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Discussion Starter #1
Folks, I need some good advice:

I started out brand new with a single hive and package this spring; everything's been going great and I've been planning to add 2-3 more hives next spring by buying packages.

Today I learned of an opportunity to buy 2 existing hives for about $125 / $150 apiece. I haven't looked at the hive components yet, but sounds like they are just one deep brood box with a couple of supers on top. Don't know yet how healthy the hives are; the owner says he's treated for mites, etc.

Any advice? Is that too much to pay for "used" bees??
 

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If the equipment is in good shape and the bees are healthy that is a very good price. I would open the hive and check the brood nest to see that they are healthy and that the queens are laying a good pattern though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Followup here: I went and looked at the hives tonite. They look at least a few years old but have screened bottom boards and have the sloped landing boards I've seen in pictures but aren't on my own hive.

The first hive is pretty big and seemed to have a lot of activity, but looked pretty gummed up and the inside cover looked ancient. I wasn't able to pry out any frames, although I'm sure I could have if it had been my own hive--I just didn't want to bust up anything. So in short, while there seemed to be a lot going on it didn't look like the hive had been inspected this year, the comb was sort of yellow or golden, and everything was pretty well drawn together.

The second hive I was able to lift a few frames out of. Again comb is golden rather than the white on the brand new hive that I'm used to. I didn't go through the whole thing but it seemed full of bees to--maybe not quite as many.

I'm inclined to buy the second hive but not the first, partly just because the equipment seems better. Any comments? It could be that an experienced beekeep would have thought everything seemed perfect. I'm still so new that I'm used to shiny, clean boxes and nice white comb.

Any advice appreciated. Thanks for all the help on this board. I've ususally just lurked but I've learned a ton.

-Norman
 

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Offer $225 for the pair??? The first sounds like a strong colony and freeing up the frames will take some effort, but probably worth it.

I would pop a frame or two from each colony and open a few drone cells......... and check for mites. Check for any signs of diesease like AFB, chalkbrood , etc. You have to pull some frames from #1 and I bet the guy won't mind.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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All old brood comb will be brown to black. That means nothing. Propolis is normal. The main thing is what does the brood look like. AFB signs are pierced brood cappings, greasy brood cappings, scale in empty brood cells, dead pupae with their tongues out, and when you put a stick in one of those pierced cappings, stir and pull out the goo it will rope. Also AFB has a foul smell, like rotting meat. Don't count on the smell, but don't discount it if you smell it.
 

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For a newby that's afraid to do an inspection, its all about trusting the seller. Use your gut on that one and unless you know somebody that can give a reference its a risk. But, getting a used hive "sight unseen" (which is what it is unless you pull some frames) is a lot scarier than it needs to be. The fact that he'll let you fumble through a box and not pressure to sell is the first good sign.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Wade; that's a good point. I think the guy is trustworthy, and he's a member of the local beekeeper's club, for what it's worth.
 
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