Hi, this will be my first year keeping bees ((I am excited)) I have read several books and am scheduled to attend a newbie class next month (FEB). I had some questions in the interim... if anyone has time to help... 1) should I start with one or two hives? packaged bees? a nuc? 2) any recommendations on where to buy equipment? There seems to be a large variance in prices (up to 100 dollars) for similiar hives... for a beginner is the equipment that noticeable? 3) are there any associations in the Pittsburgh area that a novice could join for support/mentors? Thank you very much for any guidance you can provide!! Have a great day!! DJ
contact J.Lee Miller, County Extension Director, 1000 Third Street Suite 102, Beaver, Pa 15009. 724-774-3003 for beekeeping information in your area.
Welcome to the board. Always start with more than one colony. I got packages last spring. One had a bad queen which was replaced. I took some of the brood from the hive that had a queen to keep the bad queen colony going until the new queen arrived and started laying. It also is supose to make finding problems easier because chances are good that one colony will would show signs of a problem early enough to fix the problem.
When pricing equipment take into account the shipping. Mann Lake at mannlakeltd.com was where I ended up getting my hives from. If I had it to do over again I would buy what I wanted piece by piece instead of the starter kit. You need to think about size of super you want to use. Deeps are the most popular for the brood chamber. I have a bad back and wish I never bought the deeps I have. If you are a good wood worker you can make your own, BUT you will not save much on hive bodies.
As to wether you get a package over a nuc that is a matter of choice. Nucs build up faster. But a package on the permacomb(it is a frame with drawn plastic foundation) will not be far behind. Look under equipment heading and read about the permacomb. I hope to get to try it this year but do not think I will have the money.
Just read all you can on here and a good book. ABC & XYZ of beekeeping is a great book but is laid out in alphebetical order. The Hive and the Honey bee is real good as well and is set up more on a time line of what to do after a intro of the basics. The people here are real friendly. I know you have to have some groups near you but I have no links.
you'll find a lot of knowledgeable help and advice here. Just jump in feet first and enjoy the experience. You'll learn a lot is you read a lot.
You'll learn a lot about bees but you'll start noticing nature around you. You'll learn about mites and all kind of little parasites. You'll learn to watch the sky and seasons and the relationships of trees, flowers, weather and bees.
Have fun, I am.
Hi this is my first post, very nice forum. Question: If I start with 3 new hives, how much time will this require? I am semiretired, so I have evenings and afternoons off, but my wife is worried we will not be able to go on vacations if I start up this hobby. I told here probably be real busy during April - June but probably can leave for a week to 10 days other times is this correct?
Thanks! Appreciate the prior information very much. Also anyone in my area I would like to join a club if there is one.(Fulton or Lucas County, Ohio)
>Hi this is my first post, very nice forum. Question: If I start with 3 new hives, how much time will this require?
You can spend anywhere from nothing to several hours every week. Depends on how much you want to oversee them and how much you want to work and what kind of harvest you want.
>I am semiretired, so I have evenings and afternoons off, but my wife is worried we will not be able to go on vacations if I start up this hobby.
It's not like horses, who have to be fed everyday. The bees will take care of themselves except for treating for the mites.
>I told here probably be real busy during April - June but probably can leave for a week to 10 days other times is this correct?
Once you have them doing well in the spring, especially if you use something like Oxalic acid to treat for mites in the fall, you could leave until fall when you need to harvest.
If you have them on small cell foundaiton you could leave them for four or five years and just let them swarm every spring and harvest when you happen to be in the area.
The last comment about leaving the bees for 4-5 years,......why? because of small cell? Is this suggesting all will be right with queen, varmits, mites, honey bound, moisture problems, (should I continue)...Is this a proper or correct comment for a new person? I wish you would not of said that. I feel there is more to it than that. I know you are a big supporter of small cell, but the final results are a little fuzzy and would be equal to saying if you fog, nothing else is required. Same about russian queens, etc. Even d lusby, who I don't agree with 100%, (but others can't wait to buy a future book), says that smallcell is only one aspect of beekeeping. And if you believe her angle, time is involved with making your own foundation, feeding honey back, selective queen breeding yourself, etc. Many items are involved with successfull smallcell beekeeping.
>The last comment about leaving the bees for 4-5 years,......why? because of small cell? Is this suggesting all will be right with queen, varmits, mites, honey bound, moisture problems, (should I continue)...Is this a proper or correct comment for a new person?
My point is that bees survive with no help from humans at all. If they are in a position to handle the mites they are not in a position to need our help. We manage hives in order to minimize problems from varmits etc and in order to maximize yeilds. When there were no mites, you could easily leave one for literally years and they would survive just fine. Now, with the mites, you have to do something to either put them in a position to handle the mites, or handle them for them.
>I wish you would not of said that. I feel there is more to it than that. I know you are a big supporter of small cell, but the final results are a little fuzzy and would be equal to saying if you fog, nothing else is required. Same about russian queens, etc. Even d lusby, who I don't agree with 100%, (but others can't wait to buy a future book), says that smallcell is only one aspect of beekeeping. And if you believe her angle, time is involved with making your own foundation, feeding honey back, selective queen breeding yourself, etc. Many items are involved with successfull smallcell beekeeping.
My point is that bees are not pets in need of constant help. I did not mean to make it an issue of small cell, except that it is the only method that anyone has purported to not need at least annual intervention to handle the mites.
Also, to support that statement of leaving them for years, I, and others on here know of and have seen hives that have been left for literally years. It is no inconvience for the bees, but it is a mess for the beekeeper with all the burr.
If you feel that is the best advice to a new beekeeper seeking answers to beekeeping in todays world, I'll still disagree. A new beekeeper should be encouraged to inspect about every two weeks (spot eggs as a minimum), know that alot could go wrong, even with small cell. A complete spring and fall, (frame to frame) inspection should be done. Mite tests also completed perhaps monthly. This does not take alot for a couple of hives, but the investment in time is needed to be successful. Yeah, you could ignore them for a year, and perhaps they will still be around next spring, but thats not beekeeping to me.
I feel a beekeeper / beehaver coming on.
In MB defense, I inherited two hives that were either abandened or forgotten about for a few years. A real mess inside, but a jewel of a find. I will install them into my breeding program.
However, if given a choice, ignoring something in your charge (one of God's gifts?) just ain't right. If you are not going to take care of something, just to let it suffer and die, you don't have any business having it.
To answer David's question: you could easily be gone a couple of weeks a month and still manage your apiary as needed.
I certainly did not intend to imply that it was good beekeeping practice to leave them for years at a time. Certainly sometimes beehives fail. If they didn't the world would be overcrowded with bees. On the other hand I don't see it as cruel to let a wild animal (bees) do what they have always done on their own.
My point is I would not worry about bees tying you down. They won't. They will, if you take them serious, keep you as busy as you want to be.
On another note, you may want to take into account what you are willing and able to lift. A full deep box can weigh 90 pounds. A full medium box can weigh 60 pounds. If you can't lift 90 pounds, then don't use deeps, use all mediums. If you can't lift 60 pounds, then consider 8 frame medium boxes from Brushy Mt. They will weigh 48 pounds full. Or build a top bar hive or a horizontal hive and don't lift any boxes at all. Most "starter kits" supply two deep boxes for the brood chamber. You may want to do something different.
Not that I would leave my hives alone for years, But MB has a point. I plan on raising my own queens in time. These queens will only be raised from gentle colonies that have lived a year or more without any help. Many on here when changing to small cell lost half of their colonies because they quit giving treatments for mites. I know MB was not saying to totally neglect the hives but they will live on there own.
Hives can be left alone for months or they can keep you tied to them depending on your interest. I think I am on vaction sitting in my lawn chair beside the hive sipping on ice tea. I love sitting there hearing them buzz around me. they even share my tea which soon will be made with their honey. I spend way more time than is needed with my hives. Once you get them built up and through the main swarming season you only need to add supers from time to time till early fall(this is what I would consider a minium effort). Treat for mites fall and spring. You will have swarm from time to time this way. There are other problems that can come up. But commercial beekeepers get away with it. I will probly go thru my hives completely every 3 weeks all season long. I will open the hives about weekly. I had back surgery at the end of July and could not even get to see my hives for over a month. This made it hard to get them fed well for winter. They may have had enough stores to get them thru but I did not want to risk loosing these 2 which should be 6 by fall and hopefully be 10. The more time you can spend with them the better. Enjoy them like I do on those lazy summer afternoons. You can tell that something is up when you know how they normally act and may give you a reason to open a hive. I had a ant problem that was found this way. The ants were robbing the boardman feeder. I noticed the bees buzzing and just looked mad at the intrance near the feeder. If I had not spent so much time with them I would have never seen this slight change in the behavior as it was mild. Can not wait for spring to sit with my bees again.
hillbilly. >>> Many on here when changing to small cell lost half of their colonies because they quit giving treatments for mites. <<<
This is incomplete information. The reason why people lost much of their stock is because the bees were still in the process of cell size reduction. The "process" weakens the colonies when done in one season, the bees are constantly loosing brood to the reduction process because we re/move it completely or to the edges of the brood chamber. When we take away the chemicals, the bees are still not quite on small cell brood chambers, and they are still susceptible to mites and other pests.
The loss is good from a genetic pool point of view, it helps remove the the gentic stock that can't hack it on their own.
Once the bees have been converted however, and once one has a hive that has made it passed their first and 2nd years, you find you have hives that are stronger and more capable of surviving on their own.
Small cell is wonderful "re"development of beekeeping, bees live, they don't die...though the road to get their is a rough road indeed.
Scot Mc Pherson
"Linux is a Journey, not a Guided Tour" ~ Me
"Do or not do, there is no try" ~ Master Yoda
Deronburgh, you can also contact Yvonne Crimbring at 1-570-673-8201 and for $10 join the state asscociation. She will also have information on local/county clubs in your area.
Berkeydavid, As you can see, you will recieve opposing and different views from time to time, on this forum. Sticking to your question, I have outlined an expected time schedule as to inspections,(my last post) and such. Yes, you can miss an inspection now and then, but this will increase the chances of something going wrong. (Two weeks anytime can be taken.) You asked a simple question as to the expectations of time requirements, on the beekeeping basics 101 forum. The answers, and then the comments justifying the replies are a little deeper.
I would like my nieghbors, and those keeping bees in my community to do inspections regularly. These days with AFB, EFB, hive beetles, and mites,and such, it will make beekeeping stronger, and keep the spread of problems to a minimum by everyone being the best they can. My neighbors and other area beekeepers are also who my queens may be mating with. Being the best beekeeper you can and doing regular inspections, has nothing to do with the survivability of feral bees, or discussions as to how long they will survive with no human intervention. You may do yourself a big favor and join a local/state club and seek information from various sources. You would be surprised at the amount of information out there for those seeking it.
Thanks to everyone for the prompt and detailed responses. I do plan to check my hives regularly and bee a good beekeeper. I am looking for a local club or group. I am planning on going withthe smaller hive boxes. SOme excellent advice, lots of web resources...
Thanks again. I will keep listening.
Scot, I know why regression is so hard on the bees. I plan on doing it slower and treating them if need since I am watching the mite drop count closely. I said what I did to prove a point that small cell is not everything to keeping a hive. Beginners(new to the list and subject) may think it an easy thing to do to solve their problems with mites.
David, I use all mediums because of my bad back. I hope to try the permacomb soon to see if it is as good as many say it is. I do not know if I want to put up with the bees connecting the frames. My main point for you was to enjoy your bees. Yes they need attention but you do not have to do it by a time table. I do try and pop the hive top off and check on them weekly. This does not mean that I go thru the hive it is done more to see how much room they are using and to see how much more they will need in the next 2 to 3 week so that if something comes up I do not have to worry about them. Plan ahead of your bees when you are planning on a trip. Try to work them a day or 2 before and make sure that all is well. Them you can rest easy for a couple of week and could push it to a month before open the hives again if things came up as life seems to give me speed bumps regularly.
OK, thanks, It looks like if I want to go with all mediums then I should buy or build 4? 3 for brood and one for super? I am buying 3 packages of bees from a local place, so Can I start them right out on the smaller cell stuff?
>This is incomplete information. The reason why people lost much of their stock is because the bees were still in the process of cell size reduction. The "process" weakens the colonies when done in one season, the bees are constantly loosing brood to the reduction process because we re/move it completely or to the edges of the brood chamber. When we take away the chemicals, the bees are still not quite on small cell brood chambers, and they are still susceptible to mites and other pests.
I think the big stress is the shakedowns. I don't know of anyone doing gradual regression who is losing many colonies. I regressed most of mine in one fell swoop. I just put on a box of wax coated PermaComb and when the queen was laying in the PermaComb, put an excluder between the box of PermaComb and the rest of the brood chamber. Didn't lose any of those.
>The loss is good from a genetic pool point of view, it helps remove the the gentic stock that can't hack it on their own.
But if the losses are from stress that are not normal stresses that bees really can't be expected to survive, it IS a loss and not good.
>Once the bees have been converted however, and once one has a hive that has made it passed their first and 2nd years, you find you have hives that are stronger and more capable of surviving on their own.
The small cell bees seem to be more hardy all the way around. I didn't have to wait two years to see that. A lot of that isn't genetics, just being made the way they were supposed to be, in natural sized cells.
>Small cell is wonderful "re"development of beekeeping, bees live, they don't die...though the road to get their is a rough road indeed.
I don't think it needs to be rough at all. But many people have done it the hard way.
>OK, thanks, It looks like if I want to go with all mediums then I should buy or build 4?
Four is a good start. A package might just need four or it might make it to six or seven. I try to overwinter in four.
>3 for brood and one for super?
Bees are unpredictable as is the honey flow. You may get by with four, you may need four more. If you get where all but two of those boxes are full and it's still early in the year, I'd buy a couple more and get them ready.
>I am buying 3 packages of bees from a local place, so Can I start them right out on the smaller cell stuff?
That's what I would do. Just buy small cell foundation. It only comes in deep. But you can cut it to medium size with sissors or a pizza cuter. You can do any of several things. You can put starter strips in instead of full sheets and let the bees build the first batch of comb. You can put in full sheets, but you'll have a 3" wide piece left over. You can use these 3" wide pieces to make starter strips for the supers. You could also cut the deep foundation in half (about 4" each) and put it in the mediums with a 1" gap at the bottom. The bees will fill it in with some drone and whatever else they desire. Any of these will work. Do what appeals to you.
If you use starter strips or partial sheets, be careful how you handle the comb until it is attached at the bottom. In other words, don't hold it sideways, keep it right side up (the way the bees built it) and to look at the other side, turn it side to side instead of flipping it upside down.
One nice thing about mediums is you really don't need to wire it, but you can if you like. I don't.