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Beginner with lots of questions

2615 Views 16 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  thesolarsailor
I am a beginner, and was wondering where I should start. I was looking at the 365E Deluxe Beginner outfit from Kelley Bees (ill include the link). I was wondering if anybody has used this hive, or could give me a good recommendation for a hive. I was also wonder what people prefer, hive top feeders or entrance feeders. Thanks, DP 365E Deluxe Beginner outfit-
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Hi Pulanski...

I am a beginner this year, too. This is the kit I got when I first ordered. I noticed they are about the same except the kit I got has a solid bottom board vs screened from Kelley. Dadant is a little less in price. Hopefully others will chime in, too.
Welcome to Beesource!

My suggestion is that you delay making a decision on purchasing any equipment for a while, and use the time to read more about the various choices available.

Assuming you start with live bees next spring, there is no reason to decide on any equipment yet, and there are some fundamental choices that you should better understand before making a purchase decision.

A key decision to consider early is hive style/size (assuming you want to start with Lang style hives). 10 frame, 8 frame, deep+mediums, all mediums are all choices that will affect how you keep bees, and are not so easy to change after you have started down one path.

Spend more time on Beesource before buying anything. Aside from the normal forums, read everything in this one:
It may not give you all the answers, but it should at least help you identify the questions. :)

Most of the time, complete kits are not the best way to buy. Make a list of what you actually need instead. You are likely to find that there are good deals to be had around Thanksgiving as dealers ramp up for the Christmas selling season. :D
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There is a conference at SIU July 10,11,12 for beekeepers, beginning and all others, you could see the equipment and get input from new and old beekeepers about what to use. You could learn a lot more if you want... it is H.A.S. Heartland Apicultural Society. their website is
I'm a newbee myself. I read for about a year before jumping in. And I did not start with a beginner kit.

I was given a smoker. Then I got a suit that I liked and fit me (too bad it turned out to have a bad zipper and has to be replaced already). Gloves, same thing. Then I got started with woodenware, which I bought from a semi-local place that builds the boxes, after deciding how big I wanted (I have all 8 frame mediums). I've purchased this and that along the way, none of which was included with the beginner kits but I found indispensable for me, like instead of a regular hive tool, I use one with a hook on the end and a pair of frame grips...and they don't include those in the kits.

If you can find somewhere to feel and play with things, that will help you decide what to buy that best fits you, not what someone else thinks you need.

A couple books I like and would suggest as part of anything you buy would be "The Beekeeper's Handbook" and "The Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping." They vary a little in philosophy but have lots of good tips.
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I too am a newbie, and I agree with the studying part, I studied for a year reading, taking part with webinars and researching all I could think that I might have to deal with in my first year, sooooo glad I did, this being my first year I've had to deal with queens came up missing in action, so re-queening, I combined a weak hive with a stronger one, had to deal with robbing, and all of this while trying to get bees to draw comb. I will say that usually you can find a local building woodware for a fraction of the price and as long as a good glue was used should hold up well enough that the bees wont mind its not from Brushy Mountain or Mann Lake good luck it is a very satisfying hobby
Hello from a fellow Capital Region (2nd year) beekeeper.

A couple of quick suggestions: Join Southern Adirondack Beekeepers Association, ASAP. They have great programs, including (for members) the opportunity to visit other members' apiaries and see and participate in beekeeping activities. The also run classes during the winter and Spring. Google for contact info for them I think it costs $15/yr and is well-worth it.

There is another club, the Bennington Beekeepers' Association, which is hosting the VT State meeting soon, possibly next weekend, in Bennington. They are having one of the best speakers (Dr. Tom Seeley, from Cornell) do a presentation. He is a great and most people really enjoy listening to his programs which are useful for beekeepers of all levels. A state meeting is always a place to see displays, and meet other beekeepers. I think the info about the Bennington meeeting is on the SABA website.

You would also find it useful to drive up to Betterbee in Greenwhich, NY (sort of opposite Saratoga Spa, but in Washington County to the east of it.) Take 787 to Troy, turn left a second light after you cross the Collar City Bridge on to Rt. 40. Stay on 40 northbound through Troy, Speigeltown, Melrose, Schaghticoke, Easton, until you get to the rotary in Middle Falls (about 30 miles), then go east about a mile towards Greenwhich, and take a left at the Meader Rd. light (first after Tractor Supply shopping center). They are open until 1 pm on Saturdays. They have a great display room of equipment and very helpful staff. You can look online for them and request a catalogue, too. Their stuff is very well made and they have a comprehensive line. I agree you don't need to buy stuff now, but looking over Betterbee's offerings in person will make you better informed when buying things in the future, no matter which supplier you use. If you plan on joining SABA and going on apiary visits this summer (highly recommended!), you might want to get a jacket and gloves right away. That way when you get your bees next summer, you'll feel at home in it, which is part of the battle. And if you decide for some reason that bees are not for you, then you will have spent the least amount of money to discover that.

If you need links or better directions, please post and I'll add more.

Hope you have as much fun with your bees as I had last summer in my first year!

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Ok thanks, I was having trouble finding somewhere local where I could get equipment.
DP, welcome to the hobby. Folks have given you some great advice. I too would recommend waiting until 2015 to get your first bees. When I decided I wanted to start keeping bees the man that would become my mentor sold me hives of bees in the fall of the year *but* told me to let him overwinter them and if one died out he would let me pick another one. In other words, he didn't want me, as a beginner, to start out having to take care of bees through the toughest part of the year. In your neck of the woods it is much harder to overwinter bees than it is down here in south Alabama.

What I would do is make contact with some beekeepers and home in on two sources for your bees and get a deposit put down on a couple of hives or nucs. Then spend some more time studying, talking (forums like Beesource and other forums are great for feedback and info!) and figuring out what type of setup you want...8 or 10 frame...all mediums or a mix of deeps and or foundationless...solid or screened or IPM bottom boards...migratory or telescoping tops...plastic or wood frames....etc,. etc,. Then you have your choice of protection...just a veil and long-sleeved shirt or a jacket or a suit...ventilated or traditional cotton? ...and more.

Lots of things to figure out before getting your bees. :)

If you could find someone to work with some in their bees that would be great. That person might also be the person you end up buying your bees from. Definitely go to some beekeeper meetings. Normally in the fall and winter lots of large associational/regional meetings are held.

Of course, if you're just itching to get some bees now, you might try a 5-frame nuc if you can locate one. You can work on building it up to overwinter..knowing that there is a chance it might not make it but also knowing that there's a good chance that it will. ;)

Btw, it is often recommended to start with two colonies so that you can compare them to each other. This helps to see if one is lagging behind and also gives you resources you can swap between them...larvae, honey, whatever. Also, having all the same size boxes and frames makes it easy to swap things between hives rather than having two different sizes of frames, foundation, and boxes.

Best wishes on your new adventure!
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thats your basic all in one hive with supplies. Many new folks around here buy this. You'll have everything you'll need minus the bees and knowledge.
Since you haven't bought anything yet, do some research and give some thought to going all one size box for everything. For the small beek, it is so much easier than dealing with a jumble of different sized boxes and frames and foundation. I use all deeps, but all mediums work just as well, and that way everything is interchangeable--a real factor when you only have a few hives. I know the kits are tempting but they are really not the most economical OR practical way to start out.


Mann lake ships free on$100 orders, Easy to accumulate $100. Piece together what you need as you decide make a list and compare prices. And choose what size boxes you want and stick with it, Don,t mix and match later. It makes it a pain...

Some points o consider
-Broadman feeder is a bad choice
-Bee brushes piss bees of
- A long sleeve shirt will work vs a jacket
- Check the price of supply houses budget boxes etc and total same components for boxes, bottom boards etc and compare to kit price
- If you are choosing individual pieces--- a migratory top is easy to make from scrap wood and will save over a bought telescoping cover

Remember most bee suppliers sell out of bees early so have things in line for bees. In my area that is by February. And last ask ten beekeepers and get at least 20 different answers :) A lot is just pure preference or habit...
Enjambres gave some good advice. My local club presents a beekeeping school early each Spring, and that's where I began to get some hands-on experience with equipment a few months before I got bees. Reading only can go so far for me. I also made some excellent contacts that have turned out to be mentors and friends (we're all nuts, by the way). They all have different opinions about what is 'right' for them, and they realize that many choices are personal, though often they won't admit that right away.

Seeing equipment, working with equipment and being around folk who can translate some of what you'll read into comprehension can go a long way toward understanding what is right for you.
I'm a second year beekeeper and I would recommend a couple of things. Number one would be to join a club. Most clubs have a beekeeping class in the spring and mine had a field day as well. We were able to go out and visit some hives and see how to work them and we had a lot of guest speakers with good information. Number two would to be start out with 2 nucs and buy them from an experienced bee keeper. The guy that sold me my bees has been an invaluable resource for me. He has provided me with many a phone consults over the past 2 years. Good luck!
There is pretty much nothing in a beginner's kit that I would buy...
It is definitely possible to "over-cerebralize this thing." To sit on the edge of the pool, reading book upon book about swimming, all the while staying high and dry.

Eventually, you're going to have an encounter with: a box of wild insects. May as well get it over with.

Today, it's still "early summer" in the Northern hemisphere, which means that it's not entirely too-late to dive in, if you have a patient local mentor(!) to help you along. No matter where you live, there will be "local beekeepers" nearby, and first of all you should make it your business to find them and to make their acquaintance. For one thing ... and it happens to be a very important thing ... you can visit their yards, right now. You can pitch-in and (try to) help them, right now. You can start to replace "book larnin'" with practical observation and experience, right now. You can start to eliminate "the great unknown," right now.
:kn:Another option (& the one I used) build a top bar hive (simple and affordable), capture a swarm to populate it and acquire equipment as the need arises. I noticed that the new swarm was very gentile and I have only used a veil so far, my wife bought me gloves for Fathers day so I do have them. As the swarm built up into a thriving hive I have noticed them getting a bit more defensive so I added a smoker to the kit following Michael Bush's advise to gently smoke them before opening the hive. My hive tools are a 5in1 painters putty knife I had and a salvaged serrated thin blade knife. All in I am at around $100.00 spaced out over 4 pay periods. I am naturally the type of person who waits for the lack of a tool or piece of equipment to become a real frustration before purchasing it where others want every piece of equipment before they can get started on a project.

Disclaimer: Individual results may vary.
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