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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Getting bees and using old scrap wood

I'll start by saying that I'm a total newbie and I don't have any connections IRL that can help me out. :eek:

I should be receiving The Barefoot Beekeeper in the mail either today or tomorrow and I plan on taking a class in March, but everything I'm reading tells me that I need to order bees by December. I read a small excerpt in Mother Earth News that said I could bait my hive in hopes of attracting bees the first year. Is that really possible/likely that I would be able to get a wild swarm?

*Edited to Add another question*

We have a bunch of old barn wood sitting out back. It's about 12" wide and it's all 1" thick and it's about 100 years old. Is there any reason that I (not really me, actually my husband) should not use that wood when making hives. Would there be anything in the wood (chemicals or old nails) which would be toxic or cause other issues for bees?
 

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Hi Isis,
It is possible to catch a wild swarm, but I wouldn't count on it. Order a nuc. Contact a local beekeeping club and ask them if any of their members sell nucs in the Spring. Buying LOCAL bees is BEST. Order them now. It is probably best to start with two hives, that way if one acts strangely, you'll be able to tell the difference. Spend the winter putting together equipment, your smoker, and a bee suit. Do LOTS of reading. Take that class. Remember that you don't have to do things perfectly. You are housing 60,000 little engineers who will help arrange things. It is a LOT of fun. The only thing you are likely to regret is the fact you didn't start last year.
 

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Being that you're going to be using a top bar hive (frameless/foundationless), I would order a package or packages rather than a nuc. You can generally order packages later than December and some will be available.

Like Johny said, don't count on a swarm to move into your hive. If you do...you may be waiting a few years to get bees. :) However, you can set up a swarm lure in your yard with some lemongrass oil and you may get lucky!

Matt
 

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I agree with Cacklewack. Get a package.

I tried to move from lang to top bar with no success. I expect the same difficulty with moving a standard nuc to a top bar. I haven't heard of any top bar nucs offered.

Last summer I caught a swarm from one of my hives and now I hopping my top bar survives the winter. As a newbie, planning for a swarm is a real long shot, especially if you don't have hives nearby.

I increased from a single package to seven hives (gave one away) through queenless splits and catching my own swarms. If my top bar survives, I concentrating on splits. For me, its money. I can build a top bar for $30 in the same time it takes to assemble a lang. Honey from a package in the first year is lucky, but increases through splits is viable. Best guidance I found is Michael Bush.

Good luck and have fun.
 

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One thing about Bees and this site is someone is always new at it.Everyone was a new keeper at one time and we all learn from each other and our own mistakes.I know I have made enough mistakes to sink a battleship but I don't make the sameone twice.One of my big mistake was not starting before I was 70 years old but can't chang that Merl
 

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Setting bait hives is like fishing. It's a great way to get some hives, but not a great way to make sure you get some hives. Fishing is a great way to get some fish, but if you want to be sure to have some for supper you should go to the grocery store. I'd buy a package AND make some bait hives...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the replies. I was totally confused about how a NUC was going to work with a TBH, so thanks for clearing that up for me.

I don't think my chances of attracting a wild swarm are very good.

Since you all were so helpful on that question, I have another one.

We have a bunch of old barn wood sitting out back. It's about 12" wide and it's all 1" thick and it's about 100 years old. Is there any reason that I (not really me, actually my husband) should not use that wood when making hives. Would there be anything in the wood (chemicals or old nails) which would be toxic or cause other issues for bees?
 

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Now that's what I call Beekeeping! I wish I had some of that wood!

The age may make it a bit frustrating to work with due to splitting, but it should look just plain awesome when finished. I use deck sealer on my hives because I like the look of wood better than paint and they blend into the landscape better. If your wood is rough cut, that will help retain the look.

Consider adding cleats at corners to prevent splitting due to weather and transport. Pre-drilling and countersinking screws should also help.

Please post pics when you get it together.
 
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