Planning for my first bee's come spring
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Hello all,
    I'm hoping to become a beekeeper this spring. I am signed up for beginner bee school starting in January and have already taken a intermediate class from NCST. I have been reading this forum and have been watching a lot of youtube.

    I have 3 hives ready to go. 2 eight frames and 1 ten frame, all 1 deep and one med box each to start. I was going to start in the eights and maybe use the ten for a couple of captured nuc's or splits if needed.

    My main question is what type of bees? I have 3/4 of an acer that is heavily wooded. I will not be able to put them in full sun. I was leaning towards Carniolans because they fly when overcast, which would simulate the environment I will be putting them into. Mountain Spring Honey Company has overwintered nucs available for pick up in early March that I am interested in because they would give me an early start. Any thoughts of my plan are welcome even if they're negative.
    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    668

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Hi Joe, welcome to BeeSource. Carniolans would be good. Is there anywhere you can clear a spot so they get some sun during the day? What I did, before I picked up my bees, months before I picked up my bees, I set up my hives where I thought I would want them. Visited the empty hives several times a week, sometimes daily, at different times of the day. I could see how the hives sat in shadow, or sun, and how convenient it was to work on the hives. I ended up moving my hives to a better area, just 20 feet away, but it's easy to move an empty box, harder to move one with bees in it once they are established, and you've found you've put them in a crappy spot.
    Good Luck
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,302

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    LittleJoe:

    Welcome to Beesource. I am impressed with your foresight in planning ahead.

    I looked for Mountain Spring- could it be you were referring to https://mountainsweethoney.com/?

    Just my personal opinion (so discount accordingly)-

    Given that they offer three different options, you might want to get one Italian nuc and one Carniolan nuc for the opportunity to get a first-hand opportunity how the colony dynamics compare.

    Otherwise, I would encourage you to put out some swarm traps fairly early in the year to see if you can hive any swarms.

    Best of success to you in your beekeeping journey.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Posts
    335

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Get some good hive top feeders, and feed a bunch to get drawn comb.
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Welcome. One thing I wish I had fully understood my first year was this- first year colonies fall under a different set of rules than established colonies. Since you are using all new equipment they need to build their city before they have any place to raise brood or store food. That will take time and resources to do that. So that’s why first years don’t produce honey for you most of the time. It’s not that they are lazy, they have no storage cabinet (drawn comb) to put it in. One of the best videos on the importance of drawn comb is from the University of Guelph. Outstanding. Also buy local nucs if possible. I also made a decision to drop Apivar strips into my new nucs once they were transferred to a 10 frame to be sure they got a clean start.

    I added a medium on top, but because it was a build out brood box I didn’t worry about the Apivar strips below. Just mark your build out boxes and frames as treated so any honey in the frames isn’t consumed by a person. I strongly recommend getting a wand or easyvap for OAV treatments for mites. It’s considered organic and easy on the bees. Good luck.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,189

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    I would take an opposite approach than recommended by Litsinger. Italians and Carni's react differently to weather, nectar flows and general conditions. If you have two or more different varieties of bees, there is no good way to compare their growth and hive health. I find Italians are better comb builders under less than perfect conditions. Carni's will slow down the colony growth due to a lack of pollen or nectar faster than Italians will. Since they react differently to certain conditions you might come to completely wrong conclusions when they are acting differently. As a beginner, having a second or third hive to compare to is invaluable. Just make sure they are similar varieties so you can make a good comparison. As far as which is better, Italian or Carniolan, both are excellent bees and either will work well for you. If the business you are buying from is fairly local, ask them what they recommend for a beginner. They will want you to be a happy customer. Happy customers give good reviews and plenty of referrals.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    735

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Don't worry about the full sun thing. Not a necessity. Actually a hindrance if it gets real hot.

    and congrats for taking the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJoe View Post
    Hello all,
    I'm hoping to become a beekeeper this spring. I am signed up for beginner bee school starting in January and have already taken a intermediate class from NCST. I have been reading this forum and have been watching a lot of youtube.

    I have 3 hives ready to go. 2 eight frames and 1 ten frame, all 1 deep and one med box each to start. I was going to start in the eights and maybe use the ten for a couple of captured nuc's or splits if needed.

    My main question is what type of bees? I have 3/4 of an acer that is heavily wooded. I will not be able to put them in full sun. I was leaning towards Carniolans because they fly when overcast, which would simulate the environment I will be putting them into. Mountain Spring Honey Company has overwintered nucs available for pick up in early March that I am interested in because they would give me an early start. Any thoughts of my plan are welcome even if they're negative.
    Thanks for reading,
    Joe
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    448

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    I would say the best bees are local bees, from a beekeeping buddy or from your bee club. By June, someone there will have too many bees, I promise. One day, you'll have that problem too. Especially if you don't invest in a spare hive body!

    Bees starting in June will build up just fine, as long as you understand that you'll need to feed a quart of 1 part sugar (or more) to 1 part water EVERY DAY to EACH HIVE for.... weeks. Until they have all their comb drawn out. I buy sugar by the 25 lb bag, then dump into a 5 gallon bucket, get a drill and paint stirring attachment, and add 2 1/2 gallons of warm water. Actually I fibbed - that's way heavy, so first I put the buckets in the garden cart, and THEN I add 1 1/4 gallons to 2 buckets, then add half of a 25 lb bag to each, then stir. And you will want a lid for those buckets - slopping syrup sucks, and eventually you will train the bees to come flying over to you when they see the buckets. Bees are really quite smart!

    So local bees have 2 huge advantages: 1) a nuc that is split from a fellow beekeeper's hive does not undergo as much stress as one transported from away, or one that is made by purchasing a queen and then pulling their own frames and slapping it together and calling it a nuc. 2) The queen being used is hopefully one that survived the year before, so the queen's genes and her hive's tendencies will match your area.

    Some bees are more likely to start making brood early. This is bad in Ohio, because we get a lot of "false springs" before real spring arrives. There have been a number of hives that died of starvation despite having plenty of honey - they seem to have started brooding up too early. Or maybe they didn't have enough honey - they were busy making bees in the fall instead of storing honey. With every mouthful of nectar, bees have a choice- store it, feed brood with it, or make comb. The genes of the hive and the conditions in the hive determine the choice. In the fall, we really want that choice to be to store honey!!!

    And some bees are more likely to swarm than others. This trait is heritable - I have seen it in my own apiary. So hives that swarm in the fall may be great in your area - but in mine, this will kill the hive if I don't intervene, if a hive swarms in mid Sept. A hive in that situation will not build up enough population to overwinter, and it will not be able to store enough honey to make it through winter. Any bees that do that, select against themselves in nature. And I agree, so those queens get pinched and the bees get combined with other hives!

    So don't get too hung up on the types of bees, you'd be surprised at how similar a purchased Italian and Carniolan can be in their hive's behavior. Or you may be surprised by which set of behaviors is a better fit for your area. If purchasing from away seems like a better choice for you at this point, do take care to talk to a number of people about where they purchased from and what their experiences were. It's a buyer beware world out there.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,180

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    welcome to beesource lj, and best of luck with your new adventure.

    i moved your thread to the 101 subforum.

    thanks for sharing your story with us!
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,302

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    I would take an opposite approach than recommended by Litsinger.
    No offense taken- after considering it further, my humble opinion is that LAlldridge's and Trishbookworm's advice to attempt to secure local overwintered stock might be the best suggestion of all. Good advice in both of their responses regarding practical establishment practices too.

    Soliciting locally-sourced stock might also come with the side benefit of an experienced beekeeper who would be willing to share some advice and expertise specific to the locale.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Hogback Honey View Post
    Hi Joe, welcome to BeeSource. Carniolans would be good. Is there anywhere you can clear a spot so they get some sun during the day? What I did, before I picked up my bees, months before I picked up my bees, I set up my hives where I thought I would want them. Visited the empty hives several times a week, sometimes daily, at different times of the day. I could see how the hives sat in shadow, or sun, and how convenient it was to work on the hives. I ended up moving my hives to a better area, just 20 feet away, but it's easy to move an empty box, harder to move one with bees in it once they are established, and you've found you've put them in a crappy spot.
    Good Luck
    Thank you for your reply. I have scouted my property pretty thoroughly. The area I've chosen will get good sun in early spring and through winter, just not in summer thru fall. I'm also planning a northern wind break through the winter. Thanks again.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    LittleJoe:

    Welcome to Beesource. I am impressed with your foresight in planning ahead.

    I looked for Mountain Spring- could it be you were referring to https://mountainsweethoney.com/?

    Just my personal opinion (so discount accordingly)-

    Given that they offer three different options, you might want to get one Italian nuc and one Carniolan nuc for the opportunity to get a first-hand opportunity how the colony dynamics compare.

    Otherwise, I would encourage you to put out some swarm traps fairly early in the year to see if you can hive any swarms.

    Best of success to you in your beekeeping journey.

    Russ
    Thank you for your encouragement. You did find the site I was referring too. I have since reached out to a local commercial beekeeper that will sell me a couple Carniolan Nucs about a month later (late March, early April). This may work out a lot better.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    Get some good hive top feeders, and feed a bunch to get drawn comb.
    I already have 4 rapid round feeder just waiting for bees

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by LAlldredge View Post
    Welcome. One thing I wish I had fully understood my first year was this- first year colonies fall under a different set of rules than established colonies. Since you are using all new equipment they need to build their city before they have any place to raise brood or store food. That will take time and resources to do that. So that’s why first years don’t produce honey for you most of the time. It’s not that they are lazy, they have no storage cabinet (drawn comb) to put it in. One of the best videos on the importance of drawn comb is from the University of Guelph. Outstanding. Also buy local nucs if possible. I also made a decision to drop Apivar strips into my new nucs once they were transferred to a 10 frame to be sure they got a clean start.

    I added a medium on top, but because it was a build out brood box I didn’t worry about the Apivar strips below. Just mark your build out boxes and frames as treated so any honey in the frames isn’t consumed by a person. I strongly recommend getting a wand or easyvap for OAV treatments for mites. It’s considered organic and easy on the bees. Good luck.
    Thanks for your reply. I'm not counting on honey the first year. I think I found a source for local nucs last night. The Apivar strips are a great idea. I've already started looking into mite treatment options.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    I would take an opposite approach than recommended by Litsinger. Italians and Carni's react differently to weather, nectar flows and general conditions. If you have two or more different varieties of bees, there is no good way to compare their growth and hive health. I find Italians are better comb builders under less than perfect conditions. Carni's will slow down the colony growth due to a lack of pollen or nectar faster than Italians will. Since they react differently to certain conditions you might come to completely wrong conclusions when they are acting differently. As a beginner, having a second or third hive to compare to is invaluable. Just make sure they are similar varieties so you can make a good comparison. As far as which is better, Italian or Carniolan, both are excellent bees and either will work well for you. If the business you are buying from is fairly local, ask them what they recommend for a beginner. They will want you to be a happy customer. Happy customers give good reviews and plenty of referrals.
    Thank you for your reply. I will be sticking with one race of bees to start with and will be locally sourcing them.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunzow View Post
    Don't worry about the full sun thing. Not a necessity. Actually a hindrance if it gets real hot.

    and congrats for taking the plunge!
    Thank you for your encouragement!

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by trishbookworm View Post
    I would say the best bees are local bees, from a beekeeping buddy or from your bee club. By June, someone there will have too many bees, I promise. One day, you'll have that problem too. Especially if you don't invest in a spare hive body!

    Bees starting in June will build up just fine, as long as you understand that you'll need to feed a quart of 1 part sugar (or more) to 1 part water EVERY DAY to EACH HIVE for.... weeks. Until they have all their comb drawn out. I buy sugar by the 25 lb bag, then dump into a 5 gallon bucket, get a drill and paint stirring attachment, and add 2 1/2 gallons of warm water. Actually I fibbed - that's way heavy, so first I put the buckets in the garden cart, and THEN I add 1 1/4 gallons to 2 buckets, then add half of a 25 lb bag to each, then stir. And you will want a lid for those buckets - slopping syrup sucks, and eventually you will train the bees to come flying over to you when they see the buckets. Bees are really quite smart!

    So local bees have 2 huge advantages: 1) a nuc that is split from a fellow beekeeper's hive does not undergo as much stress as one transported from away, or one that is made by purchasing a queen and then pulling their own frames and slapping it together and calling it a nuc. 2) The queen being used is hopefully one that survived the year before, so the queen's genes and her hive's tendencies will match your area.
    Thank you for all that great information!

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Posts
    335

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJoe View Post
    I already have 4 rapid round feeder just waiting for bees
    I have a few of them and don't like them, they run out in 1/2 a day, and the cup gets a crack in it, and the feeder gets full of bees, the wooden ones that hold 2-3 gallons are best. The rapid feeders might be good for awhile on a low population, or a nuc box.
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    I have a few of them and don't like them, they run out in 1/2 a day, and the cup gets a crack in it, and the feeder gets full of bees, the wooden ones that hold 2-3 gallons are best. The rapid feeders might be good for awhile on a low population, or a nuc box.
    Thank you for your reply. I guess I'll find out and adjust as needed. You have to start somewhere, and I'll be starting with 2 nucs. I guess we'll see where that takes us.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,921

    Default Re: Planning for my first bee's come spring

    Welcome to Beesource Littlejoe. I agree with the one race suggestion. You should get your bees in late March or early April for the best experience and to catch the flow. Durham is not much different than Richmond and our flow is over by mid June. Italians will do well for you and are pretty docile. The drawback is that they consume winter stores rapidly. In NC this won't be a huge problem as Spring comes pretty early.
    As for feeders, I really like the Beemax feeder by Betterbee and highly recommend it, even at the $32 price tag. I just got a few Ceracell feeders for my nucs and will be trying those out this winter and into next year.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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