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Discussion Starter #1
So I will be receiving my package bees in a few weeks and the local newspapers have run a couple of articles that have been fairly discouraging to a newbie beekeeper. One stating that it was a tough winter and losses were very high. This I had already assumed. The other article was more troubling, though. It interviewed a long time beekeeper and he was stating that he basically has to start over every year due to mites / disease / pesticide spraying.

I do live in the heartland surrounded by the agricultural desert. Am I up against unbeatable odds? Or is this still an endeavor that can be successfully accomplished?
 

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Don't believe everything you read in the newspaper. :lookout: I'm not saying newspapers (and TV) are always wrong, but by the nature of the process, controversy attracts more eyeballs and dollars than stories about sweetness and light.

There are multiple strategies for successfully dealing with mites. Which of those is right for you is a whole other thread,:D but if there were no regular success stories bees would be extremely expensive (read $$$$$:eek:) to buy.

Spraying of insecticides is a serious problem if your bees get hit. I believe that you will find that there is much less agricultural spraying of insecticides these days than there once was.

Other bee diseases are possible, but most beekeepers probably wouldn't rate these as major issues for their hives on an everyday basis.


If you haven't already made arrangements to have at least two hives, I'd suggest rethinking that strategy. Having two or more hives is more likely to improve your chances of success than anything else you can do.




:update: OK, I just read this post by Bluegrass:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?294975-Jawadis-Bee-Suit

Apparently you also really need a lucky bee suit to ensure your bees thrive. Not sure where to buy one of those. :lpf:

:ws:
 

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Will it make you feel more confident to read that I started beekeeping last June with essentially no beforehand study (even less than you, as I never planned to keep bees)? I unexpectedly had three swarms on my farm hived - so one week I wasn't, and the next week I was, a completely novice beekeeper in charge of three hives.

My girls are still alive and coming out of their first (usually long and cold) winter, so it is possible to keep bees from year to year, without losing them. My first year was not without anxiety and drama, but the bees were patient with my newbie mistakes, so we muddled through.

I also strongly suggest that you arrange to have two hives. If I'd had only one I wouldn't have noticed the earliest appearances of some important issues in time to do something about them.

And may I also very strongly suggest that you have a screened bottom board (in addition to a solid one) with a mite-monitoring sticky board slot below in every hive stack. There are other ways to monitor for mites - which you must do - but sticky boarding is by far the easiest for new beeks and so it will get done. Monitoring is not the same as deciding to treat - or how to treat - but only monitoring (of some kind) gives you the essential information you need to make a decision. I treated two, but not all of my hives, based on those numbers, so you can see it can both prompt you to treat and allow you to choose to forgo treating.

BTW, I live on a farm in upstate NY, surrounded by other farms, so I've got as bad - or worse - a winter as you do and active corn farming all around me.

Hope you have as much fun with your bees as I have had.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey thanks for all the moral support. I guess I am just getting nervous.

I will be starting with 4 packages this spring. Have done a lot of reading and research and feel like I am as ready as I can be.

I have decided on my approach to mite treatment but I think I'll save that for another day as it appears as though those discussions can get quite heated.
 

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It is a very difficult time to keep bees. There is no doubt about that. Don't get discouraged by losses. Just keep moving forward.
Yes, but not as bad as it has been. When I first bumped heads with varroa even the local bee inspector couldn't tell me how to save my bees. So we've come a longgggg way from those days, overcoming some pretty heavy odds against surviving. And yet we did survive. What I learned from those times is that we can and will survive.

We're a stubborn bunch.

:D

Rusty
 

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There is a certain amount of it that is skill and a certain amount that is a numbers game. All things being equal, according to surveys, if you only have one hive, the odds you'll end up with no bees the next year are about 1 in 3. If you have three hives the odds get much better. If you have a hundred hives going into winter, odds are you'll have 66 come spring. If you split those 66 you'll have about 120 going into the next winter...
 

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The news media always presents everything in a "gloom and doom" fashion. Just last week we had a local headline of "Colonoscopy misses 6% of cancer". That means that it is 94% successful. I would take 94% success in every medical diagnostic procedure!
 

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Keeping bees will force you into an agricultural mindset very quickly. You'll start paying attention to what blooms, when and where your bees are going to get their nutritional needs met. If they are going to conventionally managed agricultural fields you will be running a risk. How much of a risk depends on what pesticides are being applied and when. Become knowledgeable about pesticides and how they can be used without putting your bees at risk. Most farmers are pretty good with pesticides - It is the homeowners buying stuff from big box stores that scare me. Heck, one of the ads on BeeSource today was for Ortho pesticides.

Look for solutions - don't be a crusading nay sayer. Try to understand what problems the farmers are trying to solve with pesticides. I've yet to meet anyone who enjoys using them. And don't be fooled into thinking that organic pesticides are safe for your bees. They are still pesticides.

I'm not trying to scare you with this post nor discourage you from keeping bees. Often times it isn't easy. There are a multitude of issues challenging bees. But with thought and effort on your part you should make a go of it!
 

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So I guess one good thing about my state is that you can register your apiary location. This supposedly ensures that any spraying within one mile of the apiary cannot be done from 8am to 6pm. How much this helps I cannot say, but at least it is something.

On a side note. I have about three acres on my property that is really doing nothing. Would it be wise to plant some good bee forage, or is it really not worth the time and effort. I realize the bees will forage far and wide.
 

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On a side note. I have about three acres on my property that is really doing nothing. Would it be wise to plant some good bee forage, or is it really not worth the time and effort. I realize the bees will forage far and wide.
Go for it especially if there are times of the year where you experience a dearth. Plant things that bloom during the dearth period.
 
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