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Hi! after my first year beekeeping I am looking to expand the next spring.

First a little about my situation, I am 25 graduated, college last year and have been substitute teaching while looking for a full time Accounting/anything job here in Southeast Michigan (which is near impossible for anyone much less a recent college grad). With the extra time on my hands I took up beekeeping as its something that has always looked interesting to me.

After a semi successfull first year (one hive built up completely the other the queen died after a few weeks and I just deceided to let nature run its course for observation and didn't replace the queen).

I have found beekeeping very interesting and rewarding hobby. And I am thinking of expanding and possibly seeing if this can have some income producing potential (supplemental not primary) as I plan on sticking it out in MI for the long haul.

SO I WOULD WELCOME ANY TIPS ON A GAME PLAN TO UP MY NUMBER OF HIVES:

1. Woodware: New/used? Deep supers vs all mediums (isn't it better to have 2 deeps so you have more bees out foraging for the medium honey supers?).

2. Buying local nucs vs. packages vs. splitting? (THe one hearty healthy hive is an Italian package from GA, can I/should I split this? All of this I am reading about russians should I try different breeds in different hives? Local nucs are they really better battle tested?

3. Timeline: How as far as ordering when should I start so that I have a great transition into spring.

4. Other things of importance that I am forgetting????


I know this is alot to ask for but I would greatly appreciate any advice.

Thanks
 

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The first thing I would do is move to an area of the country where there are jobs. What was your major? What would you like to do?

*edited to add: Sorry, I missed the part where you said you were staying in MI. Disregard the move part.
 

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Glad you are getting into it more. Couple of things to consider.

Next time you have a queen die, pull a frame of eggs and brood from your strong hive and the bees in the now queenless hive will raise their own.

First thing...know your market and if there is one. Where can you sell your honey? How much can you sell it for? That is going to be the determining factor in how much you can expand unless you are a trust funder and money is no object.

Next, nucs are the best option since you don't have the hives to do a split. Packages are not that great as you get older bees and have to into the queen...lots of things can go wrong. Nucs you get nurse bees, brood and a queen already accepted. Big head start on the season.

Start looking to get your equipment now and not in the spring. Line up your nucs, hive bodies and other equipment now so you can prep it. Used equipment is fine. Lots cheaper. The only thing I would caution on getting used is comb unless you know the source. Better to have them build out their own then buy someone elses problems. You can be less cautious on comb in supers that have only been used for honey and not brood. They are usually fairly light.

Don't expect a huge crop the first year. You bees will have to build up, draw comb, etc. Plan ahead on how to extract. Try and borrow someones (a clubs maybe) extractor the first year or get someone to extract for you. Anything to keep your initial expenses down helps as it will be expensive enough the first year. Don't plan on making money the first year or even the second as you expand. If you can break even you are doing better then most.

Go shopping for yards now! I actually shop for new yards the summer before and coordinate with the owners before the winter. So in the spring I can build my fences and get the bees in quick as the first blooms start.

Deeps or mediums...I would suggest to go with what is most common in your area. I run deeps for brood and mediums for honey supers...because that's what works best for me. Michael Bush runs a site that talks about using only mediums and is really informative. There are pluses to both, so decide and then stick with it.

Costs is going to be the biggest factor in how much you can expand. If you can afford four nucs and the equipment then run with that. The next year you can expand much cheaper as you can split those four plus your one strong hive from this year and have ten hives. Your only new costs are hive bodies and queens, plus some additional supers for those hives.

Hope that helps. I am sure you will get lots of helpful hints from the forum.
 

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I second everything from Alpha6, great advice.
 

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No offense, but I have to disagree with the last post about the bee club. I'm a first year beek, and I joined my local bee club when I got started (to be fair, I had a mentor prior to joining) but I honestly can say I haven't learned anything from the meetings that I didn't already learn from either my mentor or "the hive and the honey bee".

I imagine that this may be a geographical issue, but almost all the people in this club are retired folks who are hobbyists with at most a couple of hives. I was hoping to find more commercial beeks, or even sideliners. Even the speakers they have are PhD's who dont seem to understand the practical side of things.

From my experience so far, I would say your time is better spent reading and one-on-one with a mentor.
 

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Hi, if I had to start again from scratch I would make it a double prong effort. I would start slowly collecting wood-working tools, learning to use them and start making my own equipment for the bee hives and learn about bees at the same time. I believe it would be a money saver in the long run. It would give you the opportunity to experiment and it would eventually give you marketable skills in addition to your educational skills. It worked for me. Take care and have fun
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No offense, but I have to disagree with the last post about the bee club. I'm a first year beek, and I joined my local bee club when I got started (to be fair, I had a mentor prior to joining) but I honestly can say I haven't learned anything from the meetings that I didn't already learn from either my mentor or "the hive and the honey bee".

I imagine that this may be a geographical issue, but almost all the people in this club are retired folks who are hobbyists with at most a couple of hives. I was hoping to find more commercial beeks, or even sideliners. Even the speakers they have are PhD's who dont seem to understand the practical side of things.

From my experience so far, I would say your time is better spent reading and one-on-one with a mentor.
Going to a first bee club this Sunday; I have been seeking a mentor but been striking out. One gentleman was nearing 90 and I think was losing his mental faculties and the two other guys I asked if they needed help (free labor) in exchange for the knowledge I can gain. Turned me down as well (I think they may have viewed me as potential competition). But going to keep trying.
 

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Go to the bee club and see what you can learn. All clubs or not like the one mentioned above. You will not see many commerical guys at these most of the time they just dont go to clubs. Look for a mentor this will help you more then anything and save you alot of headaches. The guys with the PH.D. are the ones that are doing the research and they are the ones that hopefully will find out what is going on with the bees.....Good Luck David
 

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Another suggestion. Look online for "MDA Splitter" Mel is a Michigan man and has proposed an innovative way to expand. As all will tell you beekeeping is local, and, as you have found out, it is not always that easy to find a local mentor.
The impression I get from his website is that Mel is willing to share information, and gives talks in the region. If you have time on your hands it would not hurt to seek him out. Good luck, especially with the job-hunting. Adrian.
 

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Unless you have more money than time youre best bet is buy a used tablesaw.look for a good source of free wood.All the plans you will need are on this website.Next buy a subscription to Beeculture . Bee clubs are only good if you pick the right ones.My local club gave a source for free bee food.One I belong to an hour away has a website that posts a swarmlist that I get 15 to 25 calls a year for swarms within 20 miles.This year I also picked 5 live hives plus a truckload of stuff free!!! Club fees are 10,00 a year.I have been to 1 meeting in 2 years! If you do swarms medicate and isolate before you bring them home.I requeen them after the honey flow to start the next year with a new Queen.
 

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>1. Woodware: New/used?

I wouldn't buy used unless it's practically being given away.

> Deep supers vs all mediums (isn't it better to have 2 deeps so you have more bees out foraging for the medium honey supers?).

Bees don't care what size the boxes are. You'll have just as many bees if you let the queen have the same space to lay in. Like all of it. :) or, if you insist, then three ten frame mediums or four eight frame mediums.

>2. Buying local nucs vs. packages vs. splitting? (THe one hearty healthy hive is an Italian package from GA, can I/should I split this? All of this I am reading about russians should I try different breeds in different hives? Local nucs are they really better battle tested?

It's a nice idea, but often what you want the bees on isn't what they are on. Such as small cell, or medium frames, or top bars.

>3. Timeline: How as far as ordering when should I start so that I have a great transition into spring.

I'd find a supplier now. Ask them what the earliest you can order is.
 
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