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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Harris County, GA
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    10

    Default Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    I am in the process of planting a small family orchard and am considering adding a bee hive to the list to pollinate my fruit trees. I am concerned about having the hive as I have 2 children and we seem to always have other children here as well. I am concerned about my kids getting stung but I am paticular concerned about a visiting child being stung and having an allergic reaction. Not just the financial consequences but the issue of someones child being injured or worse while in my care. I know this is a possibility anyway...but I would feel VERY responsible purposely having a hive on my property. I ran into a man sellling honey down the road, he lives about 4 miles away. I am hoping his bees will pollinate my orchard and later on when my kids are older and not running the yard all day I can have my hive. Any thoughts or advice? Am I being overly cautious?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,492

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Can you isolate the hive far enough from where the children play that they are unlikely to get to it? The bees will be no more likely to sting while out foraging than the bees you already have around (or yellow jackets, etc) so long as the children stay away from the hive.

    If they get sticks and bang on it, for sure they will get stung, but otherwise the bees will ignore them.

    4 miles is a bit far for bees to fly when the trees will be in bloom, it's usually too cold for them to travel that far. However, talk to the beekeeper, he might be willing to put a hive in your orchard while it's in bloom and then take it home -- orchards are a great source of pollen. Usually not enough nectar for any real honey production due to the short bloom time, but it won't hurt the bees any. Might have to pay him a few bucks.

    Otherwise, once your kids are old enough to be sensible and stay away from the beehive because they don't want to be stung, you will be fine. The hive can be anywhere fairly close, it does not have to be amongst the trees, although that helps. A fenced off area would be great to keep people and kids away and the bees won't care.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    I have bees and 5 boys. One is allergic. He got stung 3 times in three weeks playing soccer, 13 years ago before I had bees, if it was indeed a bee that stung him. We think it was more likely a yellowjacket hanging around the snacks. Hasn't been stung since.
    My bees are also near my fruit trees, which of course only bloom early spring. Then my bees are busy elsewhere and as you pointed out, miles away. I keep an epi pen around just in case. My 5 and 6 year old come with me when checking bees and have their noses in the hives beside me.
    The only time I have been stung was when I was doing something inside the hives that the bees didn't like. My oldest son used to pick up the bees off the clover flowers in the grass when he was a toddler, never stung once.
    Put your bees in a nice private corner away from the kids play area, make it their home, but be prepared to show the kids the bees and do some teaching. They will be curious. Teach them about the bees and they won't have any issues, but try and keep them out and they will get to them sooner or later. And, if you are like me, my children (at least the youngest ones) never go where I am not, or where I cannot see them.
    Other parents need to know ahead of time and I would take the opportunity to have them come with their children to learn about the bees so they can make an informed choice once they know the "rest of the story". Parents are less likely to have a fit about an accidental sting if they know the facts. Bees aren't after the children! We have had way more bites from the wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and specially the horse flies than honeybees.
    If you are nervous then wait until you aren't. Take some time to learn about beekeeping from the neighbor or another beekeeper, then decide. After a year of volunteering maybe you won't be so interested anymore, but you will be more informed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Harris County, GA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Thank You Peter and Monica for the info! I have 2.5 acres so the hive could be out away from the house. My kids are old enough (9and 12) to stay away. If they bang on the hive, they deserve to get stung! Talking to the parents and informing them of the hive before coming over is a great idea. If the parents are uncomfortable then they have a choice to decide not to leave their child here. I did not know fruit trees were not that great of a source of nectar. That is good info. I may need to plan on planting some blooming flowers in the orchard with good time intervals to provide foraging after the fruit trees are done. I also plant a medium sized garden every year. I have had some problems with not enough pollinating going on. I had some blooms come out and the tomatos never developed until I started taking a q tip and pollinating myself. That got me thinking about keeping a hive. I have always been fasinated with bees. As a young child I used to hold and "pet" the fuzzy bumble bees. I am glad to hear honey bees are fairly docile. The man selling the honey told me about a bee association that meets monthly, and invited me to attend. So I am going to take him up on it and get some more education. Thank You so much for your time and great info. I feel more comfortable about it now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    709

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    The bees will find your fruit trees and pollinate them, maybe even the tomatoes (bumble bees are actually better at pollinating tomatoes) and it's always good to plant for pollinators, but realize a honey bee will fly 2 miles or more for forage. A circle with a 2 mile radius encompasses just over 8000 acres, so you're 2.5 will be but a small bit of their available food. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Harris County, GA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Thank You! I am going to dig in and educate myself and go from there. While I am thinking about bees I am going to dig some holes and start getting the soil ready for planting the orchard in the spring. I can research and attend meetings over the next year and give my orchard a year to see how it is doing and invest in a hive the following spring if i am still into it. Thank You all for your replies of great info!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Ride up to Lula some time and visit Don, he goes by fat/beeman on here. fineshooter on youtube.

    If i were in Georgia and wanted a gentle hive starting from nothing. I would go get a couple nucs from him in a heartbeat.

    I went to see him in early July and walked around his bee yard with he and the guy helping him for several hours. I did get stung twice but you have to understand he worked probably a hundred or so hives and I was a strange face in the midst of them. Very gentle bees.

    The biggest problem would be somebody stepping on one barefooted or swatting at one. If the bees are gentle anybody could play at the entrance of the hive, feet away and have no problems.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Harris County, GA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Thank You so much for the info! I will check it out the next time we go to Asheville, NC...looks to be close to on the way! So genetics play a part in the temperment of the hive?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by gg706 View Post
    So genetics play a part in the temperment of the hive?
    Genetics is everything. If you want gentle bees. Don't buy from somebody that works them in what looks to be a nuclear hazmat suite. Cause you already know what kinda bees they have.

    Get something you can work in plain clothes. Without getting hammered.

    Here's me playin with mine.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Harris County, GA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    That is AWESOME! I had no idea you could that close to the hive without getting pelted! I will be careful who I get them from for sure! Sounds like the guy you recommended is a safe bet. Thanks for the video I really enjoyed it and learned alot!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,496

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    I have two hives in very urban area. Safety of my neighbors is my constant concern. I have bees for a year. This is what I gather:
    - bees never attack first, but they would protect their home with full force if they feel their home is in danger. If you stupid enough to give them such impression, you may face MANY angry bees!
    - My beehives are withing 20-30 feet from the house. I normally have my morning tea just 5-10 feet behind the hive. Bees forbid me to have my usual tea after invasive inspections - for couple of days 2-3 bees patrols my backdoor and I have to admit that we cancelled backyard party once.
    - I got stung every 2-3 weeks - 90% times by random accident, step on bee etc... my wife got stung once by neighbor's bee (yes, we know it was not our bee!). My cat got stung twice, last time when she decided to sit on bee... it was very dramatic!
    - At the same time, I am aware that this pastoral picture may be changed any time - it is known that bees sometime could express "aggressive" behavior without any (to us) reasons, so be prepared!
    - My bees DO NOT pollinate my fruit trees! Be aware! They just do not interested! Normally, I do not see a single bee in my backyard - all bees are on "freeway" - going to some more attractive place for foraging!
    - my bees are feral/survivor. So, they are not on the "peaceful" side of the scale. You definitely could choose bees genetically predetermined to be docile.
    - bees are great fun - kids would be very happy to watch them, but yes, it needs to be under control!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,465

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Here is the thing, beekeepers get stung by honeybees. If you have a hive or your neighbor has a hive 2 miles away your children have the same risk of getting stung by a honeybee. The chances are there is a hive within 2 miles of your home so you might as well enjoy having a hive UNLESS you don't want to get stung because I assume you will be the beekeeper. You cannot worry about any person that is allergic to bee stings because it is out of your control. for the most part bees are everywhere. Honeybees get the blame for every bee that stings and it is far from the truth unless you are a beekeeper. So are you worried about getting stung or are you worried about someone else getting stung?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kaysville, Utah, USA
    Posts
    384

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    I wouldn't worry too much. I'm a suburban commando beekeeper, and my hive is 5 feet from the house in the side yard. We haven't had a problem, yet.

    When I was a kid I would go and sit on a log close to the hive and watch the bees zipping around doing their thing. Now my kids do the same thing. The bees really aren't interested in you, and generally will leave you alone. I was hauling firewood around the hive this past weekend, and the bees would occasionally come by to see what I was doing, but left me alone. I never felt in danger, and I'm moderately allergic (I have to suit up completely when I work on the hive).

    Advice? This is my first year as a beek, so take my advice for what it's worth.

    I taught my kids how to behave around the beehive. Don't walk in front of it. Be quiet and don't make any sudden moves, don't bang the hive, no ripe bananas nearby, etc. Don't do anything to make the bees feel threatened. I also let them know that if they made any mistakes, they would learn the hard way!

    As a courtesy, I also let visitors know that we have a beehive. So far, nobody has had a problem with it.

    Of course, there's also the caveat that bees are wild animals.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Boxford, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    221

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    I have 17 hives in my yard now. The only people who have been stung are me, and my son in law who helps me with the bees. No one else in my family has been stung. I have three grand children, kids around the house all the time, and no one else has been stung. As long as you keep them away from the hives yous shouldn't have a problem. They fly around our pool all summer. If they fall in we pick them up with our hands and let them walk around until the dry off and fly away. No problems. If you have a dog, especially a black one there could be some issues until it learns to stay away though.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,496

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Splatt View Post
    ... bees are wild animals.
    Very true! I also want to add that keeping bees is responsibility. They are living creatures and you just could not leave them in negligence. They needs to be treated as other our animal-partners, dogs, cats, fish. I meant, there are very particular procedures, which needs to be performed regularly for bees well-being. Even honey-collection needs to be performed in some particular way AND in time! Also, bees are quite expensive "hobby" - you need to be ready to invest in bee-suits, hardware, bees itself... Initial investment may be around $1000 (depends) ...
    Last edited by cerezha; 10-30-2012 at 10:10 PM. Reason: grammar
    Серёжа, Sergey

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Long Beach, Ca
    Posts
    66

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    Very true! I also want to add that keeping bees are responsibility. They are living creatures and you just could not leave them in negligence. They needs to be treated as other our animal-partners, dogs, cats, fish. I meant, there are very particular procedures, which needs to be performed regularly for bees well-being. Even honey-collection needs to be performed in some particular way AND in time! Also, bees are quite expensive "hobby" - you need to be ready to invest in bee-suits, hardware, bees itself... Initial investment may be around $1000 (depends) ...
    Holly cow, $1000? I'm in for about $50 for a smoker and a veil, and some boxes/wooden ware. I think to get the ball rolling was about $200 total, and that was more than it should have been because I bought prebuilt everything. My bees have all been free.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,496

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by codyjp View Post
    Holly cow, $1000?
    Probably less, but for two beehives in our local prices (all approximate, I do not remember the exact numbers):
    - un-assembled 10-frame mediums commercial grade: $17x8=$136
    - screened bottom: 2x$22=$44
    - telescopic cover with inner cover: 2x$15(?)=$30
    - bee-tool: $10
    - smoker: $30
    - frames without foundation: 80x$1=$80
    - stand for beehives: $20
    - beesuit (good one) with gloves : $100 (I have vented for $160)
    - packaged bees: 2x$100=$200
    - honey extraction: may vary, $100
    - miscellaneous parts (entrance reducers, robbing screen, feeder, sticky board): $30
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total for 2 4 mediums 10 frame-box beehives: $780

    Note that I did not include foundation and there is no money allocated for "treatments", classes, memberships etc.

    Comment: of coarse everything may be cheaper, but still, there are some investments, which are essential. To me the biggest investment was vented bee-suit. I made my boxes by myself but price of lumber in Home Depot is ridiculous - my boxes are more expensive than if I bought assembled boxes from the bee-company... I just like to work with wood! Also, if one built himself, price of equipment/tools must be included in the estimate and of coarse - your time!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Humboldt, South Dakota
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by codyjp View Post
    Holly cow, $1000? I'm in for about $50 for a smoker and a veil, and some boxes/wooden ware. I think to get the ball rolling was about $200 total, and that was more than it should have been because I bought prebuilt everything. My bees have all been free.

    I started with 2 3# packages that cost $90 each. If you need them shipped, add another $75-$90. So that's another almost $300 just for the bees. When you figure in the cost of equipment, you should be able to start for less than $1000. It depends on the individual. Personally, I live by the motto: "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!" Example: I started homebrewing a couple of years ago. I've now got 8 varieties of hops growing in my vineyard on a support system that required three sections of scaffolding to erect. But that's just me.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,025

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    To me the biggest investment was vented bee-suit.
    I wore a veil, jeans and an old white shirt I bought at the re-sale shop for 50 cents.

    honey extraction: may vary, $100
    Make friends with other beekeepers. Borrow an extractor. Barter. Trade some labor, or a percentage of extracted honey.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,496

    Default Re: Thinking about keeping bees...looking for advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    I wore a veil, jeans and an old white shirt I bought at the re-sale shop for 50 cents.
    you are lucky - my girls prefer full uniform, they like expensive clothes! and the sign of the good manners - leather gloves!
    Серёжа, Sergey

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