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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started my new hive 2 weeks ago with packaged bees. My hive is an old one that came from an acquaintance. It had been sitting empty for a while so I cleaned it up, painted it, and replaced all the foundation.

The primary reason I wanted bees was for pollination. I started a garden last year and realized I hardly saw any bees. We had some bumble bees and a few small ones I call sweat bees, but I realized I hadn't seen a honeybee in years. I've read about the bee disappearances and have always been fascinated by honeybees so finally convinced my husband since I had access to a hive already.

We have 6 1/2 acres and I read what bees like year-round and scouted around and think we are pretty good for keeping them happy. We are agricultural but there aren't any crops around, mostly an occasional not so well-tended orchard. There are homes with landscaping all within easy reach. We have a small pond for water and are surrounded by trees on three sides.

But then I wonder if we have such a great place for bees, why haven't I seen any? We have carpenter bees aplenty, bumble bees, and occasional yellow jacket nests. But no honey bees. Is the honeybee shortage THAT bad? When I was cleaning out my hive a month or so ago, I was visited by honeybees and was shocked. Where have they been and why have they never visited before? They disappeared again after that day. I was so excited to see them and sad to see them go.

I watch my bees and they come out, go up, and take off over the trees. Where on earth are they going? They come back with loads of pollen from someplace. I had a large weeping cherry in full bloom when they arrived but never saw them near it. I even went out and bought them flowers they are supposed to like and none of them visit them. Since we have so few (as in none) honeybees, I'm thinking I can support many more hives on my property. Or maybe honeybees just hate our property. Thoughts?
 

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I have two booming hives in my back yard. I hardly see a honey bee on my property. They are genetically disposed to travel farther from the hive to look for food. Could you imagine if all 20,000 foragers stayed around the hive looking for food?

I've also found that the native bees do almost all of the pollination in my garden.

If you wanted to get an idea of how many bees were truly around your house (prior to putting your hives up), you could have put a little honey outside after the fall flow is over. I think you would have been suprised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was surprised when they showed up to visit my hive while I was working on it. I just remember the old days when you had bees on every flower and on every piece of clover in your yard. You had to watch walking barefoot. Now I never see bees (except the dreaded carpenter bees, of course.)
 

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in many areas the feral, "wild" bee population is thinned out. they are having the same problems as the bees that live in the nice white town houses.
 

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@Mellenia
Like you, I NEVER saw any honeybees anymore in my area. Last 8 months I've been learning about bees, building boxes, feeders, frames, the whole nine yards and last night I picked up my first 2 nucs (yippie!)
Now with that said....last weekend before I got my nucs, I saw a drone bee in my garage. I figure its a drone, BIG bomber size bee and makes a noise like a B52 in flight so now am hopeful that any queens produced by my splitting will be able to mate somewhere close by. I feel reassured on that part.
Everybody keeps asking me "when you gonna have honey?" and dont understand that at this point I'm "making bees" and not honey. That will come later if there is a surplus which they dont understand either.
Good luck with your ladies!
 

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To me it sounds like you have a great location. The bees are probably working Tulip Poplars, or backberry or holly if you have them. Tulip Poplars produce a lot of nectar and is the main source of honey in NC. In my area, when the flow from Tulip Poplar is over (mid June), the bees start working clover. Flowers and garden plants are so few and don't produce as much nectar. Your bees probably visit them some, (enough to help pollinate them) but to a bee, a garden is just an appetizer to the main course of other sources of nectar.

Since no one near you keeps bees, you have a good shot at going treatment free if you are uup for that challenge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
To me it sounds like you have a great location. The bees are probably working Tulip Poplars, or backberry or holly if you have them. Tulip Poplars produce a lot of nectar and is the main source of honey in NC. In my area, when the flow from Tulip Poplar is over (mid June), the bees start working clover. Flowers and garden plants are so few and don't produce as much nectar. Your bees probably visit them some, (enough to help pollinate them) but to a bee, a garden is just an appetizer to the main course of other sources of nectar.

Since no one near you keeps bees, you have a good shot at going treatment free if you are uup for that challenge.
Ive considered it, believe me. The idea is appealing but I don't know enough about it yet. Don't I need to start out with certain bees? There are some beehives down the road, though, and I don't think they are far enough away. Wouldn't they need to be at least 5 miles apart?
 

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... Don't I need to start out with certain bees? ......[/QUOTE said:
Yes you do. You need to start out with bees having hygienic traits or they will die. In my opinion it is irresponsible not to treat unless you know you have hygienic bees. Let me give you an example, I select my bees for their gentleness and their ability to produce large amounts of honey. I live close to my neighbors, so those are the two traits that I look for mostly. I do not select my bees for hygienic behavior, and so I need to treat. If I don't, they die.

As an analogy, I selected my dog because of his gentle behavior, and because he doesn't shed (golden retriever/poodle mix). Because he doesn't shed, the dog needs to be groomed periodically. If I decided for some reason, that I wasn't going to groom the dog, then I should have selected a dog having different traits.

Just like the situation where you don't buy a dog that requires grooming, and then decide not to groom . . . you don't buy bees that require treating for mites, and then decide not to treat. It's irresponsible.


I also think it's irresponsible for someone to tell a new beekeeper to try going treatment free. Dang, it's hard enough for an experienced beekeeper to keep bees alive without treating.

Some will tell you, "let natural selection run its course" . . . If you want to roll the dice and hope you get hygienic bees, I hope you're ready to replace your hive yearly.

Oh, and by the way, I've been keeping bees in the Chicago area since 2009 (two hives) and never lost a hive over the winter . . . not a single hive. I treat with MAQS twice a year and get around 100 lbs of honey a year off each hive.
 

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I have to agree with c10250, if it is the average italian package it will probably not make it unless you treat. Some folks like MAQS, but it is so warm when I prefer to treat that I can not use it( last week of august) usually. This year I am thinking of using hopguard.
BTW, I am a little north of you and the big honey makers in my area are privet and white clover. From what I understand privet does not make the best honey in some places, but it is very good here. Just a little darker than clover and mild sweet taste. Good luck with your bees.
 

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Yes I agree too that you would need to start out with proven treatment free bees. Local is much better. Ask around. Maybe someone in your part of the state is treatment free and you could buy from them. But since you seem to be somewhat secluded, you would stand a much better chance of sucess with treatment free with only one or a few hives, than you would if there were lots of treated hives in your area.

That's my opinion.
 

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Remember Honey Bees are not native to the US and that pollination certainly happened adequately before their arrival! As has been stated already in this thread, most garden pollination is accomplished by bees and insects other than Honey. It sounds like you are in a great spot for Honey Bees - enjoy the ride! (and may it be a long one!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just like the situation where you don't buy a dog that requires grooming, and then decide not to groom . . . you don't buy bees that require treating for mites, and then decide not to treat. It's irresponsible.
I like your analogy since that is one of my pet peeves. I've discovered that TF or not TF is a volatile subject with bee people. I love the idea of it since it seems to go hand in hand with the idea of organic gardening, but it is also a lot more work in some respects. Organic gardening is a lot more forgiving because I can do it wrong and lose a few tomato plants and still have my okra and my peppers. If I do it wrong with my hive, I could lose the whole thing and that would be depressing. Right now I just want to keep them alive.

Yes, I have mixed Italians. My bees seem to be friendly as well. At least so far. For now I will concentrate on figuring out how to keep them alive, grow my hive, then hopefully split it successfully. Overwintering will be next. One thing at a time.
 

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I also think it's irresponsible for someone to tell a new beekeeper to try going treatment free. Dang, it's hard enough for an experienced beekeeper to keep bees alive without treating.
I think it's irresponsible for anyone to say bees can not be kept without treatment if you are a new beekeeper. I would not recommend it with Ga packages as i tried that my first year and lost both hives. My second year 'last year' i ordered 5 nucs from a local beekeeper and went into winter with 6 hives all treatment free. They all made it and 2 of them are drawing out comb for splits this year. It can be done if you take the time to make sure everything is done right and put some effort into it.
 

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I think it's irresponsible for anyone to say bees can not be kept without treatment if you are a new beekeeper.
What I like to say is that bees face issues that you'll need to decide how to deal with. If you want to keep bees without treatments you are embarking on a path that will require you to learn much, including how to understand what you're looking at.
 

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You can try treatment free. Keeping good accurate mite counts will allow you to make the decision to treat if you need to. Then you can requeen and try it again. There's no need to let them die before you step in if things start to go south.
 

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I'm in the same boat, Millenia! We have loads of carpenter bees, various wasps and some bumblebees but I have not seen any honeybees in my neck of GA (Savannah area). I only live 30 miles from one of the biggest bee package producers (Claxton, GA)! But southeast GA is a fool for pesticide spraying. We had to tell mosquito control to NOT drive down our driveway years ago- we didn't want to inhale their poison!

I also started my hive for pollination in my garden but also because it felt like the right thing to do! We have 15 acres and a stream at the back of the property and have discussed with our neighbor- who tips mosquito control to drive down his property to the creek -about our bees. He says he will not have them spray any further than his house...I hope he is telling me the truth!

JD
 

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I think it's irresponsible for anyone to say bees can not be kept without treatment if you are a new beekeeper. I would not recommend it with Ga packages as i tried that my first year and lost both hives. My second year 'last year' i ordered 5 nucs from a local beekeeper and went into winter with 6 hives all treatment free. They all made it and 2 of them are drawing out comb for splits this year. It can be done if you take the time to make sure everything is done right and put some effort into it.
Stansuch99 - I never said that bees cannot be kept without treatment if you are a new beekeeper.

oh, and by the way, I agree with you that I think it's irresponsible for anyone to say bees can not be kept without treatment (whether you're new or not). I'm going to take the high road and assume that you weren't insinuating I made that comment.

. . .and from everyone I've ever talked to who was treatment free, the first winter is bad . . . the second winter treatment free is where you'll really start to lose those hives.
 

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I like your analogy since that is one of my pet peeves. I've discovered that TF or not TF is a volatile subject with bee people. I love the idea of it since it seems to go hand in hand with the idea of organic gardening, but it is also a lot more work in some respects. Organic gardening is a lot more forgiving because I can do it wrong and lose a few tomato plants and still have my okra and my peppers. If I do it wrong with my hive, I could lose the whole thing and that would be depressing. Right now I just want to keep them alive.

Yes, I have mixed Italians. My bees seem to be friendly as well. At least so far. For now I will concentrate on figuring out how to keep them alive, grow my hive, then hopefully split it successfully. Overwintering will be next. One thing at a time.
MAQS is an organic treatment. You can be "organic" and still treat very effectively for mites.
 
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