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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started beekeeping last year. I ended the season with 5 hives. I knew by mid summer that I wanted to expand this season to 15-20 hives. My brother and I bought a business last summer and I have been and I am still very busy during the day. While my bees were busy last summer building the hives up, I should have been working on equipment. I am also an avid deer hunter so during the winter, the Saturdays that I had off, I went deer hunting. I didn't give much thought to the bees until March. I have been in a non stop battle trying to build enough hive bodies, nucs, frames, and swarm traps to expand and catch any swarms that my hives cast. The bees are ahead and I am behind. After attending Sunrise service this morning and our regular service later, I came home, ate lunch and started painting supers that I built last summer. They've been stacked neatly in the barn since I built them. Some of them now have hairline cracks in them from drying out too much. If I had painted them last year when they were built, I wouldn't be as far behind and they wouldn't have cracks in them. The cracks don't go all the way through, but they're still there.

I'm trying to save some of you the same chaos that I have had for the past month. If you start beekeeping and enjoy it, and have thoughts of expanding, and build your own equipment, DON'T take the summer off like I did last year. If you want 10 more hives, build 10-20 deeps, and 40-50 supers. Assemble frames, paint the boxes and put the frames in them. Build some swarm traps. Pull occasional frames out of your first year hives and let them draw extra frames of wax. You can use the extras next spring to open up the brood boxes and also to put in the swarm traps. I had one hive die out this winter and I have divided up the 20 deep drawn frames as best as I can. I put 2 each that had mouse damage in 2 swarm traps that I put out this afternoon. One is a single deep from the hive that died out and the other I made from a culled deep I built last year. While making a top and bottom for the culled deep, a bee was busy checking out the hive that sat on my four wheeler rack. I don't know if it was a scout or a robber but I thought it was a good sign to see.

I have decided that I am going to stop using foundation. I am transitioning to starter strips, which I can cut 3-4 out of one piece of medium foundation. I could go without the starter strips but since I bought 10lbs of both medium and deep foundation, I have an abundance of starter strip material. When I run out of foundation, I will use popsicle sticks or thin strips of scrap wood. That saves a lot of money and I even though I have read it many times, I finally figured out that bees don't need it anyway. I don't know who started selling foundation, but I think they pulled a good one on beekeepers.....

Moral of the story: If you wait until next spring to get your tail in gear, the bees will be ahead of you and you will be frantically working to catch up.
 

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Amen
I am behind already trying to get set up for 2 hives. Much less the 10 I hope to grow into.
Swarm trapping seems to be the way to go, 1 for 8 so far. The bees I had move into a old deep trap seem so motivated. I am with you on the foundation also. I am just using it for a guide till I can cull it out.
Good luck on the swarm traps
mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dang, 3 Bama "boys" in 3 posts. I didn't know there that many of "us" around.

Mike, are you trapping around existing hives are are you just blind trapping?
 

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Maybe expanding isn't the best route until you can handle a couple of hives first.
Or maybe bees demand to much of your time and another pursuit altogether would be the better choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
clyderoad, is your response to me or one of the other posters?
 

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I thought I was the only guy with way too many hobbies!

The key to staying ahead of the bees is the same as it is for everything else -- heated shop lets you work all winter, and that's what I do, at least until I ran out of propane during the fake shortage this winter. I refuse to pay that much for heat in my shop, so I'm behind -- need to make end bars for a couple hundred frames tomorrow. Won't be too bad, and I have all the equipment i think I need for this year. Enough nucs and spare deeps for swarm traps and am currently making deeps for a buddy -- that's tomorrow afternoon, I think. Tomorrow evening is replace the ball joints in the station wagon, and the rest of the day tomorrow and Tuesday evening is going to be mow, pick up tree debris (not in that order!) and plant garden. I've got the grapes all pruned but still need to put up a pair of posts and set six or eight T-posts and run two pieces of wire. Trip to the hardware store for that, I need some i-bolts and some turnbuckles.

I will also find some time to swap a frame of emerging brood into my package hive, they offed the queen on me and I don't want them to fade away!

Peter
 

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Sounds very similar to my situation. Started last spring and always seem to be behind the bees. But, Im catching up. The last year has taught me what it takes to stay ahead. Learning it the hard way but its all fun. I have enjoyed my bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Learning it the hard way but its all fun. I have enjoyed my bees.
Isn't every lesson with bees learned the hard way? :) I have been involved with agriculture my whole life and still farm on the side, but this is the most interesting agriculture thing I've ever done. It's fascinating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You may change your mind on that when you start extracting.........
Since we do metal fab at our shop, I'm making my own extractor. It will have stainless X metal to "hold" the side of each frame of comb. I'm also using some reinforcement in my FL frames so the X metal may not be needed.
 

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Brad; I have swarm traps out in 3 counties, Two near 2 different feral hive. The other 6 are blind. The one that hit was on our upper deck 10 foot high at our house. Was going to get a couple of nukes but.... I have limited experience but to my thinking the swarm comes in motivated with the resources it needs to make it. I would so rather have a swarm. I have a couple more sites that I think would be good Just have to find the time to cobble the traps together.
Happy trapping
mike
 

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I started beekeeping last year. I ended the season with 5 hives. I knew by mid summer that I wanted to expand this season to 15-20 hives. My brother and I bought a business last summer and I have been and I am still very busy during the day. While my bees were busy last summer building the hives up, I should have been working on equipment. I am also an avid deer hunter so during the winter, the Saturdays that I had off, I went deer hunting. I didn't give much thought to the bees until March. I have been in a non stop battle trying to build enough hive bodies, nucs, frames, and swarm traps to expand and catch any swarms that my hives cast. The bees are ahead and I am behind. After attending Sunrise service this morning and our regular service later, I came home, ate lunch and started painting supers that I built last summer. They've been stacked neatly in the barn since I built them. Some of them now have hairline cracks in them from drying out too much. If I had painted them last year when they were built, I wouldn't be as far behind and they wouldn't have cracks in them. The cracks don't go all the way through, but they're still there.

I'm trying to save some of you the same chaos that I have had for the past month. If you start beekeeping and enjoy it, and have thoughts of expanding, and build your own equipment, DON'T take the summer off like I did last year. If you want 10 more hives, build 10-20 deeps, and 40-50 supers. Assemble frames, paint the boxes and put the frames in them. Build some swarm traps. Pull occasional frames out of your first year hives and let them draw extra frames of wax. You can use the extras next spring to open up the brood boxes and also to put in the swarm traps. I had one hive die out this winter and I have divided up the 20 deep drawn frames as best as I can. I put 2 each that had mouse damage in 2 swarm traps that I put out this afternoon. One is a single deep from the hive that died out and the other I made from a culled deep I built last year. While making a top and bottom for the culled deep, a bee was busy checking out the hive that sat on my four wheeler rack. I don't know if it was a scout or a robber but I thought it was a good sign to see.

I have decided that I am going to stop using foundation. I am transitioning to starter strips, which I can cut 3-4 out of one piece of medium foundation. I could go without the starter strips but since I bought 10lbs of both medium and deep foundation, I have an abundance of starter strip material. When I run out of foundation, I will use popsicle sticks or thin strips of scrap wood. That saves a lot of money and I even though I have read it many times, I finally figured out that bees don't need it anyway. I don't know who started selling foundation, but I think they pulled a good one on beekeepers.....

Moral of the story: If you wait until next spring to get your tail in gear, the bees will be ahead of you and you will be frantically working to catch up.
Why are you wanting to expand? Is it important enough to take time from others, and other things you enjoy doing?

Balance in life is a wonderful thing:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Balance in life is a wonderful thing:)
You're right, balance is a wonderful thing. I balance everything in my life. I do not, however have any idle time. I like it that way. Beekeeping is relaxing, even if I'm behind for the time being.
 

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Frames Frames Frames.....must have more frames------ Supers too! Couple more nuc boxes would be nice.
I've seen bee apiaries online or in books that have a box and a piece of plywood on top and I've said to myself..."Wow what a POS operation that cant even make decent equipment." Barely even into it my first year and I'm starting to get a feeling that with everything else going on in my life, some bees will live in a Waldorf box and others in Motel 6 box. Always playing catchup but I make sure to have at least a couple of nuc boxes ready. Just in case! One day I'm going to get around to building that TBH like I want!
 

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I can relate to what Brad has said about being prepared. I started with two "borrowed" hives last April to see if this was something I really wanted to get into. After babysitting bees all summer and pampering them all winter I managed to get both hives through the winter in good condition. So good so that one of them swarmed....3 times! Imagine my panic at what to do as I didn't have anything ready for something like this other than a few unassembled boxes and frames. My friend who gave me the hives to practice with bailed me out and now after catching a fourth swarm which either came from a neighbor or maybe a feral swarm I am up to 7 hives and a nuc. My kitchen snack bar has become a work area, my office has become a storage area and I am now working on acquiring the tools needed to support all of these hives. I am going to build my own boxes (I have a nice workshop) and might experiment with making my own frames. I'm also considering experimenting with going foundationless to help save on money. Anyway, if I see another swarm in my apple tree (that's where they've all been) I will either look the other way or chop the darn tree down! So much for my worries about keeping the little girls going through the winter. Looks like I did it! Anyway, now to study on how to prevent them from swarming next year. Any help or information on this would be much appreciated!
 

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If you are going foundationless then why even mess with the starter strip. Just break out the wedge top bar, turn it 90 degrees and staple it back in and the bees will use it for a starter edge.
 
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