First of all, thanks to everyone who contributes on this forum. What great information, especially since the closest beekeeping club is an hour's drive, so it is out of range for my Leaf.
My kids made me watch an episode of "Arrested Development" when I announced I was going to get a beehive, and even got me an aquarium for Father's Day, hoping to distract me. There was too much to like about bees and it seemed to merge some of my other hobbies: woodworking, beer making; and I'll know what to do next time I see bearding on the ball washer at the golf course.
My brother-in-law is an entomologist at the local university, but isn't into social insects. His colleague, Kirk Visscher gave some advice however--get stung once a day for the first month. Pretty good in retrospect, my sting from last night caused only about an inch diameter swelling with minimal pain. My joints don't seem to hurt as much, and I haven't taken an advil for weeks. Placebo effect?
My first hive was a 2 deep eight frame lang with a purchased queen--the boxes were obviously homemade, and now I realize were recently checker boarded. I didn't think to ask where the queen was from. Found him on Craig's list--bought the bees and boxes for $190 cash June 24. He put everything together for me with some 3 inch plates and dry wall screws. I drove back home at 30 mph, placed the hive in my back yard by my fishpond, pulled the sponge out of the entrance, and ran! After a couple of weeks, I finally found the queen with a red dot. Some frames from Amazon were purchased, and I slapped together a couple of nuc boxes supers and 1 inch spacers. Got to further reduce the scrap pile in my workshop by making a couple of top bar hives. This is great--didn't realize how much I hated sanding and finishing projects. Now I just need some bees!
I had three opportunities for feral bees almost simultaneously.
The first was a friend whose roof repair was delayed by a bee sighting. I feigned expertise and was able to land the job, though the price (free) was probably the deciding factor. Armed with my $18 ebay "bee suit" homemade beevac, and pry bar, I chopped away at the tar paper and was able to get out about 5 partially mangled combs. The vac was underpowered for my taste, but at least didn't kill too many bees. Mounting the comb on frames with cotton twine, all the living material was eventually dumped into buckets and boxes. Back at home, it was awesome to see the diffuse buzzing cloud slowly coalesce into its new house, as I medicated my six stings with benadryl and beer. I eventually found the queen when I converted this nuc to an observational hive(4 frames high, 2 deep, white oak sanded, linseed oil finish--even my teenaged boy thinks its cool), reinforced with a couple of frames from my purchased hive.
An opportunity for a trap-out was lost when I couldn't conceal my inexperience from a friend who had bees in the walls and roof of a house she was about to move into. Now I call her BK (Bee Killer) after predicting the ensuing disaster over the next month from the "professionals" who tackled the job.
My niece told me about a birdhouse mounted on a 15 ft pole in her backyard, overflowing with bees. After weighing the options, she let me place a 2 ft TBH baited with comb from my cutout, dripped with lemongrass oil. After a month, a soccer ball of bees and comb was transferred to a 4 ft TBH, and I'm hoping for another swarm before winter. By now I was a little disappointed I didn't get stung!
Today I found 5 queen cells on the walk away split I set up last week!
Hopefully, my beginner's luck will see me through the inevitable mite attack, but I may be confusing them the way I muck about with the hives. I plan on no treatments, since there is so little investment financially, but that fogger looks like fun. Feeding to me is not clear cut. Argentine ants are a constant headache, and I hope the bees don't find all the Boric acid that so far is keeping them at bay. Tanglefoot seems to wash out eventually from my pants. Feeding the TBH seems to incite robbing, or just makes the ferals hyper.
I suppose I have some African influence here, but the wild ones don't seem any worse than the purchased hive so far.
It's been my most intriguing hobby ever, even though I don't have a drop of honey to show for it. Maybe next year! Thanks again to all who contribute their time and expertise here.