How hard is this going to 'bee'?
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  1. #1
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    Default How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    So I was looking at this guy's video on starting beekeeping...and it looked a bit discouraging.

    It looked fun and interesting and kind of still does...but when i saw this one guy's 'advice to new beekeepers' video, he made it seem like you have to grind your bones almost and literally be trying to save them from death constantly? (It wasn't so much the wording, but the feeling). When you watch it, he might just be trying to protect people from loss...

    But it was a bit discouraging seeing it sound like...he was comparing it to football and your team being crushed and having more danger the longer the year progresses. And then some other guy commented that he'd had to do emergency interference with all of his hives that year. (It may have been the follow up by some guy in Europe claiming he had to intervene on literally everything he had that really made that mood more than the other. Who knows...)

    Are they just full of hot air?

    I haven't really stepped in the deep end yet, how hard is this going to 'bee' to really do this?

    I've been a gardener for about 7 years straight now. I'm not afraid of work, and I do like agriculture, and gardening you have some major let downs and a lot of things are really fragile (especially in an arid climate). (I think people involved in agriculture are usually better people too.)

    If you start beekeeping are you going to have to 'bee' constantly expecting disaster and intervening? (That sounds depressing.)

    Or is this like this thing where people say stuff to discourage the newbs because they are a threat to their career?

    In college one time, I made this mistake of telling this one teacher I liked math, and how wonderful it is and then further compounded the mistake by asking how to get a job like his. And then that semester that guy failed literally half the class. When I found out about I wondered if maybe some of that was feeling threatened by competition.

    Would like to hear your thoughts. I don't want to paint anyone in a bad light either. IT might be that guy was just sounding the way he did to shake people up who neglect animals also. I've also ran into people who don't have much common sense about how fragile people and their animals lives are...so maybe its like that.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    PM me the link to the video. Ill let you know how accurate his attitude is.
    Keeping bees is not hard, but just like a garden that has to be weeded, bees need some tending. If it hasnt rained in a week, you would be watering the plants, right. If nothing is blooming, bees in a newer hive need to be fed. If you have bugs eating the squash, you spray or dust. Bees get mites, they typically need to be treated for them.

    No beekeeper that is any good at it will discourage another person from becoming one.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Beekeeping has its challenges. But the fact that you have sought out this board and made lots of inquiry tells me that you are ahead of 95% of those that attempt this venture.

    It is about expectations. I think too many people fall in love with the romantic ideal of a beautiful box on a hill with tiny fairies flying in and out and do not consider the fact that this is nothing short of animal husbandry that does require something more than your admiration and willingness to clear a 3 X 3 spot in your yard.

    I am glad you saw those videos. Not because I think it is drudgery -- it certainly isn't. But because you seeing people who were not prepared to keep bees. To be fair, I don't think you can get fully "prepared" by only researching it, but you can go into it with realistic expectations.

    I go to each of my beeyards at least once a week, not because I have to, but because that is what I like to do. If I am not worried about swarming in the spring, I could go to each yard no more than twice a month. I could spend less than an hour a month on each individual colony. And in the off-season (which for me is short - November thru January), I can take those months off if I chose. But I don't.

    Of course YouTubers want to show you just how complex what they are doing is and how hard they work and how smart they have to be to keep their bees alive.

    But it really comes down to three things: Parasites, Food and Queen Management.

    Food: Of course we hope that the bees take care of this on their own. But you may need to supplement their food stores. Carbohydrates (Honey) is substituted with sugar syrup. Protein (Pollen) is substituted with pollen substitutes that are commercially available. You will want to pay particular attention to supplementing food stores at three different times: (1) Starting your hive/installing a package or swarm; (2) to assist in Spring build up when the queen makes babies for the new season (Protein intensive) and (3) winter preparation to make sure there are enough stores to get them through the winter. These factors are heavily influenced by your temp zone and forage availability and local clubs are great resources for advice on local nutritional needs.

    Pests: You have to figure out how to control varroa year round. Yes, this can be confusing and you will read and hear everything under the sun. The definitive source, however, is published by the Honey Bee Health Coalition and can be found here https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/...n_June2018.pdf.

    Queen Management: This is the one we have very little control over, but are not helpless. For the new beekeeper, you will merely want to confirm that your hive is queen right and does not need your intervention. If you are queenless, you will need to either purchase a new queen for installation, or give your hive eggs from another colony to make a new queen on their own. As you become more experienced, you will want to develop your own queens and promote the queen lines that you find suitable to the traits that are important to you. This is an over-simplification, but queen management and development are the most rewarding and interesting aspects of beekeeping for me.

    Yes, there are other things and you will learn about them as you progress in the hobby -- that is what makes it fun. But manage these 3 successfully and you will be a successful beekeeper. Know, going in, that you will have losses. You will find dead colonies. Try your best to dissect them and learn what happened and don't get discouraged.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    .......No beekeeper that is any good at it will discourage another person from becoming one.
    Not discourage.
    But give an honest assessment and save time, money, and unnecessary stress.
    Some people should not be doing this.

    For example, people should not be doing it to "save the bees" or to "improve the prairie pollination" and similar reasons.

    Ask me how I get my equipment on the cheap.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-26-2019 at 09:33 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    I think some might go overboard to show new beekeepers that it is not a set it and forget it type of hobby. I look for excuses to "help" my bees. I love to open the hive and see what's going on.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    I'm not sure if I can help any on this - but I'll try.

    The days of acquiring bees, housing them, then taking a 'looksee' twice a year (one of which being to gather the honey harvest) are long gone. There are problems which exist today which never troubled our forefathers - such as the Varroa mite and Small Hive Beetle. Also - more people are keeping bees than ever before, and I'd suggest that many of them wouldn't recognise either American or European Foul Brood (highly contagious diseases) if they were to trip over them.

    On the other hand, tracheal mites and wax moths are no longer considered problems to panic over - so maybe there's some compensation there ...

    There are two expressions which come to mind as I write this: the first is "when you have livestock, you also have deadstock" - and so there's no way in which you can realistically compare gardening with beekeeping. With plants, providing you start off with and maintain the right environmental conditions, they'll survive - but with any kind of livestock, once you start taking your eye of the ball, then you can expect to pay some kind of price for doing so.

    Now I see you have a post-count of 74 and apparently haven't acquired any bees yet ... and so my second expression seems particularly appropriate: "he who waits until all dangers are past, must never put out to sea." By all means ask questions and research the subject as best you can - but at some point you will have to either take the plunge - and find out the answers to some of these questions for yourself - or forget the idea of beekeeping.

    As to watching YouTube videos - I'm not sure how useful these are, until you have some of your own hands-on experience to compare them with. Ultimately, beekeeping is a practical activity and not a purely theoretical one, and I would suggest that more would be gained by shadowing an experienced beekeeper for a month or two in order to gain some first-hand experience, than watching any amount of videos or even asking questions on a forum - because at some point there's a need to 'get your hands dirty' so to speak. Just as it's impossible to be a theoretical surgeon or a theoretical classroom teacher - you just have to get yourself in there and 'do it' - there's really no other way to learn.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Greg, I actually considered adding that as a caveat. There are some people that should not keep bees, but that is a determination that should be made after the fact. Anyone with an legitimate interest should be encouraged to try.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Greg, I actually considered adding that as a caveat. There are some people that should not keep bees, but that is a determination that should be made after the fact. Anyone with an legitimate interest should be encouraged to try.
    A short entry resume is appropriate and indicative and often sufficient

    Like I said, once a person starts talking about wanting to help to "save the bees" - short answer is - no, honey bees need no help of a wanna-be beekeeper.
    Failing ecosystems as a whole need immediate help - but honey bees as such need no help at all.
    Then I am done.

    This is one example.

    The determination without qualification is not it.
    Some people will go on and still be trying to save their California packages at all and any costs.
    In very determined ways too.

    Of course, the local bee sellers will tell lots of things of how wrong I am.
    Whatever it takes to push their nucs and packages - they will do.
    They will empower; they will encourage; they will provide even free advice - year after year.
    They are very nice people - good for business.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-26-2019 at 01:28 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Quote Originally Posted by hagane View Post
    So I was looking at this guy's video on starting beekeeping...and it looked a bit discouraging.
    ...
    To be fair - where is the video since you brought this up?
    I would like to see it.
    Others too, I am sure.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    A legitimate interest in honey bees is not of the save the bees, protect our food supply mindset. It starts with a deep fascination and a desire for a better understanding of the intricacies of bee behavior. Does not hurt if you like honey too.
    The "save the bee" crowd do more harm than they could ever realize and should be discouraged, IMO. These are the folks that I encourage to plant a pollinator friendly garden instead.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hagane View Post
    Are they just full of hot air?
    It is very possible. Sounds like a Debbie Downer.

    https://media3.giphy.com/media/bgs0P...&rid=giphy.gif

    You will have hard days just like everything else, but they are few and far between...more so as you gain experience.

    Don’t do it to “save the bees”, but because you are interested in them. Unlike cows or chickens, bees don’t really require much input from you to survive. All you are doing is helping them out with management inputs along the way. It is not a grind. 😃
    Last edited by Nelsonhoneyfarms; 07-26-2019 at 05:35 PM.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Posts 3 and 6 in this thread are spot on. Quite possibly the best responses I've ever read regarding someone aspiring to become a beekeeper. Props to psm1212 and little_john.
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.

  14. #13
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    Default

    I echo everyone’s thoughts. Like a garden the bees need tending. I’m only a year in and hooked beyond belief. When I first looked into I remember hearing from someone that if you didn’t have the urge to check your hive every 7-10 days that you shouldn’t be a beekeeper. It scared me because I didn’t think I had to check them that often. Then when I dove in I found myself wanting to check them once a week and many times could hardly wait for the week to pass so I could inspect on the weekends especially as with watch them progress right before your eyes. Give it a shot. You sound like you’d love it and would be successful. Good luck.

  15. #14
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    Default

    Starting out problems seem huge because your experience and knowledge of bees is low. I would get perplexed and stressed until I started embracing the problem that arise and seen it as an opportunity dig and research what happened. What did I do wrong and how can I prevent it from happening again. How do I fix it now. and even (certain )YouTube videos are helpful.
    I am curious to the video you watched. Reading your post a certain person came to mind.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeDuto View Post
    ...... if you didn’t have the urge to check your hive every 7-10 days that you shouldn’t be a beekeeper..........
    As well as to able to resist the urge - because unnecessary check is unnecessary risk to your bees.
    Every check must have a good reason and end goal, worthy the risk.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    the advise above is way better than on a lot of internet threads. if you want to get started do it. do not be surprised by challenges, there will be some, expect both good and bad, but just do it.... pay attention to what the commercial beekeepers do, they feed their families keeping bees.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: How hard is this going to 'bee'?

    Quote Originally Posted by mathesonequip View Post
    ... pay attention to what the commercial beekeepers do, they feed their families keeping bees.
    This is exactly why I say - don't copy what the commercial beekeepers do (learn from them - then do what is right for you).
    UNLESS you feed your family keeping the bees (most likely not).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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