have had some really bad experiences with fellow beekeepers. I belong to a beekeeping assocation and I haven't had any of the problems you have had. I would have a hard time staying in a business or hobby where I couldn't trust the people that I buy my products from. I wish you luck.

  17. #17
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    I'm sorry for your Switzerland friends misforturn and can only assume that it left him heart broken.
    But, there is oviously more to the story than you implied, and frankly, it does not make any sence.
    For anyone to nagotiate a business deal of that magnitude without going through a lawyer is a fool. A lawyer ensures both parties that the contract agreed on will be completed in full detail and/or will be held liable in a cort of law. A lawyer ensures the contract is credible by finding leans and liability against the property to be worked out in the contract made. Moneys are transfered between the lawyers and held in trust until date of possesion and transfered if and only if the agreement is fullfilled to its completion. For you to tell me that your Switzerland friend completed a deal overseas, dealings transfer of moneys and property through only a realtor doesn't make sense.

    >He could see all the hives I the bee yard (approx 600) a house and a barren with many more.

    >Oh wonder what’s happen with all the beehives? There was only a small amount of hives left because the other hives was not from the yard owner and gone.

    I assume you implied with these statements that the Canadian beekeeper misrepresented his stock. If done through a lawyer, the deal would of fell through. Most stock is sold on an as is basis. On the date of possesion, if he found he was not getting what he agree upon and what the contract outlined, the lawyer would of withheld the moneys and the deal would fall through.
    I see your point of comparison but you are talking the difference between buying a hobby and commercial opperation.

    Ian

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Sapulpa,OK USA
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    Way to go David. I didn't agree with the tone of the email from Axtmann. Whose business is it for anyone to say that a certain number of hives is too many to start with. I disagreed with his statement of distruct as well. I have developed a very good relationship with the gentleman that I purchased my frist nuc from. As a fairly new beekeeper let's stick to pratical addvise and leave personal thoughts out of this!
    " A ship in a safe harbor is safe, but that is not what a ship is built for." - William Shed
    " You've got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing" - Arthur Ashe


  19. #19
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    beekeeper28

    <<<I have developed a very good relationship with the gentleman that I purchased my frist nuc from. As a fairly new beekeeper let's stick to pratical addvise and leave personal thoughts out of this! >>>>

    When you started beekeeping, did you bought 32 or a similar amount of hives from the gentleman you developed a good relationship? Do you know how hard it is for a beginner working with 32 hives and no education in beekeeping? I’m sure he will find someone in the association. Could you help a beginner with so many hives continuously when you have to do your one work?

    <<<Whose business is it for anyone to say that a certain number of hives is too many to start with.>>>

    If you think a beginner can start with so many hives that’s OK, it’s really not my business. Why should we give advice if they ask? Let them jump in an “open knife” they will find out very soon whether it was a mistake or not.

    In my opinion this is not fair, I have seen so many “beekeepers” coming AND GOING

  20. #20
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    Bryan: check out mainebees.com good site, I started with 30 packages. & never looked back, Just enjoy.

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