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Startup equipment list

 
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Hey folks. Back with more questions as I continue my quest to design and plan a homestead for starting next year.

A friend and I have the opportunity to purchase some hives from a friend's family who decided to get out of beekeeping (older farmers looking to retire soon) at half the cost of new equipment. We went to their farm to inspect it last week and it looks good to me. The only thing I'm wondering about at this point is how much I should really acquire to begin with. We do not have a very big startup budget for this homestead, and we still have some veggies and grain, plus a small handful of animals for land preparation, to purchase. As such, I'm looking to save costs as much as possible for the first year. The guy selling the gear recommended 4 hives to start, with about 2 large, 3 medium, and 5 small supers each. That sounds like a lot to me, at least for a beginning. I guess my big question at this point is; How many boxes and supers do I need for each hive in my first year? Can I get away with a lot less than that until the second year? I know the bees will need enough room to build up honey stores for winter, but is such a big stack really needed?

Also, I'd love to start with 4 hives but not sure I can pull it off the first year.  Would I be likely to regret it if I downsize to three?

Thanks, guys
 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I assume the seller is reputable.
Given that is the case he will be aware of honey flow expectations and the resultant cash flow that will follow.
I would also get as much knowledge about selling the stuff, he may be able to help with that as well.
Sometimes it is a good idea to have a small cash flow at the start of a venture, otherwise it keeps getting put off.
Then 4 years down the road you wake up to it.
bees and a number of new animalswill take time, I would go the bees path, build sales and then move with the other animals after you have built the fencing etc.
 
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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half price for that much equipment is more than I would spend if I were working with a tight budget. it would also start you down a path toward a style of beekeeping that I don't personally find appealing. that said, it's a style of beekeeping that is still the most commonly practiced and that you're likely to get a lot of support for in your local beekeepers association.

if it were me (and it was once upon a time), I would build my own hives. that will obviously take more time, but maybe not as much as you would expect. I'm partial to Warré hives, which are quick, easy, and cheap to build. they're also easy to manage and my bees have done well in them.
 
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Location: Warrnambool, Australia
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Have you worked with bee hives before? It can be quite overwhelming for a first timer, and I had to learn that the hard way with just one hive last Summer! If I had the money I would've purchased two hives so I could use resources from one to save the other if need be, but having more than that would have definitely been too much for me to take on along with getting the rest of the homestead started up as well.
 
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sounds like you could get yourself in the honey and wax business real cheap. 4 hives is a great idea, bees are awesome.
 
pollinator
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Totally feel all these unknown things...we just got into bee keeping. Like last week. =}
We purchased two hives/2deep boxes. From a local keeper, the bees were caught swarms.
Then we got 2medium supers and plastic frames to add in a couple of weeks.
The bee feeder is just a shallow dish with sugar/water and rocks.
We did purchase jacket/hood and gloves.
Hoping to add small supers for a honey harvest...
It’s generally recommended to start with two hives. It also sounds like folks add boxes of different depths based on what the bees need and how tall the beekeeper wants the stack.
Looking forward to read what others are doing.
Best of luck. It’s hard to pass up a deal. :)
 
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Location: Portlandish OR
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Your supplier uses all three sizes of boxes at once? Yeep.
It is common to have two deeps for brood, but you will probably want to stick with medium OR small for your honey supers to make things simpler in yourself. They get pretty heavy, so medium or small depends on how much you want to lift. How many supers  you need depends on local honey flow. You'll need to ask local beekeepers, besides the guy trying to get rid of all his stuff.

Good luck! I'm jealous you found such a good deal, but totally understand the frustrations of a budget slightly smaller than the best prices.
 
master gardener
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I have more than a few years if work with bees.  I would pass.  If I had more experience  and a solid market for the product, I might be tempted.
 
pollinator
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If you are a novice beekeeper you might want to have an experienced friend take a look at the hives for any signs of disease. This would be my concern about starting with used equipment. Where I am in Canada you can have a provincial bee inspector certify equipment for sale is clean, so maybe there is something similar where you are.
 
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