I don't know about what "should" happen, but I can tell you that I didn't even need to buy my first case of bears until my second season because I didn't have anything to put into them. The hives (I had 2 that first season) needed every bit of their honey to make it through til spring. That 2nd season I split them and I think I got a dozen bottles or so that year. But the 3rd season more than made up for the first two!
Rusty Hills Farm ... home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper
so for the first season if i get 2 hives, should i just get hives with 2 deep supers and wait on the honey supers? and let them keep all there honey the first season to make it through the winter
As a businessman's out look in the honey business.
First find a big beekeeper and buy wholesale the first year until you make enough to buy your first hive or hives. Really after your first year you might find that it is just easier to buy and resale for the biggest payout $$$$$$. Only wish someone would have told me that 30 years ago. Now I just have an out of control hobby.
Last edited by The Honey Householder; 02-06-2013 at 11:50 AM.
so would it make sence to get a nuc? whats the average price of them and when you buy a nuc what do you get? did a quick search and didnt come up with alot
Catch swarms if you can, or try swarm traps. Put your name on bee/swarm removal lists. Free bees are nice. Plus if they are feral survivors most would consider them better.
I would buy nucs. Just from reading on this site most of the time they do better.
I would buy nucs. Just from reading on this site most of the time they do better.[/QUOTE]
I would not buy nucs unless I knew exactly where they were coming from, what was used in the hives WRT to antibiotics and chemical treatments and what the bees/wax had been exposed to WRT fungicides and pesticides.
Some nucs are from legitimate overwintered colonies sold intact in the spring. At the other end of the spectrum are nucs made up of busted up hives treated with terramycin/tylosin and coming off of pollination of crops that use high levels of fungicides. I would not expect that type of nuc to do better than a package on clean frames. If you get a nuc with bees that are resistant to antibiotics or you don't plan to treat with antibiotics you may be looking at an AFB outbreak down the road. If the bees were treated with tylosin and are resistant to terramycin, your outbreak may be a year away and impact much more than the nuc/s you started with.
Get to know your supplier and make sure you can trust what he/she is telling you.
A nuc is not a nuc is not a nuc to quote the poet...
A few things to consider. Do you have bears in the area; If there are you will need an electric fence. Second, not all hives make it through the winter. Honeyhouseholder has a good point - if you wanted to test the market at a low cost buy a 5 gallon bucket of honey from a local beekeeper, bottle it, and sell it at a mark up. If it sells buy more, talk to the beekeeper, borrow a veil and see if it is the bees you are interested in or the honey.
yes we have bears and i have most of the stuff for a fence when i would need one to put up.
i will look into buying bulk and reselling, i just need to find some one local who will do that.
If you are really focussed on getting a return on investment, you would be better off to find a local keeper, and buy a fully poplated, fully drawn hive. Even that is not a guarantee, but, it puts you way ahead of the game.
My wife and I host the club extractor for our local group, so, we get a slightly different insight into this than most. Our insight from this year, and keeping track of who got how much honey in the list of first year keepers, it was really obvious to us. There were a few that started this spring with packages and/or nucs, only one of them took the club extractor, and got 40 pounds of honey. There were a few that started with full hives, bought from a larger scale keeper who is downsizing. They all got 70+ pounds of honey. This was in a year, where sideliners with many years of experience managing bees, got 100+ averages.
With our own hives, the above numbers again got somewhat mirrored. We kept one hive intact, used the rest for increases. The hive we left intact, produced 96 pounds of honey. Next door, another hive from the same lineage, but we took 3 frames out of it to start a nuc, twice, produced 16 pounds of honey in the super. Essentially, the hive with fully drawn frames, worked hard in the supers, built out 3 of them, and filled 2 and a half. The hives that were building up frames in the brood boxes, never quite got around to working in a super. And, those that had to build a full second box of frames, chose instead to swarm. The hives with the second deep full of drawn frames, never swarmed.
My take after looking back over the last two years. Starting with brand new equipment, is a big disadvantage if you want a honey crop, they have to build a lot of comb, and will choose to swarm if they run out of comb for the queen to lay in. Only one hive, means you cant swap frames to steal a frame of brood, or, give a hive a frame of eggs to raise a new queen if you get queen problems. That's a second disadvantage. Combined, these two disadvantages make a honey crop in the first year, highly unlikely.
If you are interested in learning all about bees, and how they build a hive, buy new equipment, and a package. If you are focussed on wanting a honey crop in the first year, pay up, buy a full hive, with all drawn comb. It will be cheaper in the long run, and you can use resources from that one to make slow increase, without hurting it much. When they have 10 frames of brood, stealing a frame of brood, frame of pollen, and frame of honey to start a nuc, wont set the hive back much at all, but, stealing those resources from a hive that's started with 15 or 20 undrawn frames, may well be it's death knell come winter.
A lot of folks read about average honey crops, do the math, and think they can recover the entire cost of the hive, in the first year, from honey sales. What they dont realize, those averages assume you are experienced in managing bees, and inexperience will cut the crop in half. The averages also assume, you are giving the bees mostly drawn frames, so, cut the number in half again, to account for bees needing to draw comb. The last item, those averages are just that, averages over many years, but each year is different. On a good year, experienced keepers will pull a crop that's double the average. On a poor year, they will pull no honey out of the hives, instead pouring in feed in the fall, to try get hives up to winter store levels. If you are lucky, and you start beekeeping on a year with a great flow, you will be able to start with brand new equipment, the bees can draw all the frames, and you will get a honey crop slightly below average. But, if the year you start has a poor flow, then prepare to buy 50 pounds of sugar in the fall, just to keep the bees alive thru the winter.
We started on a year with a dismal flow. Experienced commercial keepers were complaining about 'less than 20 pounds per hive'. Not a single first year keeper came to get the club extractor that year. We started with packages in brand new equipment, then made a classic newbie mistake, kept the feeders on during the spring flow, because we wanted the bees to build comb in the second box. They backfilled the first box, and swarmed. We caught a couple of the swarms, started two more hives with them. It was a poor year, and, by the time fall rolled around, all the hives were light. We bought 150 pounds of sugar to feed the bees, before they stopped taking syrup. When spring rolled around, all the hives looked ok on the first inspection, but, on second inspection (mid april), one of the hives had a drone laying queen. After much hassle, we were able to fix that problem, by stealing resources from the hive next to it. If we didn't have another hive to steal resources from, it would have been a dead hive short of buying a new queen, which was not available in our area at the time.
We have had a lot of enjoyment from the bees, and have learned a lot, but hindsight is always 20/20. We now know from experience, how we will manage the bees moving forward. If it is JUST about honey production, I wouldn't even consider starting with packages and new equipment. Pay up for a fully drawn, fully populated hive, and be done with it. Skip the growing pains altogether, and pull a honey crop in the first year. When you tally it all up, buying a full hive from a beekeeper who is downsizing, is not much more expensive than buying a nuc with all the new gear to put it in, depending on your area, it may even be cheaper. Buy two of them, and you will have a very good chance of getting an 'average' honey crop in the first year. Buy all new kit, with packages, and, you will be lucky to get 1/4 of the 'average' on your first year.
These folks have offered some very good advice. First requirement to be a successful beekeeper is to be a smart beekeeper, meaning listen to others who have already been there. Learn from their successes & failures. Why should you spend your money to reinvent the wheel? I have read your conerns about a honey crop from a first year hive. FORGET IT! I'm not saying they won't make it, I'm saying wait till next years flow starts, if you have excess in the hive then, harvest it & put empty supers back on for refill. Good advice to start with 2 hives and yes I would recommend buying/building as many supers as you can afford. My first year I made a honey crop but my focus was on the bees drawing comb in the supers, gave the 2nd year a big head start.
As to nucs, nucs are good, very good. But as has been commented on already KNOW YOUR SOURCE! Of course that also holds true with packages. I also saw where you mention making enough money to pay for bees, equipment and possibly another hive. I don't know about your area, but around here you would have to sell a lot of honey to make that. Last year with 15 hives I only sold $4000.00 worth of honey. I still have some left, but I have wholesalers calling all the time wanting to buy all I can produce because they know it's chemical/antibiotic free for $4.00 a qt. Not happening here. I feed it back in place of sugar or make mead, creamed honey or honey jelly.
I'll get off my soapbox now.
All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.
"nucs made up of busted up hives" packages arn't?
"hives treated with terramycin/tylosin and coming off of pollination of crops that use high levels of fungicides" and packages arn't?
You are more likely to get packages from a bigger commercial operations that produces thousands of packages and sends them to hundreds of bee stores for resale. (ask your bee store where they get their bees from, not all of them raise their own. Caged for two weeks before you even get them, 10-20% of the bees already dead is acceptable loss of a package.
You are more likely to get nucs from the place that raised them.
Nucs are more likely to be locally raised another plus.
"Get to know your supplier and make sure you can trust what he/she is telling you."
Yes you are correct about that.
Last edited by FlowerPlanter; 02-06-2013 at 12:46 PM.
thanks for all the advice! im leaning more toward a nuc, or buying bulk honey and reselling it for this year, but this makes a lot more sence now
AFB is a brood disease. The spores that cause it can live for over 50 years on combs and in woodenware. Package bees were developed to prevent shipments of infected combs from travelling around the country. Antibiotics can suppress the vegetative AFB but will not kill spores.
If AFB becomes resistant to terramycin, beekeepers can resort to using tylosin. Tylosin is persistant and can remain effective against AFB outbreaks for over a year after treating. If you buy nucs that have been treated with tylosin and are resistant to terramycin, you may end up with an AFB problem in your second year, from splits you make or anywhere you move that equipment.
Package bees would not be contributing AFB spores to your operation as any spores in their bodies would cycle out of their digestive tracts and be long gone before the colony is raising brood, regardless of what kind of operation they came from or what crops they were on before they were shaken. It is the comb you need to worry about, both for holding toxins (pesticides and fungicides - wax is lipophilic) and holding AFB spores. Again, this is why the package bee industry came into being.
I know of nucs that come both ends of the spectrum as well as packages. I don't believe that a nuc is more likely to be locally raised just because it is a nuc - although I have had nucs described to me that way by an unsuspecting buyer when I knew their origins to be something else altogether.
The second year my hive swarmed and I ended up with an extra hive and no honey!!!!! Learn to keep bees and the honey crop will come.
If you are starting with a nuc and you have a good flow of nectar you could possibly harvest some surplus honey. But, don't be tempted to take what you should be leaving for the bees.
Most of my nuc hives from last year drew out both deeps and over half drew out three deeps with the third deep complete with honey. About 25%, the remaining, had drawn out three deeps but the flow stopped in the spring and didn't allow them to fill the third deep with honey. Last year was an exceptionally good year year here in Texas. That's not a typical year.
The only hive I had last year that had come through the previous winter, supplied me with 4 deeps of surplus honey.
I just went through my first season and i started with 4 nucs. I had some queen issues on 2 hives. i ended up extracting 128 lbs altogether. and i left a few full supers of honey to feed my 4 splits .
my nucs were all 4 framers. and they had to build all new comb in 2 ten frame deeps plus medium honey supers.
So if this tells you anything ?