Bee Keeping here I come!


#1

Well, as if I wasn't having a hard enough time learning how to grow fruit, I've decided to take on another big hobby that I know absolutely nothing about: BEE KEEPING! The good news here is that I have a new friend I met through work who is an expert bee keeper and has volunteered to guide me through the whole process. I'm also lucky in that there is a major bee keeping supplier located less than an hour away called Kelly Bees. My friend took me up there and helped me to buy everything I need to get started. We picked it all out and had to have it shipped since they didn't have it all in stock (free shipping, though). Well, the photo shows what I received at work last Friday. 2 10-rack, stack hives and all the tools I need, along with a bee suit and all the other components needed for growing bees/honey. The bees themselves will be ready for pickup on May 1. Much to my surprise, the entry cost for my bee-keeping hobby was right about $1,000. That seems like a lot to spend on something I'm not even sure I will enjoy. That includes 2 packs of bees, 2 queens, and all the equipment and related items I'll need. And I could have cut a few corners and saved a little but I wanted to do it right so I went all out.

Anyway, I suspect there are some other bee keepers on here and I look forward to finding out who you are so I can beg for advice on 2 hobbies instead of just one! :slight_smile: I'm doing it for the pollination more than the honey, but certainly the honey will be a nice bonus. WIsh me luck!!!


#2

That's cool Kevin. It's a shame you won't have the bees for this years blooms.

My friend was telling me about the Flow Honey System and I thought it looked awesome. I don't have the time and patience to start old school bee keeping. If I ever did get into bee keeping the flow system looks interesting.


#3

If I weren't allergic to bee stings, I'd get that honey flow. They broke records and received huge support on Kickstarter. I'm sure there's a lot that goes into maintaining a healthy hive, things that the honey flow doesn't/can't address, but it's a cool product.


#4

Well, congratulations! You're going to become obsessed with them; every newbeek does. If you think you worry about the health of your trees, you are about to learn a new level of worry. :smile: It's not an inexpensive hobby.

Did you get 2 pkgs of bees, or 2 pkgs plus 2 extra queens? You've got the two most important ingredients for success: bees and a mentor. Don't kid yourself about pollination being most important; it's the honey! :honey_pot:

There are quite a few beeks on here. Beesource.com is a really good forum for newbeeks. Check it out if you haven't already.


#5

Well....like most things here, I just learned something new and now have something else to go research (flow honey system). But I did have a serious talk with my "advisor" before doing this and I told him I didn't have a huge amount of time to dedicate to bee-keeping and he promised me that once its all set up and going, it really isn't very time consuming at all. Also, he has said that when it comes time to Rob the hives, collect and strain the honey, that he will let me use his "honey house" and equipment and do that part for me so I think that will be a big time saver as well. But yea...I'm really excited about this new adventure.

And Dave you are sooo right...I'm only going to miss this year's bloom by a few weeks. I tried to get my bees sooner but they have a schedule for bee pickup and the earliest days go first. In fact, May 1 is the last day of the year for bee pickup so I'm lucky I got in at all. That being said, a big part of my focus was pollinating my large watermelon crop, so I should have plenty of time for that.


#6

That will save you a few hundred dollars.

It's nice to have a honey house. We use the veranda, which means waiting until after dark to do the extractions so that we don't wind up having frenzied bees coming from all directions when they smell that honey.


#7

Kevin, To help you communicate with fellow beekeepers

!0 frame

2 packages of bees; when you zip the veil down to the suit, don't forget to stick a little duct tape on the joint of those zippers, save you from getting stung on the throat. Make sure you know how to use your smoker before going out to the bee yard. No smoke means an unpleasant beekeeping experience!! Get a good mentor, sounds like you have one. Pick up or borrow a video series with Keith Delaplane, U of Georgia. I used his series to teach my beginning BKing classes. He's a good teacher. Mostly...have fun!


#8

Thanks so much, Muddy (I think). His honey house is really neat and made me want one, but like you said- it is NOT a cheap hobby. He basically just took one of those little storage barns like Lowes sells and coverted it to his honey house. He has the centrifuge machine, a capping iron, and some other kind of "heater thing" (how is that for proper terminology?). and a filter system and some other equipment he didn't explained.

Its funny you mentioned doing yours on your veranda. I ask him why it needed to be in a closed structure (honey house) and if I could just do it in my kitchen. But he explained how hard bees would try to get to the honey and that if I did it inside my house they would likely find a crack in a window or something. Very interesting.

As you said, I'm already fascinated by the science and biology of bees. I've watched a ton of videos and documentaries (the Vanishing Bees, etc). Learning about bee behavior, how they each have a job that they spend their whole life performing, and so on is just fascinating to me. Glad to know you area beekeeper I can turn to if I have to! THanks for the encouragement.


#9

You can talk to me anytime, but Chikn is a pro. Really.
I'm just a 7 year hobbyist.

BTW how much are packages running in your area? Are they 2 lb. or 3 lb.?

Another reason for not extracting in the kitchen is that EVERYTHING gets sticky. You want a place that can be hosed down.


#10

!st year I extracted on the drive in front of the house on a Sat. afternoon. Covered the supers and went to bed. Next morning was cool and cloudy and I forgot about those wet supers and went to church. Got home at noon, now sunny and warm, to a 50,000 bee tornado. Bee tight building to extract honey, very important!! They want that honey back.


#11

Thank-you so much for the advice and encouragement and info, Phil! I really do like the guy who is helping me. He owns a very large company that created a patented system for filtering water for kidney dialysis clinics, so he's a smart guy. Yet most of the things he teaches me he says "now this is the way I do it, but that doesn't mean it is the best way. Other people may have better ideas and methods so it never hurts to read and listen to others. I can just tell you how I do it". I really like that attitude in a teacher, rather than someone who thinks they are the world's foremost expert and anyone who disagrees is just wrong. ANd in spite of him traveling all over the world to install his filter systems in dialysis clinics, he has been extremely generous with his time and genuinely seems to enjoy mentoring me. So yea, its a good thing to have a good teacher. Thanks, also, for the vocabulary tips- if I'm going to be a bee keeper I might as well sound like one!

Oh, Muddy, to clarify, I bought 2 packages of bees that included 2 queens- not 2 extra queens. Should I have got 2 extra queens? Also, since the price was only a few dollars more, I went ahead and got marked queens. I'm not sure if I'll ever see them or not once I put them in their hives, but I figure if I do I'll have a better chance of knowing which one she is. I know experienced keepers can easily spot her, but I'm not sure I could so it was worth a few extra dollars for me to have a better chance at finding her. BTW...I got Italian bees on my mentor's recommendation.


#12

I kept bees for a few years and found it very interesting. They are fascinating to watch. I had. Chair in between my hives and I would set and watch them come and go really more than I had spare time to wast. One of the things I liked is the amount of literature available on the subject, people have been writing about bees for a long time. I never had a bee suit but the veil is a must. If you really get to know your bees I could open the hive and pull a frame without smoke or a veil on but you kind of have to be able to read the conditions and the mood of the bees. I have been stung a few times too, lol. It was all great fun, I just had a tough time keeping them healthy as I hate to use chemicals.


#13

You've already hit on one of the things I found FACINATING when my friend told me. He said that after he finishes his extraction and/or any other activities where he gets honey on his tools, he just lays his honey-covered tools outside his honey house and within a short period of time the bees almost completely reclaim all the left over honey that would have been wasted. HOW COOL! Efficient little buggers.


#14

$119-$129 plus deposit. 3# pkgs Carnolian. Italians a little cheaper.
Kevin, Koehnen and Sons in Calif. have been my suppliers for years. Excellent people to work with.


#15

Not unless you had a plan for what to do with them. They can't survive on their own.


#16

Bugs, yup bugs.


#17

From what I remember, they have a good reputation. Do they ship by air? Does that include shipping? I'm just asking out of curiosity; I've never ordered them from CA.


#18

I paid $149 each for 3 lb packages of Italian Bees with Marked queen. That does include a box that I could turn in later and get $15 back on if I want to, so I guess I am really paying $135 for bees and marked queen.

BTW, I know I'm saying things you know all about, but it also fascinated me to learn that the queen has to be protected from the males for a few days until they get used to her scent (ie fall in love with her! ha) or else they would kill her. wow. Bees are NEAT.


#19

That's one thing I'll correct you on - It's not the males she has to be protected from, it's the other females. The females are workers. Males are called drones. They don't have a stinger. They don't gather honey. They only have one objective in life - to mate with a virgin queen. If they get the chance to do that, THEY are the ones who die afterward.


#20

UPS for queens but they don't ship pkgs anymore. UPS is a pita with the queens too. Our guy is afraid of bees and he literally kicks them out of his truck onto the drive. Rough way to treat $2000 of queens. USPS won't ship any more because of syrup leaks. They were charging $60 anyhow to mail them and the postmasters were getting testy too. If your not a beek. you don't want a few bees floating about.