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How are Your Bees Doing So Far???

Vance G

NewBee
Registered Member
Aug 30, 2011
564
3
0
Great Falls Montana
Friends dad

For my money, you can learn more from someone keeping 25 colonies for a while than you can pick up in many classes. Their are also a number of forums and websites where you can learn an awful lot in the short days and long nights of winter. Search beekeeper Michael Bush and it will take you to a website that explains virtually everything very well. You can buy his book for around $50 bucks or get it in three pieces for a little more. All the same info and more is free on his website. A number of beekeeping classes I have seen hawked are profit centers for entrepeneurial beginners. Beemasters.com is a good forum. There are many more. The biggest one I go to is bee source but their are some certifiable loons who you do not want to be influenced by there. Your yield depends on the quality of the bees you start with and most important, the pasture you put them on. beginners are constantly fed this ration of BS that you can't expect a crop the first year. I have had nucs drawing foundation the whole way store over 200 pounds of surplus. If you listen to some fool and aren't prepared to give that superior queen room to lay eggs and her daughters room to store honey, they swarm, usually leaving the novice with a failed queenless hive and them not knowledgeable enough to fix it. You should be prepared to provide each colony with a minimum of One deep and four medium supers or better yet, two deeps and three supers. I would warn you that you will be told that a thing called a screened bottom board is essential to your success. It is a giant hole in the bottom of a struggling new colony trying to maintain 95 degrees to raise babies. People wonder why their package won't get going! It is like you leaving all your doors and windows open during heating or cooling system. It is indeed a cult religion. After your colony has filled a couple boxes, you can succumb to the siren call, but don't listen before then. Talk to two beekeepers and get three stong opinions. But those three chestnuts are my best advice to aid your success
 

WyldWytch

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 29, 2012
53
0
0
Morganville, NJ
For my money, you can learn more from someone keeping 25 colonies for a while than you can pick up in many classes. Their are also a number of forums and websites where you can learn an awful lot in the short days and long nights of winter. Search beekeeper Michael Bush and it will take you to a website that explains virtually everything very well. You can buy his book for around $50 bucks or get it in three pieces for a little more. All the same info and more is free on his website. A number of beekeeping classes I have seen hawked are profit centers for entrepeneurial beginners. Beemasters.com is a good forum. There are many more. The biggest one I go to is bee source but their are some certifiable loons who you do not want to be influenced by there. Your yield depends on the quality of the bees you start with and most important, the pasture you put them on. beginners are constantly fed this ration of BS that you can't expect a crop the first year. I have had nucs drawing foundation the whole way store over 200 pounds of surplus. If you listen to some fool and aren't prepared to give that superior queen room to lay eggs and her daughters room to store honey, they swarm, usually leaving the novice with a failed queenless hive and them not knowledgeable enough to fix it. You should be prepared to provide each colony with a minimum of One deep and four medium supers or better yet, two deeps and three supers. I would warn you that you will be told that a thing called a screened bottom board is essential to your success. It is a giant hole in the bottom of a struggling new colony trying to maintain 95 degrees to raise babies. People wonder why their package won't get going! It is like you leaving all your doors and windows open during heating or cooling system. It is indeed a cult religion. After your colony has filled a couple boxes, you can succumb to the siren call, but don't listen before then. Talk to two beekeepers and get three stong opinions. But those three chestnuts are my best advice to aid your success

Thank you Vance, as for the course it is highly recommended and even if I only walk away with 5 fingers of information, it's 5 fingers of info that wasn't available to me. My primary purpose for taking the class isn't hive management, but some of the things we are seeing such as varoa mites and CCD. I need and want to know how we are dealing with this here in my state and since my friends Dad never had to deal with such issues she won't know how to deal with them.

I have been researching and reading for probably about 3 years on taking this step and even I am undecided on how I will manage these issues. The more information I can gather the more informed I will be. That said, I agree with the loons on beesource...LOL When I had time to get in there on a regular basis I would just LMAO at some of the antics. Things where people were looking for help and someone would come in ranting and raving leaving the original poster worse for the wear. If you don't want to part with your highly secretive information then don't respond to the post...let someone else who is willing handle it...LOL

Also took note of what you said I will need to get started this year as far as boxes will go. I have researched the type of bee I want since they tend to be docile and do well in our area, that is the carnolian (italians) if I remember correctly. I know there is a ton more of stuff I was going to say and ask, but I am drawing a blank right now since my 4-legged friends are in a tizzy running through the house. 12 legs with a combination of close to 200 lbs makes for a very noisy very destructible beast...LOL

Rosie
 

Vance G

NewBee
Registered Member
Aug 30, 2011
564
3
0
Great Falls Montana
Carniolans are a good choice for novices. They do not build up overwhelmingly huge numbers and are very docile as bees go but still produce a good crop. They are not a variety of Italians. You can find italians that are quite gentle too, but they do tend to build up bigger populations which can be intimidating. They do swarm way easier than italians so make sure they have lots of room and if you don't split them in their second year, they will split themselves:<}
 

WyldWytch

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 29, 2012
53
0
0
Morganville, NJ
Carniolans are a good choice for novices. They do not build up overwhelmingly huge numbers and are very docile as bees go but still produce a good crop. They are not a variety of Italians. You can find italians that are quite gentle too, but they do tend to build up bigger populations which can be intimidating. They do swarm way easier than italians so make sure they have lots of room and if you don't split them in their second year, they will split themselves:<}
Thank you for clearing that up. As I was typing for some reason I kept thinking interchangeable when I knew they weren't. I actually will be going with the Italians since I found a keeper/supplier who I am feeling comfortable with after picking their brains. What really did them justice was the fact that you can continue to pick their brains even after you buy from them, you're not just a number. They also provide you with all the information you could possibly need/want so that you get off to the best possible start. I am really excited about this, as you can tell..LOL Spring is just not coming quick enough.

Now if I can pick your brain on how you deal with varroa mites and any other maladies that might happen.

Oh and as far as having to split the italians after year one, no biggie since I planned to add 2 more hives next spring, possibly a 3rd if things are going really good. I would like to max out at about 10 hives, give or take a couple. I want this to be a hobby that can be as self sufficient as possible in the monetary department and the only thing it truly needs from me as time and energy!!! I know I am probably kidding myself...LOL

Rosie
 

Vance G

NewBee
Registered Member
Aug 30, 2011
564
3
0
Great Falls Montana
The italians do not swarm as readily as Carnies but the advise is still sound. I would advise you to start with two colonies at least. That way if one goes queenless or needs help, you have a remedy on hand. As far as varroa mites, they are everywhere and if you do not know how many you have you are in trouble. I tried to go with only the softest treatment and IPM integrated Pest Management, but at least this year it was not enough and I had to use a thymol mite killer. I will tell you in the spring whether it worked.
 

WyldWytch

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 29, 2012
53
0
0
Morganville, NJ
The italians do not swarm as readily as Carnies but the advise is still sound. I would advise you to start with two colonies at least. That way if one goes queenless or needs help, you have a remedy on hand. As far as varroa mites, they are everywhere and if you do not know how many you have you are in trouble. I tried to go with only the softest treatment and IPM integrated Pest Management, but at least this year it was not enough and I had to use a thymol mite killer. I will tell you in the spring whether it worked.
Vance, I really want to give you a BIG hug as a thank you. You've been really helpful with where I am at so far. I was already planning on 2 hives to start out with, but I might actually buy 4 of my langstroth hives this year, but package only 2. At least then all I have to do next year, fingers crossed, is split the two hives that I got this year. I figured the biggest expense are the boxes and since I am really not up to making my own, though I could, there isn't much of a cost difference by the time everything is said and done. The only thing I am going to hold off on for now is getting my extractor and refractometer since I won't need them ASAP.

If you ever have some extra time I would love to hear any other tips or insights you have, even some funny stories you've dealt with as a beek...:)

Right now my husband seems to think it's pretty funny that my main worry is losing a hive versus getting stung...LOL OH, and he refuses to kiss any booboos encountered due to my new hobby.

Rosie
 

Vance G

NewBee
Registered Member
Aug 30, 2011
564
3
0
Great Falls Montana
I would stick with equipment for two. What happens if playing with stinging insects is not near as exciting in practice as theory? Freight is always a killer but I would check with Westernbee.com in Poulsen Montana. Their budget woodware is as good as you will get most places. Your foundation should not be purchased when it is freezing out as it will shatter very easily. Check WB's prices and talk to Vicky about the cheapest way to recieve your order. If you get enough equipment to ship surface freight and go pick it up at the local shipping warehouse, you might find shipping very reasonable. They charge extra for delivery to your house and for using their liftgate so picking it up will save a $100 over getting it delivered to your door. Unless you are a business address then those charges may not apply. My beekeeping background is not as a hobbyist so I wasn't trained to see the benefit of telescoping covers and inner covers and I have decided that Screened bottom boards have become a religious cult. Beekeeping is expensive to get into but I would strongly advise you take a minimalist stance when starting. My covers and bottom boards cost about $2.50 each to make and work just fine. I replace whatever feeder someone would love to sell you with a gallon zip lock bag and a spare medium super box. You can cut that box in two and use it for two hives. I don't use queen excluders and you definately shouldn't until you have drawn comb to put above it. Get a good smoker from dadant or kelley. For a couple hives, you don't need a huge one. Mine is a small good quality one from dadant and I can go thru 25 hives with it. Just buy or acquire an old burlap/jute/gunnysack/bag and cut pieces off that. You can get a couple yards at the fabric store of the kind used on furniture and it works great, is easy to light and stays lit with a little practice. I would get a good one piece bee suit. Mann Lake ltd has them for under $100 or you can get a ventilated one for a little more that is very sting resistent. If you don't mind sweaty hands, go to the resturant supply store and buy dishwasher gloves that are sting proof and you can wash them after use and they stay flexible. Or Pay top dollar for a good pair of goatskin gloves with sleeves and they will stiffen up pretty quickly form honey and propolis, but they are more comfortable. Additionally you will need a couple 'hive tools's'. I use one that looks like an old style paint scraper and is cheap. They have newer style and very expensive ones. I get along fine with the under $5 ones. Ok, a bee brush is a good thing to have at times so you can gently move bees. A frame grip is a tool used to pull frames up out of the hive after breaking it loose with the hive tool. That and the boxes I talked about earlier are all you really need. You do not need an extractor but as soon as you decide you indeed do like being a lady with special powers to charm stinging insects, start looking for an extractor. Every extractor seems to wear out several beekeepers. You will find a good used one for you if you allow some search time. Brushy Mountain bee supply is another good place to shop. lots of suppliers and they all have lots of gadgets and things you simply must have. Have fun shopping but the above listed are all you really need.
 

Intheswamp

NewBee
Registered Member
Oct 9, 2012
257
1
0
South Alabama
WyldWytch, I would look close to home if you will be ordering equipment. Woodenware shipping cost can get expensive. An alternative to getting

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm has it's main office in Columbia, PA so that should cut down on shipping costs. Miller Bee Supply has a good reputation, too, and is down in North Carolina. The Walter T. Kelley Bee Co. is in Kentucky, they have very good equipment and have been in the business a long time. There are several bee equipment suppliers around the region. Do a google search and you will find several...I saw one listed in NJ a while back, just can't recall the name.

Another way to cut shipping costs is to order for delivery to one of the large beekeepers meetings in your area. Many states have large annual and semi-annual meetings where vendors will take orders and deliver them free to the meetings. Depending on what you're buying you can save a lot of money. Check around for large meetings in your area. We normally have three meetings here in Alabama...October, February, and July...I'm not sure about your area.

In regards to building your own equipment. If you have to buy your lumber to build your boxes then go ahead and buy the boxes pre-cut from a vendor...save loads of time and materialwise it's not much more expensive. Buy frames unless you're a good woodworker and have the time. Where you can save some money is building tops and bottoms...they are the more expensive pieces of woodenware.

Find a local mentor...they're worth their weight in gold. The information that they share is pricelss and sometimes you even get a free bees. ;) My mentor got a call the other day about a small external colony that a guy wanted removed. We rode over there today and got the bees...extremely gentle bees....I wanted to leave them on the limb and let them over-winter that way, then in the spring put the comb in frames (better chance of them surviving). We used no smoke on them and had to saw a 5" limb in two on either side of the comb...the bees never even acted like we disturbed them. It's a small nuc but hopefully I can carry it through the winter and make a good production hive out of it in the spring. This is the second colony in the last month or so that we've removed. Good mentors are treasures.

We use screened bottom boards and our mite loads are low. At our recent state association meeting Doctors Jim Tew and Clarence Collison were having a question an answer panel and stated that screened bottoms boards contributed 10 to 20 percent reduction in varroar mites. Add this to having hygienic bees, maybe some brood breaks, drone larvae killing, etc., and it all adds up in knocking down varroar numbers. Others do not use screen bottom boards. Queens will not lay all the way to bottom of the bottom frames while over a screened bottom board. Some folks don't like the openess and recite the "hollow trees don't have screened bottom boards"....they don't, but many of them have more room between the bottoms of the combs and floor of the hollow tree than most Langstroth hives have. It's something you'll have to decide on after reading, reading, reading....you'll hear from folks for them and against them. To be honest, I have some solid bottom boards that I use sometimes with swarm traps and also when I hive a swarm. Also, being in the south, I like the ventilation factor of the screened bottom boards....but, I've got some friends down here who use solid bottoms and swear by them, too. :)

If you seriously want to keep bees, get your orders in for your equipment so you can start putting it together. Locate and order your bees now for next year...do a good bit of research now. You may try packages of bees or nucs. If you can find over-wintered nucs they are better than spring-built nucs. Let your mentor help you with nuc buying or maybe get into a club and get some guidiance with the purchase. Many a beeyard has been started with packages, though! You've got a few options there. The big thing is that you probably need to be getting your order in pretty soon.

Anyhow, that was rambling, hope you could use some of it. I'd strongly suggest you check out www.beemaster.com and www.beesource.com . Beemaster is a little bit slower moving but seems to be a tigher knit group of folks. More traffic on beesource. Both websites have a number of good beekeepers that are good folks.

And....have fun! ;)
Ed
 

WyldWytch

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 29, 2012
53
0
0
Morganville, NJ
Hi Ed, thanks for the info, it's really appreciated as far as finding suppliers for stuff. I actually did find a supplier for my equipment and while I will have to pay shipping costs, it's a family run business. That always gets my vote, I have spoken to them on the phone now about 8x's and even though I haven't bought a darn thing from them yet, they have treated me like I've been doing business with them for years. In fact they have even talked me out of buying extra stuff that I just won't need yet. I think my list of stuff goes something like this right now:

3 - Langstroth Hives that each include the following: 2 Deeps - 1 Med. Super (all with frames), 1 screen bottom, 2 entrance reducers, 1 entrance feeder, 1 inner cover, 1 telescoping top cover, 1 queen excluder
2 - pair long gloves
2 - smoker w/fuel
2 - cap w/veil
3 - bee escapes
6 - medium Supers w/frames
1 - uncapping knife
1 - honey extraction scratcher
3 - honey strainers (600-400-200)
1 - bee brush
AND of course the most important thing..2 packages of Italian bees...:)

I'll have to check with the association I am going to join for future orders, but thank you for telling me about stuff like that because sometimes you just don't think about it.

I've actually given up on the whole build my own stuff, I figure this will be hands on enough that I really don't need to pat myself on the back and say hey look I built all my equipment myself.

Mentors are a beautiful thing and thankfully my best friend raised and cared for 25 hives with her dad. She will be my primary go to for sticking a foot up my butt to do something. She was the only one out of her siblings who would work the hives with her Dad and she is the only one who would work them with no protective clothing...NOT even shoes. She is a bit of a loon, but we love her all the same. I will also be joining a local beekeeping club and finally taking a short 3-day course with our co-operative extension. Not only will this allow me to get all the newest info on IPM, and a chance to actually build some confidence that I really can work with stinging insects and still be zen, it will allow me to meet other people who are getting into becoming backyard keepers.

Being that I am starting off with 2 hives I might try one with and one without. At least then I can see for myself which is better since they will both be under the same environmental issues and both be getting the same outside care from me. Of course I would love to hear from others how they manage their varroa mites as well or any other pest management they use that works or don't use and their reasonings for it.

....That's why I like who I chose to get my equipment and packages from, they are going to give me a call to let me know they are putting them online. Can't get much better than that right now...:)

As for reading and research, I've been doing that for the last 3-4 years. This was definitely not an overnight, spur of the moment, whimsical decision to do this. I've tried to go over all the aspects of whether I wanted to stay a hobbyist versus going commercial AND at this time I've decided to start with 2 hives this year with a max load of 10 hives within the next 3-5 years. Now I just need to figure out where I want to go with it....Queen rearing, raising nucs for sale, small scale honey production...the skies the limit, but I need to be able to run this on my own. So if I go the honey production route it will be based on sales minus what I need for 5 batches of mead a year. I'm not looking to get rich and I still want it to be an enjoyable "hobby" that sustains itself.

Anyhow, that was rambling, hope you could use some of it. I'd strongly suggest you check out www.beemaster.com and www.beesource.com . Beemaster is a little bit slower moving but seems to be a tigher knit group of folks. More traffic on beesource. Both websites have a number of good beekeepers that are good folks.

And....have fun! ;)
Ed
ED, you can ramble whenever you would like to, when someone does there is usually something to be learned...:)

Thanks

Rose
 

Intheswamp

NewBee
Registered Member
Oct 9, 2012
257
1
0
South Alabama
I'm glad you found an equipment supplier that you feel comfortable with. I do most of my business with Rossman over in Georgia and Kelley's up in Kentucky...both good folks to deal with. This year at our annual meeting I order a bit more stuff from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm...a good bit of mead making stuff. ;)

Your order looks pretty good. A couple of things you might want to change, tough.

You only need one entrance reducer per hive, though.

One smoker will be plenty...wood pellets like are burned in a woodstove work great and have a pretty good smell, lots of folks down here use pine straw but to me it burns with a stench...burlap, dried grass, buffalo chips,....many things can be used for smoker fuel as long as it isn't toxic. I use dried grass from when I mow the yard to start my smoker with...I'll roll up a loose wad of it, light it and stick it down in the smoker...pump the smoker a few times and get it smoking thickly and then pour some pellets on top of it...to top it I put a wad of green grass/weeds in....the green grass cools the smoke down some and helps keep any sparks held back.

Gloves are a personal choice...I don't where them as I think I can "feel" better without them and won't mash as many bees (they don't like it when you mash them...short-tempered little ladies they are!!). But, my mentor's best friend (~83 years old) and has started raising queens and nucs this past year wears gloves regularly...he says he can work faster with them because he's not worried about getting stung so much. Have you been stung by a honey bee in the recent past?

So you will have three supers that you can use on each hive. That may be enough. If not, you can order more.

Bee brush...some folks say they get the bees in a bad mood if you don't know how to use it. Simply brushing across the comb will roll the bees...rolling bees will definitely but fire in their eyes (and tail end). I haven't used one but what is recommended is a "flicking motion" to remove the bees. Lots of folks recommend a turkey feather or the like. As for removing bees from honey supers, a simple fume board and some Bee-Quick will move them out of your way pretty quickly...the Bee-Quick smells similar to almond extract. Beware of some of the other stuff out there....Bee-Go stinks badly, I'd stay away from it....horror stories have been told of this "stuff" spilling in vehicles. :eek:

As for not building your own stuff, don't worry about it. You will find yourself start tweaking things to your liking. I've modified my screened bottom boards to become oil tray traps...for the expense of about $6 each...the oil trays can be used for mite counts, small hive beetle and mite trapping, and for closing off the bottom of the hive during bad weather. There's still a minor crack around the edge of the tray for some light ventilation. It was an easy, cheap mod. I also cut an extra round hole in the top of my inner covers and cover them with screen....I feed using quart mason jars turned upside down on these holes (small holes punched in the lids) and place an empty super and a top cover over them to protect them from the sun and bees from other colonies. All kinds of things you can tinker with without having to build from scratch the main pieces.

The goal I would focuse on first is building the bees up in population and having them survive their first winter. Any surplus honey is a gift the first year. You'll learn a lot about your bees and yourself that first year, and the second year, and the... :) The goal for me would be to successfully overwinter the bees and then work up to producing enough honey for my needs. Beyond that...where ever you want to go.

Sounds like you've got a good plan going and I'm glad that you've got a friend who's going to help you. Joining a club will do you good...it'll get you in touch with other beeks and other ideas. Everybody has opinions and ideas...some good and some bad...take what you want and leave the rest. ;)

Ed
 

WyldWytch

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 29, 2012
53
0
0
Morganville, NJ
Keep that dream....dreams *can* come true. ;)

Ed
Alchemist, as Ed said...Keep the dream!

I have been wanting to start this up for the past 3-4 years. Every time I turned around something happened and I had to put this off for another year. In fact in December of 2010 I had everything ordered and had to cancel it a couple weeks later after suffering a bad slip and fall injury at work, dislocated shoulder which after fighting with them for over 6 months they finally approved. It was a good thing I had canceled my order because my shoulder was in horrific condition and required 5 hours of reconstructive surgery. Now 2 years later I will be placing my order and going through with it, the nice part about it now is the lawsuit that I just settled against my job is paying for my hobby.

Rosie
 

TheAlchemist

I am Meadlemania
GotMead Patron
Sep 9, 2010
2,464
8
0
near a lake
This:
View attachment 828

Looks like a bee hive to me.

Seriously, My Honey Co, where I get most of my honey, has a hive in the shop. It is encased in plexiglass, then hidden in a plywood cabinet.
If you want to know how the ladies are doing you can just open the plywood cabinet and take a peek.

I'd love to do something like that...
 

fullerbees

NewBee
Registered Member
Oct 27, 2020
1
0
1
USA
If you have to face any type of difficulty in beekeeping and find out experts advice for keeping colonies then must check this https://fullerbees.com/ that explains virtually everything very well. Also, they provide some sort of beekeeping services at a very good rate.