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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    1,995

    Default Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hello All,

    I'm getting excited about taking the leap into beekeeping in the spring here in Nova Scotia, and am researching in preparation.

    I have been around bees all my life, as my father and grandfather have always kept bees in Vermont - where I spent summers.

    But I'm thinking about starting my own beekeeping with Top Bar hives.

    I have questions, and thought it might be easier if i keep them in one thread.

    Forgive me if I ask some dumb ones.

    First, as I prepare to build hives over the winter, I wonder about which design I might use. I've heard that shorter, deeper hive might work better in this climate. Does anyone have suggestions there? We're actually less severe here than Vermont of Maine. But it tends to be wet and windy, with a lot of fluctuation in temperature - without long deep freezes.

    Secondly, we have a limited number of places to obtain bees here, and most are offered in the spring in nucs. How would one go about putting bees from regular frames in a nuc into a TBH?

    I thank you for any information you can provide. I'm glad to see people here to talk to - my girlfriend is already tired of the subject as my interest builds - I can't shut up about it!


    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    1,995

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    I'd also like advice on books I might take a look at on Top bar hives and beekeeping with the TBH. I have been reading a lot online, but I'd like some books as well.

    Thanks!

    Adam

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Monroeville Pa
    Posts
    188

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Would recommend any reading of Michael Bush http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    and Dennis Murrell http://beenatural.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Thanks.

    I've seen both sites - read a lot on Michael Bush's site, and also some on Dennis'.
    The fact that both of them post here is a major reason for me joining this forum.


    Adam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
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    5

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hi,
    I can't help much with advice since I have only started one Langstroth this year, but I would love to hear of your progress and see your hive once it is set up. I do not know of anyone around who has TB hives. Are you registered with NS Dept Agriculture? The NS bee inspector may be able to help you. Are you associated with the Hfx Honeybee Soc?
    Roger
    Hammonds Plains

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hi Roger,

    I'm just getting into it. I've been considering it for years, but only just recently discovered TBH's and I'm really interested in that. Being a designer, I like the idea of something I can experiment with. Plus I found out that it is legal to keep bees in the city. I've never even heard of the Hfx Bee Society...

    I have no bees yet, no hive, nothing but interest. Right now, I'm working on the design of my hive. Then I'll build two over Christmas at my father's in Vermont. (He's got two Langstroth's and wants to try TBH's as well). Then I'll return to Halifax and build two for myself.

    So I'm still looking around for local sources of bees and equipment. Where did you get yours? And how did you do this year on Hammonds Plains?

    Good to hear from you!

    Adam

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Adam,
    I just came across a page for the Hfx Soc, recently. I think they are about the same stage as you. Just planning now.
    http://halifaxhoneybees.wordpress.com/
    I got my nuc and equipment from Foote Family Farm in the Valley. Small, funky farm operation but very nice and helpful. Actually you can find their honey at Farmer Clem’s outlets. I think they get their woodenware/equipment from Country Fields, just outside Moncton, and they get their stuff from FW Jones. Yes, there is a bit of a mark up, but nobody seems to be gouging.
    As mentioned earlier, you should also get in touch with Joanne Moran, who is the NS Bee agent. jmoran@gov.ns.ca You are required by law to register your hives in Nova Scotia for the sake of disease control. They, however, do not disclose the list to anyone to protect your privacy. No need to worry that your neighbours will find out from them. Nothing like the backyard chicken crisis of last year. I can also give you some info on the NS Beekeepers Assoc. if you would like.
    My own hive is doing okay, but had a very slow first year, presumably due to cold wet weather for most of the summer. I still only had a single box by the end of summer and so another local beekeeper in Tantallon lent me a full honey super to tide the girls over winter. (Very, very nice of him!).
    Keep in touch.
    Roger

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    But I'm thinking about starting my own beekeeping with Top Bar hives.

    You might consider a standard of the industry called a Langstroth hive because it's a lot more manageable.
    Regards,
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Thanks Ernie,

    I know the langstroth well, as my father uses it. I'm planning to use the TBH for the sake of trying it.

    Roger,

    I took a look at the hfx society, and sent them a message. I also attempted to contact Ms. Moran a few days ago but haven't heard back yet.

    I'll let you know how things go. Thanks again for the info.

    Adam

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
    Posts
    281

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hey Adam and Roger:

    Good to see some added representation from Nova Scotia on here!
    Roger is correct in that you have to register with the Province (no cost) and it does come with the added benefit of free information should you need it. Joanne can get very busy at times (she covers the whole Province on a part-time basis) but she will get back to you. I started several years ago with 3 nucs from George Foote as well and buy most of my supplies from Country Fields in New Brunswick. Like Roger said, the markup is not that big a deal.
    Adam, as for your girfriend being tired of the subject I had to laugh, my wife gave up talking to me about bees long ago, that's why we join forums like this. We can connect with others that "get it" and feel sorry for those that don't.

    Perry (in Lunenburg)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hi Perry,
    Yes, good to make contact.
    Next spring I may be expanding to 2 hives and will need more supplies. Do you go to Country Fields or do you have them ship? How much is shipping? I actually like to support the Foote's as a valuable local resource, but must plan a day to drive to Cambridge. I would just like to weigh alternatives.
    Following up on Adam's original post, do you know of anyone in Nova Scotia with top bar hives?
    Roger

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    I think its awesome that you want to try TBH, I find its much less work intensive then most lang methods, since you don't store anything outside the hive eg. supers frames ect. no cleaning, and depending on how you keep your bees no feeding either so that's no hauling 55gal drums of suger water. There is also some evidence of disease/verroa resistance. I uploaded some pictures of my hive designs hopefully they can give you some ideas. Btw I love talking about bees and tbh's if you have any questions let me know XD

    woops forgot link

    pictures
    http://s803.photobucket.com/albums/yy317/topbarsam/

    Sam.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
    Posts
    281

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hey Roger:

    I usually order my supplies from Country Fields and the shipping is way cheaper than if I did the one hour drive with my truck to the Valley to Foote's Family Farm. I actually ordered something Thursday afternoon, was told to expect it early next week and it arrived Friday afternoon (two days ago) so I have no complaints about that. George and Ruth at Country Fields are nice to deal with as well. That said, George Foote is pretty good too.
    I did have someone come up to me at the farmers market this summer in Bridgewater and left me his name and number, he had a couple of top-bar hives, but do you think I can find it? No way. I have been tempted to try one as it looks like it would be way easier on the back but for moving it around it wouldn't work. Maybe time to sneak one into my backyard.
    One thing I find interesting here in N.S. (I'm from B.C. originally) is that there are no Beekeeping clubs. I belonged to one out west and we had monthly meetings (except a couple of summer months) with little door prizes and stuff, lots of great conversation, etc. I realize many of us are spread out but I know I would drive the one hour into Halifax if there were a club there.
    I have nineteen hives right now but I am expecting to lose a few this winter, smaller numbers in a few (probably should have combined). Had a good winter last year, went ten for ten, but I am not as optimistic this year. If you are ever in the area let me know.

    Perry

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
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    281

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Hey Sam:

    I just checked out your photos, nice set-up. Sure looks like it would be easier on the back alright.

    Perry

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Yes, I could be interesting to have a regular club. You (and others) are probably aware of the NS Beekeepers Assoc. which only meets once a year (last year in beginning March). I met some good people who were very helpful over my first year, but it really is dominated by a few blueberry growers.
    Plus in the end of Nov there is the upcoming Maritime Beekeepers Association Annual Meeting in Moncton. Finally, there was the Natural Beekeeping Workshop held July 3-5 in New Germany. So there are a few activities, but not regular informal meetings. I think that it would be great to discuss more about organic and other alternative (e.g., TBH) methods. Do you get details of these meetings from Joanne?
    Roger

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Sam,

    Great photos thank you. You've got nice looking hives. You've elected to go with a side entrance. Can you tell us why - and if you've tried others?

    Perry and Roger,

    I got an email from Jerry Draheim, of the NSBA, and he said that they've been "fairly inactive as of late". I also emailed the contact at the Halifax Bee Association, and haven't heard back.

    With so much fruit and berry growing in Nova Scotia, I'm surprised there is not more organized activity.

    Adam

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    Sam, what dimensions do you use in the TPH? I'm mulling over dimensions now, and I want it big enough, but not too big. What do you like?


    Adam

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Newbee in Nova Scotia seeking advice

    I am all new to this myself, but I think you actually identified the reason why there is little beekeeping here. Apples and blueberries. Nova Scotia is mostly woods, not rolling farm land with mixed fields or affluent suburbs with gardens. In its hay-day there were family farms in the Valley, around Bridgewater and around Shubenacadie as centres. Other centres were much smaller. Let's face it our climate ain't the best and this is all combined with awfully rocky and acidic soil. We are a fishing province not a strong house of farming. Now with the virtual demise of the family farm we have mostly big scale operations. Up until recnetly the money in agriculture was from the apples of the Valley. Bees are important for that crop and it is no surprise that the Foote Family Farm with its 700 hives produces apples and honey. There is a bit of research centred at the Kentville Ag Canada station, but about 10-15 years ago things shifted to blueberries around Oxford and this is dominated by the Braggs who own 10,000 hives. I have the feeling that the apple crop is now only viewed as a way of keeping the bees fed before the blueberries.
    In contrast, I do not think that my own hives even have access to any farm crops whatsoever. There are only horse farms out this way. They live on maple, willow, dandelions, clover in yards and then the big crops of goldenrod and asters on the roadside in the fall.
    Anybody care to suggest a few other local nectar/pollen sources?
    Roger

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