Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This spring I will be starting my first apiary and was thinking to get three hives with different bees. So far I have ordered two Saskatraz packages and was thinking of getting a Nuc with Russian queen, trying both 8 and 10 frame setups. Any thoughts or comments on my vision?
 

·
Premium Member
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,888 Posts
Short and sweet? For your first bees, buy local nucs. Worry about the different strains once you really learn how to keep bees.

Since you have already ordered the packages, get them installed into the 8 and 10 frame hives, although you should really just choose one and go with it. Later you can buy a Russian queen and learn how to make a split.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,178 Posts
New beekeepers should stay away from Russians. The colony you get may not be terrorists who drive you out of the bee yard, but the colony will turn that way when the queen is superceded or replaced after a swarm. I do not like mean bees! You will be less successful with bees you are afraid to go in and manage.

As far as 8 vs 10 frame equipment. Flip a coin but just do one format unless you don't mind storing the stuff you decide against. You would be better advised to try running all mediums if lighter is your objective. They are still HEAVY. I envy you the planning and scheming and excitement over your first bees. Its been fifty some years and I still remember. Have fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your reply, I am excited and nervous about the almost inevitable failure most new beekeepers experience. With three hives my hope is at least one makes it through a one year period. I'm leaning toward all 8 frames. I have noticed a decrease in pollinators over the last two years and this factor has driven me to take on this endeavor.
 

·
Premium Member
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,888 Posts
Your last stament threw up a flag for me. Bees are remarkable animals with a highly defined social structure. They are fascinating to watch and sitting in the apiary surrounded by thousands of bees is both relaxing and entertaining. I harvest a modest amount of honey for myself and to give away. I am having fun. These are some of the reasons I keep bees. If helping to improve the numbers of pollenators is your chief concern, there other, far less labor intensive, ways of doing so that will have more impact. Become a beekeeper because you like bees. The BeeSource community will help you be successful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Your last stament threw up a flag for me. Bees are remarkable animals with a highly defined social structure. They are fascinating to watch and sitting in the apiary surrounded by thousands of bees is both relaxing and entertaining. I harvest a modest amount of honey for myself and to give away. I am having fun. These are some of the reasons I keep bees. If helping to improve the numbers of pollenators is your chief concern, there other, far less labor intensive, ways of doing so that will have more impact. Become a beekeeper because you like bees. The BeeSource community will help you be successful.
My Father taught me at young age to observe my natural surroundings, every weekend we would venture into the wilderness on hunts and hikes together, he taught me many ways and things in this place. His teachings were; in a nutshell, to admire and respect the natural world. Now that I have noticed an issue or negative change in my area, I feel the need to help, but this has been unfamiliar territory for me. For the past year I have been researching beekeeping, and at first was overwhelmed. I would be interested in a "far less labor intensive means" having more impact in my area. I'm still slightly overwhelmed with all the information available, but become more confident with the helpfulness of others. I am grateful for that.
 

·
Premium Member
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,888 Posts
Check out Rusty Burlew's blog at www.honeybeesuite.com She is a master beekeeper and has forgotten more about our native species of bees and pollenators than I will ever be able to learn. Just off hand, raising mason bees might be an option you could consider, along with honey bees of course. Planting bee friendly flowers that bloom when there is little other forage will also go a long way to helping bees and other pollenators. I am by no means suggesting that you don't keep honey bees, just that you do it for the right reasons. You have learned an appreciation for the natural beauty offered by a walk in a field or woods to which many of us are oblivious. I deeply respect that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
473 Posts
Stick with one box size and possibly one frame size (medium). Things will be much easier with same frame size. One guys I know does all deep even for supers and I think he is nuts! Start with two hives in first year and split if you want. Don't worry too much, you will mess up and you will learn. Try to get local queen from your area which will help immensely.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
New beekeepers should stay away from Russians. The colony you get may not be terrorists who drive you out of the bee yard, but the colony will turn that way when the queen is superceded or replaced after a swarm.
Oh, really ?

You are POSITIVE this happens with EVERY superceded colony ("will turn out that way") ? From personal experience, all over the country ? With each and every colony that superceded ?

What you have just stated is a Sweeping Generalization, which may be true in YOUR experience, but which only serves to re-inforce a stereotype of 'aggressive Russian bees'.

Regards,

SK
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,985 Posts
... I have noticed a decrease in pollinators over the last two years and this factor has driven me to take on this endeavor.
If you are concerned for pollinators primarily, you should be creating habitat for native pollinators instead and working in that direction (not getting the honey bees - only so-so pollinators). Bumble bees/solitary bees/flies are much, much better pollinators if it comes to it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have habitat on my land for pollinators. I will be working in the direction of establishing an apiary to help pollinate my gardens, etc. I should have mentioned in a previous post that I also love honey :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,985 Posts
Well, this is a totally different tune.
Bee products are worthy output as-is.

FYI, my own bees are terrible pollinators of my own fruit trees.
They basically ignore my trees.
So don't be surprised if get the same.
It would be a disaster if I got the bees to specifically pollinate the trees.
:)

Thanks for the other wild bugs, we get plenty of apples
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,276 Posts
Cliftonyte, I understand your desire to try 3 different types of bees but I will advice against it. Italians, Carni's and Russians all act a bit differently. As a new beekeeper, if any individual hive is acting strange, you will have nothing to compare it to and might assume it is normal. With three of the same kind, when one is acting weird, it will really stand out. Being able to compare apples to apples is an extremely valuable tool for beekeepers. How will you know if a Russian (or Italian or Carni) hive is building up correctly if you have never seen one before? Having 2 others of the same kind will give you a benchmark for comparison.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,604 Posts
...I will advice against it. Italians, Carni's and Russians all act a bit differently.
I'll second this suggestion, at least starting out for a season or two. Build up, swarming behavior, overwintering cluster size and stores requirements can vary quite a bit between the different groups. It would be good to have a benchmark and some history on one type before trying a variety. There is a lot to learn, and it's tough enough starting out without adding additional variables into the mix. Just my humble opinion as I reflect back on my early days.

Trying different strains will be fun and educational later on, but starting out it could end up adding unnecessary confusion to the learning process.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,540 Posts
Getting bees to pollinate your own veg and fruit gardens is a very labor-intensive and overly-expensive way to go about that. Most home veg and fruit gardens are too small-scale to interest bees more than a tiny bit. Honeybees are masters at manipulating larger-scale nectar opportunities and they will fly right over your row or two of peas. Fruit trees do benefit from honeybee pollination, but that's for only about 7 -10 days, max. (And it can be a mixed blessing, because it opens the possibilities of the fruit over-setting, requiring more work to thin it, or risk have the tree break under the load.) The rest of the time they will be out making a living, often as far as two miles away from your place. They have tens of thousands of mouths to feed every day, so they don't dink around in small gardens, with only a few blossoms of this and that.

Honeybees are an exotic species, and despite what you may have heard, not in the least likely to die out or be lost any time soon. They are tough as nails, more fecund than bunnies, and immensely valuable to Big-Ag, so they're not going anywhere. They have great publicists, though. Which is OK, because they are stand-ins for the other overlooked, or even reviled, pollinators who are doing the most of the world's pollination work.

However, continually improved habitat (and reduced pesticide use) will benefit native pollinator species and they will do a fine job of working your veg.

And think about it, many of the plants we eat don't require insect pollination to provide a food crop: none of the root veg, none of veg we eat as leaves or flower shoots (lettuces, cabbage, broc, cauliflower, sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, etc.) Of the veg we eat as fruits, only melons co-evolved with honeybees. None of the tomato family (toms, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos) require honeybee pollination and their blossoms may not be shaped correctly. Of the veg we eat as seeds, only green peas are Old World plants that evolved with honeybees. Common beans and corn are New World plants, and they don't need honeybees.

I'm not trying to discourage you from getting some bees to enjoy and take care of - it's just that you may be disappointed if your goals are to improve pollination in your home garden. You will see improved fruit set for cukes, melons, squash, beans, peas, and nightshade family plants if you encourage native pollinators, but not as much from the same investment in honey bees.. Corn is wind pollinated, so all you need is a breeze.

People often come here and want to know what they can plant in their flower beds for the "threatened honeybees". Unless they are prepared to plant large areas -at least a quarter acre of the same plant - they are almost doomed to failure for their considerable effort. If you want to supply bees with nectar and pollen, then woody shrubs, and especially certain flowering trees, are your best bet. But the flowering pay off may be years, or decades, away.

To answer your first questions though: Bees won't care how many strains are in a yard. but it's still not a great idea to mix them up. Your will learn faster and have a less-steep learning curve if you have pretty much all the same kind of bees to start out. Colonies, even in the same strain, came be surprisingly different. And those differences will be important learning tools for you as you start out. I would have only one size of boxes (meaning either 8 or 10 frames) to start out with. I think 10-frame equipment is a little more forgiving of newbie mistakes. I would get all deeps, at first, and one more per stack than you plan on wintering on. That way, in your first year you are accumulating the most important resource of all: surplus brood-box sized comb, which during its first year can do double-duty as honey supers. The weight of a deep honey super is 75 or more pounds, but though I use 10-frame deeps as supers, I almost never lift one. I simply pull out a few frames, first, to make the load manageable. For your reference, I am a nearly 70 year old, small woman.

Do not believe the nonsense that you will lose your first colonies just because you are a beginner. That's just a rationale used to excuse careless, or inattentive, beekeeping in most cases. I teach beginners - they don't lose colonies. Bees are livestock and they need good care. But they are also animals, and expecting them to die as a consequence of your need to learn on them is not a good thing. I am in northern NY (north of Albany), so your NH location is likely similar to mine, maybe even warmer if you are near the coast.

Just make up your mind that you will have to monitor and control -in some manner - varroa mites. These days that's most important effort involved in keeping bees healthy and alive for the long term.

As for the Russians: I don't have them in my yard (all my bees are local mutts originating from swarms). But I have worked in yards with them. They are not beginners' bees because they are somewhat more assertive. When you have acquired the manual skills of handling bees comfortably and skillfully, then you can try them. You will be more comfortable then with their antics. Also, first generation crosses of "regular bees" and Russians are reputed to be extra tetchy, so you may need to keep buying Russian queens. That's not a bad thing, but the timing can sometimes be awkward, and you will miss out on the whole "raise your own queens" thing, which is one of the thrills of backyard beekeeping. So, for now I'd pass on the Russians, and just go with the two Saskatraz hives you've got ordered. It's not hard to manage two colonies, and by next spring you'll have a least one hive that you can split, (keeping the other as a honey-maker) if you find you've caught the bee-bug in earnest.

I hope your new bees give you as much pleasure as mine have given me.

Nancy
 

·
Registered
35
Joined
·
2,034 Posts
Any thoughts or comments on my vision?
I cannot speak for what is the norm everywhere, but, can speak from our own experiences when we started, and what I often see with new beekeepers starting out here.

When you first start out with brand new equipment, it's difficult for an inexperienced beekeeper to keep the bees from swarming in the first year. Without an inventory of drawn comb, during spring and early summer flows, bees often bring in nectar faster than they can build comb to store it so they end up backfilling in the brood nest, which leads to swarming. In this case, either the swarm departs, or the beekeeper splits the colony to get two colonies, neither of which are strong enough to issue a swarm. Quite typical to take the queen into the new colony and let the donor colony raise a queen because the process was initiated when beekeeper discovered swarm cells. Net result, you get a new queen which will mate with the background drone population in the original colony. If you did the split you still have the original, if they swarmed, the original queen is gone. There are numerous other reasons why a colony may requeen itself thru the first season, it's not at all uncommon. Another common reason for a colony to requeen, inexperienced keeper rolled a queen during inspection, it happens.

For this reason, I think it's a mistake for a new beekeeper to get focussed on 'breeds' of bees, it is normal, and almost inevitable, by the time the first season is complete, most colonies will have requeened over that year. Assuming you started with 'pure' breeds (unlikely, more below on that), then by the end of the first season, nothing is pure, and really the purity of the bees you have going into the winter is likely less than 50%, and your population will already be well on the way to approaching whatever the background genetics are in your area.

The other part of that equation, new queens coming in packages and/or nucs are rarely 'pure'. It is more likely for them to be daughters of a breeder queen selected by the folks raising them, then open mated against the background population in the area where they are being raised. The Saskatraz is the perfect example, it's a line of bees originating in Saskatchewan, selected specifically for traits important to commercial beekeepers in that northern climate. Saskatraz breeders end up in California for the spring queen production season. The intent is to raise them before queens can be produced in the north. Those queens are then mated against the background drone population in the breeders yards, if memory serves correctly, Albert works with Olivarez for that production. Those daughters of the Saskatraz breeders will exhibit most of the traits of the line, they will produce drones pure to the line, but any daughters raised from those queens are already diluted 50% before they mate against the background drone population in a new location. If your Saskatraz queens come from this source, then by the end of the first season, highly unlikely that you have anything resembling pure Saskatraz bees by the time first winter preps arrive. It's more than likely you will have a genetic mix made up of 25% Saskatraz, 25% Olivarez, and 50% 'local background'.

I think some of the other thoughts presented here are bang on. Spend a few seasons learning to keep bees alive in your climate with the local pest / disease considerations, and do not get focussed on 'breeds' so to speak. It is inevitable your bee population will end up merging with the background genetics in your area unless you set up a very dilligent breeding program, something way out of reach for a new beekeeper with just a small handful of colonies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I appreciate the responses and feedback from everyone, not being as well versed as the season keeper puts me at a disadvantage to my responses, furthermore; it is humbling that people took time to reply and message me great information that I have digested well. My conclusion: I will just start with just two Saskatraz packages that I have already ordered (almost all local nucs are unavailable, but some are available in may). I have decided on 8 frame Langs. Not treatment free to start. I wasn't getting to hung up mixing breeds, just a thought; I decided to post as the idea crossed my mind. There is a plethora of information out there and can be challenging sifting through it all.
Thanks again everyone!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
413 Posts
Here are a lot of good responses from many seasoned beeks. I didn't see a frame size selection? I am in my 30s with about 50 colonies. I prefer deep frames. I have a yard with only 8 frame mediums and the 10 framers are easier to manage except for weight. I prefer the 8 frame deeps as a compromise size. (i weighed a 10 f deep once when I pulled honey at 88lbs.) I have an assortment of sizes from when I started out and it takes careful organizing to make sure I have what I need where and when I need it. Uniform equipment is better and I will need to start retiring some of my odd balls. (when you start making Mike Palmer style resource hives in a couple years the deeps are great!),
To the point of losing colonies: it is best to decide on a management strategy and find someone local doing much the same thing. I have always been treatment free and lost under 13% each of my first 4 years. (Yes, of course some to varroa.) It has not all been fun and games with winter losses getting higher than state average one year. You do not need to loose your first colonies! Join a club, get a mentor who keeps bees similar to how you'd keep them. Good luck! I've never used saskatraz but they may be great in nh. Have fun!
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top