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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Question What Have You Learned This Season?

    I think people get stuck on beekeeping partly because there's always something more to learn. The bees are complex, and there are a lot of complex challenges involved in raising healthy bees year after year.

    This is my third season with my own bees. I had a couple of hives around my whole life, as my father and grandfather always had some, but I've only been really focused on the subject as a beekeeper myself since 2009. But I am surprized by how much there is to learn each season, and how each new insight affects the overall experience of beekeeping.

    Here are some of the things I learned this season:

    I learned how to build langstroth boxes, sbb's, covers and assembled frames as I expanded from tbh's into 8 frame langs.
    I learned more about the best timing for spring splits
    I learned about other, more experienced beekeepers in the area, and did some work in their yards along side them in order to learn from what they do.
    I learned how to build swarm traps, put ads in online classifieds and met some great bee-interested people who allowed me to place them on their land.
    I learned more about the varroa mite.
    I learned what it's like to be standing at your swarm trap an hour's drive from home when a swarm decides to move in. What awesome luck that was!
    I learned about some of the challenges involved with having multiple yards.
    I began my first effort into wintering nucs, based on information I learned from listening to Mike Palmer's talk online.
    I learned the steps involved in legally importing queens to Nova Scotia from other parts of Canada and successfully installed them into my nucs.
    I learned a lot more about the nectar flows in my region.
    I experienced my first dearth in the country, and discovered that the effects of a dearth are not felt so much in the city.


    I'm sure there are more, but I'm interested in you. What did you learn this season?

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,042

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    there were also many learning opportunities (read 'mistakes') for me during my third season this year adam.

    one in particular had to do with a queenless hive.

    this was an overwintered nuc that was doing great at first. it went from five frames to a full deep and two medium supers and then swarmed. it then failed to make a new queen. when i realized that, i decided to give it a frame of eggs from my best hive.

    they were successful this time, and the new queen was laying up a storm. but when the remaining bees had to start covering brood, there were not enough guard bees, and robbing ensued. i tried moving them to another yard, but they got robbed completely out there.

    luckily the good queen was not killed. i was able to sell this hive as a 10 frame nuc and got two mediums of drawn comb for future use.

    the lesson learned was not to let a small hive go that long without a laying queen, especially in a yard with other strong hives. i should have purchased a queen after they failed post-swarm, or maybe given them a queen from a strong hive, and let the strong hive make a new one.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Danbury, CT USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    The plan I laid out in the spring was not the actions that happened over the summer - My biggest lesson was to learn flexibility. When I started in the spring, I had great plans and schedules. This was all changed by a drone laying queen!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,094

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I only wanted two or three hives but due to poor swarm control on my part I ended up with six hives, I learned better swarm control methods and I learned that six hives are my limit.......Bill

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I've been focused on expansion, so I'm finding that making bees comes at the cost of making honey - at least going from 4 colonies to 13.

    One thing I notice is that each year of learning allows me to do things more efficiently the next. I stress out less, as I know more about when to worry about things. For instance, I can see that swarming really isn't an issue here until the very end of May. Last year I was twitchy over swarming a month before that.

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    Everything I know about keeping bees I learned in the last 8 months. This year I have:

    assembled woodware
    done a trapout
    assisted with a cutout
    requeened hives
    caught 6 swarms
    done a split
    "fixed" a laying worker hive
    gone from 0 to 9 hives

    I think I had a good first year. Hopefully I can get some of my 9 hives through winter and get a good honey crop next year and help recoup the cost of some of the equipment I bought so far. I love this hobby!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,449

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    This is my first year, but I start learning about bees well before. They are amusing. I developed literally obsession to the bees. I guess, this is my personal variety of mid-age crisis. So, what I learned?
    - does not matter what I think, bees will do what they wanted!
    - in most cases, when I was trying to "improve" something in beehive, it creates a problem. Bees sent to me very clear message - do not interfere. When I decided to introduce upper very elegant entrance, they spent two weeks to seal it with wax and propolis!
    - I learned that all my friends are very exited about my bees and love honey! So, my extended family and neighbors.
    - I learned that my bees dislike KTBH, they literally kill themselves, but they do not want to be in the nice homy KTBH! I returned them back in the Lang and they are happy.
    - I learned, that foundation and frame itself is not necessary - my bees made a nice comb just on the top bar from Lang's frame. Surprisingly, the comb on the bar is very stable even in our warm weather.
    - I learned that crush-and-strain method is very convenient to me: besides honey, as a byproduct, it produces a wax and mead. I do not need to worry about how perfect honey comb is - everything is crushed.
    - I learned that every beekeeper has his/her own methods and disagree on everything with others. In this sense, I am alone and need to develop my own methods.
    - I learned that even not being sensitive, I hate stings! So, I guess, I never will be a true beekeeper.
    -I also learned that beekeepers are extremely nice and honest people even being obsessed with their methods.
    Sergey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Morgan ,Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    .Bee jackets are hot.
    Last edited by Dunkel; 08-18-2012 at 08:40 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,052

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    This has been a great year for me i now have 17 hives and have made splits /queens got a little honey and got to catch swarms . All things i never did. Now if i can make it thought winter with 10 that will be great .

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Billerica, MA
    Posts
    298

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I learned that summer splits need to be watched more closely than I thought. I inspected one today that looked a little "off" at the entrance and not taking feed like the others. It's a complete loss to wax moths with major damage to nearly every frame. The bad part was it's in the home yard and I should have caught it way before it got to this point but I thought I'd let the new queen settle down to business and waited too long. It was a tough but valuable lesson. The moths DO make a HUGE mess of things, quickly.

    I also learned that suggesting freezing the frames try to salvage some of the comb is not well accepted by my other half after she saw a moth larva the thickness of a pencil! No way, no how!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Auburntown, TN USA
    Posts
    179

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I've learned that shb can destroy a nuc or weak hive before you know what's happening. I've lost more than I care to mention. I was focused on expanding this year, and learned that shb are devils and must be controlled if you hope to make increase. I really dislike those bugs!!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,723

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I learned to do a cutout, a hogan trapout (unsuccessful), a bee tree removal, to build a LOT of woodenware, How to talk bees into building strong foundationless comb in Texas, and how NOT to checkerboard.

    I learned how to open the hive up just a little, buy a queen and make a split, keep an eye out for robbers, manage hive so that the bees have enough room but not too much, and how to build migratory tops that accept feeder jars - the easy way and the hard way.

    And today I learned that the easy way with the hole saw was letting too much rain in my hive, so I put a roof over the feed jar to keep the bees dry. We hadn't had that much rain since I set that jar on.

    I learned to build my own sbb's - not great, but good enough for the bees. And I will be learning to build a new hive stand soon. Planned for spring, but my schedule has been horrendous.
    I went from zero bees last winter to 5 hives right now. I have a cutout to do, and I will be able to boost their brood from my bees, or combine them with one of my hives if I don't get the queen.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I learned the difference between splits and nucs. I bought and paid for nucs but received splits. Splits that had only been with a queen for a day. I lost one split, but the other three are hanging on in a drought. Hey, I'm OK with this, and like stated above, it has expanded my knowledge.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    955

    Thumbs Up Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    • I learned that beekeeping has changed a lot since my last hives in 90-91 (I kept hives for most of the years from 1977 to 1991).
    • Varroa, the new Nosema and Small Hive Beetle have changed almost everything. Its like starting over again.
    • I like eight frame deeps.
    • I've learned that I need to provide more nutrition for the bees -both pollen substitutes and invert sugar.
    • The Internet has changed this hobby as much as the new pests....A lot of new information out there if you can sort through the BS and what Randy Oliver calls the 'Beekeeper Taliban'.
    • Started with my first NUCs...I prefer NUCs to package bees now.
    • Saw my first queens stop laying because of the heat -heretofore have kept bees in Wyoming and Alaska.
    • YouTube is a great learning tool.
    Last edited by Lburou; 08-18-2012 at 07:24 PM.
    Lee Burough
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Port Orange, Florida, USA
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I lost three nucs this year to red carpenter ants. They moved into the nucs overnight and destroyed the nucs within 24 hours. This year I learned that even a really strong nuc is no match for an ant attack. My plan for this year was to pull frames of brood from my six hives to reduce swarming which worked and use the brood to set up 3 more hives as nucs. I ddn't have any major swarming this year but still lost a lot of bees and two new queens because of the ants.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,042

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    very nice thread, thanks for starting it adam.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    744

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I learned how to do swarm catches--thank you Michael Bush and Odfrank

    I learned how to do trap outs--thank you CChogan

    I learned the best way for nuk survival is to keep them in my backyard, move them to country when strong in 10 frame box.

    I learned that bees can swarm mid summer.
    "Rule Three of beekeeping...Never cease to feel wonder" Laurie R. King--
    March 2010; +/- 30 hives, TF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    Interesting to note that most people who have replied are fairly new to beekeeping. I wonder also about some of you more experienced beekeepers. I'm sure that you are learning new things as well...

    Another thing I'm learning, is just how many non-beekeepers, or "yet-to-bee-keepers" are becoming "bee-interested". Personally, I find that a great number of interested people are women. I wonder if that's a new trend?.

    Adam

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Litchfield, CT, USA
    Posts
    407

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    Took five hives and split into 14. I learned that I love bees and can't wait until next year!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Hinckley, MN, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: What Have You Learned This Season?

    I learned that repairing(putting back together) a single deep hive destroyed by a bear is MUCH easier than 4 triple deeps destroyed by a bear.
    In my defense I had things under control until the land owner's german shepard attacked me.
    I also learned that a a 6 1/4" Mann lake plastic frame is an effective tool to fight off angry german shepards.
    I've also learned that when friends ask for help with bear destroyed hives, go help. You'll learn new things!
    AFC- I too have found the same thing. I am incredibly surprised at the number of bee interested people when the information is properly presented. I've also got a record number of kids into suits to inspect hives this year (5). Nothing like starting them young!

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