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The hypothetical has always been put in the tool forums, if you shop burned down and nothing was left what tool would you buy first? And stuff like that. So in a similar vein.....

If you had to simply start all over, with no equipment or gear or bees, blank slate square #1.

What would you do differently than you did the first time?
 

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6a 4th yr 7 colonies inc. resource hive
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My first year was filled with mistakes. My second, a few less. My third is going pretty well and I’m sure I’m making mistakes I don’t even know about. So to be honest I wouldn’t change a thing experience wise. The ability to enjoy the journey is a blessed thing. I’m a minor player in the supporting cast.

Are there pieces of equipment I can’t without? Most definitely. They are 1) SBB over solid BB with Inspection tray 2) Beesmart robbing screen 3) triple wax plastic with wood frames 4) rapid feeders 5) Prosweet from Mannlake, can store straight into the comb 6) resource hives 7) great local bees 8) mites die now attitude, apivar and OAV 9) ultrabreeze jacket 10) dadant tall smoker, stupid great. Boxes from Mannlake.
 

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Most things I would keep the same, but if I could go back and give myself advice:

1. Less worry about cold, moisture, varroa, deformed wing virus, israeli paralysis virus, european foulbrood, sacbrood, tracheal mites, nosema, etc.

2. More worry about queen status, swarming, and drawn comb.

3. Heavily waxed plastic foundation instead of wax foundation.

4. Buy queens. It doesn't matter what breed or from where. Just don't tolerate the local genetics.

5. Buy an extractor and forget about Flow supers. Flow supers do work as advertised, but when the bees fill them you don't get more drawn comb. Drawn comb is your most valuable resource, because it's the best swarm preventative, and swarming should be your #1 concern.

For most new beekeepers I would probably give almost the opposite advice. I would tell them to worry about varroa and nutrition above all else. My advice to myself would be unusual because my start was unusual -- I read every page of Randy Oliver's website before I'd ever touched a hive tool, and have never had a local mentor. So I ended up with way more "book learning" than hands-on experience. I can recognize nosema under my microscope, but can't tell the difference between robbing and orientation flights!
 

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1. Two hives is not sustainable, start with at least 4, and double that the 2nd year.
2. Don't fritter money away on "bee toys" and fancy queens.
3. Kill varoa, relentlessly.
4. Plastic foundation is good, plastic frames not so much.
 

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stop accidentally squishing queens, I have done this twice in 4 years with 1-4 hives at a time.

Second thing is keep mites under control and don't assume that the mite treatment worked. All 3 hives that I lost during the winter were weak going into winter due to high mite loads from a late treatment and from a treatment not working (2 separate years)
 

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Just two things

  • I would start with nucs instead of packages.
  • I started beekeping as a teenager working with my grandfather. Then I went college, got married, relocated across the country, and had children. When I got my own property I wanted to resume, but then I let a few years slip by. One day I make a casual remark about beekeeping and my son looked up from his Game Boy and said "Dad, that sounds like fun, can we do it? Can I help?" My daughter was immediately fascinated by the bees and started making flower beds for them. I really wish I had not let those few years slip by.

The exploration has been as much a part of the journey as doing. The failures and the successes are all a part of it, and I wouldn't change any bit of that. I wouldn't want to miss out again on the experience of trying and experience the options that I have tried for myself, and seeing for own self if I liked them or not. For example, I was intensely curious about Warre beekeeping. So I tried it. I don't keep Warres right now, but I am really glad I tried it and felt first hand the fun and wonder and thrills of Warre keeping. I don't think I'll ever go back, I learned some very good practical reasons not to go back, but I'd have sure missed out on that experience if all I did was just read the Warre forums and never took the plunge. Other beekeepers may never be curious about the Warre, they are curious about other things, and the ones that take the plunge get to have their own unique and fascinating journey.

Seize the experience, marvel at it, don't try and skip over it.
 

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I would stick with one brand of wooden ware. I'd use acorn frames, or plastic frames, no more wood frames with plastic foundation, tired of frames coming apart. And of course I'd purchase at least 4 hive tools, and a few queen clips. And, I'd purchase twice as much woodenware as I think I need.
 

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1. I wouldn’t accept plastic frames when trading frames when selling nucs.

2. I know I will sound sacrilegious to some, but I wouldn’t have gotten that j-hook hive tool, not a big fan.

3. I would not have lost as much sleep over queenlessness, swarm prevention, and everything else I used to overly stress out about.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I have enjoyed my journey so far and would change very little as the mistakes I have made have gotten me to where I am now. Couple of things I would have changed though.1) Learn how to control varroa the first year. Lost three of my six colonies because I did not know to treat in time. 2 )Start off with foundationless frames. Use plastic foundation for the supers. The wired wax foundation just is not doing it for me. 3) Buy a beesuit before attempting my first honey harvest. I had worked my bees for the first three months without a suit, veil, or gloves. Stupid. I have been stung worse since then, but I was new and had not been stung much at the time.
 

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I think the only thing I might do differently would be 8 frame boxes instead of 10. I've been strong all my life but 60 is taking its toll.
ks
 

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If I had to start again I wouldn't spend all my money on Flow Hives. The quality control of these expensive hives is questionable. I had to replace a lot of parts, some more than once and I was also sent poorly assembled frames with loose wires resulting in a lot of honey leaks on the brood nest.

A wiser choice for me would have been to build a long hive or two, so I won't have to lift any heavy boxes. Another thing is do a lot more research and be more prepared before I buy any equipment, not after.

One thing I would still do: Keep bees! I love it.
 

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1. I have always used all medium, and I would not change that. So much easier to take care of several common issues when you can swap frames around like crazy.
2. No SBB, like ever.
3. No fancy bottom board or top cover. Just migratory top and solid bottom board. I have tried top-entrance top cover, SBB, Slanted landing bottom board, and several other fancy hardware. DON'T DO IT.
4. Ultrabreeze jacket if you are in hot weather. I almost got a heat stroke the first summer.
 

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-I started with all mediums, that was good advice.
-I started with one that was okay but be ready to go to at least four. The more hives you have the more room for error, less worry.
-Find a way to make it meaningful other then "fun" fun wares out.
-I did right to get my nuc game going. Try to never buy bees.
-I might have put the bees through a lot because of my ego. I probably flew too close to the sun a few times. keep it simple.
-Never get sentimental about a queen.
-Don't try to teach others until you have experienced everything you say first hand.
 

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margot..
-Don't try to teach others until you have experienced everything you say first hand.
I agree with most of your post. On the last one, you may still be able to help some one with common sense but while doing so, a nice disclaimer added that you have not personally experienced your given advice should accompany said advice.:) I do my best to practice this.
Cheers
gww
 

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I have sometimes thought 8 frame deep only. I expect to be able to move them when full for a while yet. I would not want all my hives to be 8 frame mediums as it's a bit too long to get through and to clean. I do like the resource hives though so having some 10 frame supers is nice for 2 queen honey production over the resource hives.
I also sell medium frame Nucs and I am glad to be able to offer customers who are concious of what they can lift an easy alternative (I think it's best to have all the boxes the same size)....
I like our local bees. I am happy to have started mainly with cutouts and swarms.
And my beekeeping is evolving so in ten years I expect I'd have a different answer.
For example, if we have a full sized honey house and an ez loader I'd say 10 frame deeps all the way....
I think the heart of the question is: "Did you know your goals before you began?" Or did you start with compromises and need to reinvent your system to meet your goals? Or did your goals change after you started?
 
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