Most keepers sold blow bees back before the big so called almond rush.[Ya right].not a bad proposition sell the shake bees for $25,no mites to worry about,no trucking cost,no worries of the trucks makeing it to california,no port of entries to worry about,guarenteed paycheck,new young queens for the next year,and what ever hives were left over got killed off.
Oh ya,instead of traveling all winter enjoy the holidays with the family.
Not having your equipment out all winter in the snow and mud sure would make it last allot longer. No wet moldy dead outs. No mice nests.
Right or wrong, this used to be quite a common practice. Economically it made sense when you were far up north, especially when you could make your own queens and splits cheap. We still know a couple beeks that do just as Tecumseh describes, but one we buy his blow bees, they end up in California.
I agree that I can't imagine killing them overwinter, I love keeping them too, there are better ways (for me).
I stop way short of condemning others for using the practice just because I disagree with it. Bees aren't sacred, and I don't see that a beehive much different than a cow or a chicken, especially considering the hard uses we put them to for pollination. And I like steak and hamburgers, so I'm not going to condemn them for killing the cow (I know it isn't an option with cows if you want steak). I don't have cows or chickens, and if I did would probably get as attached to them as I do my bees.
I also made sure to refer to honey produced this way as "chemical-free" as opposed to "organic", since there is the organic connection to keeping the hives alive. I do find this a little disingenuous since organic anything is primarily touted as "chemical-free", but since organic honey is virtually unattainable except a very few I suppose this is a moot point.
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
I will take any bees that any beekeeper does not want to over winter.
If you build it they will comb it.<br />Tim Rolan
When I first read this I was admittedly a little bit stunned.
Here I am working hard to make sure they are in a position to stay alive all winter and some operations are just killing them off.
I see how it could make economic sense in certain circumstances but......
Milk Cows Not Taxpayers
...what if everybody did it?
John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com
So King Bee, you want bees. I'll be done with my bees at the end of Sept. I had a guy take almost a whole truck load of my bees to FL this last year. Only bad thing about the way he did it. He damged some of my equipment and it took him 2 1/2 month to get them out of my boxes. Most of my brood boxes are full too. Which is great when I put the package in, in 4 months.
Because of beekeeper like me, the package beekeeper stay in business. And each year I buy bees, and the price keeps going up. What I'm seeing is that there is no young package beekeepers taking up the trade. I've been doing business with my package producer for over 15 years and he is a third generation comm. beekeeper, and his boys have degrees and won't be taking over the family business.
So what this means: in the next 5-8 year I'll have to find a better or different way of beekeeping again. That is a true beekeeper always doing what you have to do to enjoy what you do.
The Honey Householder