I am starting my first hive of bees this spring and am wondering which type of bees to get and from which supplier. I went through all of the suppliers listed on Beesource (The ones with websites). I was looking at Buckfasts but I read on this forum that they can be aggressive in their second year.
Here are some of the conditions that are in my area.
* I live in Central Washington
* Hot summers (90Â’s not humid)
* Cold winters (below freezing most of the time with cold snaps that get to -10 but only last 3-5 days)
* 1-2 feet of snow
* The bees are going to be 75 feet from my house (so they canÂ’t be aggressive) behind an 18-foot tall bush and also a wood shed so they will have a flight path over peoples heads
* I would like disease resistant bees
Any recommendations? What are some good suppliers for package bees that supply the type and how can I contact them?
Go here and see if these bees have the qualities you are looking for. I bought into them and replaced all my queens with them last year.
The bad Buckfast experience for me was recent and follows decades of really good Buckfasts and All American queens and packages from B. Weaver. I've had good experiences from all of the breeders I've purchased from. I've gotten queens from McCary (which Bullseye Bill did NOT have good luck getting a package on time from) and Hardemans, and Wilbanks. I've also gotten queens from Walter T. Kelly but I think they come from Wilbanks. I've bought Ontario Italian queens from the Beeworks (www.beeworks.com).
I've bought Russians, Harbos, Italians, Carniolans, Cordovan Italians. I can't say I've had any particular trouble with any of them. I think I liked the Carniolans the best. They were the most prolific and productive of the bunch. But the Buckfasts I had from B. Weaver were also some of the most productive I've had. All of them did well. All of them have exceptions from time to time, but the bees usually replace queens that don't do well, or I do.
I find that the expensive part of packages is the shipping and insurance. If you can find a local club that gets packages in, and buy some there and then requeen later, if you're not happy with the queens, that's what I'd do. If you HAVE a choice of breed (you often just have Italians as a choice) then I'd get Carniolans and Russians if you want mite resistance.
Thanks for your help!
So baisically which ever breed i choose should be fine? There is a beekeepsers club in a town about 45 minutes from where i live, I think i will send them a letter to see if they get in shipments of package bees in the spring, there is also an apairy supply place that has packaged bees that is 2 hours away but they only have italians. There is a place on the pinninsula that has russians crossed with ferel bees that survived the mites( they only have queens though. At the present I was looking at R Weaver Apiaries for Buckfasts, but i dont think I'll order anything before I get a letter back from that beekeeping club, just to see all of my options.
I haven't had a breed of bees I didn't like (does that sound too much like Will Rogers?)
As to how close the hives are, mine have been as close as 10 feet from my back porch in the past. Those were Buckfasts. I admit, after the Buckfasts that went viscious on me, I was glad at that time they weren't 10 feet from my back porch. They were a couple of hundred yards away from the back porch on the other side of the house and they would hunt me down and sting me at my back door.
Nice gentle bees (out think out of the Kona line). Good producers. They have Italians and Carniolans.
Located in Northern California.
I've had good experience. They ship on THE day they say they will, know what they are doing, very professional outfit. Frankly, most of the package suppliers are buying their queen stock out of a few queen line breeders (Kona, Ohio, etc.) If it is disease resistance you are looking for only a few are offering SMR or Russian queens and there are trade-offs.
There are some small breeders out there with there own lines. I am depending on the package breeders to give me the hybrid vigor that is so important. Only if you are raising your own queens en mass can you afford to buy first hybrid or single line bees and make the crosses yourself.
The hotest bees I ever had were cariolans. But I still like them. The plain fact is if you keep bees long enough you will probably get a hot colony (real hot). There are many good bees out there! Don't let the fear of aggressiveness scare you off from any type or race of bees. Buckfast are good bees! Keep proper equipment with you (veil, suit , gloves, ect) you don't have to wear it all the time, but deal with a hot colony when you meet it.
>I've gotten queens from McCary (which Bullseye Bill did NOT have good luck getting a package on time from)
If you can find a supplier of nuc's, take them your queens, that is what I did and it worked out well. Not perfect, one of four superceeded twice before they settled down, but they still filled one deep and two mediums the first year.
I ordered my bees from R weaver.
I got one 3lb. package buckfasts and one 3lb package all american.
I have one hive ready to go but I will need to build one before the bees get here ( April 19) which shouldnt be a problem because I have acess to a complete wood and metal shop, I plan on useing the plans on beesource, has anyone built hives that can offer hints and segestions. Also how far apart should I place the two hives
>I have one hive ready to go but I will need to build one before the bees get here ( April 19) which shouldnt be a problem because I have acess to a complete wood and metal shop, I plan on useing the plans on beesource, has anyone built hives that can offer hints and segestions.
I would just do rabbets on the ends because they are easier, but the box joint will also do. Glue it and nail it if you want it to last. I usually just put a cleat on (glue and deck screws) for a handle. Drill and countersink anywhere you put deck screws.
>Also how far apart should I place the two hives
If I had the room I'd put the five or six feet apart. If you don't have a lot of room you can butt them up against each other. They will be slighly less likely to rob if they are further apart.
I called R Weaver today to order an apron to wear with my Golden Bee suit. I had been wanting a good apron for some time and could not resist the one with the bees printed on the front.
OK, well while I had them on the phone I asked about their claim about resistant bees and chemical treatments. According to the nice lady who was very pleasant and answered all my questions curtisily, the All American is their best bee, sceond by the Buckfast, then Harbo, and then the Russian SMR.
She claims that they have not treated any of their bees for the last two years. Packages WILL have mites, however the bees will be able to deal with the load unless they get too weakened, then you may have to treat for mites. She said to monitor for mites, but so far no one has reported needing to treat with chemicals.
ALL AMERICAN, she could not say enough good about them, their best bee, period.
BUCKFAST, the next best bee. I asked about the temperment and how mine went vicious. She said that because they had been selecting for mite resistantce the temperment slipped and they did get nasty. However now since they have gotten them to the point of being resistant, now they have started breeding back to gentelness.
HARBO and RUSSIAN SMR, Good resistants to mites, however not as good in wintering very harsh winters, slow to build in the spring, and not as heavy producers as the above bees.
I can attest to the Russian SMR's that I had, slow to build, and no production, eventuly turned nasty. The nastiness could have been due to stress, maybe, they did get pollen bound and swarmed a couple of times for me.
I have no intention of buying any bees this year as I am going to monitor the NWC's I am using this year. The only thing that I might buy are more queens. My plan so far is to use frames of brood and fresh eggs from my existing colonys to raise new queens in the swarms I pick up this year.
I liked what you said, (and found out), thats the direction that I'm taking. There is one point that will need to be made, over and over again. About the resistant bees and the mite relationship.
These bees being selected, and now 1-2-3 years chemical free at various places, are under commercial-professional-breeder beekeepers with ideal knowledge and care. The problem and criticism will come from those marginal beekeepers that do not monitor mite levels, have bad management programs, let their hives go queenless going into fall, don't requeen, or do not select the queens themselves, etc, etc,. Then the hive is dead come spring, and they will be the first to say, "resistant bees are bunk, I'm going to chemicals or "whatever". And so the circle continues in no particular path.
There are a number of LARGE equipment dealers that are selling bees at unbelievable mark-up prices, from breeders selling queens at 6-8 dollars, and #3 packages at 26-28 dollars. This is another area that perhaps is another thread, but needs addressed. I have found most outfits having survivor and selected breeding programs, can not sell queens for 6 dollars or #3 pachages for 26 dollars. You may pay $50 or more from discounter at the bee mag offices, but what are you getting? Alot of mark-up and poor bees from discounters who only want to make a buck. (And they love repeat customers from dead hives every year) You get what you pay for.
Thanks MB for shedding some light on those Buckfast problems. I may have to try their all americans.
Is there any other advise for a frist time beekeeper that you could give to me? Also what equipment (slatted racks, etc) are good to have and which do you not use.
ATTENTION! In the above post I stated R Weaver, sorry I was WRONG.
I meant B WEAVER, sorry for the confusion.
Thanks, Jerry, I do get them confused.
>Is there any other advise for a frist time beekeeper that you could give to me? Also what equipment (slatted racks, etc) are good to have and which do you not use.
I don't use any deeps anymore, because they are too heavy.
I don't care for the frame grips with the square edges. I like the ones that are round and case of aluminum.
I use my Italian hive tool all the time now, and only use the regular one when I can't find it.
I have some manipulation cloths that I think are very nice, but only use them when I really have to do something on a rainy day.
I have a frame perch. I use it more often than the manipulation cloth but still, not that often. It is nice, I just don't get around to it. Probably part of it is habit. I had been doing without one for almost thirty years and I then bought one thinking it was a great idea. I still think it's a great idea, I just don't remember to use it.
I use slatted racks on most all of my hives. They aren't a necessity but they give the field bees somewhere to cluster at night. If you are choosing between spedning your money on a slatted rack or a screened bottom board (SBB) buy the screened bottom board, but better yet, buy them both.
I have quite a few of the old bee escapes that you put in the inner cover hole. They don't allow enough traffic to be worth much and I don't use them anymore. They do work better if you buy an inner cover just for them and cut about ten holes in the inner cover and put them all in, but it's cheaper to just buy a triangular bee escape from Brushy Mt.
I have bought and made various vent kits. I have not bought any that have moving parts. I don't think moving parts belong on a hive. MovABLE parts, yes.
Also, I don't care for the plastic frame feeders that are black and have no ladder and no support in the middle to keep them from bulging. They take up more than one frame and less than two and bulge when they are full. They drown a lot of bees. I like the stiff wooden ones like Brushy Mt makes and I like the looks of the one Betterbee has.
I also don't like boardman feeders. I will put a quart jar with holes in the lid over an inner cover or on the top bars (depending on the time of year) but I don't put them on the entrance. Too much robbing ensues.
My favorite feeder is the "rapid feeder" at www.beeworks.com Here's a link to the page with the feeder:
It holds a half a gallon. You never have to face a bee to fill it and it's inside the hive so it doesn't set off robbing.
I don't buy or use Apistan, Checkmite or Terramycin. Since I use FGMO fog, I also don't buy menthol or grease patties. I don't care for the Queen marking tools that look like a magnifying glass. Maybe they work, but I just killed a queen with mine and gave it up. I don't use fume pads or fumes to rob the bees, just triangular escapes and a bee brush. I don't use paradichlorobenzen for wax moths. I use Certan (see the rapid feeder link above and look for wax moth control). I use the spacing comb instead of the 9 frame or 8 frame, frame rests.
I second the idea of no boardman feeders(that is what came with the begin kit I bought). I had a couple of plastic one gallon jars that i punched some holes in the lid and put over the inner cover with a couple of supers then the outer cover. I just started using quarts. Yes they do need to be filled every day but they fit in one deep super. In one of my inner covers I made some extra holes( I kept them the size of the bee escape) to place more jars over at a time.
Ive always had good luck with buckfast.Ive heard that their daughter queens can get mean.