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  1. #41
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    Nov 2009
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    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    1,535

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    'Self-sustaining beekeeping' and 'natural beekeeping' are not necessarily the same thing, but some people are talking as though it was.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Powhatan, VA
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    98

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Hampton View Post
    Reading a previous thread on a lack of honey bees I can't help but think one way to help would be if more beekeepers practiced self-sustaining beekeeping. I'm not too sure how much this would help some of the bigger commercial beeks but if more beekeeping clubs of hobby beekeepers and even smaller commercial and sideline beekeepers were to become self sufficient more of the larger bee breeders would be able to more effectivley provide bees to the larger commercial beekeepers. With only buying queens if required for genetic diversity a group of beekeepers could band together to trade nucs and queens. Locally grown colonies would help but only if enough beekeepers participated. From what I've seen, the last thing beekeepers learn is how to make queens or produce nucs. I know of beekeepers who have been at it for many many years and still make sure to get their orders for packages in every November. There are a few clubs in my area that are trying. Its a thought.
    I'm starting this up with a few friends- I like queen swapping where swapping queens or queen cells will increase and diversify the gene pool. I would like the break the "buy a package" mentality and people buy bees that are more local.
    Last edited by vajerzy; 02-12-2010 at 04:17 PM. Reason: change a few words.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    6,452

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Am I a self sustaining beekeeper?

    I buy in my queens,
    I make up splits inthe spring to replace losses,
    I make my own equipment,
    I buy feed during dearths,
    I buy medication to help handle disease,
    I hire help to handle the work load,
    I sell all my crop to make my livelyhood, I make profits
    I have been beekeeping for many years,

    Am I a self sustaining beekeeper?, or do I have a self sustaining business? or both?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    It sounds like you have one heck of a good business. Make your own queens and you would be all the way there.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    6,452

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Queen rearing doesnt improve a beekeepers opertion, in my opinion.
    I have tried, and succeeded, and also failed miserabley.
    It takes alot of time.

    In the end, I found my operation to be running alot more efficiently contracting my queen needs to a professional breeder.
    Know your breeder, most of them do a fantastic job.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Rearing queens your "Self" is part of the equation in being "Self-sustaining".

  7. #47
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    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    6,452

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    So this is kind of what I am getting at.

    If I raised my own queens, but I bought in all the rest of supplies needed to keep my hives running, am I self sustaining.

    Feed, medication, foundation, boxes, wood products,

    To be self sustaining, you cant just cut out bought queens.
    How many beekeepers here can go completely without buying in product to keep the operation going?

    Self sustaining an operation proves no benifet, and in itself is unsustainable.
    Cant beekeep if you dont have any bees, right?

    Though,
    Making a step towards that mind set,makes for a more humble operation.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    I hear what your saying but somewhere you have to draw a line.

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    2,775

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    So lets draw the line and create a firm definition of the term "self-sustaining beekeeping". If you define it as the ability to keep a commercial operation going for a while, my Family might know a little bit.

    Roland
    Linden Apiary, Est. 1852

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,558

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Yes, Ian, and Roland, this is the point I was trying to make earlier.
    At what point is anyone really self-sustaining? I think you could draw that line at any point in the supply chain. To take the example to extremes, If I don't cut down the trees and mill my own bee boxes, does that mean I am not self sufficient? Well, some might say just that. OK, maybe I did cut the trees, someone might ask "did you plant them?"

    I think it is more important to concentrate on learning to be a successful bee keeper. Self-sustainment is the end result of that process, and is best accomplished by concentrating on what you do best and trading that for the things you aren't good or efficient at, (or would rather not do). If you raise great queens trade them for the guy that makes the boxes. If you make wonderful wooden ware, you will always have a good source for queens. Or if you are great at making and selling honey, take that money and buy both your queens and boxes from those other guys.

    Sure, try your hand at raising queens and making bee boxes, you may find your true calling in life. You could also try blowing your own glassware too, but at what point does it interfere with your path to success, how "self sustaining" is it, really? I suspect everyone has their own notion of the answer to that question, but just because one person's answer is different than another's, does not make one a better beekeeper than the other.

    In my mind, the bottom line definition of self sustainment is not having to keep going back to the bank (or the household cookie jar, or a spouse's income source) to explain why you can't pay back the last loan and you need to borrow more money.
    Sheri

  11. #51
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    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,692

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    In my mind, the bottom line definition of self sustainment is not having to keep going back to the bank (or the household cookie jar, or a spouse's income source) to explain why you can't pay back the last loan and you need to borrow more money.

    I'd have to agree here.

    I think people are confusing self-sustaining with being completely independant. If you buy queens, you are dependant upon your queen breeder. You are not completely independant. However, if you produce enough other goods or services (honey. pollination, etc) and can afford to purchase those queens (rather than make them yourself) I believe you are self-sustaining.

    Whatever you don't do for yourself is a weakness, because you are dependant upon someone else. But through cooperation, you can work around weaknesses. You just have to watch out that you don't have a break in the supply chain, because you can quickly be up a creek without a paddle.

    Do the 'self-sustaining' beekeepers still use a horse and buggy to haul their hives and sell their honey...or are they buying gas and autos?

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    While I agree with many of the thoughts posted so far I have to say that in taking all aspects of beekeeping to the extreem we are loosing sight of the origin of the thread. I don't think too many guys out there can say start to finnish they are 100% self-sustaining. And if we really want to go into the mud on this I would have to ask did they build the chain saw to cut down the tree, and what about the nails and glue....

    Saying this I would like to get back to the beekeeping. I'll give in on buying wood, meds, safety gear, and so on ...

    BEEKEEPING!

    The basis of this thread was a previous thread of was there a shortage of honeybees. I put this thread out there to get us to think. While now most beekeepers in November, December and January are thinking of where are they going to buy the packages and queens they will need to make up for thier winter loses or increases for the following year they could have been doing the same thinking in June and July and have thier own nucs made up and raised thier own queens.

  13. #53
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    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Hampton, I believe I may understand your position. For a sideliner or hobby type, the economies are different. For a commercial person, it is economies of scale that are important. Sure, I make my own bottom boards, inner covers, and roofs from recycled wood, and I could, and possible will, make my own frames and supers. At this time , it is cheaper for me to purchase my frames and supers. The same is true for bees. Sure, I could make nucs, and over winter them, but a lady from Owen can do a better job of making bees than I can. At this time, I am better off concentrating on honey production, and trading her money for bees, than taking time away from honey production to make nucs, that may or may not survive a Wisconsin winter. Does that make me less of a beekeeper?
    I applaud those that are trying to reduce their dependence on packages. I would hope that in the future I can learn more and different ways to do so myself, but a commercial venture with no miticides is a risky proposition.

    So from my vantage, we have sustained our selves for 6 generations as beekeepers.

    Roland

  14. #54
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    Apr 2007
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    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Roland,

    I here you there. That's Business.

  15. #55
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    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,558

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Roland
    You and your family definitely have the record! ...And thanks for the kind words.

    Hampton
    Oh yeah, I forgot about that chainsaw.
    I can understand where you are coming from, too, regarding queens and spring bees. On the very subject of queens, a few years back due to a supply/demand imbalance we had a tough time getting queens at a reasonable price. This pushed us into raising queens here in the summer, something we had never done before. While we still purchase our early spring queens, (the pros can do it earlier, cheaper and better than we can) we do raise quite a few here in Wisconsin ourselves, once the weather moderates. If push came to shove we could raise more of our own. It is always a good thing to hedge one's bets.
    Sheri

  16. #56
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    Apr 2007
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    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Yes it is.

  17. #57
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    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Hampton, you said it yourself, self sustaining,

    perhaps a better word for your post would be "sustainable". "Self sustainable" is like the hippies down the road, totally independent of everything working around them. That would basically be same for a self sustainable beekeeping operation, Hobie or not.

    But a sustainable operation, is one that includes all advantages available to make for better business decisions.

    What I think your really getting at is merely self sustaining your own hive population numbers. With management practices that favour increasing hive numbers.

    Lets not get caught up in "better beekeeping practices" with labels like "self sustainable beekeeping". I bought 80 packages for this spring, why? So I didn't have to take 20-30 hives out of production to make those numbers. Bottom line, its all economics. Hobby or not

    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  18. #58
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    >>At what point is anyone really self-sustaining? I think you could draw that line at any point in the supply chain. To take the example to extremes, If I don't cut down the trees and mill my own bee boxes, does that mean I am not self sufficient? Well, some might say just that. OK, maybe I did cut the trees, someone might ask "did you plant them?"


    Sheri,
    there is no line. Its black and white. Ask my hippy friend down the road.
    even they will stray off the line time to time,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Hampton, VA, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    Ian, If there is no line, how do you know its black and white? Also, how is it your hippy buddy can see it?

    You are choosing to put in standards that are not there to justify your side of this discussion.

    Let me see if I get your point. No one is self sustaining because sooner or later he has to buy something with money or barter for it. So because we all are not self-sustaining then as long as we can show a profit we are now self-sustaining. Sorry but I don't agree.
    Last edited by Hampton; 02-15-2010 at 06:45 AM.

  20. #60
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Townsend, TN
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    206

    Default Re: Self-sustaining beekeeping

    this thread is going down hill, I dont know about your hippies down the road but this hippie down the road isnt interested in being completly self-sustaining thats not the point. most of us are interested in creating a permaculture. look it up

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