I like to start keeping bees in spring 2022…

WannaBeHillBilly

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Echoing what others have said, but the very best thing you can do is to find you a local bee club and get involved. Our bee club has a club apiary that we do work days in every weekend during the season, that is invaluable for beginners.


One neat tool I have used is https://nassgeodata.gmu.edu/CropScape/
You can find out what is being grown in your local area, and how frequently you have things like soybeans or cotton.

Using some other online mapping tools you can figure out what a 2, 3, 5-mile radius, etc. is from your location and then you can mark that on the crop data layers (see link above) and it will tell you what is being grown in your area over the years.

View attachment 88719
Weeeelll… agriculture isn't a big thing here in WV at all. Lot's of mixed forest, shrubs and non alfalfa hay. No soy-beans and no corn. But plenty of shrubs and wild flowers. Further down in the valley there is a family operated vegetables farm with about 10 green-houses and a large fish-pond.
On my land there's plenty of honeysuckle, thistles and wild flowers on the pasture and i am planning to plow an almost barren plot of flat land (more rocks than soil) to plant sweet lupines. The bees could enjoy the nectar, the lupine seeds would become a protein rich winter food for the ducks, the dried plants i can cop and use as bedding and lupines enrich the soil with nitrogen through symbiotic bacteria.
And i love the dark lupine-honey! - My bee-keeping uncle always had a plot with lupines growing and 3-4 bee-hives in the center.
 

Field Bee

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Well the guy i talked with is a local bee-keeper who likes bee-keeping, has bees for over 30 years and is a retired coal-worker. He sells honey and creates nucs to add some additional money for pension, so definitely not a commercial operation. He also recommended the Italian bees to me - even though they are a bit cheaper…
Is he rearing the queens or is he buying the queens and making up the nucs?
 

Field Bee

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That sounds complicated!
For raising hundreds or thousands of breed specific queens it does get complicated but for the backyarder not so much. Grafting is a lot of fun. I enjoy making more bees than harvesting honey, comb honey, candles, etc. Grafting is lifting a 3 day old larva out of a cell and placing it in a vertical cell so the bees begin to feed the larva royal jelly and raise a queen. I keep it very simple and graft into strong spring hives that show early swarm preparations. If I had to guess the guy you're buying nucs from is probably purchasing the nucs or making nucs and requeening them. Nothing wrong with that at all its what most small beekeepers do, and his prices are fair. Just make sure when you get the nuc it has 5 FULLY drawn frames. In the past I have gone back to a supplier with a beginner and handed them the empty frame back and asked for a $40 refund ;).
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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For raising hundreds or thousands of breed specific queens it does get complicated but for the backyarder not so much. Grafting is a lot of fun. I enjoy making more bees than harvesting honey, comb honey, candles, etc. Grafting is lifting a 3 day old larva out of a cell and placing it in a vertical cell so the bees begin to feed the larva royal jelly and raise a queen. I keep it very simple and graft into strong spring hives that show early swarm preparations. If I had to guess the guy you're buying nucs from is probably purchasing the nucs or making nucs and requeening them. Nothing wrong with that at all its what most small beekeepers do, and his prices are fair. Just make sure when you get the nuc it has 5 FULLY drawn frames. In the past I have gone back to a supplier with a beginner and handed them the empty frame back and asked for a $40 refund ;).
He seems to be a nice guy, today he suggested that, as a beginner, i should buy one of his fully established hives, so that i have a good harvest in the first year. He also offered to come and visit me and check out the best place to set up the hive. - And he likes duck-eggs! ☺️
And he offers free beekeeping classes, he is very enthusiastic about beekeeping.
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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I had a long phone call with my new beekeeper-friend today. He is not a honey producer, but focuses entirely on breeding bees. He breeds mainly Italian bees, as they are the leas aggressive and everybody is asking for them.
He also has bred Russian bees, very resistant against cold winters and Saskatraz bees. He confirmed that the Russian bees are no beginner bees due to their aggressiveness. He imported certified Saskatraz queens from Canada last spring and has just set up a lab for artificial insemination. If the Sassies survive this Winter, his plan is to breed more certified Saskatraz queens through AI. He also tried VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) bees and claims that's a bust. They had as many mites as the other hives.
So in the end i placed an order for two one-year old hives of Italian bees at $550 each. The hive-boxes are 10 frames, complete: Hive stand, bottom board, slatted rack, lower and higher brood (deep) queen excluder, two shallow honey supers, inner cover, outer cover with metal roof. (i don't know if i understood all that correctly!) - Including bees, installed last year with a locally grown queen and locally bred workers who have survived the current winter here in West Virginia.
Best thing: He is not accepting any deposits! Payment in cash when you pick up.
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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While looking up prices for bee-hives - to verify that the $550 for a fully established hive is a good bang for the buck - i noticed that no part of a bee-hive has any pins or ledges to stack the parts on top of each other. (?)
I remember that my uncle's bee-hives from ~50 years ago had a dowel in each corner to keep all stories of the hive neatly and stable stacked on top of each other.
So nowadays you just set the boxes flat on top of each other?
How do they stay stacked?
:idunno
 

R2elk

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While looking up prices for bee-hives - to verify that the $550 for a fully established hive is a good bang for the buck - i noticed that no part of a bee-hive has any pins or ledges to stack the parts on top of each other. (?)
I remember that my uncle's bee-hives from ~50 years ago had a dowel in each corner to keep all stories of the hive neatly and stable stacked on top of each other.
So nowadays you just set the boxes flat on top of each other?
How do they stay stacked?
:idunno
Just set them on top of each other and the bees glue them together.

It is windy here so I do put a brick or cement block on top of the cover.
 

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