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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Wink Exterminate your bees for honey?

    Don't get riled at me, I'm only asking because I don't know any commercial beekeepers first hand. I just read somewhere that "large commercial beekeepers" exterminate their bees at season's end. I know that was common back in the skept days and does happen in climates where bees can't winter.

    Is it so common as to make such a blanket statement? I'm sure I know the answer
    WayaCoyote

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,555

    Default

    I've never heard of anyone doing that here in California... not that I keep up on what goes on around me tho.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

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    currently I am not certain... althought I would suspect to some degree it likely does.

    years back (about 20+ years ago) this practice was quite common for most migratory beekeeper and just about all the bee keepers in canada. the idea was to identify about 1/3 of your best hives (typically the youngest queens) and you brought these back south. the remaining 2/3 you killed off and stripped the honey and pollen frames from these.... sometime you extacted some of this and sometime you stored these frames as the first feed for the next spring. there was typically little brood to be concerned with since this was done very late and almost all the hives had long since stopped brooding up. come spring time you took the 1/3 and spit out these to your desired total to go back north again. there were definite economic and organizational advantages to doing thng in this manner. feeding to get the hives churning early was almost essential.

    not sure how other did the killin'... but for us the process was to wait for a cold wet nothern to blow in and simply pull the covers. the dead bee made quite excellent garden compost I was told.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    I think it is more common than you think. It really simplifies thing, as well as allowing one to sell his honey as "chemical free".

    Brood disease isn't a problem, neither are mites.

    You won't hear a whole lot about it on the web forums because most of us are here to try to figure out how to keep them ALIVE over the winter.

    One local beek does that here (not a large commercial, only a few hundred hives).

    Just wait till you have snow on the ground and it is cold, then you can just shake them out into the snow. Then you can take ALL of the honey, reserves and surplus. Start in the spring with packages on comb and they build up fast.

    Advertise as chemical free honey. The reserve honey pays for the package in the spring.

    It really does make some business sense. Not much different than keeping fryer chickens, really, since you have to kill them to eat them, and then start over.

    Not my way, though. I love checking them all winter and seeing them, the first life in the spring.

    Rick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Default

    Hey, thanks for the insights. I find it particularly that Scads mentioned the "chemical free" concept. that was the point of this article that I read. It was trying to promote organic honey.
    WayaCoyote

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default

    I don't know one commercial beek that kills off his bees. With the costs of queens and packages plus the lost time in building up a package I can't see any serious comm beek engaged in this. Bees winter well and you don't have to do much to take care of them. I resent the implication that this is some kind of "standard" practice and since this is in the commercial beekeeping area if you are not a commercial beek and haven't got a clue about what is practiced then state that up front.

    BTW I run chemically free hives but that doesn't allow me to label my honey as organic. So that argument doesn't cut it. Only three operations claim organic and it is based on where the bees forge as well as how they are managed. Not an easy thing and I doubt that packaged bees will be counted as chemical free since you don't know the origin.

    I strongly disagree with Scadsofbees in that business sense it makes sense...the cost/payoff/workload/buildup doesn't add up.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    856

    Thumbs Up Exterminate your bees for honey

    I'm a second generation comm. beekeeper. The mites were something we had to deal with for many years. This was a hard thing for my father and I to deal with. My Dad talks about the Good Old Days Before the Mites. Those are cool stories.
    About 10 years ago I had to make changes, to feed the family. It was that or go and find a job that I hate doing every day. Before the mites we ran 1500 hives,and now I run 650-700. I take all the honey off in the fall and sell the honey to live on and buy 2# packages in the spring. This year I ran 650 hives and extracted 52 ton. That's only 160 lbs avg. but for the right price it feeds the kids and keeps me in business for another year.
    I still try and bring 100-180 though winter, but those bees are worse than anything in the spring. It just costs me more money to bring them into spring. I work harder on these problem hive then I do on the packaged bees.
    The "no chemicals" and "no pesticides" label on my product does make a difference. My beeswax sells as a cosmetic grade at $7.50 lb. The honey sells to mostly local beekeepers that keeps it local for health benefits. I wholesale my honey for over $3000 a ton. The price of bees, feed, and fuel keep going up, and I have to make a living.
    My Dad was totally against this way of beekeeping 10 years ago. But go ahead and ask him today. This is the only way that he would do it with the mites. It's alway great hearing the stories about beekeeping before mites. I've been a beekeeper for over 25 years, and learn new things every year. This is the best way that I know to beekeep at this time.

    The Honey Householder

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Wetumpka ,Alabama
    Posts
    510

    Default

    I will take any bees that any beekeeper does not want to over winter.
    Thanks
    If you build it they will comb it.<br />Tim Rolan

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