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Hi everyone!
I love honey and have been interested in bees all my life. I am also a biologist and very curious about the different species/subspecies out there. Recently I even tried honey from giant Asian honey bees :)
I have also tried making art from beeswax (encaustic) but not very successfully (I also paint with oil and watercolor now and then). Beeswax candles are nice though.

Anyway, so I am thinking that I should finally get my own hive or two. Our yard has a nice nook next to the house with walls/fences on three sides, it opens to the garden on the fourth side. I am wondering if this would be the best place for a hive?

I also hear a lot of warnings about mites and disease. Someone said that 40% of hives die off during the first year. Are there any natural ways of combating these? The local supplier provides Italian honey bees, and I'm not sure if I should look for other types of bees?

Any suggestions are welcome!
 

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Welcome, I'd start with two nucleus colonies, and face the hive South East, study up, you have a few months yet.
 

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Welcome!
Yes, mites are a big issue for the bees, read up in the treatment free forum and there’s some treatments that are considered organic. It’s all what your parameters are.
 

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Many thanks!
I have "The Backyard Beekeeper" as my primary book. This one seems pretty good. But let me know if you have other recommendations.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Welcome aboard Royalalbatross. Please indicate which area of CA you live in. You do not need to be city specific, but later advice will be different if you live in say Sacramento or San Diego.

You will probably be able to harvest enough beeswax to make candles around your third year. Your first two years should concentrate on hive growth and keeping them alive from one year to the next. Be careful, beekeeping can be very addictive and what starts out as two or three hives can easily become ten or twenty.
 

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Welcome aboard Royalalbatross. ....
Many thanks! I am in the San Fernando Valley. I have visited The Valley Hive, which seems to be the best place around here. I was thinking about getting a beehive and nuc for spring, but now that I have heard more about possible complications in various online videos I wonder if I should sign up for a course first and then start up next year?
 

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I started last February, with an idea, then in March found a bee school, my bees arrived in April,I grew them from 4 to 12 hives, wasn't very hard for me (so far so good), you can do it. I asked questions here till I found a local Mentor in August I think it was.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Long gone are the days when being a beekeeper meant sticking some bees in a box and collecting honey a couple times per year. It is a little more sophisticated now and bees need to be managed like any other form of livestock. Get your bees ordered, but do sign up for and take a beginning beekeeping class at one of your local clubs. The cost of the class is less than a package of bees and is well worth the money. It is best to start out with two hives so you can compare them as you are learning. It will also provide you with resources in case you run into a problem.
 

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I was thinking about getting a beehive and nuc for spring,
I recommend you start with two hives. If start up costs are a concern then try and catch a swarm for your second. Cornell University's Dr. Tom Seeley has a good paper about trapping swarms.

…now that I have heard more about possible complications in various online videos I wonder if I should sign up for a course first and then start up next year?
Go ahead and start in spring 2020. You can learn as you go. By all means study everything you can get your hands on, but there is no substitute for experience.
 

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I recommend you start with two hives. If start up costs are a concern then try and catch a swarm for your second. Cornell University's Dr. Tom Seeley has a good paper about trapping swarms.

Go ahead and start in spring 2020. You can learn as you go. By all means study everything you can get your hands on, but there is no substitute for experience.
Thanks for the tips! You are not the only one suggesting starting with two

There are several reasons for me still considering just one hive: part of it is money, as you mention. We also have just a small garden, with that nice "nook" that I mentioned. Finally, I would like the people around me (wife, neighbors) to get used to the bees more gradually.

Still, I will consider if two hives is an option.
 

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With one hive, you won't know what normal is, you can't help it along if it gets weak, by robbing from the other one.
 
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