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Questions about beekeeping

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by cookinmom, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. cookinmom

    cookinmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    Saint George GA
    I know some of you have bees as well as chickens, and I have a couple of questions about them.
    How difficult are they to keep, and keep healthy, as compared to chickens? (Not counting CCD; just normal stuff). Do you have to have a big area for them, or is 2 acres sufficient space to have them far enough from the house, etc? Are there organic alternatives to the chemicals used to treat pests? And, what is a good bee forum to go on? Also, how much (roughly) does it cost to get all the stuff you need including bees, when you start with nothing?

    Ok, nuff for now! Thanks!
     
  2. mlheran

    mlheran Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've been wanting to get into beekeeping (we have a good club here) and spent all last fall and winter reading up on it. Of course, I don't actually have any bees (yet), but I think I can answer some of your questions and give you some good links.

    The main reason I still don't have bees is the start-up cost. If you don't know someone who's getting out of beekeeping (and be sure to ask why!), then the supplies are very pricey. I think the basic basic set-up starts around $350 (not including bees, which normally cost around $80 -and you only want to get them in early spring! Or the equivalent in your area), and really, once you read up on it a bit you really want better stuff than the basics. [​IMG]

    They are not difficult to keep if they are not overly disturbed or threatened by predators, pests, or disease. They don't need much room -just a quiet corner of a garden is fine (lots of city people have them on fire escapes and rooftops) since they will travel around 5-10 miles to forage for pollen. They are susceptible to some pesky pests (mites especially) but there are ways to treat problems that are clean and safe.

    Here are some links that I've found interesting:


    All-around interesting and packed with info - http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/tips.htm

    http://www.beesource.com/

    Dadant is pretty much the big-name supplier of all materials - http://www.dadant.com/beekeeping/index.html (Don't forget to request a catalog from them!)

    My local BK Association's newsletter archive - http://www.sonomabees.org/newsletter/index.html

    Serge Labesque is a local beekeeper of national reknown, and has invented (and is applying for patents) some great modifications to standard hives that reduce pest problems, here's an interview, I hope to attend some of the local meetings to really pick his brain [​IMG] - http://www.baycrossings.com/news_archive_view_next.asp?id=1370&mon=7&yea=2005


    Now you've got my interest peaked again! [​IMG] I think I'd like to try Top Bar hives, since they look easier to DIY. Keep us posted of your exploits!
     
  3. whitjohn

    whitjohn New Egg

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    May 22, 2007
    If I remember correctly, I got "into" chickens only a couple of years before a man in my neighborhood introduced me to bees by showing me the inside of one of his hives. Honeybees are a great adjunct to keeping chickens. They will both introduce you to the world of nature in a fun way. It is necessary to understand the life cycles of both so you can properly and profitably manipulate their culture. Both follow the tide of nature and allow you to become "tuned" to that cycle.
    The cheapest way to get started is by attending the closest beekeepers (contact ag extension office to find them) meeting and find someone who will sell you an established hive. Putting together a kit from a supplier was great fun and experience for a teen aged boy like me. I used to open the hive and check on my bees everyday when I came home from school. I learned to do this in a T-shirt with no smoke and no veil. It takes great care and understanding to open a hive unprotected so to speak.
    Try it, you will like it!
     
  4. cookinmom

    cookinmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Saint George GA
    The past 3 issues of Countryside magazine have had bee articles written by a guy at U of FL and I am really getting interested. That's good to know that I would need to get the bees next spring. That would give me all the rest of this year to gather info and then get stuff (and save up). By that time my chickens will be a year old and the chicken routine will be really settled, and all their 'firsts' will be over (we're still waiting for first egg! [​IMG] )
    Thank y'all so much for the info and the links. I like that part about the tide of nature. That's a great way to describe it. I think that's part of the problem with bee colonies now days. I read an article in the Casper (WY) Star Tribune about how they let the bees go through one normal cycle and then ship them out to WA to do it all again, when they would normally be getting ready for winter. When people mess around with the normal cycles of things (that tide of nature) I think it really screws things up. They're probably over-stressing those bees.
     
  5. ZuniBee

    ZuniBee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 6 hvies and absolutly love it! You can get a compelte hive kit to include suit, smoker, etc for about $280 + or -. The packages of bees will run you anywhere from $65 to $90.

    I started last year about this time and read every book I could find and frequented beemaster.com. I started buying my kit and additional hives and just stored them waiting for spring. This spring I ordered four 2 pound packages of bees and got started April 9th. It was so cool I decided to get two more hives and two 3 pound packages of bees. Now the six are doing great.

    It is not a whole lot of work. Checking them is something you cant wait to do so the work seems more like fun. I don't use any chemicals at all in my hives.

    I definately recommend keeping bees...... And the honey is an added bonus!

    One of the best sites with friendly people that go out of their way to answer your questions is http://www.beemaster.com

    Also, I have some beekeeping videos you can watch at http://www.zunibee.com and you can see more on YouTube.

    Regards,

    Jay
    ZuniBee
     
  6. cookinmom

    cookinmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Saint George GA
    Thanks for the info y'all. I'm getting excited about this. DH is too.
    What do you do with them when they swarm? Do you have to keep adding hives?
     
  7. ZuniBee

    ZuniBee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Zuni, Virginia
    The key is to try to manage them so they don't swarm. However, with that being said, they will swarm eventually. (maybe not all hives but one will sooner or later)

    If you can catch the swarm then you can start another hive.....I must warn you, beekeeping is JUST as addictive as having chickens!

    One of the members of the beemaster.com forum is Michale Bush. He has some great information on his website as well.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    Jay
    ZuniBee
     
  8. whitjohn

    whitjohn New Egg

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    ZuniBee is right about swarming. One of the most difficult parts of beekeeping is the spring work of finding and removing queen cells so your bees don't swarm. That being said...as soon as people around know that you are a beekeeper someone will call you and tell you that there is a swarm at their house and would you please come and get it. At $65 and up a package a free swarm is money in the bank so you will always need to keep a spare hive to put the swarm in. Then when you get honey to remove you will need an extractor or a friend who has one to get the honey out of the comb. You won't want to destroy your comb because that just makes extra work for your bees to build new ones.
    Good luck...you will love bees!
     
  9. MarkR

    MarkR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2007
    Ivy, Virginia
    Except that removing queen cells will not stop a hive from swarming. If you kill it, and the hive swarms then you're stuck with a hive with no queen at all. So many things to consider. Very, very addictive. Beekeeping is the crack of agricultural activities. [​IMG]

    Mark
     
  10. cookinmom

    cookinmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL! [​IMG] [​IMG] People are gonna start thinking bad things about us! First chickens were like crack, and now bees are too! I guess we're just people that seek out healthy addictions, instead of destructive ones!!

    I'll be checking out all these websites, and I've got half a dozen books on hold at the library so I can get reading. Thanks y'all for the encouragement! My family thinks I'm nuts about 9 chickens; just wait till I have thousands of bees!!!! Yeah!
     

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