I like to start keeping bees in spring 2022…

Legamin

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
50
Reaction score
84
Points
70
Location
Washington
Bee Brush - Some beekeepers use a goose feather or a duck wing. It's not a tool you'll reach for much but its handy to have. Soft bristles are better and you dont want to brush the bees, you want to flick them out of the way with the brush. Slow brushing will give you angry bees.

Beehive - Langstroth is the way to go. You just have to decide on 8 or 10 frame hive bodies and deeps or mediums. I have both 8 and 10 frame boxes; I like the 8. I use 2 deeps for brood chambers and mediums for honey. It's just my preference you can go with what you like. I also use wood frames with plastic extra heavy waxed foundation from Acorn. Wooden hive boxes are interchangeable, polystyrene hives are not. The exception is BeeMax poly hives will work with wood. BeeMax hive top feeders are good. You can get a lot of feed in a hive fast. Most extractors will take deep, or medium frames. My Maxant 1400 takes 10 deeps or 20 medium/shallow frames. Don't buy used equipment, if any the boxes came from bees with American Foul Brood you're done before you started. Don't do it. Start with at least 2 hives. If you end up with a weak or queenless hive you can add eggs and brood from your other colony.

Bee suit, jacket and/or veil/gloves - I just use a veil. Start out with what makes you comfortable. As you gain experience you won't use gloves much. Nitrile gloves are very popular now, I found that they always rip and are uncomfortable. The few times I wear gloves I use the goat skin gloves from Betterbee. They're excellent.

Hive Tool(s) - Standard hive tools and J-Hook/Hook end tools are probably the most popular. My favorite hive tools are from Hudson Valley Bee Supply. The 7" Jero standard hive tool and the Thorne hive tool. You can't have too many :).

Smoker - The 2 most common sizes are the 4x7 and the 4x10. Get the 4x10, it holds more fuel for longer working times. Betterbee, Mann Lake, Dadant, they're all good pick one you like. The important thing is to clean them when creosote builds up. Burn it out with a torch and hit it with a small wire brush. The pellet fuel I believe is made from wood and I know some beekeepers who love using it. I use cedar shavings. Beekeepers use all kinds of stuff for smoker fuel, just dont use anything that may have chemicals in it.

There's a lot of good suppliers out there. Betterbee, Mann Lake, Dadant, Blue Sky. Ive purchased equipment from most of them at least once. If you do the numbers on starter sets it usually works out better to just pick out what you want. Whether you have 4 or 40 acres it really doesnt matter, bees are going to cover approximately a 2 to 2 1/2-mile radius which works out to be about 8,000 to 12,000 acres. Find a map tool online that covers radius and drop a point for a 2-mile radius where you're going to put the hives and you will get a pretty good idea the area they will cover.
 

Legamin

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
50
Reaction score
84
Points
70
Location
Washington
You sound very knowledgable so I thought I’d shoot a few questions out there. I live in Zone 6b and we have Winters that see -10F on average. We breed sheep and they would be in the pastures surrounding the depressed seasonal stream gully surrounded by a thick aspen grove where i have been considering setting up the bees…do sheep and bees get along? About once or twice per year we get wind between 60-105mph that lasts a few days each time. And our Summers are generally about 95F-105F max…but this last year we had a trapped ‘heat dome/ system and had 119F for two weeks solid. Crops, gardens, streams, animals…everything destroyed…in the same year the Fed. Gov’t shut down federal lands to hay farming and grazing forcing feed costs up from $80 per ton to $450+ per ton…it was a rough year for small farmers and large farmers alike (though I’m not sure what a man’s size has to do with anything!).
I have been considering bees for about four years and am now at the go/no go point in the decision. Do you think our area would be suitable for bees? I am older and only plan to breed sheep and the rest for another 10 years. After that we’ll sell it as a working farm. The honey would just be for me and my family. But I have already overseeded my pastures for grazing and added wildflower seed heavily around the area that I want to have bees in (three types of clover and wildflowers that bloom through three seasons). I focused on drought resistance in the new plant species. I assume that as the bees expand hives that they will simply swarm along the aspen grove along the gully since there are no other trees or cover for thousands of feet. I have local sources for all thee bees andd equipment but would probably listen to advice on finding healthy bees and hives…EVERYONE who sells bees assures me that THIER BEES are the best/healthiest/drought resistant-est etc. etc. so it’s hard to know what is true or not. That is something that cant be done with sheep…when you buy you get to get right down with the sheep and handle all the important bits, look at the tongue and teeth etc…a little harder with bees i imagine?
thanks for any info you can shoot my way!
 

Field Bee

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Dec 27, 2020
Messages
24
Reaction score
42
Points
55
Location
Northern NY
I live in Zone 6b and we have Winters that see -10F on average.
Im in 5a and hives with a young queen, low mites, and good stores are fine in below zero climates. Its -1F here now.
We breed sheep and they would be in the pastures surrounding the depressed seasonal stream gully surrounded by a thick aspen grove where i have been considering setting up the bees…do sheep and bees get along?
I would put a fence around the hives. Bees will ignore livestock but if they get to close and knock over a hive, you'll have your hands full. I had horses that could get about 5 feet from my hives and never had a problem, but if the bees did get defensive the horses had plenty of room to get away.
About once or twice per year we get wind between 60-105mph that lasts a few days each time. And our Summers are generally about 95F-105F max…but this last year we had a trapped ‘heat dome/ system and had 119F for two weeks solid. Crops, gardens, streams, animals…everything destroyed…
Ratchet straps and weights will keep the hives safe from winds. In the winter wind blocks or wraps will help with hive stress. Bees handle heat very well. Treat your hives like you would any livestock, routine inspections for health and feed are essential. Like anything in agriculture there are always risks.
I have been considering bees for about four years and am now at the go/no go point in the decision. Do you think our area would be suitable for bees? I am older and only plan to breed sheep and the rest for another 10 years.
I would think it's a good location, but you won't know until you try. Talking to some local beekeepers or joining a local club would be a big help. 10 years! You'll just be fine tuning your beekeeping and figuring out bees😆. Not kidding! Understanding the biology and behavior of bees and their pests/diseases is a steep learning curve.
https://www.honeybeesuite.com/beekeepers-and-the-dunning-kruger-effect/
But I have already overseeded my pastures for grazing and added wildflower seed heavily around the area that I want to have bees in (three types of clover and wildflowers that bloom through three seasons). I focused on drought resistance in the new plant species.
Thats excellent, I know a beekeeper that lucked out with a hay farmer that doesnt cut until the bloom is over. The drought resistant plants may help but they still will not produce nectar if there is no water.
I assume that as the bees expand hives that they will simply swarm along the aspen grove along the gully since there are no other trees or cover for thousands of feet.
Swarming is something you want to avoid and learn how to control. Swarmed hives are less productive and can have their own set of problems.
I have local sources for all thee bees andd equipment but would probably listen to advice on finding healthy bees and hives…EVERYONE who sells bees assures me that THIER BEES are the best/healthiest/drought resistant-est etc. etc. so it’s hard to know what is true or not. That is something that cant be done with sheep…when you buy you get to get right down with the sheep and handle all the important bits, look at the tongue and teeth etc…a little harder with bees i imagine?
Any beekeepers that are focusing on producing honey and raising their own queens in your area are probably pretty darn good. It's not so much about the type of bee but how well they are reared and mated in the peak of the season for your area. Because honeybees are haplodiploidy (drones can't have sons or a father but has a grandfather and grandsons if he mates) it's almost impossible to breed a super bee and maintain it. Quality queens on the other hand are very possible. You can raise them yourself. You're right it is harder with bees. Package bees you dont know what you are getting, some may be fine, and others are not so good. Nucleus colonies that are put together and a queen added from a bulk purchase also are hit or miss. But if you can find a local beekeeper that makes up nucs with his own queens you stand to get a better quality product. Pulling out a frame with a solid brood pattern and a queen with a healthy retinue are good signs.
 

Legamin

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
50
Reaction score
84
Points
70
Location
Washington
Great answers! I planned a 10 foot fenced area with a 4g. Welded wire fence 4 feet tall around each of the three planned hive stacks (which would be on tables 30” off the ground at the lowest point To avoid possible snow buildup around the entrance slot).

Wind wrap is a great idea. Also the point of putting them down in the gully is that it is well protected from the highest winds, has access to moisture year round and a trickle of water in Spring and early Summer…but they would not be ‘in’ the water but off to the side about 10 feet away…I want the sheep to have full access to the water so I am not having to haul water out 1 mile all Summer. Ratchet straps…GREAT IDEA! The tables I am installing will be anchored in concrete piers And will not blow over.

I am building everything with the option of portability if things don’t work in a particular location. Anchors can be moved with straps and a backhoe and everything else carried. The overseeding is done though and that would take some effort to prepare another area. I am hoping that I can fine tune everything to perfection so that the value of a ‘working sheep farm with bees for pollination of pasture and food crops’ will be at its peak marketable value when we sell out and retire to warmer climates (and nearer our children for the inevitable needed help in very old age. I’m only 60 now but I know what is coming and am judiciously preparing for my wife and myself and including our children in our planning.

Our land has a very high water table. This last year was the first year in almost a century that anyone can remember the crops failing from heat. It was unheard of and caught everyone..including my alfalfa growing expert neighbor by surprise. This Winter our snow fall has already quintupled the usual snow fall and it looks like there is no end to the snow fall in sight. We are digging paths for our sheep to get in and out of the barn and to the water. my snow plow and snow blower broke under the load and I have been having to use an enormous commercial backhoe that we bought some years ago to move snow! I think the water situation will be back to normal. Generally the sheep can kick up the dry dirt and find enough water to drink just 6-8” down. I’ve seen them ignore clean water troughs and dig for water…it’s the darnedest thing! But we normally have water aplenty! Our fields remain bright Spring-green all Summer right up until the end of August. Then the growth stops and it slowly fades until the Fall rain starts and gets things going again.

I will address my knowledge gap regarding the swarming issue. Thanks for the heads up…I had planned to keep expanding and eventually sell off hives if it gets too big for my own and family use.

I will get familiar with a local beekeepers group and seek advice and bees as locally as possible. It makes sense that local bees would already be well suited to the weather and flora. Beekeeping is a popular thing with all the apple orchards that hire hives in the Spring. There is a tremendous demand and my understanding is that the contracts last for generations if you get it right. That isn’t my personal focus but it means that there are several successful beekeepers in my area. It also means a possible fourth or fifth revenue stream in leasing hives once per year. I can hire a kid to feed the sheep for a couple weeks every year if necessary. But it is probably a good guess that it will take some time to build up my bees to the point where I could service any kind of even a small orchard’s needs. I’m not anticipating overnight success. I’ve read too many horror stories of predator and mite destruction of hives or mysterious die outs etc. that put experienced bee keepers on their backsides to rebuild…I can’t imagine that my experience will outshine their own…fortunately I love hard work!
 

WannaBeHillBilly

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
36
Reaction score
42
Points
61
Location
Big Chimney, WV
@Legamin - I am planning to place the hives on pallets (i can get a lot of them for free) and strap them down. I'm just waiting for the weather to be a bit more cooperative, so that i can paint the pallets without having to wait a week for the paint to dry.
 

R2elk

Magical, perfect creature
Golden Herd Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
112
Reaction score
385
Points
132
Location
Natrona County, Wyoming
@Legamin - I am planning to place the hives on pallets (i can get a lot of them for free) and strap them down. I'm just waiting for the weather to be a bit more cooperative, so that i can paint the pallets without having to wait a week for the paint to dry.
I never bothered paintiing my pallets. Only one of the pallets is in bad shape and was in poor shape to start.
 

WannaBeHillBilly

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
36
Reaction score
42
Points
61
Location
Big Chimney, WV
I never bothered paintiing my pallets. Only one of the pallets is in bad shape and was in poor shape to start.
Well, i just think a barn-red painted pallet (or other stuff that i've covered with that paint) looks better than that old grayish/brownish weathered look that pallet wood assumes after a while out in the open. A painted surface is also somewhat safer in regards to giving you splinters. I paint everything wood that sits out in the elements, see the picture below and compare the cold-frame and the little bridge over the drainage-ditch with the unpainted piece of wood in the front that has started to rot profoundly after just one year…
20220104_164202.jpg
 

Legamin

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
50
Reaction score
84
Points
70
Location
Washington
@Legamin - I am planning to place the hives on pallets (i can get a lot of them for free) and strap them down. I'm just waiting for the weather to be a bit more cooperative, so that i can paint the pallets without having to wait a week for the paint to dry.
Six years ago during a wind storm we lost our machine shop when the wind topped 105mph for almost 9 hours straight. A solidly build pole building with foundation lifted off the ground and blew 100 yards down field before collapsing in a heap in front of the silage barn. You have to imagine a 100 foot by 25 foot heavy wood beam and metal building peeling up off the ground, rising 40 feet into the air and kiting a hundred yards while twisting into wreckage…I am still pulling used building materials off that pile to reuse. About 10 years ago (before my ownership) they lost the milking barn in similar winds. I have made modifications to the four remaining barns, house and animal shelters to help resist winds. Pallets would take flight quickly around here…I think even down in the gully among the trees. My plan is to put up wind break and anchor concrete posts four feet into the mud of the seasonal stream and run cables over the hive. Most years we don’t see more than a couple days of 60mph or so but every once in a while…so that’s what I build everything in mind to survive.
 

WannaBeHillBilly

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
36
Reaction score
42
Points
61
Location
Big Chimney, WV
Six years ago during a wind storm we lost our machine shop when the wind topped 105mph for almost 9 hours straight. A solidly build pole building with foundation lifted off the ground and blew 100 yards down field before collapsing in a heap in front of the silage barn. You have to imagine a 100 foot by 25 foot heavy wood beam and metal building peeling up off the ground, rising 40 feet into the air and kiting a hundred yards while twisting into wreckage…I am still pulling used building materials off that pile to reuse. About 10 years ago (before my ownership) they lost the milking barn in similar winds. I have made modifications to the four remaining barns, house and animal shelters to help resist winds. Pallets would take flight quickly around here…I think even down in the gully among the trees. My plan is to put up wind break and anchor concrete posts four feet into the mud of the seasonal stream and run cables over the hive. Most years we don’t see more than a couple days of 60mph or so but every once in a while…so that’s what I build everything in mind to survive.
I wasn't aware that you have such ferocious storms up in the PNW! - But i know what you're talking about: I have lived in Houston for ten years and saw the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Harvey in 2017. In 2008 i helped friends in Galveston shortly after the storm with cleaning up their property and on the way i saw this:
1642132333329.png

A hole house lifted from its foundation-slab, blown through the air for two miles and dumped into the marsh upside down. I didn't took that picture, it is in the internet, but i have seen this house life and in color and 3d!
If you get a storm with >100 mph the bees would be my least concern! You would have to anchor that cable to a solid concrete foundation to with stand those forces. Even 60mph will likely cause damage to the hives.
If you have a storm prove barn - and enough time before the storm hits, you could simply haul the hives inside that barn for a day until the weather leaves the area.
Every storm over 50mph here will send the masses running for the hills, screaming »the sky is falling down!« 🤣
We don't have this kind of storms here. - But we have flash-floods…
 
Last edited:

Legamin

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
50
Reaction score
84
Points
70
Location
Washington
I wasn't aware that you have such ferocious storms up in the PNW! - But i know what you're talking about: I have lived in Houston for ten years and saw the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Harvey in 2017. In 2018 i helped friends in Galveston shortly after the storm with cleaning up their property and on the way i saw this:
View attachment 88919
A hole house lifted from its foundation-slab, blown through the air for two miles and dumped into the marsh upside down. I didn't took that picture, it is in the internet, but i have seen this house life and in color and 3d!
If you get a storm with >100 mph the bees would be my least concern! You would have to anchor that cable to a solid concrete foundation to with stand those forces. Even 60mph will likely cause damage to the hives.
If you have a storm prove barn - and enough time before the storm hits, you could simply haul the hives inside that barn for a day until the weather leaves the area.
Every storm over 50mph here will send the masses running for the hills, screaming »the sky is falling down!« 🤣
We don't have this kind of storms here. - But we have flash-floods…
That is a good thought. There is always about a half day warning as we begin to see the winds build. I have a 30’x40’ (as yet) unused barn that would be the perfect place, just up the side of the gully, to move the hives into. The winds are almost always Spring and Fall and I only will use that barn for Wintering animals so it sits most of the year empty. I will build up a couple pallet platforms to put them on and have ready just for that occasion.
thank for the idea. I think our area gets a bit more wind that some areas surrounding because the valley is opened up for open field farming and there are few trees to stop it. Most years it is just around 60 or so and for only 1-3 days at a time but about every five years it just tears loose and we lose power for weeks, trees go down in bunches and homes and barns are damaged. After losing a roof to one we had a heavy steel sheet roof put on. With the sideways rain we get a few drips inside but with the new roof and windows it’s nice, tight and warm.
 

Latest posts

Top