Beekeeping forum: So you want to become a beekeeper?

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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
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Mindy03
May 2, 2011 1:05 PM CST

Moderator

You are thinking of keeping bees in your backyard perhaps to pollinate your garden or fruits. Or maybe, because you just like honey bees. Or maybe you want to harvest your own honey.

Whatever the reason you want to become a beekeeper here are some things you need to consider before you get your first hive:

Personality......If you have an insect phobia keeping bees isn't for you. If you have a problem moving slow and staying calm when the unexpected happens, it's still possible but you will likely be stung quite often because honey bees prefer slow movements and a calm reaction to being engulfed by thousands of bees when you check on them. Bees are curious and will check you out everytime you open their hive.

Allergic reaction to bee stings....If you or a member or your household is in the 1% of the population that is highly allergic to honey bee stings it probably isn't a good idea because you can count on being stung while checking your bees.

Zoning Laws in your community...You need to check the zoning laws in your community to find out if it's legal to keep bees in your area. Generally, most places allow honey bees but may restrict how many hives you can have or require you to be registerd and inspected by the state honey bee inspector. Some places won't allow them so be sure to check.

Neighbors and family members.....You should check with your neighbors and family for their reactions to your new hobby. Some will think you are crazy to want to keep bees in your backyard but not care otherwise. Some won't care one way or the other about it. Some will be negative about it usually due to fear of stings and swarms. Most times you can allay the later group's fears by educating them about keeping honey bees. A gift of honey usually goes a long way to win them over too.

Water supply....Honey bees need a permanment supply of fresh water nearby. They use water to dilute the honey they feed their young, cool the hive on real hot days, and to liquefy honey that has crystalized in the comb. They need a miniium of 1 quart of water per day.

Location....You need a sunny or partially sunny location to place your hive. All day sun is OK if afternoon shade is available during the hottest days is best. Placing your hive in a partially shady location is good for the bees and good for you. Wearing a bee suit on a hot summer day is no fun at all but neccesary. The location also needs to have good air flow and not be damp. Putting your hive on a hive stand 2' to 3' off the groudn will help with this.

How much time can you devote to checking and maintaining your hive? During the first year or two you will spend quite a bit of time learning what's normal and what's not. After you gain experience, 35 to 40 hours per year will be all you need to spend with your hive. The more hives you have the more time you will need to allocate. Making a business of beekeeping will also add to the amount of time you spend.

You will also need to be physically able to lift the hive bodies which can weigh up to 100 pounds when filled with honey. Or have someone who can do the lifting for you on hand.

Read all the books and magaines you can beforehand to learn eveyrthing you need to know. Your library may have a section of good beekeeping books you can check out. If not, ask if they will get some in.

If you decide that beekeeping is for you, get all the equipment you need before you get your first bees. The hive should be assembled and ready to house them. You should be familiar with the hive tools you will need. Order catalogs from beekeeping suppliers; they are free and contain a wealth of information. You can find bee suppliers online. .

And plant plants that honey bees like for pollen and nectar if you have the room to do so.
[Last edited by Mindy03 - Jul 10, 2011 6:15 AM (+)]
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Name: Cheryl White
Butler, Texas
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denimangle
May 2, 2011 1:47 PM CST
Thanks Mindy, The Shade & Water are taken care we have a live stream running through the woods :)
Now on to the rest . We will be planting fruit & nut trees in the next year & I would plant flowers for the bees also. Im still amazed that they have a 6 mile range. guess next I need to order books & catalogs
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
May 2, 2011 4:21 PM CST

Moderator

I can recommend The Backyard Beekeeper and Beekeeping for Dummies in the books dept. I have the first one and checked the second one out from the library I also subscribe to Bee Culture magazine which covers the latest in beekeeping news, has helpful articles about various parts of beekeeping and sometime includes an article on the plants.

That 6 miles means you have to be aware of what's around for them to forage on besides your property. And they usually only go that far if forage is scarce closer to home.

You can find most bee supply companies online. Also check with your County Extension Office if you have one. They can give you information on beekeeping in your area plus tell you if there's any beekeeping associations near you.
Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
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CajuninKy
Jul 11, 2011 8:41 PM CST
Do you have to take honey for the hive to thrive? I'd like to have a hive just to have the bees to pollinate my garden. I'd not like to rob the hive.
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Jul 12, 2011 5:51 AM CST

Moderator

No you don't have to rob them for them to survive. According to the books I've read they will eat any excess honey they don't need before winter sets in. And if you just want them for pollinating you will only need two supers for them because that's all they need to get through winter here in KY. They will swarm more that way but that just increases the local honey bee population in your area.
My brother got a hive from us for that purpose but he's so protective of his bees he had us put a third super on his hive a few weeks ago. We added a queen excluder while we were at it in case he changes his mind about robbing them of the third super. He wanted to make sure they had plenty of room to store honey so they wouldn't leave him.
Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
Truth should be everpresent.
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CajuninKy
Jul 12, 2011 7:44 AM CST
What is a super?
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Jul 12, 2011 9:21 AM CST

Moderator

That is what they call the hive boxes. Here's the link to pictures of our hives.

The thread "HIve Photos" in Beekeeping forum

On the ones that are different colors each color is a separate super he added to the bottom box which is called the hive box even though it is usually the same size as the supers.

The hive box is where they do their socializing. The second box, which is called a super. is where the queen lays her eggs and is called the brood box. If you add more supers without a queen excluder to keep her out of them she will lay eggs in all of the supers. Any super above the second box is called a honey super where they store excess nectar.
[Last edited by Mindy03 - Jul 12, 2011 9:24 AM (+)]
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Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
Truth should be everpresent.
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CajuninKy
Jul 12, 2011 9:51 PM CST
How many supers are possible?
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Jul 13, 2011 7:51 AM CST

Moderator

Most books recommend only up to four additional supers. If you have nectar flows heavy enough to meed more than that it's recommended you pull some of the honey and then replace the empty frames back in. Keep in mind the taller your hive gets the more vulnerable it is to strong wind.

What you see in the pictures of the tallest hives are the tallest we go with them. When they fill the last one put on he harvests it and replaces the empty frames during the main season which is mid spring to early autumn here.

You also don't add extra supers until they fill the first two. You put the third one on when the second one is almost filled and then the next one on when the third one is almost filled (about 7 frames out of 10 are full)/
Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
Truth should be everpresent.
Charter ATP Member Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Region: Kentucky Plant and/or Seed Trader Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters Dog Lover Container Gardener Daylilies Gardens in Buckets
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CajuninKy
Jul 13, 2011 9:38 AM CST
This is all so interesting. The county where we used to live had just started a bee club when we moved. They had bought themselves a big spinning tub thing to seperate out the honey from the combs. Do you have one of those?
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Jul 13, 2011 9:55 AM CST

Moderator

Yes we just bought an extractor last month. Haven't used it yet. You might want to check the County Extension office and see if there are any clubs near you. The closet one to us is in Somerset KY.
Name: bit bit
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Oct 11, 2011 8:00 AM CST
Thanks for this! It's very helpful. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about beekeeping, as it looks like my city will be legalizing it sometime soon. I don't want to lay out a lot of money until I know I can keep bees, so I might have to wait a year or more to actually set up a hive.

I do have a question about location, though...

"Location....You need a sunny or partially sunny location to place your hive. All day sun is OK if afternoon shade is available during the hottest days is best. Placing your hive in a partially shady location is good for the bees and good for you. Wearing a bee suit on a hot summer day is no fun at all but neccesary. The location also needs to have good air flow and not be damp. Putting your hive on a hive stand 2' to 3' off the groudn will help with this. "

What is an actual temperature range that's OK for bees? Here we tend to have hot summers, and mild winters, though it does freeze. I have two spots that I could keep a hive - between my house and garage, which is almost full shade (seems better in summer) and on the roof, which is almost full sun (seems better in winter)... but I won't be able to move the hive seasonally once it's set up, since access to the roof is only by ladder. My property is very small, so those are the only places I can think of that aren't too close to either the sidewalk or a neighbor's property.
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 11, 2011 8:14 AM CST

Moderator

There is no set temperature range for placing your hive. The bees will keep the inside of their hive between 93*F and 95*F at all times regardless of the outside temperature. Since it get hot there just make sure they have plenty of fresh water close by to help reduce the amount of time they spend gathering water to cool the hive in the summer. I'd go with the spot between the house and garage in your case.

The article on location will be published Wednesday and will give you a bit more information than what I have posted here.
Name: bit bit
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Oct 11, 2011 10:51 AM CST
Oh, wonderful! I didn't know there was a whole location article coming up, or I would've held off in asking.
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 11, 2011 2:03 PM CST

Moderator

Sorry guess I should let my readers know about those shouldn't I?

Location Oct 12
Hive parts Oct 21st
Equipment Oct 28
Getting the bees Nov 5

There will be more articles but these cover the basic set up information.

Name: bit bit
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Herbs
Composter Container Gardener Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader
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bitbit
Oct 12, 2011 7:17 AM CST
Thanks! I'll be watching for them.
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 12, 2011 8:04 AM CST

Moderator

I tip my hat to you.
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Oct 23, 2011 5:24 PM CST
bit, if you think it might get too cold in th ewinter in the spot between the house & garage...(which I agree is the best place in your case) there are hive covers (sort of blanket type things -- insulative) which you can get for them. I know it gets really cold (to me) where you are. Again this might be a good question for the Ag. Extension agent.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." ~~~ Will Rogers
If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience. - Woodrow Wilson





Name: bit bit
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Herbs
Composter Container Gardener Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader
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bitbit
Oct 23, 2011 5:32 PM CST
Thanks, Ann.

I think I'd be more worried about it being too damp rather than too cold, I guess. Just a general lack of light and airflow. Although I'm far north of you, I'm only half a zone cooler (8a here) because of the marine influence, and that spot is very protected.

I still have a while to figure it all out, since the council still hasn't taken up the bill to vote. It's been on their desk since spring.
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Oct 23, 2011 5:41 PM CST
PUSH! Go out & get petitons signed. Bug the council members. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Call them. Write them. Go see them.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." ~~~ Will Rogers
If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience. - Woodrow Wilson





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