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bees!!!

 
Leah Sattler
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It just occured to me that I could have bees at my new place!!! now that will get me excited! does anyone have a clue how I would get started? reccomend a website or book or something?

on a side note, what is the latest on the mysterious bee die-off issue?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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tiny little mites i guess..freaky, as we all will die if the bees do..right?

I'm no expert on bees, but I do encourage those that want to keep them to..used to be people around here would set out their hives all over the place..but recently we don't see that happening..

a few years ago..we had a swarm of bees on my MIL's garage door..wish I would have had a hive ready for them ..as they might have stayed..good luck on your bee keeping..a very worthy goal
 
Susan Monroe
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Since you will have so many projects going in the first few years, why not just attract wild bees for pollination?  Blue Orchard Bees and Mason Bees (they might actually be the same thing) will pollinate many more types of plants than honeybees do.

You can drill holes in blocks of wood, or just stack up old roofing shingles for them to make their nests.

There are a couple of good books on wild bees, and quite a few websites.

When you've settled down a bit, you can move on to honeybees.

The bee people still aren't sure what is causing Colony Collapse Disorder, and they're suspecting a composite of all the things bees face:  genetically-modified plants, the Nosema parasite, new pesticides, the varroa mite, viruses, the non-nutritional sugar-water that beekeepers feed the hives*, and lots of other stresses.

* Be aware folks, that starting in 2008, dear Monsanto has been selling GM sugar beets, so there's an excellent chance that any sugar you buy (white or brown) that doesn't say it's cane sugar, may well be GM sugar beet sugar.  And this crap isn't going to help the bees, either.

Sue
 
                      
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Location: Snohomish, WA
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I have been keeping bees for a few years. I love it.

My daughter was 5 and got us into it. She was interested in bees and of course really excited about honey so since we homeschool, we went looking for opportunities to learn. Instead of jumping in and buying equipment, we found a local apiary and asked them if we could come and be free labor so we could learn and see if it was really something we wanted to do.

Well, that was six years ago and I got 48 pound off of one of my hives last season so we must of learned something. Of course, the bees are really doing all the work. We just check on them, feed them if the season is cold and wet (that's just life in Western Washington) and they give us honey.

Mites are a challenge but not what they are saying the disappearance is coming from. That is still unknown.

The mites are decreasing the numbers in general though.

I am currently researching the Warre hive from France and the top bars. If I ever get time, I hope to make one of each and give them a go.

In the mean time, if anyone has a swarm appear, catch it or call your local bee keepers society so someone else can. They are really mellow when swarming.

Good luck!
 
Leah Sattler
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permie mama wrote:
I got 48 pound off of one of my hives last season so we must of learned something.


ohmy god! I had no idea you could get that much! thanks, you have already sent me in the direction of searches. obivously there are different types of hives, learning to feed them properly, and the possibility of "collecting" them locally all things I didn't know!

sue - 'project' is my middle name! the more complicated and new to me the idea is the more into it I get. the only thing that stops me is financial restrictions, so that just makes it more fun trying to figure out how to do it with materials that are free to cheap(and sometimes halts my projects in its tracks ) so far my only  definite real projects at the new place are gardens and goat housing. bees may not be something I can get to as soon as I move in but it gives me something to think about, I need fodder for my brain. something new. if I don't get it I'm likely to hop a train to the great beyond on a whim!
 
Susan Monroe
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JeezLouise, Leah!  I could have written that!

Welcome to the Land of Obsession.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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ah, the obsession is a curse as well as something positive....I get alot of stuff done but sometimes I have trouble stopping....recently I found myself wandering around amongst the new wood and goat house completly brain dead and exhausted, my wrist was shot and I couldn't physically hold up a hammer well enough to guide it to the head of the intended nail, started making stupid mistakes and losing all my tools, couldn't keep a measurment in my head long enough to get to the saw and cut it...... a glass of wine fixed it and that typically convinces me to sit still or lay off the research , whatever is my current 'thing' for a while, I little self medicating never hurt anyone

I have an intense fear of boredom
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Leah, you sound like a younger version maybe of me..as Projects are a constant thought for me, what new thing can I do.
My husband is always saying...no projects this year..yeah..well than why did he have me build a huge building for HIS new wood boiler and 16 cord of firewood in November last year Yes in Michigan
 
Leah Sattler
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yikes ronbre! all I can think about hearing about your building in november in michigan is...how bad it hurts to hit your finger with a hammer when its cold. 
 
paul wheaton
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CCD is caused by beekeepers mistreating their bees in one or more of a dozen different things.

Possible contributors include:

- GMOs

- moving hives

- annual re-queening

- using a cell template that is too big

- checking hive status too often

- pesticides

- feeding the bees sugar (as opposed to letting them eat their own honey)

... basically, anything that adds stress to a hive. 



 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Location: southwest Washington state
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I'm a bee lover. We've got hives in our fields and also got one hive that lives in the north wall of our home and they've been here way longer than we have, probably 50 years. Sweet little bee-ings, they are.

I had langstroth hives (the square boxes most people know) for a few years, then switched to top bar hives. The NW spring's dampness was a problem in my top bars so I'm changing formats again. 

I'm keen on Warre hives right now and am starting some Warre hives this spring. They're inexpensive to build and I like the concepts behind them, that the hive a bee really wants is an old hollowed out apple tree where they can be warm, dry, safe and left pretty much alone. Warres are low maintenance and low human input (you don't have to fuss with them).

You can build your own warre for less cost than the other types. We had a workshop here at the farm a few years ago and built a bunch of top bar hives. They look simple but they were quite a project, getting the little bars routed and fitted with inner bars, no glue allowed. A tedious task, to be sure.

The Warres, on the other hand, are pretty dang simple. We got plans from an Oregonian who makes them. He sells plans ($7 includes ongoing support), you can buy pre-cut kits from him (I think they're $99) that take about 3 hours for someone not overly skilled to put together, or hives already built. His website is

http://www.warrebeehive.com/whcg768

I teach a class called "Bees: The OTHER Way" that covers a lot of the stuff that's good to know before you start keeping bees, like how the hive works, what their natural systems are, how to prevent colony collapse disorder, etc. Mostly it's learning to respect the systems the bees use and interact with them in a mindful manner. If we weren't humans that would be oh so simple.

I posted a story about bees on our farm blog recently. Have a read if you want.
http://blog.friendlyhaven.com/2009/01/04/the-art-of-beeing.aspx

warmly,
Jacqueline Freeman
Friendly Haven Rise Farm
http://www.FriendlyHaven.com
 
paul wheaton
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Jacqueline,

I'm still planning on coming over for your class (Saturday, Apr. 26).

BTW:  Josef Holzer is an avid beekeeper and was pressing upon me the same info you were pressing on me about bees.  It is too bad that you didn't get to meet him. 


 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Great, Paul, will be nice to have you back. I probably ought to post the info about the class in case anyone else might like to come. There's a brief few sentences about it on our farm class list, then scroll down further to see the description of what we're covering in the class.
http://www.friendlyhaven.com/classes.html

The class is Sunday April 26 and also offered on May 23. I always like to hook people up with each other if they want to carpool and we sometimes have room at the farm for folks who want to stay overnight the night before.

warmly
Jacqueline
Friendly Haven Rise Farm
southwest WA near Battle Ground/Vancouver
 
                          
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HI Jacqueline, I'm a friend of Patti Pitcher.  I am very interested in the top bar hives for one important reason, they don't have heavy boxes to lift off when working the hives. I've never had bees, but took the WSU Extension course on them in January. When they started talking about 40 lb supers of honey, I realized I might have a struggle lifting that myself.  I'll be getting some bees next year, but meanwhile I'm looking for the more natural alternatives. Can you tell me more about why the top bar didn't work for you? Did you ever try making changes to the design to make it a less damp environment for the bees? Thanks for any feedback, and I'd love to take your course, just had a conflict this last time. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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easiest way to start is to ask a beekeeper to put a hive or two on your property in exchange for a few jars of honey.
 
Jacqueline Freeman
instructor
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Hi Jen,
My next class is May 23 and you're welcome to come on down for it.
www.FriendlyHaven.com/classes.html

Re the top bar hives, yes, we had quite a bit of dampness issues that mostly came on in spring when it was both damp and warm. Last spring we took the bottoms off the hives and instead of floors we put screen. I used embroidery screen that was stiff cotton and it worked pretty well until the bees in one hive ate through it so they could make their comb go longer.

They hung out on those long combs all summer but then vacated them and moved back up into the hive body once the weather turned cooler.

I'm not expert on this but have tinkered some with one particular hive. We wanted to close it in to prevent drafts in winter but just closing it up is too quick so we have sliders on the bottom that can be slowly closed over a month so they have a draft-free environment for winter and early spring. Then when the weather starts warming we can slowly open it again for venting the dampness out.

I'm not sure this is a total solution, we're still monitoring it but they seemed to do well with it. And the TBHs are easier weight-wise. Just be sure you keep the hive elevated so the dampness from the ground doesn't rise up into it. We keep ours about 3' from the ground, BUT also make sure it's solidly on the ground. A big windstorm twice has knocked over a TBH and now we're double reinforcing the frame with rebar on either side.

Hope that helps!

warmly
Jacqueline
Friendly Haven Rise Farm
www.FriendlyHaven.com
 
Susan Monroe
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I was talking to the local honey lady a couple of weeks ago, and she said she usually has to buy queens every year.  She said although the queens only live three or four years, they aren't lasting that long.  Is this a common experience?

She has raised bees for 30 years. Her place is totally organic, although she recognizes that her bees can range a couple of miles (outside her property).

We were talking about Colony Collapse Disorder, and she feels that it's a combination of many things:  widespread use of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, GM plants with distorted pollen, high levels of nitrates and phosphorus in water sources, etc.  Not to mention that many beekeepers take all the honey and just feed their hives sugar water, which isn't a good diet (and they probably buy the cheapest sugar -- beet -- which is now genetically-modified (since last year).  But she said the biggest losses started after genetically-modified crops became common.

I guess we shall see.

Sue

 
Jacqueline Freeman
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What we've done to bees in commercializing them has damaged them badly. It's the concept of farming bees, like any other crop, that hurts. Cheapness is the deciding factor on so many decisions, like sugar feeding and robbing their natural food that's filled with enzymes and vitamins, pesticides, GM crops with damaged pollen, moving them all over creation for pollination services, and more. Ugh. Poor bees!

warmly,
Jacqueline
Friendly Haven Rise Farm
www.FriendlyHaven.com
 
Susan Monroe
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On one of our last warm days, I was at a friend's place.  We went to look at something in her shed, and I saw a rather crude concrete/small rocks homemade birdbath.  She said her ex-boyfriend had made it. 

The surface is shallow, rough and lumpy, and the honeybees absolutely LOVE it!  The surface makes it really easy for them to drink.  As we talked, I watched a stready stream of honeybees coming to drink.

I guess I need one for my yard, too.

Sue
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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The concrete birdbaths are perfect for the bees because the stone pulls the water up into the teensy cracks and the bees can drink without falling in. When a bee falls into water, she can't fly out because she has to swoop her wings down below the surface and that's too hard to do.

We put y-shaped sticks into all open water on our farm in case a bee falls in, that she can get out again. Hard to do no a regular stick because it will just roll over and over and they can't get up on top like on a y-shaped stick.

We have a small concrete pond that is perfect for the bees. They have to have a drinking spot somewhere nearby and you can be it! We let moss grow on it and they really like standing on the moss and dropping their long tongues down into the moss to get the water from the damp ground and concrete below it.

Sometimes in spring I make them an herbal tea as a spring tonic, made out of chamomile and peppermint or thyme mixed with some of our organic raw honey. I put tufts of moss on top of it and they gather by the hundreds for their swig. It's so much fun to watch them and they seem so happy when they find a good water source.

warmly,
Jacqueline

Friendly Haven Rise Farm
www.FriendlyHaven.com/classes.html
 
                              
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Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I can't "keep bees" where I am because "keeping bees" is not an approved use of a residential lot.  However, is there a way to allow a wild hive to form?  Like putting up a bat house.  Is there a such thing as a wild bee house?  Something that along with attracting bees with a good water source and desirable flowers might encourage them to set up house on my property? 
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Oh, aren't you clever? Where there's a will there's a way.

Wild honeybees most want to live in a hollow tree, something wide and deep enough for comb, warm enough for winter, cool for summer. Got any old apple trees on your land?

warmly,
Jacqueline
 
                              
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I'm in zone 9.  Most varieties of Apples don't usually thrive here.  I've got Oak trees.  Some citrus trees.  Maple, Magnolia, Loquat, Avocado, and scrubby stuff.

I was kinda hoping some one knew of a design or plan for something like a hollow log that you could hang in a tree like often works for bird houses or something like that.

Keeping the bees warm in winter is probably not a big problem here, we don't stay below freezing for more than several hours at a time over winter usually.

Keeping cool enough through summer and staying dry enough is more of a challenge but I know people keep bees down here so they must survive it.
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Have a look at how they do it in Tibet.

http://save-bee.com/public/upload/262.jpg
http://save-bee.com/public/upload/259.jpg

warmly,
Jacqueline

ps. If you get this far, post about it and I'll make some suggestions on wooing bees to come on over and live there.
 
                              
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OOOH exactly what I was thinking.  Now I'll have to keep my eye open for logs to hollow out

If I find something, I'll be back!!!
Thanks
 
Brenda Groth
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we have an area of wet muck clay mud that has hundreds of bees drinking from it when ever it is wet, rainy or spring..

my son is deathly afraid of bees ..but I showed him..you can walk right through the middle ..and they don't pay attention other than keeping out from under your feet..they just want something to drink..

i'm trying to get him so he isn't so afraid..his grandma taught him fear..he is 34 years old !!

I wish that someone would put a hive  here..i don't want to care for it..but i wouldn't mind a honey person to put one here..as we have thousands of flowers besides all of our fruit and nut trees and shrubs..it would be a bee haven

don't know what those little furry bees are that are in our mud..
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Brenda, the clay is good for them because they like the minerals. My bees love to drink from clay-ey spots and whenever I put seaweed out, they blanket it. We drive out to the shore a few times each year and bring it back. They love it.

To attract bees just put fragrant native plants in your garden, or any kinds of flowering herbs. They love them. Also you can attract all kinds of native bees. 98% of all bees don't have stingers, just the wasps, hornets, yellow jackets (who can sting repeatedly) and the little honey and bumble bees who get one shot at stinging and that's it. Stinging rips off the back of their little abdomens so they aren't keen to do that unless threatened or scared. Explain that to your son, that they just do it when they are afraid of being hurt so treat them kindly and all will be well.

We always plant lots of thyme and oregano, rosemary, sage and peppermint and spend endless hours watching the many kinds of bees that show up. I always show kids this and they really like watching.

To borrow a phrase, tell your son the bees "just aren't that into you." They've got other things on their beesy little minds. 

warmly,
Jacqueline
 
                                    
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TCLynx wrote:
I can't "keep bees" where I am because "keeping bees" is not an approved use of a residential lot.


Our local county news magazine did a very extensive feature story on backyard beekeepers a couple of months ago:

"Hive and Seek. Saving OC’s bees -- and possibly breaking the odd city code and state law in the process -- with the Backyard Beekeepers"

  http://www.ocweekly.com/2009-02-26/news/backyard-beekeepers

A particularly interesting development since Orange County (CA) is notorious for all kinds of restrictions on residential property uses.
 
Brenda Groth
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My yard, garden and entire property is chuck dang near overflowing of flowers and plants for my birds and bees..I'm sure that they are attracted here for that reason..

In our area of the world..very few people plant flowers or gardens to any extent that i do..there might be one large garden like mine every 5 miles or so..I'm sure the bees have told all their friends.

we have had swarms here..but had nothing for them to nest in...so they moved on in a day or so.

I wouldn't mind a hive for the bees, but doubt very much if I'd want to harvest any honey from it..guess the black bears would do that well enough.
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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There is a seasonal creek with a waterfall at the edge of our property and an old oak tree with a large hive in it.  I have been lucky enough a few times over the years to be out working in the pasture when the swarm went overhead.  I was frightened at first, but now it just brings a big smile to my face.    It is a wonderful  experience 
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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a swarm flying overhead. A blessing indeed! How wonderful to see one of these in action. A force of nature!

warmly
Jacqueline
www.FriendlyHaven.com

 
paul wheaton
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Pic?

You can attach pics here by clicking on "additional options" when you post.
 
                          
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Hi bee lovers, I'm taking Jacqueline's Natural Beekeeping class (near Battle Ground) this weekend, does anybody want to carpool? I'm going down on Friday night, returning Saturday after the class. You can e-mail me directly at jenigreni@yahoo.com if you're interested.
 
gary gregory
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from wikepedia


 
Brenda Groth
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sorry you all posting photos made me take some yesterday..sorry I couldn't resist..these are on my apple tree ..it is totally noisy buzzing with life.
[/img]
[/img]

I'm hoping that this is a sign that maybe all of our fruit blossoms did not freeze !
[/img]
 
paul wheaton
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Jeni wrote:
Hi bee lovers, I'm taking Jacqueline's Natural Beekeeping class (near Battle Ground) this weekend, does anybody want to carpool? I'm going down on Friday night, returning Saturday after the class. You can e-mail me directly at jenigreni@yahoo.com if you're interested.


Jeni,

If there is a thread in the events forum, you will probably have better luck posting there.  And maybe Jocelyn will make a link from her calendar to that thread so folks can coordinate rides. 

 
paul wheaton
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I am currently editing a video about colony collapse disorder.

I need some pictures of bees and honey. 

A picture of comb foundation  would be good.

I could use a picture of a bee feeder.

I could use a picture of a massive orchard.

I could use a picture of a truck hauling a whole bunch of hives.

I could use a picture of mites on bees.

These need to be pictures that I could get permission to use: so either you took them and you give me permission, or they are public domain (and I've already spent hours looking for public domain stuff).

Any help?

 
Abe Connally
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For starting with bees, go with a top bar hive, either horizontal or vertical.  The best vertical design is probably a Warre or Oscar Perone hive.  For horizontal, try kenya style (similar to hollow log). 

Check out biobees.com, they have plans for the hives and a great forum.

Basically, with top bar hives, you let bees build the comb, no foundation, less risk of disease, more natural.  You let the bees do what bees do.

Do yourself a favor and join a local bee club.  You'll learn tons and find out how to do things and where to get equipment.
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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There was a good article in Acres USA, July 2010 issue, about a beekeeper in the Midwest who "solved" his colony colapse issues by making sure the hives were properly ventilated to wick moisture away from over-wintering bees.  He claims not to have had any late winter kill since he implemented the ventilation.

We, living in Michigan, found this very curious and worth looking at because the hives we lost were died during February/March.  The pattern he set-forth in the article fit our situation to a tee: hives were strong, tons of honey available, bees were thriving (could hear them in the hive) the end of winter... then, a mass of moist, rotting bees would have to be removed in spring.  We are going to try some of his suggestions (on a couple of hives) and see how it goes.

On a side note, I am beginning to wonder just what defines "the colony colapse."  At this point, I think the definition is anytime a hive dies (regardless of cause) it's labeled colony colapse.  We had colonies die but not from over -work or exposure to constant stress but from a late winter moisture issue (apparently).  Is that the same thing as what is happening in other areas?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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One of the best, and most-permacultural, blogs about beekeeping is Backwards Beekeepers.

Based only on what I've read, I would start by building and placing a hive (a top-bar system with good mite-shedding ability is what I think I would want), and use feral bees. Feral bees have adapted to whatever causes colony collapse disorder.

I would either wait for a swarm to find the hive, or for a neighbor to spot a swarm or to notice an un-wanted colony on their property. Partly, I would choose this strategy because I live in the city, where bees are healthy and plentiful, and there are a lot of bee-removal jobs and enlightened beekeepers.

Paul, you might contact the owner of that blog about using images. I bet they have some of what you need, and some you won't know you need until you see them.

Also, did you look here yet?
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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