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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    I have 10 Cherry trees and 9 Blue Berry bushes; 2 pear trees, 4 peach trees, 4 apple trees in my yard. I have space for another Cherry tree but not this year. This spring I saw very few bees around any of my trees - so I worried about it. So the thought occurred to me to get into beekeeping.

    I am doing some reading on this and have two main questions or problems. I am very worried about mites. And what do the bees do when the blooms stop? Granted I live in an area where there are lots of flowers in spring especially - but the long hot summers worry me.

    Then there are the wet and windy winters to worry about. A hive in my back yard would surely get wet even inside from all the wet winds we have at various times.

    But the two main problems (concerns) are mites and lack of summer flowers. I shouldnt have to feed artificially during the summer, should I?
    --Ðøug ™ 2004.3.20.18.13.05 PT

  2. #2
    jfischer Guest

    Post


    > I have 10 Cherry trees...
    > So the thought occurred to
    > me to get into beekeeping.

    > I am very worried about mites.

    I have overdubbed the soundtrack to "The Wizard of OZ" forest scene
    to make Dorothy and her companions say "Viruses, Mites, and Diseases,
    Oh My!". I plan on playing the excerpt as part of a talk I am giving
    in PA next weekend just to make the point that since '86, beekeepers
    have focused on "pest control" so much, that many have never learned
    much actual BEEKEEPING.

    Not to worry - it is fairly easy to put a screened bottom board on your hive,
    and simply put in a sticky board once every two weeks or so. No more effort
    than changing the little "Glade Plug-In" scent modules. Counting mites is
    tedious, but there are pre-designed "statistical sample" patterns that you
    can Xerox onto paper and tape to your board to make counting less work.

    Since you made no mention of managing these bees for a honey crop, you
    will have the luxury of being able to treat things like mites anytime
    you see the trend go "exponential". You will have it easier than those
    who want a honey crop.

    > And what do the bees do when the blooms stop?

    Bees LOVE weeds, clover and other stuff that likely grows near you.
    Unless you live in an endless suburban wasteland, the bees will find
    enough to sustain themselves. If you have doubts, toss a 25-lb bag
    of late-blooming clover seed and some inoculants in the lawn. Used
    to be that the best turf mixes INCLUDED clover. Not any more, though.

    > Granted I live in an area where there are lots of flowers in spring
    > especially - but the long hot summers worry me.

    There are LOTS of beekeepers for whom the season is "mostly over"
    by July 1st. You would not be alone. The bees need a reliable
    source of water during summer, but will find their own nectar as
    it becomes available. They have nothing better to do with their
    time, and are very good at it. They can exploit anything within
    a few miles from your site with ease.

    > Then there are the wet and windy winters to worry about.
    > A hive in my back yard would surely get wet even inside
    > from all the wet winds we have at various times.

    Hive placement requires thought, but there has to be a direction
    where most of the winds "come from". Call you local TV weatherman,
    and ask him for a "wind rose plot". He will be tickled to get a
    question from someone older than 9 years old, and he is sure to
    have all sorts of data on which way to face your hive so the entrance
    will face "away from the prevailing wind". There are also gizmos
    called "entrance reducers", which do exactly what the name says.
    Again, not to worry.

    > I shouldnt have to feed artificially during the summer, should I?

    Naw... the bees will do fine. You are part of a growing segment of
    new beekeepers - those who simply want their gardens pollinated.
    To be honest, the "bee supply industry" (such as it is) has done a
    LOUSY job of seeing the growth potential in this subset of beekeepers,
    and an even worse one of designing and offering equipment and
    instructional materials suited for someone who wants bees for
    pollination, but perhaps not honey, at least not at first.

    Or, just find a beekeeper willing to put a hive near your trees
    when they need pollination. If you were near me, and had a spare
    $70.00, you'd have a hive delivered and removed on your schedule
    by a large but friendly teenager driving a yellow Volvo wagon with
    black stripes on the sides that makes it look very much like... a giant bee.

    Yeah guys, I said 70 bucks a hive. "Boutique small-scale pollination
    services" are a very profitable market segment. You really oughta wanna!
    There's millions of gardeners out there, and they are all slowly starting
    to realize what Doug has figured out.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, Va
    Posts
    783

    Post

    < You are part of a growing segment of
    new beekeepers - those who simply want their gardens pollinated.
    < To be honest, the "bee supply industry" (such as it is) has done a
    < LOUSY job of seeing the growth potential in this subset of beekeepers,
    < and an even worse one of designing and offering equipment and
    < instructional materials suited for someone who wants bees for
    < pollination, but perhaps not honey, at least not at first.

    Sounds like a good place to introduce TopBar Hive Management. Low equipment investment to allow them to get started.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    Well I feel incouraged, but its almost too late. Cherry blooms will be finished in less than a month.

    $70 bucks = YIKES - thats way too much for me. At this point in time I think I will wait til next spring. I wish a group of neighbors would get together and all go in this as a group. Then $70 for a bunch of us would be attractive. The hive could go in my back yard since I have no cats, dogs, or kids. There is a local bee keeper - I'll call him up tomorrow.
    --Ðøug 2004.3.21.18.07.34 PT

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,602

    Post

    Brushy Mt. has seen this market and they offer an 8 frame hive with medium boxes set up for the gardener who wants a little honey and some pollenation. The boxes are lighter, at about 48 pounds full of honey, and therfore less labor to manage it.

    I think a horizontal hive (or a TBH) is even easier to manage for a garden hive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Top Bar hives are cheap too. Mine cost about $25 with brand new lumber.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    307

    Post

    After reading this thread I'm pondering the home garden pollination market.

    The person who started the thread is interested in having his fruit and garden plants pollinated, and has come to the astute conclusion that keeping bees would solve that problem. As was pointed out in the thread, I am sure that there are many people in exactly the same position.

    But the interesting part for me was the reaction to $70. Too much. Well, no one is going to get into beekeeping for $70. When you add the time and effort involved, it's going to be a significantly bigger investment than that.

    It strikes me that top bar hives, while a most interesting discussion topic, probably don't fit into this market segment. The people here are looking for something that they can buy and install pretty much "off the shelf". But maybe I'm wrong . . . maybe there are people who would rather invest more of their time than their money.

    At any rate, it's an interesting topic to consider, both from the point of the beekeeping suppliers and as a potential sideline for beekeepers. With the number of relatively affluent suburban gardeners, and the lack of feral bees to pollinate for them, maybe there really is a potential market out there in suburban areas which could be tapped by enterprising beekeepers. I don't think $70 is an unreasonable fee (especially when you consider what some of these people are paying the lawn care services to spray their lawns) and if you could get enough $70 customers to obtain a critical mass, it might be a nice source of income.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lenexa, Kansas
    Posts
    445

    Post

    In many parts of California it is perfectly dry for several months out of the year.

    If you are in an area where it doesn't rain at all in the summer, you may indeed have to feed unless the people in the surrounding area have flower gardens with bee-friendly plants in them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Eagle Creek, Oregon
    Posts
    289

    Post

    Doug,
    if you are interested in bees as pollinators only, and you want to keep costs to a minimum, maybe you should consider orchard mason bees. There is virtually no equipment to buy or manipulate and I believe they are immune to many of the problems that beset honeybees. I think it is too late to order any for this year. And, no, I don't have any experience with them.
    George

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    It seems to me that for pollination in small gardens a TBH about l8 inches long, built on the Crowder design would work like a charm. Side entrance, a peaked roof overhead to give it some Swiss chalet charm. Start it with a minimal colony and let it build.

    Such a hive would have to have old comb to use a small colony. If it was expected to build its own comb it would need a better start.

    I believe I will build one.
    Ox

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Vacaville, Ca. USA
    Posts
    6

    Post

    where in northern cal do you live? I am in vacaville and my ladies are available!!! if not i can make some calls if you are close

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    I'm up in Paradise CA - about a half inch to the right of Chico. Right now I'm about giving up on Beekeeping - cherry blooms are virtually finished. There are still some blue berries but they are not worth all the fuss.
    --Ðøug 2004.3.29.0.16.17 PT

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    BeeBear and others, I am interested only in pollination. I couldnt steal honey from the furry bees after they worked so hard to get it. And being a diabetic - bees like me. If I had a hive and it grew too large I'd hafta remove some frames with honey and then I'd hafta give it away likely at church.

    As far as a strange hive as I saw on that web site, I'd feel more comfortable buying standard stuff that everyone is familiar with. As for $70 well it really isnt too much considering what I spend on spraying my former lawn to kill it. I hate grass. There are several yards around here with cherry trees - so I am wondering if a group could get together and one person keeps the bees and we all benefit. Only problem with that is most of these people dont like their cherry trees that much. One neighbor let all of his beautiful bings dry up and fall to the ground. Another neighbor cut his tree down. Wait til I drag him in the dirt for that.

    Several years ago I discovered that after eating cherries - my blood sugar went down. So I reasoned that cherries could even reverse or cure diabetes. Then when seeing this house and all the cherry trees - I had to buy it. Turns out that I was wrong, but cherries do lower sugar after eating but dont affect diabetes.

    So bottom line is why pay $70 to get a few more cherries than nature gives me. But Blues Berries is a horse of a different color.

    Today I noticed that a lot of the dying blooms have little green bumps growing. i know that some varieties can self pollinate. I guess wind could do this, or maybe bees sneak in early in the morning and get out before I wake up. Anyhoo, I am reminded of the addage not to count your chickens before they hatch and this is applicable to cherries also: dont count your cherries before you pick them. I have a blooming only cherry tree and it forms the same green bumps but soon they stop growing, turn a funnt color and fall off. But I will sure watch my trees like a hawk for the next few days. If viable they will grow very fast.
    --Ðøug 2004.3.29.0.42.35 PT

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Smile

    As long as I am in a posting mode tonight I thought I would talk about something interesting I have learned about cherry leaves. All the cherry leaves I have seen have two very small bean like bumps just below the broad part of the leaf and on the leaf stem. These bumps look shiny. And touching them causes the shininess to rub off onto my finger. Its too small to taste but I have seen ants around these bumps. But the ants we have up here are not like S Calif ants so they dont gang up on these bumps.

    So the thought occurred to me that possibly a cherry tree could be developed where these bumps would be larger and possibly with plant hairs that would hold nectar. Then all we would have to do is train bees to go for it. That would be a virtual sumner long supply of nectar for bees.

    I wonder if some sly and crafty Germans could develop this. I'd sure buy some of those trees.
    --Ðøug 2004.3.29.0.57.38 PT

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lenexa, Kansas
    Posts
    445

    Post

    "Several years ago I discovered that after eating cherries - my blood sugar went down. So I reasoned that cherries could even reverse or cure diabetes. Then when seeing this house and all the cherry trees - I had to buy it. Turns out that I was wrong, but cherries do lower sugar after eating but dont affect diabetes."

    Interesting. I should try sticking my finger before and after eating cherries.

    Bees are a lot of fun, actually.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Butte Co - North State California
    Posts
    19

    Post

    Yup, bees do seem like fun. I like the furry critters. At nurseries I try to pet them. They are usually so busy they ignore me. Well, you know - I like just about anything from nature. I used to keep birds in large walk in aviaries. I used to buy meal worms (scorge of potatoe and tobacco farmers) by the 3000 to even 10,000 - sent bu UPS. Made an automatic worm feeder to feed worms to the small finches during breeding. Once I even tried to raise crickets - that failed.

    There is some reading on a study done at Cornell U. where they used bee larva to chop up and feed to baby birds all 100% by hand. They were studying how birds develop the ability to sing. I wont get into that now unless asked. It was a very interesting study.
    --Ðøug 2004.3.30.23.04.49 PT

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