I've done some research and still feel like I don't know exactly what to get. My Uncle has bees for a hobby but has little time so I can't really ask him for to much help. I don't want to wait too long or it will be too late to start. I've been thinking about getting a starter kit, but some people tell me I don't need everything they sell and could get by on a hive kit and a few tools but, still I over analyze it like I did last year and have missed the prime time for starting. Could someone please break down the basics for what I need.
This is the way I see it. You need the esentials:
- a smoker
- a beehive tool
- a veil
- the boxes to put your bees in (2 deeps to start, but that will take you through ~ 1 month, then you need suppers that can be more deep brood boxes if you have a good back)
- the frames + foundation
- the bees
The less esential stuff:
- a big jar to use as top hive feeder (or a "proper" feeder)
- paint to paint the boxes
- a bee suit (I don't have one, but you may want one, but it's expensive)
- a book to get started (like 'The Queen and I' from Ed Weiss, for example) or this forum will do, actually.- a few things here and there to get set up depending of what you get your bees in (nucs vs packages, etc)
The important thing is to learn in advance the basic steps you will be taking from the moment you order your bees (which should be very soon), such as, how you will hive them, where you will place them, how you will control for some diseases (mainly: nosema initially when you get them, varroa and tracheal mites thereafter and forever).
Others can fill in this list if I am forgetting something important.
Hi Dwayte: I started many years ago in a similar position. I was lucky enough to hook up with a co-worker who kept bees. It was a great joy to him to share his passion for beekeeping with a newcomer. On my side of the equation I got the benefit of his knowledge and experience. Long story for a short answer: If your uncle is to busy ask around and see if there might be other beekeepers in the area. I love helping novices get started and I think most of us feel the same way.
Karl, I have looked around for someone to mentor but even the closest bee keeper association guy is 30 mi away and doesn't post his e-mail. I've written him a letter but as of yet to no avail. Thanks for your input and wish me luck and I will keep looking.
i'd ask your uncle again,i don't think i ever met a beekeeoer who wasn't excited about showing off his bees.
The truth be known he was the one whom got me into it to begin with, especially because of his enthusiam (he's not one to get overly excited.) Unfortunately, he lives several states away, and hard to get a hold of unless you pull into his driveway (I'm sure you know the kind.) It is good advise and I will call him this weekend, and attempt to get ahold of him again.
dwate, I would try to visit the beekeeper that is 30 miles from you just for a visit. Don't be to pushy and ask him if he knows of anyone closer. Maybe after a visit or two he would offer some advise. Keep looking around and good luck in beekeeping. Dale
dwayte you can't start without bees so order a package of bees 1st or a nuc if you could get a nuc that would be the easiest way to start.
but hiving a package and seeing it develop is great.
I would also seek out a basic beekeeping class. Many associations offer free one day seminars. I'm in NJ and that's what I did my first year. Also, here is a link that has alot of good info http://www.xensei.com/users/alwine/beesite.htm
There are many, many beekeeping websites. If you see an article written by someone and have questions, email them. Many people are more than happy to respond and love to help other fellow beekeepers.
You could also contact the state agriculture dept-apiary dept. and see if they could direct you. They often are speakers at beginner courses and the like. Does your state have a bee inspector? They may not give you a list that they have but may pass on a couple of old-timers to contact. In PA they will also let you ride shotgun for the day to let you gain experience and make some contacts. Most beekeepers I know actually do not actively participate in County/State Assoc. because of the politics,etc.
You mention "Most people....." which means you have spoke to a few individuals, so why not go with the one who sounds the best and enjoy yourself. Of course you will learn plenty from your mistakes, but these mistakes make the best stories to tell in the future. I would also look into one or two good books and do some reading.
Make some contacts, ask about some good used equipment, listen, jump with both feet (You can't go wrong), get those two hives up as soon as possible.
dwayte, Beekeeping for Dummies is a good beginners book. It has a lot of Info and it is current Info. Barnes & Noble has them. Dale
My advice is this:
Read the books to get an understanding of bees.
Observe the bees. I recommend an observation hive myself, although I know some say you have to know more about bees to have one, you will also learn a lot from having one. But pay attention to what they are trying to do.
Remember bees survive all the time without any help or interfernce. The leading cause of hives dying, behind the mites, is human interference. Do what you do in small amounts and carfully and observe the response by the bees. Also, if you remember how good they are at surviving, maybe you won't worry quite as much about what to do.
"No one teaches beekeeping quite as well as bees." (with apologies to C.S. Lewis)
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited March 11, 2003).]
You might try to find a beekeeping organization to join.