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Dirt Cheap Bee Keeping!

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Thinking about a book that could be co produced by Greg V and Little_john; something like "Dirt Cheap Subsistence Beekeeping"!. Seriously there have been a wealth of ideas about how to have your own honey with an absolute minimum of purchased equipment. Forget about the virtue signalling 500 or 1000$ garden hives. No concessions to beauty or conformity. Very little in the way of tools etc.

I think it is a challenge that some people would take up on. An interesting hobby with virtually no cash outlay. This would not be one of these frivolous save the bees grabbers for people with no knowledge of bees or much interest in acquiring it. Just bare bones necessities for the BEES needs. Kind of a different mindset but not really so wild.

I think it could be made to fly! I know I would rather read it than some of the sappy bee books full of terms like "bonding with the bees":rolleyes:
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Thinking about a book that could be co produced by Greg V and Little_john;
Hey, crofter, I was thinking to start a thread titled - "Dirt Cheap Beekeeping".
But I kinda need to do my actual job at the moment. :)

You could start a thread OR do you want to just rename this thread to "Dirt Cheap Beekeeping"?
The "book" can be discussed within just as well.

PS: I just hate when people are spending their meager SSN checks on this useless hobby. LOL
 

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Title changed! My wife and I got to talking about the rising cost many aspects of life. It affects us very little but so many are living on the ragged edge. There are so many grabbers for their little bit of money. Many people really do not know how to stretch a dollar and still have fun. They get caught in money traps at every turn.

We harass you a bit for being "cheap" and you return the favor for being wasteful so that is a draw. If push came to shove though you could be still keeping your bees with stone age equipment. The bees wouldnt care and the honey would still be as sweet. Little_john has similar inclinatiions and gets a lot of satisfaction I am sure out of not filling the pockets of the hyper sales "establishments".
 

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So yes, this is one of my favorite topics.

It will require mental switch for some people. :)
Need to ditch that "10-frame deep Lang box" mentality.
It is not essential and gets in a way.

Here is a picture of a computer box in my very cube.
I keep it around for a reason (a matter of fact, I collect similar equipment boxes and take them home).

What I see is a perfect bee hive - free, warm, decent size, compatible with Lang frames.
The box is very robust - a requirement for storage and shipping of expensive electronics (I will not take just any box as some of them are not suitable).
This box is afraid of water but that is easily fixed by plastic wrap.
Lid - one of those ceramic tiles I scrounged last summer.
The box is also easily replaceable after a season if needed (I got too many as it is).

The box takes 5 Ukrainian frames (just free standing them is fine) OR about 10 medium Lang frames (also free-standing but in another direction).
I also made some hanging scaffolding into these, but concluded, that is more hassle than it is worth it (not necessary).

Tall-narrow frames (e.g. Ukrainan, Layens) are great because the can be just stood up and immediately create favorable to the bees volume (something akin to a double-deep).
So without any special support frame-work around, 3-4 freely standing deep frames immediately create a good bee shelter where the bees can cluster rather naturally (and there is sufficient under-cluster air space which is beneficial to both bee and the cardboard - bees will not chew through the paper).
Drop those frames into a suitable box - done, you got yourself a functional beehive.

But yes - it is beneficial and essential to be compatible to the conventional folks around you if you wanna be "dirt cheap".
Let's not get into that silly "natural" TBH mentality - that is not helpful and not even "dirt cheap" by default.
Go and find thrown away free TBH hives in dumpsters - good luck! :)
But computer boxes are laying around right and left for taking - almost "ready to go" nuc boxes.

I am not talking just a theory here - I have done it and this works.
Having these boxes in the garage on a stand-by - if I am out of equipment, the bees will spill over into these boxes.
Now that I said it, gonna have to have bees in this box next summer just for a demo (IF I have that many bees).

So - electronic equipment boxes work great in "dirt cheep beekeeping".
One idea to get us started. :)
 

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So - electronic equipment boxes work great in "dirt cheep beekeeping".
This includes "dirt cheap" swarm trapping, of course.
 

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I would like to think of my beekeeping hobby as on the cheap. One of my most favorite hobbies before beekeeping was wood working, then gardening. The wood working lead to beekeeping , looking for a wood project one winter my sister which is a beekeeper suggested I make some bee hives.That was in 2015 and now I'm hooked.I make all my wooden ware I'm a disciple of JohnO so my mite treatments is really cheap with 12 to 13 treatments of OAV. and I have very few winter losses because of JohnO ( thanks John).With that said I have more bees and students then I have time to handle. They call me cheap Pete at the bee club! I do enjoy beekeeping and Beesource.com
 

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I build my hives out of rough saw lumber or salvage lumber if at all possible. Many of my nuc boxes are made from used plywood shipping crates being thrown out at work. I have a 9? frame hive here made out of a shipping box for a valve.
I have gave up on making frames. I just don’t have the time to justify it. I switched to Pierco plastic frames. Cost is about the same as wood and wax and I don’t have to build them.
Learning to make bees saves more money.
 

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Opps! started with one hive, now up to 7
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PS: I just hate when people are spending their meager SSN checks on this useless hobby. LOL

Hey, I resemble that remark. lol
 

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I live in an expensive place to purchase bee equipment, if only due to exorbitant, an ever rising, shipping expenses.
My solution is to purchase boxes and frames unassembled, and to make my own covers and bottom boards out of whatever I can get. Beyond that, I am a natural cell beekeeper, also known as foundationless.
Not me, but a person with only a few hives done this way can easily cut the combs of honey out and then crush them. I do this with any odd combs and my cappings. I do have a perforated cylinder into which I place the crushed combs and further squeeze them down to remove most of the honey.
I'm not saying it's the greatest way, but it certainly is cheaper than buying and storing all of the equipment necessary for extraction.
My caveat is that I am only talking about a method suitable to the beekeeper who has only a few hives and is not worried about whether or not he could have harvested a greater quantity of honey using a more sophisticated method.
Equipment needed: veil and hat, smoker, hive tool, bee brush, and knives and crushing tools. Bee suit and gloves? For the bees I have, they are unnecessary,
IMO, the 'bee companies' offer a lot of equipment that the less informed beekeeper will purchase thinking that they are must have items, and this runs up the bill.
Bees? Catch swarms, do cutouts, and make your own splits rather than buying bees. I realize that, for some, this is easier said and done. That said, I haven't bought bees in 50 years.
 

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I got into beekeeping and making my own hives and frames a couple of years ago because I have the same expensive shipping problem as Gino45. Now EVERYTHING made of wood that is discarded by us, family or friends, looks like hive making material. I use old picture frames as robbing screens, cut up wooden dressers for their plywood to use in hives, and am looking at some old solid oak cupboard doors for nuc tops. I tease my husband that our ugly, old, none functional piano has way too much solid wood in it for it to stay whole LOL. But it is hands off that, for now.
I wonder if I just opened the top and dropped a coupe of frames in if he would notice, probably, because it is still in the house. :giggle:

Is it weird that when I look at it I mentally measure the sides and notice that a deep frame would fit with not much adjustment needed? :unsure:
 

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One of the pillars of the DCB (Dirt Cheap Beekeeping) is scrounging.

The guys making those TBHs on the picture right above would be envious of us in US/Canada - having access to the "Free" section of the Craigslist or Nextdoor or Facebook or some other web resource (including local papers, etc).
Not to mention the construction dumpsters - those are god-sent gold mines.

So just to make a point - right here I am looking at the latest "Free" section of my local Craigslist.
By now I am selective and will not just get any junk - but rather good quality junk.
But still, bee boxes can be made and setup for nothing (just some time investment).
  • "Ping pong table" (no picture) - enough material for 2-3 nuc hives plus hardware plus the stands (UNLESS you do want the table as is)
  • "black board" - more nuc grade material, potentially

Plant Furniture Rectangle Wood House


- more material
Wood Gas Flooring Hardwood Automotive exterior

Wood Natural material Wood stain Hardwood Rectangle


- a couple of tires to be used as hive stands

Plant Automotive tire Motor vehicle Road surface Wood

- more hive stands
Plant Stairs Wood Fence Tree


- all kinds of free wood
Sky Wood Wood stain Rectangle Hardwood

Plant Wood Natural landscape Grass Wood stain

- another hive stand
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Synthetic rubber Tread
 

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Wow, this is great!!
Now I don't have to be embarrassed by my homemade nucs of old particle board, or my hideous double screen boards, or the hive stands from a picnic table that fell apart.
Etc.

But Greg, you're a regular Fred Sanford with all the junk you have!!!
You must have a huge yard to keep all that trash.
I'm impressed.

Well done, folks!
 

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But Greg, you're a regular Fred Sanford with all the junk you have!!!
You must have a huge yard to keep all that trash.
I'm impressed.
I don't.
Moreover, I leave in a subdivision with manicured yard crazy people who periodically complain on my backyard beekeeping.
Yah, I am really annoying that way with my bees, and fruit trees and veg garden - very unsightly in winter months.

Junk is one reason why I have seven locations - I just distribute the junk I scrounge up between those places.
Since all of my locations hidden in bushes and woods, no one cares.
Out of site, out of mind.
 

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Now I don't have to be embarrassed
Don't.

A matter of fact, I know many of my neighbors quietly hate me. LOL
They say all the politically correct things about "saving the bees", etc, etc - and yet even a single dandelion on their lawn gets promptly killed.

And then there is GregV's yard - full of dandelions, clover, bee boxes, and junk stuffed under the back porch.

Here is the thing - all those "well wishers" happily take their junk to a recycling center and such (most of it just goes directly into the landfill).
They care less where their junk goes afterwards - but it has to go somewhere.
So I am doing my little thing to mitigate the best I can - doing the "dirt cheap beekeeping".
 

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And then there is GregV's yard - full of dandelions, clover, bee boxes, and junk stuffed under the back porch.
This made me chuckle. We live on a cattle farm in grain country. I swear my farmer neighbours are tempted to swing in with their round-up boom and sweep my huge front lawn as they pass by during the spring dandelion season. But when they are all in bloom it is actually a beautiful buzzing site and quite easy to mow the rest of the year, but in spring they are allowed to flourish.
 

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Don't.

A matter of fact, I know many of my neighbors quietly hate me. LOL
They say all the politically correct things about "saving the bees", etc, etc - and yet even a single dandelion on their lawn gets promptly killed.

And then there is GregV's yard - full of dandelions, clover, bee boxes, and junk stuffed under the back porch.

Here is the thing - all those "well wishers" happily take their junk to a recycling center and such (most of it just goes directly into the landfill).
They care less where their junk goes afterwards - but it has to go somewhere.
So I am doing my little thing to mitigate the best I can - doing the "dirt cheap beekeeping".
Oh. I think we could swap homes and no one would notice. Except my front yard. Wife worries about the neighbors so I dutifully murder dandelions. Back yard is mine and all kinds of things flourish.

On topic, my main cost has always been frames. 5 years ago at the local farm store a box of 5 frames with plastic foundation was $15. Now, it's over $30! Last year I bought 100 un-assembled frames so I am set for a while, but it still wasn't what this stingy guy thought of as cheap.
 

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Oh. I think we could swap homes and no one would notice. Except my front yard. Wife worries about the neighbors so I dutifully murder dandelions. Back yard is mine and all kinds of things flourish.
We are one-to-one, AR.
Exact same thing - front yard is mostly compliant to the HOA wishes.
Backyard - some resemblance of the personal expression freedom.
 
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