Welcome NorthernPike. I am in middle Michigan. West side of the state. Lots of learning to be had here. Don't over think things or you'll go nuts. Just ask my wife. Realize that you will get a variety of opinions here. You'll sort it out but be patient.
By the way, I am starting my 2nd year with 2 hives that I think are going to make it through this winter we've had. I've ordered 2 more package and plan to gain a couple more via splits and traps.
Welcome, NP! I make all of my gear too. there arent too many folks on here that bother with making the frames, but for fairly small scale operations like mine (6 hives..increasing to about 20 this year), I don't mind the time spent at the saw. it gives me something to do in the winter. As other will likely point out, this is a fairly addictive hobby. I was convinced that 2 hives was enough and ended the first year with 6. I decided that 10 was probably enough, but have the gear nearly built for 20. I'm not sure what the limit is going to be for me, but i have a feeling its going to be like guns....always one away from "too many."
I am about an hour and a half south and west of you. The menominee/marinette area. Last year I got my bees on 22 April, there was still snow on the ground, and ice on my pond. The bees did fine. I too make all my own equipment, lets me enjoy the hobby twice!
NorthernPike, I went to collage in Marquette in the early sixties and am familiar with your winters. You will find this forum exceptionally informative. I am not adept at imbedding youtube sites but if you go to youtube and search for a video "keeping bees in frozen north america" it is Michael Palmer and he explains how he does it. Mr. Palmer lives in northern New York near the Canadian border. His presentation should be just what you are looking for.
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