Beekeeping forum: I think I will take the plunge and do it!

Views: 538, Replies: 11 » Jump to the end
Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
Image
Dennis616
Jul 10, 2015 7:08 AM CST
Well, I’m still reading-up a little bit on beekeeping, and am still a bit nervous about it, but I think I will take the plunge and do it!

My plan is to get one hive going and then eventually add a second. My goal is to have fun with it and hopefully harvest some honey now and then.

Trying to figure out which hive to buy has been difficult. So many good options, each with pluses and minuses. I think I’ve settled on this one: http://www.greenbeehives.com/starterset.html I’m not thrilled about paying to have it shipped all the way from Alabama to Michigan, but it seems to be quality made and has a couple features I don’t see on many other hives. I think it will work well for me.

That company also sells a deep super with a plexiglas side and a hinged wood “door” outside that. You can unhinge the door to reveal the Plexiglas and you can then observe the outermost frame in that super. I love that, especially for family and friends coming over. Won’t have to crack-open the hive to give them an inside look at the hive. I will definitely be getting one of those.

The hive comes with two deeps and a medium super. Not sure if I should get the plexiglas super in addition to that or as a substitute for one of the supers in the kit. I’m not really sure what will be enough to keep things going for a while. Definitely need to get a good bee suit also. Still working on making a list of everything I need to get started!

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
Image
Mindy03
Jul 10, 2015 8:01 AM CST

Moderator

Yay I'm happy you decided to take the plunge.
This article might help you with the list of tools.
http://garden.org/ideas/view/Mindy03/148/Beekeeping-Equipmen...
Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
homeshow
Jul 18, 2015 7:41 AM CST
10 frame deeps are very heavy. Back strain is the most common injury to beekeepers. I use 8 frame medium supers. I also keep a couple 5 medium frame traps/nucs for transporting honey frames and to set into as I'm working a hive.


8 frame medium on the fitted bottom board. My hives are top entrances.

Thumb of 2015-07-18/homeshow/45f761

Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
Image
DogsNDaylilies
Jul 29, 2015 8:28 PM CST
Yay, Dennis, good for you! Hurray! Have you ordered your hive yet? I've been wanting to get into beekeeping for the last year or so now, but I'm afraid of what my neighbors might think. If I had a large property with no one really close by, I would do it, but I worry about the children in the neighborhood getting stung by a bee because of my beehive. Sad

I'm curious to know how it works out for you, though!

@homeshow - I'm glad that you mentioned about back strain, it isn't something I imagine most people think of when they look into ordering hives. In the (unfortunately unlikely) event that I order a beehive in the future, I will definitely keep this in mind.
Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
homeshow
Jul 30, 2015 7:45 PM CST
Bees are out there. Mostly we don't see them. Your hives would no danger to the neighbors. If someone pounds their hand or kicks a hive. Then I suggest running. Bees are MUCH calmer than their reputation suggests. Most stings are from wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.
Name: Jerry
Rio Rancho, New Mexico (Zone 7b)
Region: Texas Beekeeper Bee Lover Region: United States of America Plays in the sandbox
Image
jamyers59
Nov 15, 2015 12:57 PM CST
Thumbs up Homeshow is right Dennis. There are most likely Bees in your area already. And also that the danger to Humans comes when we do not leave them alone. We have a big Bee problem where I work and it is 100% because people swat at them, throw stuff at them or otherwise try to disrupt the Bees' natural inclination to find food for her Sisters. As long as we let them do what they do, there should never be a Bee death in defense of the hive from Humans. Smiling
Good luck with your (hopefully) first of many Hives! I tip my hat to you.
Up to my elbows in the dirt while being on top of the dirt is a great day!
Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
Image
Dennis616
Jun 4, 2016 3:30 PM CST
Wow, I had totally forgotten that I had posted here-- I am sorry that I didn't respond to your follow-up posts!

In case some of you are still interested, let me tell you what happened!

When I last posted I had decided to buy a hive and put the swarm from the nuc box in it. But the typical male fear of commitment kicked in and I kept going back and forth on it.
Fall came and I was starting to get attached to the bees. I enjoyed watching them go in and out of the nuc box. By late fall there wasn’t much for food so on warmer days I started putting out a sugar water and honey mix for them. They seemed to appreciate that:

Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/b3d61c

By the time I finally decided to go ahead and purchase a hive it was winter. A neighbor knowledgeable about bees, and a local bee expert, said there was almost no chance that nuc would survive the winter. A late swarm, in too small of a box, on the ground, completely exposed to the Michigan winter would be a recipe for disaster.

I covered the nuc with a large carpet remnant I had to serve as a wind break and a little bit of insulation. A couple times during the winter I had to dig snow away from the front of it because it was completely encased. But the winter was mostly quite mild, and on warmer days I actually poured sugar water into the nuc box through the entrance to try to feed them and help them out. After a few minutes I could see them swarming over the floor feeding. However I have since come to realize that introducing lots of moisture into a hive during the winter is a big no no that can kill the hive (not sure exactly why but I’ve read that enough to believe it). So by trying to help them I was likely killing them!

But somehow, in spite of it all, to the astonishment of my neighbor and local bee expert, they actually survived! Together we have come up with the probable reasons why:
  • The nuc box only had 2 frames in it and so the bees had to fill the rest of the box themselves. They naturally constructed things inside better than they could have if it was all frames. They know how to construct a small hive that maximizes their survival chances!

  • The nuc box was on the ground, but only a couple feet beneath that is the septic holding tank. It is likely that tank stays relatively warm in the winter and that warmth helped.

  • The windbreak of carpeting I put over and around the nuc box helped to prevent the winds from sucking the heat out.


I am impressed by these bees—they are survivors!

Here is a photo of the nuc box I took this afternoon:

Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/d48bdc

Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/3f03b0

Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
Image
Dennis616
Jun 4, 2016 4:04 PM CST
So spring came I had this nuc box full of great, tough bees-- but how was I going to get them into the new hive? There are only two frames in the nuc so would I have to cut the comb out and strap it to frames in the new hive? I really was dreading what I was sure was going to be a very difficult ordeal.

But these great bees helped me out. I forget the exact date but they swarmed really early—the earliest the local bee expert had EVER seen a swarm! So my problem was solved—all I had to do was capture the swarm and put that in my new hive. What a relief!

The bees really helped me out even more by forming quite a large ball just a few feet from the nuc box, on a shrub branch maybe 3’ off the ground. Couldn’t ask for an easier situation! So with no trouble at all I had my new hive ready to go.

But these bees continued to amaze. They proceeded to swarm again. And again. And again—5 times in all! One of them we captured and let the local bee expert have (it actually was his nuc box that I had been using). The last one I decided to capture and keep myself—giving me 2 new hives! I went from not being too sure I wanted bees to having two new hives.

Fortunately I had constructed a hive platform large enough for two hives:
Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/4b3652

I constructed it out of treated wood, but as you can see from these photos I took this afternoon, I have a rubber sheet over the stand so the bees never contact the actual platform:
Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/8171ed
Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/07b2fe

The bees are doing great, especially the first swarm captured. Their hive has this door on the side that can be opened to reveal a plexiglass inner wall—I can look at the outside frame, and show visitors, without having to open-up the hive. They’ve already made their way to this outer frame and looks like they are storing honey.
Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/74b624

I don’t think I’ll harvest any honey this year. After surviving last winter in that nuc box they are entitled to keep their full supply this winter!




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
Image
Mindy03
Jun 4, 2016 4:37 PM CST

Moderator

Congratulations Dennis. Those ladies did a great job of helping you commit to them.
Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
Image
Dennis616
Jun 4, 2016 5:19 PM CST
Thanks, They sure did!

At the rate the first hive is going I'm going to have to add the medium sooner than expected. I have a medium available for each hive so they'll each have one super and one medium. I've read that unless I'm really going for maximum honey production that will be sufficient for a northern hive.

I also have to put the new base on the second hive. I really like these bases. Screen bottom with a tray underneath that you fill with vegetable oil to kill any beetles that drop down.
I don't see any beetles here from the first hive. Not sure how often I need to change the oil on a hive.

Thumb of 2016-06-04/Dennis616/9c9a14

Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
homeshow
Jun 7, 2016 10:46 AM CST
For a hive to have a maximum chance at survival it needs. 2 medium 8 frame supers of brood comb and 1 we drum super of honey and full of healthy bees.

The biggest cause of humans killing bees are:
1) poisons herbicides and pesticides
2) habitat destruction
3) this is the one that beekeepersays do the most.... Take too much honey!

I have a friend. Nice guy works hard for his family. Over harvests every year. Kills bees routinely.

Here is the but. They always die of something else. Beetles, moths, freezing weather. ALL things a healthy hive with a good Supply of honey don't have issues with.
Name: Jim Goodman
Northeast Louisiana
Image
Jim41
Jun 16, 2016 12:48 PM CST
Congratulations on your bee-venture. Take it from someone who got his first hive last year, they are habit forming. The more you learn, the more you'll realize how little you know. About the time you think you have them figured out, they'll change.

The reason behind all the swarming was being to crowded in the nuc. I personally think you need at least two deeps for brood chambers and the medium for honey. Most of the time, you aren't handling the deeps as a whole. I'll soon be 75 and I have no trouble handling a ten frame deep. If it seems to heavy, I pull a few frames.
Jim41

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Beekeeping forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "Chrysanthemum"