I like to start keeping bees in spring 2022…

Legamin

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Excellent posts fellow beeks!

I have a few suggestions that may be helpful.

1. If you live in the northern states the best honeybee I have found for strong over-wintering is the Carniolan honey bee. No joke! I have pulled frames in January that were 85% full of sealed brood and this is unheard of in mid winter in cold weather. Most queens will stop laying eggs or severely curtain egg laying during the winter. My favorite trait of the Carniolan bee is its incredible gentleness...they are an absolute treat to work with!

2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER purchase old woodware for honeybees unless you are 100% certain they are free from disease. It only takes one box infected with American foulbrood (AFB) and then you have no other option but to literally burn all your honeybee equipment and start all over again. And I am not exaggerating or making this up at all!

3. An IPM aggressive varroa mite treatment in this day and age is an absolute necessity unless you have a proven mite resistant stock that exhibit strong hygienic behavior.

4. Do NOT mess with the El Cheapo honeybee suites if you are a beginner. If you have an in-depth understanding and experience of honeybee behavior and can work the honeybees with a veil with no suite and no gloves, then you are blessed. If this does not describe you, I highly suggest you purchase a professional bee suite from Mann Lake or one of the other vendors that sell professional bee equipment. I started with the El Cheapo honeybees suites years ago and got stung so many times that I lost count...and that led to unnecessary stress while tending the honeybees! Purchase a professional beekeeper suit with professional gloves and you will tend honeybees stress free!

5. Grafting your own queens is an incredibly easy and rewarding experience and can also save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! There is a small initial investment [queen cage, marking paint, queen cell bars for the frames, queen cups, queen grafting tool, incubator, etc.] but it will really pay off in the long run.

6. Hook up with a genuine local professional honeybee keeper and work with them as much as possible. There is simply no better way to learn the basics and the more advanced techniques of working with honeybees.

7. If you can have a honeybee quarantine yard at least 5 miles from your honeybees, then you may want to consider making honeybee swarm traps and setting them out in the spring if you live in an area with a strong nectar flow. In the past, there were some phenomenal swarm years and we have caught 5-10 swarms a day. Some of the swarms were $1,000 swarms because we could easily split them into 5 colonies. I highly recommend you quarantine them for at least a month to be sure there are no diseases before moving them to your bee yard.

8. Check, double check and triple check to be absolute certain no farmers nearby are using pesticide! At one bee yard we had 200 strong colonies. A neighbor put in hundreds of acres of walnut trees...then sprayed them. We lost 98% of our honeybees that year [200-196=4 surviving colonies].

I could go on and on, but I already seem to be a bit long winded...

So, good luck and hope you do well!
GREAT Information! Thanks for weighing in! As a newbie I appreciate the honest and the practical. I have talked to local beekeepers anxious to sell their wares (and bees) that swear to me that they ‘NEVER treat for veroa mite AND have all NATURAL ORGANIC bees, queens and honey!’….and yet the majority of those who say they started out refusing to treat…simply lost ALL of their bees the first Winter and started again….with treatment! The beauty of Oxalic Acid treatment, while it is not a panacea, is that it is ALL NATURAL! Oxalic Acid is found (extracted from) vegetable matter! Most foods grown in your garden contain a safe amount of it! You CAN have ‘Organic Bees & Honey’ while using Oxalic Acid! (Follow FDA guidelines….or not if you actually want to get ahead of the mites).
Recommended dose is 1 gram (I’ve heard 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 2 teaspoons equals 1 gram)…USE A SCALE! However the University of Florida’s bee keeping program, treating over 2000 hives, observed that the most effective dose per treatment was 4 grams…(so if you are a regulated professional…just keep following the regulations….(?) )
I absolutely agree with NOT, NEVER, ABSOLUTELY AVOIDING used wood wares. First it is cheapest and easiest to make your own boxes and frames if you have the tools and time. Bust secondly…DISEASES…nuff said…a well covered subject.
I am looking forward to grafting, marking anew placing my own queens…guess I should wait until I get my bees first?
Most of my neighbor farmers are willing to warn me before they use pesticide and they are willing to use non-vaporous spraying using low level applications (within 6” of the ground) to keep the pesticides from traveling. This isn’t perfect because bees don’t follow the fence line…but I have had some rewarding conversations with my neighbors who are willing to try new things! To my advantage, I live in a fairly poor farming community and with Bidenomics, most local farmers have been inflationed out of buying pesticides or scheduling application this year. They are going to try, at my suggestion, different types of fertilizers that are all organic and less likely to promote disease or the ‘usual suspects’ in pests. One such fertilizer is human waste that is pumped from septic tanks, sun baked and sterilized, cycled through a natural ‘cooling’ process and then ground up to powder and used on the fields in a direct application. It saves them tens of thousands of dollars and has reduced their intended use of pesticides this year to ZERO. But these are alfalfa fields…not almonds or corn or cotton….there are crops that are so resistant to normal methods of killing pests that the only avenue left to these farmers is crazy strong poison…in that case you should negotiate with other farmers to put your bees on their property during the off-flow season…when most pesticides are sprayed.
I wish I knew more. I am desperately gathering info and working with neighbors and other local beekeepers and hoping my bees make it through their first Winter.
Excellent posts fellow beeks!

I have a few suggestions that may be helpful.

1. If you live in the northern states the best honeybee I have found for strong over-wintering is the Carniolan honey bee. No joke! I have pulled frames in January that were 85% full of sealed brood and this is unheard of in mid winter in cold weather. Most queens will stop laying eggs or severely curtain egg laying during the winter. My favorite trait of the Carniolan bee is its incredible gentleness...they are an absolute treat to work with!

2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER purchase old woodware for honeybees unless you are 100% certain they are free from disease. It only takes one box infected with American foulbrood (AFB) and then you have no other option but to literally burn all your honeybee equipment and start all over again. And I am not exaggerating or making this up at all!

3. An IPM aggressive varroa mite treatment in this day and age is an absolute necessity unless you have a proven mite resistant stock that exhibit strong hygienic behavior.

4. Do NOT mess with the El Cheapo honeybee suites if you are a beginner. If you have an in-depth understanding and experience of honeybee behavior and can work the honeybees with a veil with no suite and no gloves, then you are blessed. If this does not describe you, I highly suggest you purchase a professional bee suite from Mann Lake or one of the other vendors that sell professional bee equipment. I started with the El Cheapo honeybees suites years ago and got stung so many times that I lost count...and that led to unnecessary stress while tending the honeybees! Purchase a professional beekeeper suit with professional gloves and you will tend honeybees stress free!

5. Grafting your own queens is an incredibly easy and rewarding experience and can also save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! There is a small initial investment [queen cage, marking paint, queen cell bars for the frames, queen cups, queen grafting tool, incubator, etc.] but it will really pay off in the long run.

6. Hook up with a genuine local professional honeybee keeper and work with them as much as possible. There is simply no better way to learn the basics and the more advanced techniques of working with honeybees.

7. If you can have a honeybee quarantine yard at least 5 miles from your honeybees, then you may want to consider making honeybee swarm traps and setting them out in the spring if you live in an area with a strong nectar flow. In the past, there were some phenomenal swarm years and we have caught 5-10 swarms a day. Some of the swarms were $1,000 swarms because we could easily split them into 5 colonies. I highly recommend you quarantine them for at least a month to be sure there are no diseases before moving them to your bee yard.

8. Check, double check and triple check to be absolute certain no farmers nearby are using pesticide! At one bee yard we had 200 strong colonies. A neighbor put in hundreds of acres of walnut trees...then sprayed them. We lost 98% of our honeybees that year [200-196=4 surviving colonies].

I could go on and on, but I already seem to be a bit long winded...

So, good luck and hope you do well!
WOW! More great info. Can’t say I would ever be tempted to buy someone else’s failed bee program or wood wares. I’ve been learning a lot over the past few months. One of the BIG lessons is that most Newbies (that’s me included) all seem to start out with the idea that a ‘sustainable, organic, all natural, untreated, bee colony will be our salvation from ‘the man’ who sells all these crazy treatment options. Thankfully, what I have ALSO learned at precisely the same time from people who have had ALL of their colonies die and had to go buy new bees, is that there is a lot of hard work and veroa mite treatment that MUST BE DONE if you want to keep bees. So I’m willing to bend to my (not often enough listened to) humble nature and accept that I have to put in the work.
After buying hives I have come to the conclusion that my finish carpentry shop and antique furniture restoration shop can MAKE all of my future hives to the same precise dimensions with all the same features of the ‘professional’ hives…for about 1/6 of the cost. I am going to try out some top bar horizontal hives to see how these work but I’m not abandoning the Langstroth design….there’s probably a reason that they have become the industry standard….
The best I can do for quarantine is a friend’s property about 4 miles away….hoping that’s enough. You just can’t trust ‘anybody’ with your hives so you have to do with what is available. Theft is a HUGE problem since Meth and Fentanyl came on the scene. (My carpentry shop lost $105,000 in tools and materials in one night after a truck and trailer simply pulled in and emptied everything except the sawdust out of the shop) People living in shacks in the forest coming down to the rural community and ransacking anything not nailed down. Security is a booming business out here….as are guns and ammo.
Thanks again for all your wisdom backed with experience. I’m looking forward to getting some (experience) of my own.
Over the years I have never been bothered by bee sting but in the last 6 years I got stung by some Nutcase Crazy Psycho Wasps that have taken up residence on my farm and over the last two years have become VERY allergic to bee and wasp sting. So the advice to buy a GOOD bee suit is great advice! I plan to wear ‘sweats’ underneath to protect from any penetration. I’m okay with hot…it’s the cold I’m not as crazy about. I’ll just keep my epi-pens in the extra pocket that I sewed on!
Well, looky there! I got long-winded!
God Bless!
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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Thank you very much @R2elk !
I was so busy during the last weeks that i haven't had the time to look in here.
The area on which vegetables are to be grown this year has quadrupled, from 5x5 meters to 10x10 meters, that is larger than many condos in Germany. :duc And i still have to haul about 10 garden-carts full of wood-chips to surpress the grass between the beds…
 

R2elk

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I checked my "empty" hive yesterday. It is no longer an empty hive but has some capped brood, live larvae and freshly laid eggs.

How it went from being an empty hive to a fully functioning hive with a marked queen is a conundrum.
 

Legamin

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Thank you very much @R2elk !
I was so busy during the last weeks that i haven't had the time to look in here.
The area on which vegetables are to be grown this year has quadrupled, from 5x5 meters to 10x10 meters, that is larger than many condos in Germany. :duc And i still have to haul about 10 garden-carts full of wood-chips to surpress the grass between the beds…
I like the idea of suppressing weeds with wood chips but we product 10 tons of sheep manure and hay annually so we have three piles. The oldest goes on the garden every year and we move a mobile chicken coop that lets the chickens work it into the soil of 1/3 of the 1/2 acre garden. Then we disc it in at the end of the season and let the whole thing rest over Winter. I tend to let the weeds grow because they get watered and grow quickly so that I can pull about 400kg every evening in about an hour and feed this to the sheep as a boost in nutrition. We had goats and they loved it dearly but we are between goat flocks right now while refurbishing barn #4…which is their place to live when we have them. I think the straw/poop does about the same as the wood chips in holding moisture even though it is mostly soil by the time I plant in it. It is the richest soil on the property. This year we added 6 acres of pasture so….much more fencing this Spring with the bees and the rabbit hutch construction and adding another barn for sheep. I lived in a small town called Lengfeld, Germany just outside of Wurzburg where I worked out of as a radiation safety inspector for medical facilities across Western (mostly) Europe. Our children loved Germany and it was a very good time in our lives. It was very expensive to live by comparison to our rural life here in Eastern Washington but thanks to our current gov’t we are catching up very quickly.
Hope for all the best luck for your garden!
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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The bees arrived this afternoon, just before a thunderstorm hit the area:
20220413_171225.jpg


I have been tasked to remove the mesh in front of the entrance tomorrow morning and run for my life… 🤣

For now the bees inhabit just the bottom box. In about 2-3 weeks i have to remove the separator between both brood-boxes and then around the end of may install the first honey super.
The two nuc-boxes at the second hive will be used in an attempt to split this hive three-ways. Mike (the bee breeder) had a lot of success with this method this year and wants to teach me how to do it.
 

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Tasked with feeding the bees today i first placed a feeder-jar in front of the hives, but it attracted unwanted guests, especially those mahogany coloured wasps with a sting that feels like a red hot glowing nail driven into you…
The feeder jar(s) had to go inside of the hives. Went to the local bee-supply store and bought two inner covers and:
  • removed the hive cover
  • removed the second brood box (which is empty anyways)
  • removed the reflective bubble-warp
  • installed an inner cover
  • installed a medium deep super
  • installed a feeding jar inside of that super
  • placed the reflective bubble-warp on top of the super
  • put the hive cover back on
Here's what it looks like now:

Empty honey super with Syrup jar:
20220414_182423.jpg
Reflective bubble stuff:
20220414_182403.jpg

Hive closed up again:
20220414_183214.jpg

The store only sells unpainted hive parts and the only (non bee killing) paint i have is the red barn and fence paint (aka linseed-oil + rust), therefore the sporty red red stripe.
 

WannaBeHillBilly

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And we had the first »Duck Incident« with the bees: Fluffy Fluffbutt Duck, one of my white layers investigated the bee-hives while i was busy digging a hole in the ground for my new rhubarb-plant. When all of the sudden there was that characteristic loud humming of a bee that is trapped somewhere, like between some white feathers…
Fluffy outright panicked and tried to run away from a bee that was stuck in her feathers. I have never seen a duck of her breed running that fast. 🤣
No clue if she was stung or what happened to that bee, but Fluffy is not going anywhere near those white-things ever again. :lol:
 

R2elk

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Tasked with feeding the bees today i first placed a feeder-jar in front of the hives, but it attracted unwanted guests, especially those mahogany coloured wasps with a sting that feels like a red hot glowing nail driven into you…
The feeder jar(s) had to go inside of the hives. Went to the local bee-supply store and bought two inner covers and:
  • removed the hive cover
  • removed the second brood box (which is empty anyways)
  • removed the reflective bubble-warp
  • installed an inner cover
  • installed a medium deep super
  • installed a feeding jar inside of that super
  • placed the reflective bubble-warp on top of the super
  • put the hive cover back on
Here's what it looks like now:

Empty honey super with Syrup jar:
20220414_182423.jpg
Reflective bubble stuff:
20220414_182403.jpg

Hive closed up again:
20220414_183214.jpg

The store only sells unpainted hive parts and the only (non bee killing) paint i have is the red barn and fence paint (aka linseed-oil + rust), therefore the sporty red red stripe.
Once upon a time I received a package of bees during a blizzard. When I set them up in the hive, I put an empty hive body on top of the queen excluder and set the outside feeder directly over the cluster right on the queen excluder.

I don't paint anything on the inside of the hive, only the outside and the edges which are not exposed to the bees. I just use a quality exterior enamel paint.
 
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