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Keeping bees

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  Unmutual on 3/29/2013, 11:08 am

@NHGardener wrote:Really? I've never heard of bees moving into a hive. Does that happen?

In India they rub the interior of a bait hive with lemongrass. I can't find the specific web page(it may have been Oscar Perone's website that was taken down) about using a complete hive for this, just for using bait hives and then transferring them.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  Pollinator on 3/30/2013, 1:56 pm

@NHGardener wrote:Really? I've never heard of bees moving into a hive. Does that happen?

Yes it can happen, but would be rare nowadays, because feral populations are so depleted.

Even when there were lots of feral bees, it wasn't as easy as simply setting out hives. You had to add some knowledge, and make appropriate preparations.

Bees like cavities that have been previously occupied, so at least a frame of drawn comb is needed, to give that attractive odor.

Bees don't like to nest low down, they prefer higher. So your capture rate will be much better if you put them 6-10 feet up. After they are captured, you can set the hive down lower and they are not likely to leave.

The bulk of swarming comes in just a few day period in the spring, with only a few before and a few after. So timing is critical. You can't just let the equipment set there empty, or it will be full of mice, rats and other vermin. And wax worms will eat up drawn comb.

If you do capture an early swarm, their survival probably depends on you being there to feed them. The only resources they have is what they carry in their bellies, and a few days of cold or rainy weather will prevent them from gathering more. So the swarm dies.

Swarms at the peak of the swarm season usually have a nectar flow already going on, so they'll be safer.

Late swarms likely aren't worth the trouble. You know the old saying, "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; and a swarm in July isn't worth a fly." That saying comes from rainy, cool England. For here in South Carolina, you need to bump that up by seven or eight weeks. I love to catch a swarm in March.

So it's important to gain some knowledge before you try a new endeavor. Beekeeping is a lot more complex than most people think. The average person thinks you just set up some hives in an out-of-the-way place and then just "mess" with them a couple times a year, "robbing" them to get some honey. I've never "messed" with bees, and, if I ever "rob" them, please shoot me. When bees are robbed, they die. If you are diligent to care for them, you can sometimes "harvest a surplus."

But they are livestock; you have to recognize diseases and parasites and what to do about them; you have to recognize the brood patterns of a good queen and a failing queen and what to do about them; you have to know what pesticides are being used in your area, and how to deal with the kind of misuse that can kill your bees; you have to be able to deal with predators like bears, skunks, racoons and others' and you have to deal with idiot vandals who like to steal, shoot at, run over, burn up or poison the bees.

Would-be beekeepers need to read, read, read; subscribe to a good bee magazine; join a bee club, and find a find a good mentor. Keep in mind, that bees probably won't need as much time to keep as cattle would, but they probably take more knowledge, because they are more complex.

It's kind of analogous to keeping an orchard:

A schoolteacher I knew planted an apple orchard three years before his retirement. He knew nothing about his new vocation, and didn't do much research

A crooked nurseryman unloaded all his "dogleg" (defective) trees on him.

He made no plans for pollenizers. He had two different varieties, both planted by themselves in solid blocks.

He never thought about deer and mice. By the time he asked me to help him restore the orchard three years after planting, more than half the trees had been killed.

He did not mow at all, so weed growth stunted the surviving trees.

He never trained or pruned the young trees. Training in the first couple years is of utmost importance for the lifelong productivity of the trees.

He did nothing to deal with pests or disease in that first period. By the third year, pests were rampant and scab infected most of the trees.

At his request, I looked over the situation - and decided that they weren't worth saving - it would be better to start fresh. It was sad.

With bees, I once knew a fruit grower that decided that contracting pollination was too expensive - that he would buy his own and have a farm employee take care of them. The employee was willing but had no knowledge. And he'd often schedule a day to work with the bees, and the boss would pull him off for something "more important."

When the state bee inspector came to check for disease, he burned 46 of the owner's 54 hives. They were plastered with American foulbrood.

So knowledge - plus appropriate attention at the right time - is critical. The bees do not take care of themselves, any more than any other livestock, or gardens, nowadays.


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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 3/31/2013, 12:31 am

@camprn wrote:
Supers go on on Tax Day.

My bees come in on the 20th..so hoping they have fun fast!

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 3/31/2013, 7:09 am

@CindiLou wrote:
@camprn wrote:
Supers go on on Tax Day.

My bees come in on the 20th..so hoping they have fun fast!
The supers go on already existing colonies on tax day. Wink

I moved my winter nuc to a regular hive yesterday. there was a bit of capped brood already in the nuc and plenty of bees for a nice cluster. Fingers crossed that all is well.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  NHGardener on 3/31/2013, 12:31 pm

Peeked in both my hives today since it's in the 50s and pleasant. Smallish clusters in the top of both, plenty of uneaten pollen patties and hardened sugar/water mix that I had put in there a few weeks ago.

The hive that has traditionally been strongest didn't seem to have any bigger cluster than the less active hive, so I thought I'd poke around to see if the bees may have moved down a super. As I was trying to pry the top super loose, I got attacked by bees. I didn't get stung because I had my beesuit of armor on, but I just let them be - figured if they're that aggressive they have probably made it successfully thru the winter.

Now I need to call and see if I can cancel the extra bee package I ordered, just in case one of my hives didn't make it.

YAY I'm so happy I could float, if indeed they did survive. My first winter.

I took no honey in the fall, and since I had trouble moving the top super I'm wondering if it's full of honey.

I need to get an extractor in that case, and take honey in late spring.

Any suggestions on brands/models for a small extractor?

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 3/31/2013, 1:37 pm

Oh, you are a lucky woman to be having a reservation of a package, I have had at least 6 folk ask me if I had any extra packages coming or if I would sell my nuc. Makes me think I may just have to start a few nucs to overwinter and sell next spring.

I too have quite a bit of honey left in hives but the bees will still need what ever honey and pollen they have until the flow begins... the bees were out this morning bringing in bright orange pollen, probably crocus, the main tress around here have not started to flower. I am planning on taking some honey in late spring, if there is enough.

I bought my 2 frame hand crank extractor from Betterbee last year. NHG, is there anyone in your area that offers extraction service?


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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  NHGardener on 3/31/2013, 3:37 pm

I can probably find an extractor, but you know how it is, there's nothing like cranking up your extractor for a couple frames when you feel like it. I'll look into the Betterbee- thanks.

Heard it mentioned that bees might be in short supply this year because Hurricane Sandy took out a lot of hives in NY/NJ. Also, this article says 2012 was not a good year for bee survival:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/science/earth/soaring-bee-deaths-in-2012-sound-alarm-on-malady.html?_r=0

I would guess that selling your own nucs might be a very viable business opportunity! We had someone come talk to our bee club this month who does that, and I believe he does it for a living, raising queens and making nucs. It also sounds like a lot of fun, farming bees. Smile

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/5/2013, 6:39 pm

The maple sugaring season is coming to an end...
flower LET THE HONEY FLOW BEGIN! flower

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 4/6/2013, 7:41 pm

Pretty much ready! I am going to paint the supers and the bottom boards this week. Forgot to pick up the paint today at menards...

The top super has the feeder in it.




I had a honey bee flying around looking them over...if I get a swarm moving in before mine come the 20th I am gonna be in a mess lol..I would have to get another hive fast!

The trays are baker trays hubby found leaning up against a dumpster. If I get ants the trays will be filled with oil and covered with screen wire. Humm, I am NOT sure I like that idea. Have to think about it. I had an idea of a frame base but hubby went with this lol...Hopefully no ants come around lol

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/6/2013, 7:45 pm

Congrats on being ALMOST ready with the hives. When do the bees arrive? Those trays do look a bit awkward. Do you have an ant problem in your yard now?

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Keeping bees

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/6/2013, 7:46 pm

I am impressed with all of you that are keeping bees! That is something that I cannot see me doing right now because of all the learning I would need to do and I would worry about not taking care of them correctly. I just wouldn't want to get them started and kill them off.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  plantoid on 4/6/2013, 7:52 pm

Cindi ,
Make sure the paint is bee friendly .. not stuff that will kill thm or send them spitefully crazy as it gives off fumes when the weather warms up & the hive is occupied .

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 4/6/2013, 7:59 pm

We have little ants so I may have ant trouble.

If the trays don't work..hubby will make a frame. I really don't like the looks but hey he is being patient with a new hobby so got to give him credit lol

What kind of paint do you recommend? I thought just exterior house paint but can get something else.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/6/2013, 8:49 pm

exterior latex. one coat of primer, two coats of paint.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  NHGardener on 4/9/2013, 5:01 pm

Okay, well, yesterday was a warm sunny day so I went into both my hives, all the way to the ground. The bottom boards of both hives were covered in a huge mass of dead bees, so that's not good. The amount of bees I saw in both hives was small, and my strongest hive last summer actually had the fewest bees. There was almost no honey and nothing else in the frames, altho the sugar cubes (I made the slabs of hardened sugar/water mix) and the pollen patties were still in there, partially eaten.

In the fall I suspected my hives were getting robbed. Being my first year, I wasn't sure. Now I'm thinking they did get robbed and basically starved over winter, unless it's a virus of some kind. I saw the queen in what used to be the strongest hive, and she was walking around with the other smallish amount of bees.

My one hope is that there are more bees than meets the eye because maybe there were out foraging, but there is not a lot of activity at the hives, just maybe 5 or 10 bees flying in and out at any time.

Gack. I'm just going to let them go - I cleaned the bottom boards off. Maybe they'll somehow revive, but I doubt it. Meanwhile I have a 3rd hive to assemble and I'm getting the package in 2 weeks, i'll just start that one and see what happens with these other 2.

No honey. No brood. No nuthin.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  plantoid on 4/9/2013, 6:53 pm

When you feed the hive, it helps to insert a slightly wedge shaped bar of wood that has two bee spaces cut through it ( like missing teeth ) into the entrance space .

This will close down the access gap so the incumbent bees can easily defend the hive against being robbed out.

Once the really cold weather arrives and the bees stop flying for the season remove the block and fit a mouse guard , so that the air can circulate in the hive better . This helps stop mould forming in the hive and the bees dying off from mould associated diseases .
The mouse guard is there to stop mice , lizards and hornets getting in as the holes are just big enough for a drone or a worker bee to enter/exit.

Once the bees start flying again in the spring etc . remove the mouseguard if you want to .. I used to leave mine in place all year round except when I fed the hive as I found a couple of hives chewed up by mice in mid season and four hives wiped out by 2 " long 1/2 thick nesting hornets ( which are protected insects here in the UK ) .

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/9/2013, 8:10 pm

@NHGardener wrote:Okay, well, yesterday was a warm sunny day so I went into both my hives, all the way to the ground. The bottom boards of both hives were covered in a huge mass of dead bees, so that's not good. The amount of bees I saw in both hives was small, and my strongest hive last summer actually had the fewest bees. There was almost no honey and nothing else in the frames, altho the sugar cubes (I made the slabs of hardened sugar/water mix) and the pollen patties were still in there, partially eaten.

In the fall I suspected my hives were getting robbed. Being my first year, I wasn't sure. Now I'm thinking they did get robbed and basically starved over winter, unless it's a virus of some kind. I saw the queen in what used to be the strongest hive, and she was walking around with the other smallish amount of bees.

My one hope is that there are more bees than meets the eye because maybe there were out foraging, but there is not a lot of activity at the hives, just maybe 5 or 10 bees flying in and out at any time.

Gack. I'm just going to let them go - I cleaned the bottom boards off. Maybe they'll somehow revive, but I doubt it. Meanwhile I have a 3rd hive to assemble and I'm getting the package in 2 weeks, i'll just start that one and see what happens with these other 2.

No honey. No brood. No nuthin.
SO NHG, all those dead bees on the bottom board are normal. Cleaning up after our northern winters is a tedious and dirty job. Congrats on your bees making it through this LONG, HARSH WINTER! There are still sugar patties and pollen patties in there? Did you see eggs? If you still have bees take off all the extra supers they are not in and place the pollen patty and sugar right on the top bars where the cluster is. As soon as it gets warm feed 1:1 sugar syrup and lots of it!The girls are bringing in pollen and the nectar will soon flow. Those girls will revive if the queen is in there. There is yet hope! Chin up!!

I built a new hive stand in my home apiary yesterday. I will post a photo tomorrow.
My friend and bee mentor had a stroke in January and there is really no way he can handle the hives now. He is getting stronger everyday and hopes to eventually keep some topbar hives at his home. I just went to one of his out yards late this afternoon to take a peek. 2 of 7 hives there are two still kicking. I broke down one of the deadouts and reversed the strongest of the surviving hives, which had open brood.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 4/9/2013, 11:54 pm

We were leveling up my hives yesterday, there was a honeybee buzzing around! I will be in a mess if I get a swarm come in just before I get my bee packages!

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/10/2013, 6:03 am

I think the only swarm you gonna get this year is that nice 3# package of bees. Are you ready? fun veggie

Oh and NHG, regarding the syrup feeding recommendation above, If you want honey this season, discontinue the syrup once the flow really gets underway. You probably already know this. Wink

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 4/10/2013, 9:02 am

NO I am NOT ready
rofl I am ready. Just nervous. Got the hives finished painted. Now to practice with the smoker more!

Oh my goodness... chance of freezing rain Thursday! I hate when that threatens! To many memories of bad ice a few years ago!

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  CindiLou on 4/10/2013, 9:38 am

One of my daughters was visiting and she got in on the fun too.

Hubby has such a bee in his bonnet rofl about WHITE hives...so just plain old white!


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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/10/2013, 6:51 pm

I built a new hive stand on Monday.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Keeping bees

Post  plantoid on 4/10/2013, 7:05 pm

Camp ,
It looks good though I see a posible conflict for you at sometime in the future .

Why have you put the small pallets on the support poles as you have instead of rotating them 90 degrees . So that the thicker wood of the pallet sits across the poles .
I've asked this because when the supers & brood box become full they might break the slats if they are left as they are as a full hive can weigh in the region of 150 pounds.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/10/2013, 7:17 pm

@plantoid wrote:Camp ,
It looks good though I see a posible conflict for you at sometime in the future .

Why have you put the small pallets on the support poles as you have instead of rotating them 90 degrees . So that the thicker wood of the pallet sits across the poles .
I've asked this because when the supers & brood box become full they might break the slats if they are left as they are as a full hive can weigh in the region of 150 pounds.
I placed them this way because they are square and the physics of carrying the weight seems correct to me with the way the whole thing is built. These are very sturdy little shipping pallets that carried very heavy machinery originally. The front and the back of the hive body rests directly on the board screwed to the 2-bys and sits directly above those 2-bys. Then the 2-bys sit almost directly above the horizontal poles. I will be very surprised if there is sag, but if there is I will get new ones and set them up in the other direction next time.

My guess if that I will have to reset the block before the pallets. I will admit that my thinking on these types of matters has sometimes been flawed in the past.

The sun is gone for the day but I can get a better shot of the arrangement from the side tomorrow.

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Re: Keeping bees

Post  camprn on 4/10/2013, 7:31 pm

Oh fer crying out loud! Now I'm gonna quibble within my own head about the placement of the pallets. silly me

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40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Keeping bees

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