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So I have been interested in this hobby for a little while but never had the gumption to start it for a couple of reasons. But now, my fiancee is working very hard at a community garden and has said to me it might be nice to have some bee's buzzing alone to help it along. Sounds reasonable to me!

But here are my concerns after doing some reading on and off:

1) I would not want more than two hives at any given time. Is this possible? I know part of avoiding multiple hives is the idea of avoiding the swarm and swapping out queens every 2-3 years. But can you really just have one to two hives for extended periods of time relatively naturally? (i.e. not torturing the bees)

2) What if the bees DO swarm? How do I remove the swarm or get them back into the hive? This has scared me since I really have no clue.

3) Has anyone been liable for an allergic bee sting due to beekeeping? I know the thought of being stung in a GARDEN sounds ludicrous but still...

4) What if work or personal distractions get in the way of keeping the hive? Could I back out some how and still give the bees a good home or retire them humanely?

Anyway I was hoping I could get some feedback/comments about what is holding me back.
 

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You can keep only 2 hives if thats all you want, You can box a swarm and give it way, or often combine them back . Depending on security you could put hives in a public garden, I would worry about vandals. It would work better to have them somewhere near the garden out of sight.

If you decided beekeeping wasn't for you , selling hives isn't hard or give them to a young beekeeper.

You would be very lucky if you had hives for a while, and still only wanted 2.
 

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A plethora of good questions, you could write a book to answer all of them, I will say what I always say to someone contemplating on getting into beekeeping. Obtain and read some of the outstanding books available, this will prepare you to be successful and will save a lot of hard lessons.

Find a beekeeper in your area you could confide in for advice. I will offer a hands on experience for anyone who shows up and wants to learn. But above all turn your interest into reality, you won’t regret it. Beekeeping is a very rewarding endeavor. I started out with two hives mainly because I wasn’t really sure it would be my cup of tea. Then I soon realized that six hives would be a lot more fun, then eighteen than thirty. This seems to be a number that I can handle and still work a full time job at the power company I work for and manage our small blueberry operation. The only thing I don’t like about beekeeping is the long winters of just watching the hives covered with snow, and wishing for green again.
 

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1 two hives are just fine.
2 swarms happen but there are ways to help hinder their want to swarm. like making sure they have proper room. and sometimes they will just move lock stock and barrel.
3 nope your not going to be held lible for some one getting stung. unless you know they are alergic and take them to your hive against their will.
4 you can get a way with checking on them 9 times a year at the min. and if you want to get rid of them I am sure there are plenty of takers on this board.
 

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As others have said, start reading. Check your local library for books and videos on beekeeping.

Also, contact local/state beekeeping clubs and attend a few meetings. Many clubs offer beginnning beekeeping classes and are great places to find mentors and get connected with nearby beekeepers who can help you out. There are several clubs in New Jersey, or possibly SE Pennsylvania:
http://njbeekeepers.org/LocalBranches.htm

http://www.pastatebeekeepers.org/Reports/Map/Contacts and Inspectors.htm#
 

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I won't address the specifics of your questions as I don't have the knowledge. This will be my first year with bees. What I will offer is that you seem to have a case of the "what ifs." In small doses this can be helpful, maybe even healthy. In larger doses it can be paralyzing. Trust me I know. I used to let the what ifs run my life.

What if you fail? I now say... so what if you do? You made an attempt. At that point you can decide if further effort is worth it.

But...what if you succeed? Who knows where that will take you.
 

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I kept a single hive for three years. Now I keep a hive at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens. I brought it there for pollination. At the first garden show, there was a great interest in classes to learn about the bees. Month two I was teaching new beekeepers. That was last year and I am still teaching. We added a liability release about halfway through last year. The classes are lecture, question/answer and hands-on. We had a problem with teenagers last year. I strapped the hive together like I would for bears or racoons. We have not had any trouble since. If you look at the photo galleries, there are many people at every class. There are new, never seen a hive, students every month. The Florida Master Beekeeper Program uses keeping a hive in a public garden as a requirement and tool to educate the public.
http://americasbeekeeper.com/Gallery.htm
or
http://americasbeekeeper.com/Gallery_2010.htm
 

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First I can't guarentee that someone won't get stung but from my experience the only time I have ever been stung is when I am close to a hive.Bees won't sting when they are forgeing.also if someone does get a bee sting how will they prove the bee that stung them came from your hive?It could have came from a feral(wild) hive.Most people that start with their own bees get hooked and don't want to quit but if you do their are beekeepers that would gladly take them.Also contact your local county ag agent for advise and addresses of local bee clubs. Good luck.
 

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I started with one hive that I captured at a friends house. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't wait to get more. As was said before, it's addicting, and you'll prob want more. I was concerned about people getting stung by bees (my kids or neighbors), so far the only person that has been stung has been me and it was usually a mistake I made. I talked to my neighbors and at first they were a little against it, but tell you what, when they got that free bottle of golden liquid, I never heard anything else except "when are you going to have more?" Gotta say, as he plants more fruit trees in his yard, I'm probably going to have to give him a couple of extra bottles this year. If for any reason, you decide that it's not for you, there's pleanty of people that will take the hives or buy them off of you, its only a craigslist ad away.

Good luck,
Craig
 

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It seems like you have gotten good answers to your questions so far.

I will add. Find a local beekeeper (through a local club or a site like this) that is willing to have you shaddow them during a hive inspection or two. That can really give you an idea if the hobby is for you, and it helps with some of the fears.
 

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I would add one other suggestion to the good points that others have made so far. From the description of your situation it sounds like you are not looking to get huge honey harvests, and that you would like to go a very natural route. You might want to look into, and read up on, top bar hives. They would save you the big expenses of the more standard Langstroth hive, they are easy to built yourself and they will provide you a with a way to tinker with bees before jumping into the serious stuff. When you get hooked on beekeeping you will have more experience and will be better prepared for the more standard beekeeping with supers, frames, and potentially large honey harvests.

Good luck. And don't be afraid, like most on here you will wonder very soon how you could have ever lived without bees.
 

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They would save you the big expenses of the more standard Langstroth hive, . . . . -Marc
Not trying to provoke an argument here, but I sometimes read this sort of statement and am left wondering, "What are the 'big expenses' of a Langstroth hive?"

How does a Langstroth cost any more than a topbar?
 

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No new beek should use a top bar hive they are a throw back to the stone age of beeking.
 

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No new beek should use a top bar hive they are a throw back to the stone age of beeking.
I started last year with a top bar hive and would recommend it to any new beekeeper for its beauty and simplicity. Pure beekeeping. My bees love it, my neighbors love it and I love it. I am thinking of progressing to warre soon, but not until I build and stock 4-6 top bar hives. The knotweed honey gleaned from it last September was incredible.
Start with reading anything by Michael Bush at www.bushfarms.com
and Joey and Gary at www.customwoodkitsinternational.com .
Read, read, read, and make up your own mind. If I would have listened to the local urban bee organization, I wouldn't have pursued and fallen in love with top bar hive beekeeping.
 

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any new beek can start with what ever equipment they choose.

If you don't like top bar hives, don't use them but don't make untrue comments about them to try to run people off of them. That's so childish.

Top bar hives are very efficient and work well for a lot of people looking for the benefits a tbh offers. maybe a tbh isn't the best hive if you are interested in making money from honey production or large scale pollination, but that doesn't make them a throwback. good grief.

Choose the equipment based on your needs and your expectations. read all you can on bee biology and know what you want from beekeeping then make your own educated decisions.

enjoy the bees,

Big Bear
 

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A Langstroth hive can be built out of scrap wood as easily and more efficiently than a top bar. I make my personal hives from scrap and the oldest is 5 years old and still in use. I do not need any board longer than 19 inches or wider than 7 inches. The top bar hive is so similar to hives before the Langstroth it is crazy. Bees naturally build vertically. So new natural beekeepers are advocating horizontal hives. If the TBH cannot be inspected and manipulated as easily as the Langstroth it will promote diseases, pests and parasites to the epidemic levels that caused the great kills 150 years ago. Wow a bit like CCD.
 

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" Bees naturally build vertically. So new natural beekeepers are advocating horizontal hives. If the TBH cannot be inspected and manipulated as easily as the Langstroth it will promote diseases, pests and parasites to the epidemic levels that caused the great kills 150 years ago. Wow a bit like CCD.[/QUOTE]

Please support your quote with evidence.

Backyard or hobby beekeeping is a pleasure. Please don't be put of by statements like the above. Beekeepers love to keep bees, in Langstroths or top bar hives.
 

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A Langstroth hive can be built out of scrap wood as easily and more efficiently than a top bar. I make my personal hives from scrap and the oldest is 5 years old and still in use.
I don't have the woodworking skills to build a lang that would fit with comercial frames.

I"m too new to be in a place to argue that, but I do disagree. I have nothing against Langs and the OP isn't looking for a suggestion of what kind of hive to use. This is like talkign about raising your kids and is bound to start trouble.
 
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