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  1. #1
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    Default young newbee

    My daughter, has decided to do a 4H directed study in beekeeping. We have a rather unique situation, and I gather that beekeeping is much like child-rearing... there is no one right way to do it. So, I want to offer our situation and get some input - before we buy lumber! We live in a research forest in Northern BC, and have visitors (researchers/students/recreational) out at our camp regularly. We also have lots of bears and other critters.

    We have a small island 550 meters offshore, and I would like to put the hive(s) there. Wind is minimal, south-facing shore of island faces our cabin, lots of trees on the north side. This keeps the bees away from human interference, most animal interference, and allows my daughter to obsess over them through binoculars. It is a five-minute kayak ride out, easy to access and we can intervene quickly if need be. We are still planning an electric fence, as moose sometimes swim out to birth. I imagine that a bear could easily cross, if properly motivated. There is not enough forage on the island alone, so the bees will also have to cross.

    We are planning on a Warre-ish sized hive for weight and portability issues (remember, 9 years old, kayak, and a small mom). I like the top entrance idea, as we do have otters resident on island, and other mesocarnivores visiting. Is that wierd? A top-entrance on a Warre-ish hive? Finally, we are thinking top bars over frames. This is for fun and education. Max expectations: enough honey for the bees and us, beeswax for crafts. We are going chem free - kids and chems don't mix. If they are not healthy, I'll let them die (bees, not kids).

    Any direction is appreciated - just please keep our circumstances in mind. Specific questions - screened bottom board needed? Bottom drilled hole(s) for housekeeping/drones? is a simple entrance feeder good enough? how do you mix a top-entrance w/a quilt? concerns about island location?

    I thought the sow/piglet moms had it tough...
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Welcome to Beesource!

    An interesting project, for sure. Transporting bees via kayak is definitely a different concept, to say the least!

    You might want to look a Michael Bush's Top Bar page. Very simple to construct. If you chose to put an insulated top on that would be very easy to incorporate to this design:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
    You could just put a layer of foamboard under the wood lid. Note the bees don't have access to the upper side of the top bars, so they would not be able to chew the foam.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 12:59 PM.
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  3. #3
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Thanks, Graham! So, we would truck this thing out via motorboat at the beginning of the season, and it could stay there? When harvesting honey, it is a little vague about what is appropriate to take home/leave for the bees - any ideas on that? Also, looks like keeping it level is ciritcal - how often should it be checked for level?

    This looks viable. After the intial set-up and acclimation period, it looks relatively low-maintenance. I'm going to spend a little time investigating KTBH maintenance and harvest. We are starting to stretch my carpentry skills with the window, but daughter loves it.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 12:59 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Having the hive "level", is mostly an issue when the bees are building comb. So of course you need it to be level when first installed. After that, it depends on whether/when you harvest honey, and if there is nectar available for the bees to rebuild.

    As far as timing a harvest, I would recommend leaving all honey for the bees the first summer (except perhaps harvest a small amount to maintain a child's interest in the project - perhaps one bar). The following spring you can assess how much they used over the winter and act accordingly.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:00 PM.
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  5. #5
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Awesome project in an awesome place. We want pictures!
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:00 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: young newbee

    My first thought is to find a local survivor stock of bees rather than mail-ordering bees from far away. You might have some nicely adapted local stock near you, and you might even consider swarm trapping/catching to keep your local genetics clean. Do you know how far it is to your nearest existing beekeeper?
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:00 PM.
    Disclaimer: I've never been a bee.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Addendum: Some other modification done on my Warre hive; I removed the quilt and left the top feeder in its place to act as condensation collector also. If you're going to feed with sugar syrup (I add Honeybee healthy as supplement to the syrup) place some kind of floating device to keep the bees from drowning. I used a waffle shelf liner. Just make sure the bees don't propilize it to the bottom of the feeder once the feeder is dry.

    Other recommendations: since this is the very first hive you are planning to start, I think it would be safer to start it in your back yard. It would allow you to check on them more often in the beginning plus you can react and get help faster in case of emergencies like getting stung and having a severe allergic reaction. I understand that Warre hives are supposed to be lower maintenance but I ended up feeding my bees at least once every week to two weeks until they have built combs in 3 boxes. I got this recommendation from thewarrestore.com and a smart beekeeper in Biobees.com. But that's just a suggestion. There are so much to consider but it is better to be prepared before any problems come.

    http://m.thewarrestore.com/site/mobi...etwork=fw#2330
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:04 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Wow - great input, thank you! The biobees warre modification page was a fantastic resource, "Bubbles". No way I can put a hive in the backyard though. Bears are everywhere, and it would be unethical/dangerous to bait them in this way. I figure, if they want to take a swim out to the island and get zapped - at least there is no association with human activities on this side. We will also get insurance and a couple of epi-pens, as we are so far from medical care. Just in case.

    The plan is to pick up bees from a beekeeper 1.5 hrs out, after ice-out. That way we don't have to push through rotten ice. That will be around May 1. We'll have to go out twice daily to check/feed at first, then slowly wean the girls until most checks are from the porch with binoculars.

    I'm lost on the hive design. The more I read, the worse it gets. A top entrance is absolutely critical - so much snow! Small, light, able to harvest small amounts of honey at a time are also critical. Daughter wants a window. Foundationless, yes. Frames - negotiable. Maintenance, relatively low-key. I got an email from someone recommending all 8-frame shallows - just MORE of them. I'm giving us one month to examine all the options, two weeks to build, get them out and leveled just before ice-out, move in the girls just after ice-out, fence it all in.

    Daughter is already making a list of all the people she wants to mail honey-straws to. THAT is where this whole thing started - an ag. fair and Honey Straws.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:04 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Your a good parent and it sounds like a wonderful adventure!

    I can't offer much advice but I do think frames are a good idea. You want a hive that is easy to look through without working the bees up. It's easy to pull frames and share all the things in a hive without dealing with angry bees.

    Maybe you could also plan for a storage container of sorts so you can keep some of the basics out there?

    I would love to see some photos
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 02:14 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Quote Originally Posted by valerieanne View Post
    Daughter is already making a list of all the people she wants to mail honey-straws to. THAT is where this whole thing started - an ag. fair and Honey Straws.
    “Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
    ― A.A. Milne
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 02:14 PM.
    Disclaimer: I've never been a bee.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Let me give you a little advice from my limited warre experience. Don't expect magical things from the whole leave the bees alone and everything will go perfectly. False floor effect is real. Swarming and queenless situations are real. Varroa are real. Dead colonies are real. Starvation is real. Without your intervention your bees can succumb to these conditions and perish.

    So what I have done to combat false floor effect is to take a partially drawn outer comb and put it in a nadired box. This will also help reduce swarming if you stay on top of things. I also super (I know shame shame). You will need seed combs in the supered box, which is essentially a comb or two placed in the supered box. You can also accomplish this by removing an outer comb and placing it above.

    Varroa will have to be monitored and treated when needed with whatever method you prefer.

    Feed if necessary. Do not listen to all the natural hububaloo. Feed if necessary. Leave their honey that they need, but feed them if they need it.

    Just don't ignore them. I bought into the let them be garbage and just ran into troubles. Hope that helps!

    One more thing to consider...Lang 8 frame mediums can get you close to a warre with less headaches and the ability to purchase equipment from suppliers. I will continue to run warres, but I am now using mostly foundationless 8 frame langs.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 02:14 PM.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Wow
    Very interesting project and nice discussion! As usual - beesource is offering so many suggestions, difficult to choose. There is one more:
    - since it is a project for 9-year old, the goal must be (if possible) to succeed in short period of time with limited resources, which IS difficult, so everything should be simple.
    - as a beginner beekeeper, I strongly suggest two beehives. Success with one hive is very difficult.
    - I strongly suggest to keep bees near the house - search Internet and beesource - people made beautiful platforms to protect bees from the bears etc. It automatically solve bees-presence issue - from platform, they will fly high enough not to bother anybody around the house. Platform, may also function as an adventurous "tree-house" and fun to build. I am very aware of nature, but I feel small platform would not interfere so much with wildness. Crossing the waters to inspect bees sounded fun, but, I am often run a few times in my garage (truck, for others) for something bees needed right now... kayaking back and forth sounded good exercise.
    - since you are beginner and limited in resources, beehive in my opinion, should be classical Lang with frames. Yes, I personally is a proponent of "natural beekeeping" and often have arguments with others. I love top bars, foundationless, my hive is a marriage of Lang and Warre... But, look - your agenda is to make sure that your daughter observed success. It is just easier to follow "classical" approach and leave top bars, foundationless etc for later - when bees established, next year. Also - much more support may be found for classical Lang. Warre is great, but as many stated already, I do not think that Ware-approach is designed for top entrance. Also, I was under impression that Warre's boxes are heavy. Langs boxes are heavy too, but frames may be removed and transported separately. The advantage of the frame - it would protect the honeycomb.

    Good luck with your project, keep us posted and pictures, pictures!!!!
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 02:15 PM.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  13. #13
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Oy vay Having fun, fellas?

    Update: My daughter (who is fully vaccinated) installed her first Warre hive this weekend past. She dubbed it "Cinnamon". We installed the bees on a lovely, warm still morning. Mid-morning it turned cold, rainy and windy and has kept up that way for three days. All of the attendant bees in the queen box were dead, but her highness seemed fine. They HAVE released her, good news.

    We were gifted with a lang nuc, which was a wonderful pain in the tush. We used a piece of plywood w/ the appropriate size hole, to go between the nuc box and the top of two warre boxes, which are nadired below. So far, they have no interest in moving down. I've read about cutting the frames to fit, shaking the bees and isolating the queen below w/a queen excluder, etc. Right now, we are trying patience.

    Don't get your feathers all fluffed up over the medication/no-medication. We've been gifted an untreated nuc, and it would be a shame to undo all the work that the previous beek put into THAT. Just do what works best for you, and share your successes! If you have the guts, share your failures too. We can all learn from both, with gratitude.

    I'll update again, successes and failures both, with photos soon. Thanks again for all the input! Daughter is totally digging the windows, and we ended up putting the hive as close as possible to our cabin. Guess who was waiting for me just outside the back door this morning? A black bear. Sheesh.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:13 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: young newbee

    My failure has been assuming they would move down. Keep a close eye on them as my warre hives would rather swarm than move down as expected. If they are starting to look a bit congested in there I would find a way to get a comb in that lower box.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:15 PM.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    My failure has been assuming they would move down. ...
    Well, my bees, last year did not move ether up or down - apparently, they wanted to move horizontal... I build for them a horizontal hive compatible with Lang's frames. They filled it up pretty quickly amd I decided to split them. Splitting did not work at all, but girls got deep-size vertical addition . It confuses them for a while, but now, they sorted everything out and have a massive honey storage in the upper part. Good luck with your bees! Tell your daughter, that we are all very proud of her!
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:15 PM.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Quote Originally Posted by valerieanne View Post
    Oy vay Having fun, fellas?

    Update: My human 9 year old (who is fully vaccinated) installed her first Warre hive this weekend past. She dubbed it "Cinnamon". We installed the bees on a lovely, warm still morning. Mid-morning it turned cold, rainy and windy and has kept up that way for three days. All of the attendant bees in the queen box were dead, but her highness seemed fine. They HAVE released her, good news.

    I'll update again, successes and failures both, with photos soon. Thanks again for all the input! Daughter is totally digging the windows, and we ended up putting the hive as close as possible to our cabin. Guess who was waiting for me just outside the back door this morning? A black bear. Sheesh.

    Congratulations on becoming a new beek. Sorry to hear about that black bear. Did you fence-in the hive?

    With regards to getting the bees to build down, Bush_84 is right. The principle actually came from Bernhard (building a ladder). And I've applied it last year on my bees myself.

    Good luck. I'll be looking forward to photos, too.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 01:15 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Your project sounds amazing!!! It's wonderful that your daughter wants to do this and that you are so supportive of her. Beekeeping needs lots of young, fresh blood if the bees are going to survive!

    I hear your concerns about portability and non-intervention, and I don't want to dissuade you from a Warre if you have your heart set on that (personally, I plan to build some myself this year). However, since this is a 4H project, I thought I'd bring up a key point about Warre's design and methodology. According to him, the People's Hive should be inspected only twice a year -- in spring and in the fall. However, I think that if you're a new beekeeper, you don't really get to learn much about bees this way. Even if you have observation windows, you get a very limited view of what's going on inside the hive (and not even a spectacular view since the bees usually gunk up the window).

    The best way to learn about bees is to actually watch them up close. If you have a TBH or Lang, you will need to do more frequent inspections, but you'll get to see so much more -- eggs, larvae, bees emerging from their cells, the queen laying eggs, bees chewing down wood... all kinds of neat stuff happens in a hive. However, you won't be able to observe them with binoculars or even through a window that displays just the edge of the comb.

    To be honest, I'm not very familiar with the goals of 4H other than raising livestock, but if you actually want to learn about bees and see the cool things they do, then a different hive might be better for that than a Lang. If honey is the goal, then a Warre is fine.

    One other thing, Al Avitable (co-author of The Beekeeper's Handbook and Emeritus Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCONN) is a member of my local beekeeping club. We were chit chatting about Warres at the last meeting and he recommended 5 years of beekeeping experience before getting one because they were just more difficult to keep. I think part of the issue is that beeks don't get into the hive enough to know what is normal and abnormal behavior. So if something is wrong, they don't see it.

    Again, I don't want to dissuade you if you really want a Warre. However, I would suggest inspecting it more frequently than you originally intended. Or consider a KTBH or HTBH, which are bulky, but you only have to transport them once (and can be mostly assembled on the spot). Also, you don't actually need to open up the brood nest during inspections for a KTBH/HTBH, so even though they require frequent inspections, they are still a low-interference type of hive. Also, once installed, a horizontal hive is much lighter than dealing with full Warre boxes because you are only dealing with 5-8 lbs at a time. I have a KTBH, and my 12-yr old son is able to do all the inspection tasks by himself (under my supervision, of course). Even my 8-year old is able to handle bars of comb easily. As a beek and a mom, it's an amazing feeling when my boys do an inspection with me and express excitement and awe over what they see.

    In any case, good luck with your project! I hope you keep us updated on your progress!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Oldtimer, they are carniolans (I had to ask the person who gifted them to us). They re-queened themselves sometime early last year, as we found two supersedure cups in the top box towards the end of the season.

    Graham, Thank You! That is the very sealer we bought, but I didn't see the repair kit as a separate item. Totally affordable, and works reasonably well. Now, if we can just be a bit tidier about it...

    Colobee, Barry was very helpful in helping me remove 'identifiers' from this thread. It took patience on his part - and I thank him very much. It was brought to my attention that I shared too much info in describing this project.

    fruitveggirl, YES! We hope to add more hive types in coming years. We selected the Warre because of size, but also because hive manipulations are minimized. She (and I) preferred to gain confidence by observing from a safer measure the first year Already, we are wishing we could just start lifting frames and poking around. Baby steps.
    Last edited by valerieanne; 06-28-2014 at 10:50 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: young newbee

    'Apologies.

    Just another bout of paranoid/manic/depressive/obsessive/compulsive (typical beekeeper ).

    Good luck. You are in good hands here.
    After 35 years, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: young newbee

    Quote Originally Posted by valerieanne View Post
    We are planning on a Warre-ish sized hive for weight and portability issues (remember, 9 years old, kayak, and a small mom).
    I would think one last time about possibly using eight frame medium Langstroth boxes...

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2013 at 02:15 PM.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

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