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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    I am starting my first hive this spring in Juneau Alaska. My wife supplied me with my equipment under the Christmas Tree this year and this is all that I can think about. I have been wanting to try bees for 2 years now and spring will not come fast enough. Winter has blessed us with 70 inches of snow so far and at least 5 inches of rain as well.

    To my knowledge I will be the only person in Juneau Keeping. I can only find one other person keeping bees in all of Southeast Alaska and they are 240 miles south (more rain and but warmer winters).

    I am planning to use the Olympic Peninsula as my reference because they appear to have a similar climate to ours, but I am still concerned that I am trying something that is just not going to work and want to limit my risk (hive/bee loss and financial loss).

    Everything I read says start we at least 2 hives or as many is you can afford. I can afford more than one but if bees just wont keep here I will have wasted approximately not only the cost of supplies but the bees as well. Other than having nothing to do until the next season if the hive dies what are the disadvantages of only one hive and benefits of 2 or more hives?

    The second question somewhat applies to the rest. When I read the description of the 4.9 cell it says that this should only be tried by experienced keepers which I am not. The flip side is if the research is true and it helps with pest control that might aid in the success of my hives. Does the smaller cell truly create a problem for the bees especially if they are introduced from the start?

    Kevin
    Juneau Alaska

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,674

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    welcome, and congratulations. You shouldn't have much problem keeping bees. Bears and long winters are your issues. because of that some opt to let the hive die off and replace the bees come spring. if thats not for you, then you will need to make sure they have plenty of food and are well wrapped up for the longer winters. On the plus side, longer days and constant blooms make the nectar flows there great. Biggest isues you will have is getting enough comb drawn out fast enough.

    As for 4.9 I have not had much success with it. others swear by it. I can tell you not every queen will lay well on 4.9 smaller breeds like russians seem to do better, rest assured the huge fat ol carniola will not take to it well.
    Which brings up another point, you wil want to pick Russian or carniolas for wintering I would bet. Itialians tend to be a bit slower and take much more resources to winter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,592

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    It's especially easy if you can find Small Cell nucs to start with.

    And using Mann Lake's PF frames helps to simply things too. Packaged bees often draw out nice 4.9 comb the first time. If the comb is mis-drawn, the frames can be scraped off and reintroduced to the hive.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    bee hives for Christmas are great gifts. I got 3 myself. I only have one hive, but in your case, since you are the only beekeeper in the area, I would suggest more than one hive. The reason would be if/when your bees need to re-queen, she will not mate with drones from her own hive. So the second hive would be in order to supply more drones. As to the small cell, I am running a top bar hive but purchased the bees from a local beekeeper running the standard Lang with foundation and they had no trouble drawing out the smaller comb.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    I would love to start with nucs but I have not found a vendor that will ship them to here and flying south to Seattle or Anchorage would not be cost effective. If anyone knows a supplier that would ship nucs to Juneau please let me know.

    I am concerned that the cold and wet summers will not allow them to succeed. We often do not see temp much over 60 in the summer with temps in the 40s at night along with a lot of rain. If we have a summer like last year we will not have an issue but most summers are cool and wet.

    We do not have the cold just the wet and humid winters so moisture control will be an issue.

    Being the first in the area is just making me nervous.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,030

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    How's the permafrost holding up?

    You might be able to winter underground.

    I think that getting any bees of any kind is the first order of business.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    We do no have permafrost. The winters are warmer here closer to the Olympic Peninsula or Seattle, very mild but extremely wet.

    I plan to order my packages Friday, the question is 1, 2, or 3.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,290

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    The easiest way to get bees that are acclimatized to a environment where you have no access to local bees is to buy your packages and re-queen with a queen from an environment that is as close as possible to yours. Starting out a package on small cell has not been an issue for me. And while I am not convinced small cell helps, I know it will not hurt and may help. I use the Mann Lake PF series plastic frames, and as long is that is all you give them the do pretty well. As stated before, if they draw out an ugly frame, just scrape it and give it back. I also have long winters, and the main two issues (aside from diseases and pests) are making sure they have enough stores and can get to them. The first is easy as you can feed if they are short, syrup or dry sugar. Second is it has to be warm enough on occasion for them to move to the feed. I wrap and insulate my hives to help.

    At least 2, but I would do 3.

    I have 3 of these queens, however this is their first winter and since they are only available late in the year I do not know how well they will do. Here is the weather comparison. http://www.weather.com/outlook/trave...ocid2=USWA0346

    http://www.wildernessbees.com/
    Dan & Judy Harvey
    46492 HWY 112, Port Angeles, WA 98363
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    Would you re-queen the this season?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Baden Wurtemburg Germany
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    It will take a few years to work out how to keep bees in your area and for you to learn how to become a beekeeper. I would say get 3, better odds that you'll be a beekeeper with bees the next spring. Jump in with both feet, your gonna love it.
    Stephen 12 hives. 3rd year. Treat. Germany.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,290

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    Quote Originally Posted by cedarecho View Post
    Would you re-queen the this season?
    It really depends on what you want, and think will succeed the best. I re-queen some packages the first season, so that I have a diversity of bee genetics. I am still searching for what will work best where I am. (Last winter I had 7/8 crash, but that is more to do with not treating than anything else) My current queen profile is OWA (3), Old Sol (2), package queens (3) and a home raised queen (1).

    Next spring I plan on raising queens for my splits, from the colonies that come out of the winter the best.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  12. #12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    I would stay away from small cell. I don't know what research you are referring to but....even Dee Lusby, who along with her deceased husband Ed invented the concept, says that the further north you go the larger the natural cell size. I figure that, if there is even the remotest basis for her thinking, 4.9mm would be too small for Alaskan bees.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    My research were the many sites and they mostly referred to mite control and small cell with very little being said about the benefit of large cell other than potentially better honey production, so thank you for more research options I will be looking at her information next.

    I asked about nucs to Alaska earlier, I discovered that I can only get them if they come from Alaska because state law will not allow the import of used equipment or brood comb time to pick a vendor for my bee packages.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,041

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    welcome to beesource ce!

    getting started with bees is somewhat challenging even in the best of circumstances. sounds like you may be plowing new ground there if there aren't any established beekeepers to show you the way.

    a couple of thoughts:

    1. i agree with gmc that getting enough comb drawn might be difficult if your season is short.

    2. regarding cell size, the evidence is inconclusive regarding advantages of small cell and mite control. having said that, i am transitioning my standard cell brood combs out and putting in foundationless frames to get the cells drawn naturally to the size they want.

    3. look at the colleges and universities up there and find out if there are any entomologists on faculty. email them and ask if honeybees are occurring in the wild in your area. if yes, you have a shot at it. if no your colonies may not survive without extra care, and you'll have little to no chance getting queens mated meaning you will have to purchase queens any time your colonies lose theirs. if your queens can't mate anyway, having the extra colonies to donate eggs and brood from to a queenless hive is not as important.

    4. here's a good thread about how those in the far north bring their hives in for overwintering:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...nyone-doing-it

    5. although i don't have one, and it's not what santa brought you, observation hives are pretty cool. you may want to do a search on them.

    i accidently got into beekeeping when some hives got left on my property and the gentleman that owned them passed away. the challenge of it all is what i enjoy the most. if you have that type of personality and don't mind the trial and error that it's going to take to see what works in your location, you will probably end up just as addicted as most who are posting here. good luck!
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Jefferson County, WA, USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    I live in the pacific northwest and have bees on small cell. I have had better success getting my Mann Lake PF 100's frames drawn correctly if I shave them down to 1.25". Making 11 frames in the brood nest. Most of my colonies are carniolans although I do have some locally raised queens. I plan to try some queens this summer from OWA. I would recommend 2 hives. I started with one when I first got started, but learned much more once I began keeping multiply hives. Having at least 2 allows you to compare how they grow, produce, etc.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    North Okananagan BC Canada
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    Hi Cedar,
    Have you checked for beekeepers around Prince Rupert, into Terrace area. They are not that far away from you and I am pretty sure I have seen hives when I have driven up that way. They ay have some advice on how they manage. For sure your long summer days should give you a good flow if there are flowering plants. Vancouver island has many producing hives and they have similar wet weather and temps, but I think more flowering plants.
    Good luck to you,

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    There are beekeepers in Anchorage. Juneau shouldn't be a problem.

    >The second question somewhat applies to the rest. When I read the description of the 4.9 cell it says that this should only be tried by experienced keepers which I am not.

    Experienced beekeepers don't know anything that would help them. I have no idea why they feel the need for the disclaimer.

    >Does the smaller cell truly create a problem for the bees especially if they are introduced from the start?

    No. It does not create a problem for the bees.

    The quickest way to get the bees back to normal size is probably the Mann Lake PF100 series (depending on the depth of your boxes it would be PF100s (deep) or PF120s (medium). They draw it fine and use it fine. Wax they may rework and the first regression of large cell bees might build some funky looking comb. But it will still work. It's just that natural comb (foundationless with a comb guide) might work better than badly drawn small cell wax.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Juneau, Alaska
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    My concern comes form the extra rain we get. We average 60 plus inches a year compared to 16 inches for Anchorage. Not to mention we average 220 days with precipitation.

    It all comes back to why am I the only one doing this.

    I ordered my supplies for a second hive last night, so regardless I am jumping in with both feet just like Stephen suggested.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: First Time Questions (4.9 cells and more than one hive)

    Oregon gets that rain too and beekeepers seem to do well there.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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