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A little over a year ago I moved to near Memphis TN and started a beekeeping hobby with 1 hive of Russian bees. The hive is doing pretty well. They are flying almost daily and bringing back pollen. Does this mean the queen is laying? (I have a few hive beetles.) Last year I scraped a gallon of extra honey into 4 1-quart mason jars. I do not have an extractor. This year I'm hoping for 10-13 1-quart mason jars. Anyway...

I was wondering if I could have raised bees in the middle of the windy, dry panhandle of Texas. Elevation 3500 AGL. They have a very very windy and dry climate. There were large cotton fields nearby though. I wonder if insecticide would have been a problem. None of my friends kept bees but I never really asked much. I figured I best get out of the desert and back to the land of milk and honey where the climate would be more favorable for beekeeping.

My philosophy this year is to keep it simple.
 

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Hello Rob,
I just started beekeeping last summer and at this point I only have one hive in town. However, I plan on collecting swarms this summer and have ordered three medium nucs. Although I don't have enough personal experience to give a definite answer to your question, I do know that there are folks around here who have and do keep bees successfully around the Amarillo area. Apparently there is a commercial operation near Tulia but I haven't talked with them. There are at least three or four other Beeks here in Amarillo that have been keeping bees for some time and there is a guy out at work who used to do it with about 300 hives. He did get sprayed in a cotton field though and shut down. The wind is indeed bad in the spring, but usually by Mid April is begins to slacken a bit and summers are nice, dry but not usually too hot and it cools down at night. Even during the windy days, it is usually somewhat calm first thing in the morning and the winds die down in the evenings. I think the bees do just great here. Maybe the wind will blow off any mites that happen to show up, eh? ;)
 

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when I worked with a commercial guy, some years ago, we took about 1500 hive to the texas panhandle. aerial application of insecticide was 'the' major problem and water sources for the hives was our other prime concern. when the insecticide didn't get the bees you could collect a very nice crop of late summer cotton honey.

the wind in the panhandle was another matter altogether...

in my small mind you philisophy is pretty good just about all the time... which is to say 'it works for me'.
 

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Aerial spraying for cotton boll weevils is now done in west Texas. It is considered eradicated there. They are now spraying heavily in my area of east Texas and working their way east. Soon all of Texas should be labled as eradicated. Of course, that's not the only spraying in cotton, but it should be down to a manageable level once the weevil spraying is done. My mentor takes his bees to his brothers' cotton fields near Lubbock.

[ January 06, 2007, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: Ross ]
 

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I have had bees near dalhart in the nw panhandle for several years now there are other crops besides cotton there is a lot of alfalfa unfortunately the tend to cut it just when the blloms get going there are also sunfower fields .the ones growing seed sunflowers bring in bees for pollinating.
 

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In "Honey plants of North America " on page 317 it says "the panhandle is subject to high winds which would blow the bees off the earth and the flora is not sufficient to support bees and the few efforts to keep bees there have failed ."
I have not found the wind to be a major problem .I am sure an occasional forager doesn't make it back. I think access to water is the main concern there are wild blooms from time to time .of course when the book was written there were not the irrigated crops there are now.
 

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I'm also in Amarillo. From what I've seen, bees should do just fine here. Like most other parts of the country, a long extended dry spell like we had last spring and early summer has a detrimental effect on the bees. I am fortunate in that we grow 4 acres of fruits and vegetables and have a year-round water source less than 200 yards away. My biggest mistake was not feeding when the abbreviated nectar flow was over.


I'll qualify my statements with the fact that last year was my first year as a beekeeper.

applebwoi, give me a shout sometime, I'd like to talk to you about beekeeping.

Ronnie
www.cimarronorganics.com
 

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Ross-

Just read your reply to this thread. Who was your mentor that moved bees out to the Lubbock area adn where did he locate them?
 

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Glad to see this thread on here. Last year was my first year. I know a beek in Amarillo that often gets two harvests a year - 10 to 11 hives in an urban backyard. It sounds to me like, yes, we should do good in most years, particularly those that have access to the residential flowerbeds and gardens. I have five hives on my 1.5 acre lot just outside Canyon, in the Lakeridge addition.

Hartley resident, especially glad to see you on here. I'm a Dalhart native, but now live in Canyon. I work with one of the Vincent brothers and we have been trying to figure out who it was in the Hartley area had bees. Would love to stop and visit sometime. Message me anytime.
 

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Jim Ray, What kind of bees do you have? What are they working to produce honey for you? I live about an hour south of you near cotton center. Do you know the folks at Tule Creek apiary?
 

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ACBEES, I have two hives of Italians from Navasota (All-American or something like that) and three hives are from swarms.

I think they are mainly working residential yards and gardens, and wildflowers, although they gathered a lot of pollen from a haygrazer field and am pretty sure they used roadside yellow sweetclover. The honey was very good!

I used to get Tule Creek Honey. However, I called them to see if we could take a Boy Scout troop there to see the bee operation. They told me that all there honey is imported, now. This was about ten years ago, so it could have changed back, but I doubt it. I was disappointed.

Are your bees working cotton or what?
 

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jim ray-

I've seen my bees work catclaw acacia, mesquite and smartweed. Jury is still out on the cotton. A lot of cotton in my area is the new BT variety that is round-up ready. Got a message from a beek in New Mexico that says their extension agent claims the new GM cotton is manipulated to supress its nectaries. Not sure how true that is. What do you hear about cotton?
 

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I haven't heard much on cotton other than the old books I've read.

My three mile radius includes a few canyons comprising the upper reaches of the Palo Duro Canyon. There's mesquite, catclaw and other good plants on it. There are playas with smartweed and lots of subdivisions and urban yards.
 

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AC Bees,
Maybe we can get together sometime. Would love to see your setup.

I have season Texas Tech tickets, so maybe we could get it done on gameday, sometime.
 
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