I am an aspiring beekeeper and this is my first post in this forum. I am not new to homesteading, however. I keep chickens and try to grow as much of my food as possible. Although we live in the outskirts of a large city (Ankara, Turkey to be specific) our neighborhood is not ideal for keeping bees in my backyard. However, we own some land in a nearby village about 50 miles away from where we live. This land is in a complete natural environment with lots of trees, flowers, and access to water sources. I therefore hope to do beekeeping in this location but I've reservations.
I've talked to a beekeeper whom I know from the local farmers market. He told me that I would have to attend my bees frequently as there are many chores that need to be performed such as division, placement of the new frames as needed, making sure the queen is there (and several other things that I don't remember). He therefore discouraged me from starting this endeavor if I cannot visit the site frequently (every few days or so).
First of all, I would like to get your opinion about whether what he told me is actually true. Do I really need to attend the bees constantly? What would be the maximum time that I can leave them unattended? I think I can visit our land every two weeks or so. Do you think such frequency would be too low to successfully raise bees and get to produce some of my own honey?
Looking for some advice from you experts out there.
It depends on what you want to accomplish with your bees.
If you want honey and wax production, it's likely that you will be more involved with them. This path, in my opinion, leads to a way of beekeeping that is usually not the most sustainable. Basically, the more you mess with them the more you disrupt other natural processes and then have to intervene more in order to fix the things you messed up. It's quite a cycle
However, if you just want to have bees in order to have bees and maybe for home production of honey and wax, then you can be much more hands off. I don't know what the laws on beekeeping and hive selection are in Turkey, but where I live, many beekeepers are "No Treat" and only open their hives when the bees have all died. They could and do leave their bees unattended
When you reach your lowest point, you are open to the greatest change.
Bee farming would require constant attention as already said. I know a beekeeper with 40 hives who only opens them at the beginning of April (in the UK) and before winter. He checks the health, the integrity of the hive, removes a few frames if the hive is full of honey, and makes sure there are enough stores to get the bees through the winter. If there are not he will feed them. He says if he loses bees then so be it - they are weak. But in the main his colonies do well. He uses a National hive with a brood box and a super.
Poeple tend to interfere too much with bees - usually because they want lots of honey and wax - but if you take a more gentle approach I am sure they will be fine.
You could also keep them in a Top Bar hive and be very minimalist about management.
I think I checked mine 5 times this last year. Mostly because I did not want them to outgrow their hive and swarm away. They were booming. They grew so fast. I spent so much money making my hive bigger for them. Then they all died. So 1k down the drain. Prepare for that!
There is a huge difference between an experienced beekeeper who checks infrequently, and a novice who does the same.
I am happy neglecting my colonies at certain times of year, but not at others. Here in the UK things can move quickly with a strong flow and a booming colony. And in a densely populated area neglecting colonies inevitably leads to swarms which will piss off neighbours.
Plus if you are not inspecting regularly you are not learning, which is the MOsT important product of your first few years with bees.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
Ahmet Oguz Akyuz
posted 1 year ago
Thanks a lot for the useful insights. So I understand that it is not unfeasible, but for a new starter, forming a closer connection is important. I was wondering if you can recommend some good books about raising bees. Please keep in my that my goal is not to have a large-scale bee farm. It is just to have a hive or two for my own family's honey consumption.
There are a number of YouTube channels that specialize in bees and beekeeping. I’m not ready to start with bees so I haven’t watched any of them in depth. If the videos are fairly recent the posters will often interact with you and answer questions. Of course people have varying opinions and methods but that’s the same whether you use books or video. The reason I like YouTube as a primary source IS that I get to hear widely varying opinions and methods (and it’s free). I think seeing people’s various ways of doing things provides a more realistic picture of what is important to know about the field— whether beekeeping or raising chickens or growing gardens or baking bread... go look at YouTube and see what you can learn. Our bandwidth precludes me from watching very much at any one time, but I still get a lot of benefit from it.
Tomorrow doesn’t exist and never will. There is only the eternal now. Do it now.
My advice is to build a Perone hive and leave it alone. After two years, you can take some honey from the beekeepers part of the hive. Other than that, leave them alone except to visit and watch your bees.
Ahmet Oguz Akyuz wrote: I was wondering if you can recommend some good books about raising bees.
The Practical Beekeeper Beekeeping Naturally by Micheal Bush. Though he states on his website here, that the book is a reorganization of the information on his website. He has started a You Tube channel too.