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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    433

    Default Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Hi, all. I am just starting out and do not yet have a hive. In addition to reading everything I can get my hands on and talking to (former) beekeepers, I will be taking a class toward the end of January.

    As you know, there are decisions to be made early on (and into the future), and the number of decisions is quite large but manageable. The one for which I am seeking guidance in this thread is: "based on my location in zone 5b, when would be an appropriate time to get bees?" Simply put, I would like to be sure that a) I am not going to put a new colony into jeopardy just because I am excited and b) I can provide the colony enough time to grow and become established before next winter. Basically, I am seeking to identify a good date near which I might seek delivery of a package or a nuc, which will in turn help me plan on when to have the hive prepared (I plan to build from scratch or assemble unless a hive drops out of the sky).

    Are there any out there who are also in 5b and who can relate to me when it is that you have established a new hive, first time or not? For me, understanding a good time will help me to plan backwards over the winter and be a good keeper into the future. Thanks very much in advance for your response.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Welcome to Beesource!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chemguy View Post
    Basically, I am seeking to identify a good date near which I might seek delivery of a package or a nuc, which will in turn help me plan on when to have the hive prepared (I plan to build from scratch or assemble unless a hive drops out of the sky).
    Its reasonable to expect that local (Ohio) responsible beekeepers selling bees are likely to do so only at a time when those bees are likely to survive. Here's an Ohio vendor offering dates in late March thru May:
    http://www.waldobees.com/about.html
    I don't see how you can go wrong with picking a delivery date in April. Generally, if you are establishing a package, plan to feed syrup initially regardless of the weather conditions. When there is adequate nectar available locally, your bees will likely stop taking the sugar anyway.

    And see if you can find a local club to join, even before you get you first bees. You will likely learn a lot about local conditions. One of the most valuable feature of my local club is there is always someone who can talk what is blooming, and identify plants that grow wild on my property or nearby.

    While having a specific date for bee delivery is fine, get your hives prepared earlier than that target date. In 2012 I ordered bees from Arnold Honeybee Services in Knoxville TN, and the agreed date was March 30.
    http://www.arnoldhoneybeeservices.com/index.html
    About March 10th, I got a call from them offering the bees 2 weeks early. It was offered as an option (I could have waited til the 30th), but I had to scramble to finish up the last hive before picking up the bees 2 weeks early. That decision worked out fine, the bees are doing well, and I'm very pleased with my Arnold bees.
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 12-06-2012 at 07:59 AM. Reason: update
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,249

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Chemguy, it's wise of you to be thinking ahead, I wish you the best in this new adventure. Radar covered the advise part pretty well but if I may, let me add that if there is no pollen source available at the time you are feeding your bees the syrup, it would be advisable to give them pollen substitute as well for early brood rearing.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    I don't know what other people do, but I would strongly suggest feeding syrup and protein patties until you have two full deeps or the equivalent of bees and comb when you start a new package.

    They may not need it (you will be able to tell by what they bring in), but if you miss the heavy spring flow due to weather or timing, a package is going to struggle to build up properly. Feed is cheaper than more bees next year, and if you get them up and going fast, it's more likely you will get a honey crop the first year (although I would not plan to).

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Danville, PA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    April is probably ideal. I couldnt get mine until this past mid-May and the flow was already on...I didnt have a choice with the supplier that I was going through though. I'm in northeast PA!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    indianapolis,Indiana
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Chemguy you really don't have a lot of choice when to recieve a nuc / package they come late spring. Usually thats when the suppliers get the queens breeding and ready to sell. I would suggest getting a nuc instead of a package from your own area. Burdell's honey farm is great our club picks up earlier spring from them great quality. Might check them out there in eastern ohio i believe. Welcome to beekeeping good luck and have fun learning !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Pickaway/Fairfield Cty, OH
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Welcome Chemguy, Rader Sidetrack and the others pretty much nailed it. I think you won't go wrong with the 3rd week in April, maybe a bit earlier if you must and they're on drawn comb, not foundation. Around when the apple trees are blooming and the hummingbirds are returning from the south. You should have plenty of pollen by then with willows and maples.

    I say don't worry about getting the first available bees of the season, a week here or there really isn't going to make a great difference over the whole year.
    Last edited by DBeeCooper; 12-09-2012 at 07:27 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    433

    Default Re: Preparing for first hive, thinking backwards

    Thanks, all. I do appreciate your insights. I will start getting supplies together leading up to my course and beyond. Now that I've got a bit of a break over the holidays, that should be enough to keep me out of (most) trouble. Now, I just need to decide on hive design......

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