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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    22

    Lightbulb Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Hi:

    I have decided to put a top bar hive in my backyard. I plan on making it this winter, ordering bees in January and hopefully setting it up in April. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.

    I also have a great personal interest in honeys and have a website dedicated to honey, especially honey with a story behind it. It is not a beekeeper site, but should be of interest to beekeepers. It is a honey lover's site: http://www.honeytraveler.com.

    I would be delighted to post any stories there from this community that would potentially be of interest to people who love honey, traveling, natural history, food and are particularly intrigued by anything related to or about honey.

    - Scott
    http://www.honeytraveler.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,892

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    First, welcome to the site!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott_F View Post
    Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.
    A must would be to find a local beekeeper's association. Most of them have classes or mentorship programs. I would highly recommend getting involved in one, or both if they are available.

    Some beginners get discouraged when things don't go the way they think they will, and they end up quitting. It's understandable though, as many mistakes can be made and many of them can be costly. A class or a mentor can help you to not make so many of those mistakes.

    Last, if I were you I would seriously consider the TBH (top bar hive), at least for your first year. They are great hives, and I have nothing bad to say about them, but it's best to use the same equipment that your mentor or class uses. If they are showing you how things work in an Lang hive, but you have a TBH, things might work differently. It might be more difficult for you to pick it up as quickly, which can also be discouraging. If you get the hang of it the first year and like it, move to a TBH. Just a suggestion. Of course, that would be totally different if your association has a group of TBH followers, or if your mentor uses them.

    Feel free to ask questions. None are "dumb."

    Enjoy it!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Washington, MO
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Hi! Also a honey-lover and always on the search for new sources of raw, local varieties to try out.
    We had our first hive this year, a TBH we made, with a package of Russians that were delivered very, very late! Sadly, the queen turned out to be a drone-layer, and by the time we figured that out (last week!), it is too late to do anything to save the hive. So we'll try again next year. Stuff we learned the hard way:

    1. Get into the brood nest and inspect it within a few weeks of hiving, and then every few weeks. That isn't enough "disturbance" to make them abscond. Our queen was improperly mated - she started out laying fine, then ran out of sperm and started laying drones.

    2. Start with 2 hives of the same type. Really good advice. If we'd had two, we could have compared their progress, and you can rob from the strong hive to help the other one if necessary.

    3. Definitely find a local beek club. And the advice about using the equipment they have is good - we were the only ones with a TBH, so there wasn't much knowledge, and no one could share a frame or two of healthy brood that would fit in our hive to help us out.

    4. Have a great time with it! We failed this year, but learned a lot, and are looking forward to building another TBH over the winter and trying 2 hives next spring.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    7,122

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Welcome Scott! If you wait to order bees in January, you might not get them until the following year - order now!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Thanks for the great ideas! I am definitely going to start with a TBH. I was inspired by a beekeeper my wife and I happened to meet after following a road-side sign near White Water WI who showed us his TBH. We left with a nice big jar of honey after gave us a tour and treated us both to nice cold Wisconsin Leinenkugel beers.

    This pic shows Tony with one of the top bar hives he built. Nice paint job! There is a window in back.



    I hope to keep in touch touch with him as I progress, but hooking up with a local beekeeper association sounds like a good idea.

    I hadn't thought of two hives, but your recommendation makes a lot of sense HuNu.

    I am surprised I need to order the bees now AmericasBeekeeper, I suppose everyone has their favorite bee source. But I am pretty sure that I can get some from Tony. Just in case though, what is the general thought on this?

    - Scott

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    A must would be to find a local beekeeper's association. Most of them have classes or mentorship programs. I would highly recommend getting involved in one, or both if they are available.
    Agree. List of local clubs:
    http://www.ilsba.com/affiliate.htm

    Illinois beek David Burns has a great site with over 100 beginners lessons online. He also offers classes, equipment, bees, etc. If you click on the "upcoming classes", he has a class Oct 15 that will cover Top Bar hives.
    http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Washington, MO
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    It isn't too early to start looking for a bee supplier to pre-order! This past spring was pretty rough weather on the bees, and from reading threads on this forum, a LOT of people (including me) never got their bees or got them very late in the season. Most suppliers ship out bees in the order the orders were received. If you order early, you have a better chance. I'd suggest making formal arrangements with Tony now so you won't be "surprised" in March....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,892

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott_F View Post
    I am surprised I need to order the bees now AmericasBeekeeper, I suppose everyone has their favorite bee source. But I am pretty sure that I can get some from Tony. Just in case though, what is the general thought on this?
    Buying bees can be tricky for the first timer. You really do need to order early, as time is of the essence. Usually if you order by February, you are certain to be out of luck. Someplaces if you order by November, you may find yourself disappointed. It's best to be safe, and order as soon as you can.

    If Tony can sell you bees, that would be fantastic. If not, the question becomes "what to buy?" You can buy full hives, nucleus hives, or packages. There are benefits and drawbacks to each one, and I don't have the time to go indepth with each one so it may be better off to do a search on the issue and do a little bit of reading up. But generally speaking, buying full hives is the most expensive and you inherit any diseases or problems that the original owner may have had, but you get hives that are ready to go from day one. Nucleus hives, or nucs, are usually cheaper than full colonies, but are actually just smaller colonies. Instead of 10-20 frames, Nucs are 3-5 frames of bees. You still may inherit some of the problems the original person had, but it usually isn't as likely as most of the equipment is usually new. The nuc will take a little while to build up, or expand, but it usually doesn't set you back that much. Packages are usually the cheapest, although lately not much more than nucs. It's usually 3-4 pounds of bees and a queen, with no frames or brood. You usually don't inherit any problems the original beekeeper may have had (such as diseases, pests, ect.), and you can put them into any equipment you want (if you by a Lang Nuc, it would be challenging to put it into a TBH, but not a package). Down side is that it takes them quite a while to build up. Most individuals don't get honey their first year from a package.

    Industry standard a few years ago was to get packages. Lately their quality has decreased, and their price has increased so much that most people are moving away from them and going toward nucs.

    A rather lengthly, although not fully explained answer, but I hope it's helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    Agree. List of local clubs:
    http://www.ilsba.com/affiliate.htm

    Illinois beek David Burns has a great site with over 100 beginners lessons online. He also offers classes, equipment, bees, etc. If you click on the "upcoming classes", he has a class Oct 15 that will cover Top Bar hives.
    http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/
    I clicked over to Burns' website and was very impressed. I don't understand why they are selling queens for delivery this year though. Isn't the season pretty much over for a new hives? I assume getting a queen/nucs this year wouldn't be appropriate for a new setup like I am considering... or am I missing something?

    - Scott

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Buying bees can be tricky for the first timer. You really do need to order early, as time is of the essence. Usually if you order by February, you are certain to be out of luck. Someplaces if you order by November, you may find yourself disappointed. It's best to be safe, and order as soon as you can.

    If Tony can sell you bees, that would be fantastic. If not, the question becomes "what to buy?" You can buy full hives, nucleus hives, or packages. There are benefits and drawbacks to each one, and I don't have the time to go indepth with each one so it may be better off to do a search on the issue and do a little bit of reading up. But generally speaking, buying full hives is the most expensive and you inherit any diseases or problems that the original owner may have had, but you get hives that are ready to go from day one. Nucleus hives, or nucs, are usually cheaper than full colonies, but are actually just smaller colonies. Instead of 10-20 frames, Nucs are 3-5 frames of bees. You still may inherit some of the problems the original person had, but it usually isn't as likely as most of the equipment is usually new. The nuc will take a little while to build up, or expand, but it usually doesn't set you back that much. Packages are usually the cheapest, although lately not much more than nucs. It's usually 3-4 pounds of bees and a queen, with no frames or brood. You usually don't inherit any problems the original beekeeper may have had (such as diseases, pests, ect.), and you can put them into any equipment you want (if you by a Lang Nuc, it would be challenging to put it into a TBH, but not a package). Down side is that it takes them quite a while to build up. Most individuals don't get honey their first year from a package.

    Industry standard a few years ago was to get packages. Lately their quality has decreased, and their price has increased so much that most people are moving away from them and going toward nucs.

    A rather lengthly, although not fully explained answer, but I hope it's helpful.
    Very helpful, now I am on another self-educational click-fest.

    -Scott

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott_F View Post
    I clicked over to Burns' website and was very impressed. I don't understand why they are selling queens for delivery this year though. Isn't the season pretty much over for a new hives? I assume getting a queen/nucs this year wouldn't be appropriate for a new setup like I am considering... or am I missing something?
    Yes, too late to be starting new colonies, but not too late to re-queen an existing colony. I just re-queened a colony yesterday that had failed to meet expectations this summer. By the time winter sets in, all the bees will be offspring of the new queen, and hopefully the young queen will provide a strong start next spring.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Wheaton, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Greetings from Illiois - Always looking for honey

    Ah! I see, that makes sense. I didn't realize that requeening was such a regular process. Thanks for the insight.

    - Scott

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