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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Jamesville, NY
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    273

    Default Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Hello all,

    First let me say thanks in advance to all posters who can lend me some of their perspective on my situation.

    I am not a beekeeper (yet), but plan on adding 2-3 hives in the spring. My plan is to go treatment free, foundationless in 10 langs or similar.

    I recently had an offer tossed over my way to get two hives (2 deep brood configuration) for $500 + extras below. The hives have been in existence for two years, this is their 2nd winter coming up. The bees are of unknown origin and had some queens, that may have been hygenic, but this was not possible to confirm, so I am assuming feral bee traits so I don't get my hopes up.

    Bees:
    1. unknown stock
    2. have swarmed and the queen is likely to be made from the hive
    3. not treated ever (see below, this isn't a case of treatment free management, rather untreated bees)
    4. hives seem strong according to seller

    Hives:
    1. two deep 10 lang hives with enough stores to get through the winter
    2. 6 extra 10 langs with frames, comb drawn out in each frame for a total of about 75% drawn out comb across all frames.


    Along with the deal comes:
    1. A couple hive tools
    2. an old smoker that is on its last leg
    3. two bee jackets, one with veil and one with hard helmet
    4. queen exlcuders
    5. home made bottom boards that are screened.


    Seller:
    1. getting out of bee keeping after 2 years, said he didn't have time needed and didn't put the effort in needed.

    Each hive made it through last winter and then he did two splits that failed (he thought the bees probably absconded and went back into their original hive). He has been bee keeping for 2 years and this would be the second winter. He said not all the equipment is new but all of it is serviceable. It sort of feels like he just let the bees go, instead of managing the bees in a treatment free format. Said they produced one deep super and probably would have done two but he didn't get back to the bees to put another super on.

    My gut tells me that these bees may die this winter due to lack of managment style. So I sort of feel compelled to treat this as a hardware buy and if the hives make the winter then I am lucky.

    Any opinions on this deal? Let's pretend that I would have the hives inspected in the next week and everything comes back good.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,764

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Really?

    $500 can buy a lot of new (clean) woodenware and fresh bees...

    I wouldn't advise anyone to buy that stuff.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    I still laugh every time I read your name

    That was my though too (prcing out in dadant's catalog now). I guess that prospect of wanting bees was hoping there was a silver lining to that. IN the spring that might be an ok offer but just before winter...

    Even then, I still worry about disease that might be brought in

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Maryville, tn, usa
    Posts
    208

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    I bought wooden ware for two hives this spring- two bottom boards, four deep 10 frame langs, two inner covers, two outer covers, foundation for all and two 3 lb packages it was more than 500$ but it was all new. Is it a good deal depends on condition of equipment? With a year or two experience and lotsa reading about problems hives can have I think with an inspection you could decide yourself as is I would suggest finding a mentor and have them check it out with you... You might also offer a lower price after inspecting I think it is obvious that the price would go up after winter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,429

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Melt the comb and bleach the wooden ware and you should be fine. Would not buy it before winter though. Price seems a little high also. Buy them in the spring and requeen with known stock and then they will be your bee's. After they build up of course. Replace all the frames of comb in groups during a flow so you have new comb and you are good to go. Let his price come down though alot.

    Or save yourself the trouble and buy new.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,058

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    You need to assess the bees first, then the quality of the equipment. If the hives are booming with bees and frames of brood look good and it's full of stores, it's an OK deal. Typically, that would be a spring price though as the bees survived the winter. If you are unable to winter the bees, then obviously it's not a very good deal, but if the colonies look good now, that's ur fault. The question is, do you want to buy hives now and winter your colony as an absolutely new beek, or hang onto your $$ and get some colonies in spring that have survived already.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    If you're planning to go foundationless, buying 10 boxes full of drawn comb is not a great way to start...

    That said, you will probably spend around $500 (maybe closer to $600) at the bee store buying boxes, frames, package bees, hive tools, etc. Bee jackets cost around $50 or more new. Then you have to assemble frames and boxes, paint the hives, etc. All of which can be a good "rite of passage" for a new beekeeper but is also work that takes time.

    IF the equipment is in good shape (well-built, painted, not rotten), disease free, and has drawn comb less than three years old, I would estimate it is worth about $30 per box used, or around $300 for the ten boxes. Maybe an extra $75 for the hive tools, tops/bottoms, and bee jackets.

    If the bees are in good shape with adequate stores, mite load under control, no foulbrood or other diseases apparent, and a good queen laying pattern, they might be worth as much as $100 and (if they survive) will give you a much larger honey crop next year than if you start with nucs or packages. If they have AFB, they are worth zero and the equipment is worth zero also. If they are healthy except for a lot of mites, they might be worth $50 if you can treat them with oxalic acid in early winter, closer to zero if you don't plan on treating.

    In short, $500 is not an unreasonable price for two good hives of bees, six extra boxes, and associated paraphernalia. If I were starting again and I got that deal from a reputable beekeeper, I would jump on it. Just be sure to take an experienced beekeeper with you to do a close inspection before you accept the offer or decide to offer a lower amount.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    2,429

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    If you take them, moving them as a brand new beek would be a nice youtube video.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    579

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    I doubt the guy will get any takers at $500.

    I began with a starter kit and only have the smoker and hive tool from it now. The hive was polystyrene and I gave it away.

    Check the gear for condition and let him go for a week or two. I would figure what you want your operation to be and offer no more than 25 cents on a dollar for those items including the bees. Put no value on the home made gear. You will spend the same time setting up his used stuff as you will with brand new gear. If they survive, you will be ahead of packages or nucs and have the opportunity to split into more.

    As far as origin, if you don't regularly re-queen from known stock, they will eventually become mutts like mine within a few years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Thanks for the posts guys. Luterra, really a great break down for my and other new guys reference. One key point you brought up is the foundationless. Another I need mention is the treatment free aspect of the bees. The management style i have been considering is through genetics or possibly just survivor stoc. So I have been told in this method the bees need to have good genetics like vsh etc. I have no idea where the bees came from, and he said the place he bought it from had like 200+ hives, so I assume commercial treated bees. i.e. I might be setting myself behind with these bees in that regard.

    EastSideBuzz - are you looking for a newbie blooper video? haha

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Beelosopher, it doesn't matter much on their genetics. They're gonna requeen and get local genes. Having VSH might help, but like Thorope says, you start with something, it's going to change each time you get a new queen and she mates with local drones. You said this guy kind of neglected them and they've survived this far?? I would say that's good stock to me. Here's what I would do....

    I would look at the bees. Granted, you probably know nothing but you still can see their temperment etc... Have the guy smoke them lightly, and open up the top and pull frames. Look at the brood patterns and their stores, i.e capped honey and pollen. Look how many bees are on each frames, all the frames should be covered. Make sure the guy has kept the frames pushed together. If there's barely any room to pull frames and put them back, like you have to mash the frame back in, I would start getting cold feet about buying them. If bees are in your face at this point as well, my feet would be getting cold as well but it is late in the year and they're more protective. Look at the brood and store patterns. Brood pattern might be spotty at this time of the year, but should have nice bands of honey/pollen around them. Look at the bees, watch for bees with shriveled wings. Look for queen cups/cells. Look for drone comb if any. Have him pull some to look for mites if you see some. Look for SHB. Look for the queen, but if you see young larvae or eggs don't sweat it. See how much honey is there and how it's capped. If their nice full frames that's a plus. Box with honey should weigh 60-80lbs. When you pull the top box off, you should do it, so you can feel the weight. Again, look at the frames. Are they all stuck together with brace comb everywhere... feel my feet getting cold again. Were the frames in the top box all stuck to the bottom?? Gonna need to clean all that up too. Again, look at frame spacing and how evenly the comb is drawn. Look at a few frames to get a sense of what's there, brood, honey, pollen, amount of bees.

    In general, if you don't see any disease issues, and the bees look strong and aren't too nasty with good amount of stores and brood right now, I'd offer the guy $400 take it or leave it. Don't worry about foundationless, treatment free, genetic make up of the hive right now... this is your starting point of your beekeeping career that stuff can come later. Also, the boxes and frames should be in good shape, if they're cracked, rotting, dont fit together well, walk away. Basically it comes down to the bees. If they're strong in population, with decent brood and lots of stores right now and seem like bees you would want to work, $400 is a good price for everything. Come spring you may have a lot of work to do to get the hives more manageable but that's part of the fun in beekeeping.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    To much going into winter. I bought one from a estate last year for 25.00 with a extra set of boxes all in bad shape
    David

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
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    4,198

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Sounds to me like you're talking about 10 boxes with most of the frames drawn out. That's 100 drawn frames. As long as they are disease free that's not a bad price. The boxes are almost new, only 1 1/2 years old.
    An assembled deep with undrawn frames is about $55 in the mann lake catalog. Basically the bees, extra equipment, & a years worth of wax making are free.
    Dan

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    280

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    I would offer him $300, take it or leave it. This is a good deal if you can get everything cheaply as you have no way of knowing how healthy the bees are, no certainty of getting them through the winter. He should be glad to get that much!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,544

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Well
    I got approximately the same package-deal (but older hardware) for free. I build my own medium boxes $7 ea. Bottoms and tops - salvaged plywood... frames - top bars... antique Woodman smoker and "yellow tool" was inherited from father-in-law. Biggest investment was a ventilated beesuit (gift for Christmas). Since I am foundationless, I do not need a drawn comb. For me, the deal from equipment/hardware prospective is not interested at all. What may be interesting is a bees. But I am against the mainstream as usual - it looks like bees are "survivor". They may be very well suitable for your area. I would keep them with original queen to keep "survivor" stock. But it is a different story - you could get such bees easily via your local bee-club (swarms, but-outs etc). What I would do - I would tell the "seller" that you are not interested in used equipment, which may be contaminated by disease, but you feel sorry for the bees and you are willing to offer the place to stay for the bees... and it is OK if they come with the second-hand potentially dangerous hardware... $250-300 for 2 colonies is a reasonable price. You also could try to make a deal - 50% now and 50% if bees will survive the winter... good luck! Sergey
    Серёжа, Sergey

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,965

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Run
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    JRG13 - thanks for the details on how to look through a hive. I may be able to get a feel for the health of it. I might miss a lot but I might catch a little too. I am still on the fence and as many have said I need to know the health of the bees and the shape of the bee boxes. So it looks like I will have to call in a favor or two and get over there to have a look, if I decide to go that far.

    When I was pricing out new dadant equip, it seems like many of you are on point when you say the price is a bit off (too high) going into winter. The money I may save on the buy here blocks me from saving some money from buying a set of 5 hives (the discount point on dadant). I have some considering to do!

    thanks for the input.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,058

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    So, for bees, I would not buy them unseen. Buying new equipment is ok, but like everyone says, you have to assemble it and paint it at minimum and make sure it's straight. In Spring, established hives in double deeps go around $250 around here, 8 or 10 frame. If you can't go see them, pass on it. If you can see them though, and it's not so far out of the way I'd make an effort, at least you will get a feel of what you like, what you wan to look for and what you don't like.

    Everyone says used equipment is worthless.... well it's not. That makes no sense because if you go out and buy all new boxes and frames, as soon as you put bees in it, it's now worthless.... when in fact it isn't. If it's in decent shape, put together correctly, and painted well it's just as USEFUL as buying new. 6 boxes with frames, just buying 6 boxes and 60 frames will cost you roughly $150, those used boxes don't sound so worthless now (if they're in decent shape). It's not like ur putting new bees in it and have to worry about diseases for this offer. 60 drawn frames is pretty handy as well. It'll save you $1.20 per frame for foundation and it's already drawn out which saves you and the bees a lot of time and resoures to fill it. The main risk here seems to be the bees may not have been inspected much and everything is a mess in the hive, regardless of how healthy they are. It's a pain to have to go in and rip frames out because they're all stuck together, top to bottom, etc... and if they haven't been pushed together well, it's really hard to get them all back in w/o doing a lot of comb trimming on the tops and bottoms and you will be smashing a lot of bees. That being said, if they're up to weight and healthy, they should survive the winter and you can do all that in spring when there's less bees to worry about and you can learn a lot from doing it.

    Still, the biggest risk is buying them right before winter. There's a myriad of reasons hives fail in winter, healthy or not so that's what you want to ask yourself. Do you risk spending a fair amount of $$ now and losing 1 or both of the hives come spring. Another note, the bee jackets, if you're a lot taller or shorter than this guy, probably worthless. Queen excluders, worthless in terms of having any value, you can use them but not really necessary. Hive tools, ok, home made bottom boards.... not entirely worthless if well designed and built but pretty much no value to you right now. Still, it comes down to assessing the bees and shape/quality of the equipment and how much you want to spend. For me, if they're in decent shape, I'd take them for $400. Just setting up new in Spring, two hives, double deeps, I could easily see $600-700 flying out your wallet when all is said and done and your bees would have a lot of work to do to get up to 2 deeps fully drawn and established. It's just something to think about, if you have the $$ to start new, then do it. Get what you want and see how it goes, but if you wanna take some risk, these two hives could probably do really well and be ready to split next year if you have room to expand.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
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    273

    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    Thanks to everyone for all of the information. After thinking about everything I decided to go with my gut and many of your recommendations. It became problematic to get a guy with the know how to inspect the bees for me, so I am going to pass. That plus when I really looked into the details the offer wasn't set up right for me, even if the price had been a little better.

    I began to realize that much of what was being offered wasn't ideal for me:

    a. all foundations yet I want to go foundationless
    b. I want to get an ultra breeze or similar full bee suit (so two bee jackets that are not ultra breeze won't help me). Since I am 6'1'', JRG13's point about sizing is probably dead on.
    c. The hive tool, while fine, I have already.
    d. smoker is near dead, I want a functional one that is larger from dadant to assist my newbee approach with a longer burn time.

    All and all I am just too picky I suppose.

    Thanks for all the help, this one just wasn't meant for me (I nearly had some bees! ).
    Last edited by Barry; 10-09-2012 at 10:55 AM. Reason: language

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Two hives for sale - Is this a good situation/deal?

    I have found I need to replace my smoker and gloves pretty regularly - Jackets not far behind either. They see a lot of hard use.

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