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Being a new beekeeper I have several things to get ironed out and sorted through. I would like to come up with an approximate yearly schedule for when I will be doing certain things within my apiary. Warning…. This is a long post and I hope you will take time to respond with details of your personal experiences.
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With all the questions below that I am asking myself. I am trying to compile good solid information for “MY LOCAL” climate and area to help guide me through my first year of learning. Obviously many of us are from totally different climates that cause beekeeping to have some fluctuation in how we keep our bees. It seems like if you ask 10 beekeepers the same question they all have different answers. I am discovering that none of them are necessarily wrong but it is what they have found works for them in their specific climate/area and what their area offers the bees in terms of pollen and nectar sources.
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I am going to go through this one point at a time with what I am currently planning to do based upon the research I have done. I am asking for input specific to what “YOU” do that “WORKS FOR YOU” and why you feel your way of beekeeping is successful and works for you. If the choices I am making are something you have tried let me know the pros and cons that you experienced. If it is something you have not tried please state that fact and then say what your opinion may be.
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Please start out your reply with where you are located and your hive setup that you use and that will help me to better visualize your beekeeping style and what you are explaining.
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I live in Terre Haute, Indiana. That is basically central Indiana and is located on the Indiana/Illinois state line on Intersate 70 (I-70). I am using Lanstroth hives. 2 deeps for brood and then will be using Mediums for my honey supers on top of queen excluder.
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1. What are my specific goals keeping bees..

I have been interested in bees for several years. I have very strongly reached several aspects of beekeeping during the last 2 years through watching lots of videos and many hours of reading. So much information available to sift through that it is hard to determine what the most accurate information is. My interest was peaked because of my fathers health issues he is having and discovered all the health benefits of honey and pollen and the direct impact of the bees on our environment. With that said… I am after honey production and pollen. I am not interested in the making money off my bees like some are after. I am sure I will eventually sell some honey/pollen to help with the cost of keeping bees but it is primarily going to be for my family’s personal use. Of course I am not expecting any honey harvest this year but would like to hope I get a small taste of the good stuff. YUM YUM YUM!!!
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2. What style of beekeeping will I try to follow.

Many ways to keep bees. I have watched many videos that several successful and not successful beekeepers have posted online. I obviously have found a few beekeepers I really like. Ian Steppler (Canadian Bee Blogger) is one of my favorites and a close 2nd is Kamon Reynolds. Both are commercial beekeepers and have to work their apiaries somewhat different than a backyard beekeeper like a majority of us are going to be classified. Ultimately I have watched many self proclaimed successful beekeepers that talk a “BIG STICK” but obviously are doing something wrong when they lose a majority of their hives every year and spend a fortune every spring buying packages/nucs to replace their colonies. And yes I know we all can expect to lose some colonies during over wintering.

Since I know I am not a commercial beekeeper I had to find someone that understood backyard/small scale beekeeping that is successful and try to duplicate what they are doing instead of recreating the wheel. I found Mel Disselkoen OTS beekeeping and Dr. Leo Sharashkin long hive beekeeping of high interest. I have chosen the OTS system for now but Long hives interest me because of my serious back problems I have. I am also watching Kamon currently doing videos of a long hive he began using this spring. I am looking forward to hearing what his final Pros and Cons about Long Hives as he continues to test it out.

The links below will take you to all the beekeepers pages I mentioned above. I felt they are all worthwhile to watch and evaluate and consider the information they provide from successful beekeepers.

Ian’s videos https://www.youtube.com/c/aCanadianBeekeeper’sBlog/videos

Kamon’s videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkoAuqRakc1TtvXxL4Kr76Q/videos

Mel’s video

Leo’s video Natural Beekeeping Videos | HorizontalHive.com
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3. How will I care for my bees and what treatment plan.

I plan to follow Mel’s OTS program. I will be re-queening in the spring and making a nuc box with my current queens until I have met the size of what I want my apiary to be. I will also be re-queening after the June Solstice to help prepare for wintering of the hives. According to Mel this achieves two of my goals according to his video I have watched (Link above) the honey production will increase and also mite control by breaking the brood cycle. I will also be keeping chemical options open if required. I will perform mite test several times through the year. I have a OA unit that will be able to be utilized if needed. I have also considered the strips to drop in the hives. I don’t sully know ywt what direction I will go yet. I am sure that the brood breaks that are designed into the OTS system may not be 100% effective but if I can get by without using chemicals that is obviously the best thing for the bees. But if push comes to shove…. I would rather have a live colony vs. a dead colony.

I will also be using the “Natural order of the combs” within my hives. I am not totally convinced about this but starting out I will try it and see if it works for. It takes very little time to set up the hive using this system. But I am really interested in hearing if anyone has any experience trying this style. I am using Rite-cell foundation in my frames. I am not sure if using foundation vs foundationless allows the natural order of the comb to work but for now it is how I am setting things up moving forward. natural order of the bee combs
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4. When is the swarm season and what are my plans to control the swarming of my hives and when is the beginning/end of the nectar flow.

I plan to follow Mel’s OTS schedule. In my area the swarm season begins around the first couple weeks of April. I will do my first OTS re-queen at that time to control my swarming. Maybe even the last week of March if drones are hatching.

April 1st is the average time when we see our first dandelions and a 3-4 weeks later our heavy nectar flow begins when we see the clover begin blooming and last through mid to late June from what I understand.

I plan to build up my hives prior to April. I plan to do this by providing 1:1 syrup and pollen. I still need to collect more information about when I should begin feeding to get my colonies strong by the 1st of April. I am going to use Ian's and Kamon’s start times they use and I would approximate myself somewhere in the middle because I am basically located midway between the. Hopefully some of you can possibly help me fine tune that part of my timeline with your experience and/or location near me.
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5. Over wintering plan.

After I harvest honey in late June, I will re-queen the colonies after the solstice around the first week of July. After that, everything the bees collect will be towards their winter reserve. Again like Mel states in his video. This re-queening gives a second brood break and because the bees are not feeding brood they can stash away a lot of extra reserves for winter. It also has what he describes as a spring laying queen and the colony will build into a strong colony going into winter.

Anyone who tried the post solstice queening have success or see any difference over wintering?

I am also going to top them off according to hive weight with 2:1 syrup late fall early winter before our temps drop permanently below 40F-45F. or do you think a lower temp would be a safe to be feeding heavy syrup?

I am still debating on overwintering in 2 deeps or 2 deeps and a medium. I have read so many debates about this issue. Some even saying single box overwintering. I need more input and research on this.
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I'm sure there will be many other things I will have to address/learn during my first year of beekeeping but those are my main points or my basic plan at this time depending upon what everyone says. I will also have a set schedule for doing my inspections and hopefully everything goes well. Please let me know if their is another category I should be considering and planning for.
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Thank you to "EVERYONE" for taking “LOTS” of time responding. Remember no answer is a wrong answer and I am not looking for a debate or response to what anyone else says. I am looking for “YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES” how “YOU” tend to you girls. Please forget/ignore what anyone else replies.
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Thank you!!!
 
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