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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone heard of or participated in a team beekeeping effort? I'm not talking classes or workshops. What I've observed is many who graduate bee school and still are not confident, experienced, knowledgeable or just plain time-deprived to take on the responsibility of keeping a colony of bees.

The idea interests me because it would allow someone to experience the art of beekeeping without having to bear all the burden of responsibility alone. The concept is to have one or two hives where a (small) group would install the bees in a hive, inspect the hive as needed, provide feed and treatments. When the hive is growing, they would determine when to add another brood box or super. Do regular hive inspections, keep a journal of all activities done with the hive and review to answer questions or decide a course of action.

Some are fortunate to have mentors but too many don't. This would be a way of learning together and sharing the responsibilities as well as rewards. Just wondered if anyone out there has tried it and what kind of agreement was reached with the group before undertaking the endeavor. I've found that a number of colleges offer some kind of team beek group but not a lot of info on startup procedures, rules, regulations, etc. I would think a group of 3 or 4 would be a good number to keep things manageable.

Any thoughts, ideas or first-hand experience with such an endeavor? TIA
 

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Isn't that what local Beekeeping Associations/ Clubs are all about ? I understand they have group apiaries, share equipment and expertise etc., have regular meetings with guest speakers and so on ...

I've never belonged to one, so can't say for sure, but I believe they are a popular means of providing a support network.
LJ
 

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Any thoughts, ideas or first-hand experience with such an endeavor? TIA
First and foremost, likely minded people are needed.
I have few TF-minded fellows next to me and we are trying to coordinate our efforts (we need this to survive).
So we are trying a loose form of team beekeeping - main goal is to form overlapping breading regions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We have clubs, classes, speakers, some demo's but in the end when you graduate bee school you're kind of on your own. Our club has a 45:1 ratio of beeks to mentors. We have a chat site and can ask questions, but it's not the same as working with an experienced beek who knows what they're doing.

Despite the high hopes and expectations of the newbees, they are quickly faced with the reality that all is not well in the beekeeping world as they are advised to start with a package of bees. I read too many posts by discouraged beeks who after 2 or 3 years of trying to overwinter their bees, find their hive empty or full of dead bees. Tallying up the cost of woodenware, bees, feed and treatments; they cut their losses and bid a fond farewell.

It would be easier if the cost could be shared as beeks learn the art of beekeeping. Just wondered if anyone tried a team beekeeping effort. Between chemicals, varroa and climate change, beekeeping isn't what it used to be. And the whole bee package industry seems to be making a bad situation worse in the USA. Some believe that in our region, there are very few if any feral bees left.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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You have heard the old adage, ask 10 beekeepers a question and you'll get 11 answers? Can you imagine a bunch of newbees trying to decide on bottom boards, upper or lower entrances, when or if to treat, etc? SCARY. And how many times would the hive end up getting opened. Everyone will want to see for themselves. Better to work on getting your club's mentoring program going. Even a 1 year beek can answer most questions a newbee has. And then you have the real experienced beeks there to take the calls from the mentors who can at least articulate the problem. Now a jointly run apiary where you can share resources in case someone gets into trouble might work. Each member would own their own single hive. First thing there would be to decide treatment or TF since you can't have both in the same apiary.
 

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Our local beekeeping club has created two (2) mentoring apiaries - a total of three (3) hives under my watchful eye. Any member of our group (about 25 beekeepers) have permission to inspect the hives - hopefully, our members will teach new beekeepers inspection and mite testing concepts to new beekeepers. Anytime a top is popped, a full inspection report is filled out by the member beekeeper. Meanwhile, I too will watch the hives to anticipate future needs, and brood boxes and frames will be close by should any member desire to add boxes, or honey supers. So long as members protect the queen, members can also use the hive as a source for eggs/larvae provided a new frame is used to replace. A Girl Scout troop gave us a painted hive, and a new member donated her flow hive/bees when she developed major allergy reactions to stings.

This is a work in progress, and we will change the rules as we see how it works. So far, two (2) new people are participating; one person wanted to “experience” the process this year, before making the financial plunge next year — it should be a good way to ease into it, plus a number of beekeepers will act as mentors.

We are going to have our June picnic meeting at the mentoring site, so it forms a place for socializing too.
 

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The problem is is many teachers are too inexperianced. I have talked to WAY to many club presidents, college PHDs, and internet guru beekeepers who are incredibly incompetent but still have many years of :cough: bee killing. Learn from someone who makes a living or close to it if you want information that you can take to the bank. Likely it will be hard to get information from them because they are too busy working instead of posting 100,000's of comments online. Beekeeping is work. Great dependable information takes work or money to source.
 

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yep, the internet is full of folks in clean white bee suits
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi JT,
Thanks for sharing information about your club's mentoring apiary program. It's nice to know there are people out there willing to work together to learn and gain experience to become proficient in beekeeping. I think a program like yours would get newbees over that start-up hump and give them the know-how and confidence to keep their own bees. Some questions:
1. How long has this program been up and running
2. How many (of the 25) members actually participate in this program
3. Are the apiaries on private or public land
4. Are there restrictions to entering the apiary (time of day, weather, # of persons at one time, etc.)
5. Does the club or participating members share the cost of hives, frames, feed, treatments
6. What do you do with the surplus honey/old wax replacement
7. What have been the benefits of running this program
8. What have been the drawbacks (if any) that need(ed) to be addressed

I am heartened to know that people are thinking and acting collectively for the good of the club members and the bees. It is possible, you show it can be done when people put learning and sharing ahead of personal agendas (money and such). TY
 

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This mentoring program started April 28, 2019, after some brain-storming sessions with our core beekeepers. I lease about fifteen (15) acres of county-owned land in two (2) separate tracts next to the Wild Rice River immediately south of Fargo, ND. The first bee community activity was attended by about 15 members/guests when a package was installed. That afternoon the other package was installed by myself and the new beekeeper desiring some “experience” first. About two (2) weeks later, the gift of a flow hive/bees occurred. I am aware that two (2) more inspections by others have occurred in May (plus a couple of quickie looks by me). The sites are adjacent to paved county roads, but no motor vehicles are allowed except for maintenance/mowing, etc. One complete 10 frame hive was donated by the Girl Scout troop, and the flow hive was also donated. I paid for the two (2) packages, and my equipment is otherwise being used. There will be no cost to anyone; I cannot sublet to others, and ND requires apiary registration/owner identification (hence the sign). I give all my own honey to family and friends each year.

As to the honey off these mentoring hives, I have promised the Girl Scout Troop the opportunity to participate in any honey extraction (and some honey to give their parents for Christmas; they also planted pollinator seeds in five (5) flower gardens sites). As to any other mentoring honey, my present intention is to separately bottle that honey for sale with the profit (sales price less bottles/cork) going to the club.

Cost to club - nothing; opportunity for promoting beekeeping - priceless.

When I started beekeeping six (6) years ago, there were very few hobbyists, and I was not going to impose upon the commercial beekeepers in this area. This concept lets beekeepers meet on public ground, and they can educate others with good equipment/healthy bees. Our group treats for varroa, so we do not have conflicts of that nature.

So long as the bees/life are respected, all is good. Plus our hobbyists that only have one (1) hive will have the possibility for a frame of necessary eggs/larvae when they lose a queen.

One concern is too many inspections; if we see that issue arising, we may restrict access to only one (1) hive (instead of accessing all three (3)). We will be flexible. Everyone has been requested to not inspect the several days before the June 13 picnic meeting so that a group inspection can occur that evening.

This is a new concept - a work in progress. We would be interested in other ways we can expand upon the learning/sharing part. Please give us your thoughts.
 
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