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First time beekeeper

 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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So soon I am going to come into some bees, and though i have read a decent bit on the subject, i have no experience yet...whats more the folks providing us with the nuc are only in their second year of beekeeping.
What follows is a quick conversation I had with Tel..

me: "I have read alot of your posts on beekeeping. So here's the deal: A friend of the family has offered to get me started in beekeeping this may.I was not planning on taking the leap until next year. Full setup provided; except protective gear.I live in east texas (zone 8 / 9a), It gets very hot in the summer. I believe they are providing us with a langstroth hive

All of that being said, i have a nice semi shady spot which I was going to build a new compost pile in before this offer came around. It is sheltered on three sides by trees and brush; would this be a good placement? Should i cover the hive during rainstorms? They have mentioned sugar water.....should i be feeding the bees, and if so for how long?

Any and all help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!"

Tel: " first things first: all beekeeping is local. that is to day that my experience keeping bees in Washington State might not qualify me to give advice to somebody in Texas. but you asked, so I'll give it a try.

a shady spot does sound like a good idea. providing access to water would probably also be wise, as they can use water to cool the hive via evaporation. that could be as simple as a pie tin with some rocks in it that you keep partly filled with water. the main idea is to prevent drowning the bees by either avoiding standing water or providing an exit if they do end up floating.

feeding: I don't do it and I don't think it's a good idea but for a few very specific cases. were they suggesting feeding this Spring or some other time? if you've just got one hive and it doesn't seem like they've got enough reserves to make it through the Winter, feeding in the Fall might make sense for some folks. my personal approach is to let colonies do what they will. if they starve over the Winter, it's likely they weren't adapted well to local conditions.

if you do end up with Lang equipment, consider modifying it to run as a vertical top bar hive. I believe frames are one of the more pernicious scourges of modern beekeeping.

and don't be shy about posting in the forum. other folks will have other ideas and knowledge that might come from conditions more similar to yours than mine are. and other folks could benefit from reading the answers you get and the further questions that are generated.

tel"

me: " Thank you for your input! After speaking with the lady this morning, she and her husband are going to provide us with a top bar hive. " and don't be shy about posting in the forum"...

With your permission I'll gladly repost our conversation thus far."

Tel: " top bar hive sounds great. I've not had great experiences with horizontal top bar hives here in Washington, but I've heard a lot of good things from drier parts of the world.

go ahead and post it on the forum."

Mkay... so folks this is where I stand: I have an outfit and smoker ordered; buckwheat seed ordered ( and 1/2 acre to plant it), and in 2 months a top bar hive and a nuc with a queen....dont forget to breathe...
Anyone who wants - feel free to throw out do's and dont's! For water i have a small pond about 300 ft from where i plan to place the hive, and I asked for clarification on feeding; she said for a couple weeks until they are established in their new home.
 
David Livingston
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Firstly
DONT PANIC

Have a read on my little blog thingy and you will see its ok to be nervous ..http://www.permies.com/t/31583/projects/Permie-Pennies-France
Secondly I personally would not bother with feeding the bees can do that them selves espicially if they are in a TBH .
Thirdly the bees are quite forgiving in my experiance as long as you are gentle slow and not like a bear. So fast loud rough will get you the bear responce .
You will have about 8 to 10 thousand gumpy immature females so if its not a good day you can always come back the next .day or week even whats the hurry ?

David
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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Good advice.
I have been reading about bees and beekeeping for a few years now; I just don't have any practical experience. I was thinking I would like to try warre's hive, but as they say "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" so warre will have to wait
 
Ludger Merkens
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Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Secondly - DONT PANIC

* A Shady Spot sounds indeed like a good idea. It is here (climate 6-7).
* Feeding - Learn to monitor your landscape. Is there a honey flow? Is there enough pollen? As a beekeeper, you will soon learn to watch your surroundings with very different eyes than before.
+ If you have a langstroth hive, it is easy to lift the hive with one hand to check, if there is enough storage left. You will soon get a feel for this. In an emergency it is always better to feed the bees, than let them starve. If you have some honey harvest left, feed them their own honey back, if not - feed them a sugarsolution. Never buy honey in the supermarket to feed the bees. This honey might be contaminated with paenibacillus larvae (american foulbrood), there is no cure against this. If a hive is too light, before you blame the bees, check if it is your fault - was your harvest a little more, than they could spare? Selecting and breeding for a local bee is a good idea, but you need more than one hive to have something to select from.
* Langstroth hive and frames - Of course you can run a langstroth hive foundationless, you can even run it as a top bar hive. But there is one big difference to a horizontal TBH. In a langstroth hive, the bees need to move vertically through the hive. This means, you need to reduce the width of your top bars to 28mm and make sure there is an open gap of 7mm (beespace) betweeen the bars. (two small nails at one side of the top bar will do the trick) It is important to get those measurements very precisely, otherwise you are better of to work your langstroth similar to a perone hive mk1. (Checking with the way perone keeps bees, is probably not a bad idea at all)
* buckwheat - if you like buckwheat honey - ok. (I do, but I know a lot of people who don't) But remember, that buckwheat is in flower for two to three months only. What about the rest of the season? Diversification is the key.
* protective gear - a good investment - especially if you are new to beekeeping. Did I say - don't panic? Bees know if you are scared, your movements are not slow and steady, you smell differently. Some protection especially for your face, might give you that additional feeling of safety, that allows you to handle the bees in a beefriendly manner. Try to work without gloves if you can, gloves hinder your sense of touch, but don't be ashamed to wear a light veil to protect your face.

happy beekeeping - and continue asking!
Ludger

 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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More advice, yay!
I did order a jacket with attached hat and veil and gloves..
My main concern first off I think will be keeping them fed. Upon arrival I don't know if they will have any food; as I am not sure if they will be placed in their new home (our friends are making a top bar hive for us) prior to giving this all to us.
On one hand we get metric tons of pollen here; deep east texas is a subtropical climate (cool/cold wet winter; hot humid summer)....pollen blankets everything that is stationary for five minutes or more in the spring.
On the other hand; if they don't have any food upon arrival; how long would it take them to build and fill their larder? It would seem that would bee how long I would want to supplement their diet with sugar water, right?
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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On the topic of buckwheat...I do like buckwheat honey; particularly in its fermented form for the rest of the growing season we have a small orchard and lots of wildflowers, with a smattering of flowering dogwoods. I own 5 acres; most of it wild, thick growth, so I don't think they will have a shortage of choices.
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Jeremy,

this depends. If you have package bees, they need to build their first comb fast. Otherways the queen can't start laying eggs. This means they need a lot of food (sugar/nectar). If and only If you are on a strong honey-flow (something you probably can't tell with your limited experience) it is not necessary to feed the bees at all. In May, you usually need to feed twice, each 2-4 kg of sugar diluted 1:1 with water, (in march up to 4 times, every 5 days) Afterwards the bees should have drawn enough comb to keep them going on the natural honeyflow. Contrary to common beleive, the bees don't need more food to draw natural comb than to draw comb from wachs foundation. (don't use plastic foundation- if any) You can stop feeding, if they build 5 to 6 frames of comb.

In later years, if you want to expand your apiary with a new package, you can use diluted honey to do the start.

Ludger

 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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Gotcha. So basically up until I receive them, I'm going to have a lot of unanswerable questions due to too many variables. They are not going to be a package per se, but rather a start of bees from a friends over crowded hive.
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Jeremy,

I usually would suggest you start reading. But unless you speak german, my suggestions are very limited, since I don't know the english book market.
But perhaps there are knowledgeble pleople here in the forum and have some good suggestions? Even older books often hold a lot of knowledge to get you started plus have the benefit, they don't focus on the different medical treatments availiable.

One good book, that will you get started in telling what is going on in the hive is the english translation of an older german book I know. (Am Flugloch - Heinrich Storch) You can find the english version - At The Hive Entrance - online at biobees.

have fun reading
Ludger
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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In my excitement over a new book, I just realized that I forgot to say thank you for providing that link.
Thank you!
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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Jeremy Stevens wrote:They are not going to be a package per se, but rather a start of bees from a friends over crowded hive.


I think you'll hear that referred to as a "split" in the parlance.

do you know the provenance of the queen you'll be getting? feral queen, purchased from California, of unknown origin? I don't personally think that it's really critical to know, but it would might at least be interesting.
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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Purchased. From whence I do not know.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I got my 1st bee hive last May.(Warre)

I bought some pollen patties and made my own sugar water. Your surgarwater should be inside the hive or 90ft away. At 1st I put some in a plate and then there was a crazy amount of them, by the hive, probably protecting it form other insects. Then I put it in a ziplock bag with tiny holes about about 50ft away, that wasn't so bad. I ended up just putting in inside the hive after I figured out how to not make the holes too big where the hive is flooded. After that initial 1 month, I have not touched the hive. I hope they are still alive April 15 when I check on them possible harvest some honey. My goal is to touch the hive only twice a year. People who handle theirs non-stop and baby them still get a 50% lost. If I can only touch them 1 day of the year and get the same 50% loss I am happy and I think they will be too.
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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From the research I have done, that sounds about like how I intend to proceed as well. Hope it works for you!
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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from your brief description, I would guess there's enough forage around that you won't need to feed, at least not much or for long. I'm personally of the opinion that if feeding can be avoided, it should be. a package of bees isn't quite as prepared as a swarm would be to set up a new shop, but they'll figure it out pretty quickly.
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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Gotcha. That is really what I am hoping, is that I won't have to feed them much of anything.
 
Ludger Merkens
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Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Jeremy,

if you get a split from an existing hive, make sure the split receives one comb full of honey from the parent hive. This should be enough to get them going.

--- Ludger
 
Jeremy Stevens
Posts: 37
Location: Tenaha, TX
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I'll ask, but don't want to presume as the split, a new queen, as well as a new top bar hive are a gift.
 
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