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TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



There was an excellent discussion last year by melodywise about her first year as a bee keeper which you can find here. The bee keeping season is starting up again soon so I figured that it’s time for another.

First off, I’d like to thank melodywise for last years thread which inspired me (and I believe others as well) to try their hand at backyard beekeeping this year.

Recommended Reading:

Beekeeping for Dummies – This title gets recommended often and for good reason. It’s a very simple book with easy to understand step-by-step instructions on performing most beekeeping tasks. If you read nothing else, I recommend you read this.

The BeeSource forums – A lot of knowledgeable beekeeping people post here. The members range from total beginners to people who have entire beekeeping empires that have been in the family for generations. Most questions posted here will be answered quickly and with a wide range of thoughts and ideas.

Beekeeping supplies…suppliers:

If you’re lucky you’ll have a local beekeeping shop for emergency supplies and crazy beekeepers to chat with. However, you may be better served by ordering online for major non-emergency purchases.

Betterbee.com – This is where I purchased my beginners kit and they have most of the supplies that you’d need as a keeper.

Dadant.com – I believe this is the most popular place to order beekeeping supplies online. They have an extensive catalog that ranges from cheap, entry level equipment to the high end, extremely expensive hardware. If you can’t find something, you can probably find it here.

What you need to get started:

I recommend purchasing a beginners kit to start off. Something similar to this or this.

You can expand your hive later, as it grows, but these will get you most of what you need to get your new hive setup and established.

Now the fun part – Picking your bees!:

There are actually many different breeds of bees, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. However, not all breeds are readily available in all areas. To start I recommend you find a local beekeeper who sells package bees and ask them what they recommend. You can always change the makeup of your hive later by requeening.

Also, bees can be purchased in two ways. Either as a 3 pound box of bees or as a nuc. A nuc is a box of bees with a few frames already filled in. Installing nucs is easier as you simply transfer the frames from the nuc box to your hive then shake your bees into the hive. Your hive will start out stronger and should start producing faster as it already has the beginning of its colony going. However, nucs are not always available in which case you’re left with the literal, box of bees.

For info on how to install a box of bees and general hive setup, I recommend this video. However, I don’t recommend working with bees without at least a basic veil.

And there you go – (almost) all you need to know about starting your first colony of bees. Feel free to fire away with any questions or if you’re a fellow beekeeper, please feel free to offer any insight or suggestions for us new to backyard beekeeping.

Honey Harvesting. Yay!

Actually getting the honey can be really messy. Or so I'm told.

The best and easiest method for extracting honey is to use a honey extractor. However, extractors are expensive. Unless you're keeping more than a few hives your best bet is to make contact with your local beekeeper club or store and beg, borrow or steal a honey extractor.

If you don't have access to a club or store you can always build your own but then you have to store the thing except for the few times you'll actually use it.

Other non-extractor options include the Mash and Wait and the Stick a Jar Upside Down on Another Jar and Wait method.

IRC info for questions, answers and general beekeeping mayhem
Server: irc.synirc.org
Channel: #bees


TouchyMcFeely fucked around with this message at 20:27 on Mar 23, 2010

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madlilnerd
Jan 4, 2009

a bush with baggage

I have a question- are you worried about the various mystery bee diseases going around? An article very recently yeilded these scary statistics:

www.timesonline.co.uk posted:

The plight of honeybees was part of an investigation into whether the handling of animal disease control budgets by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs represented value for money.

About 30 per cent of colonies were lost to disease during the 2007-08 winter and the endemic varroa parasite now affects 95 per cent of hives. There are an estimated 274,000 colonies compared with 400,000 in 1960.

Full article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5841338.ece
"Honey bees under threat from amateur keepers who fail to spot parisite"

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



madlilnerd posted:

I have a question- are you worried about the various mystery bee diseases going around? An article very recently yeilded these scary statistics:

Full article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5841338.ece
"Honey bees under threat from amateur keepers who fail to spot parisite"

Yes and no. It varies state to state and country to country, but at least here in Utah you have to register your hive with the Utah Dept. of Agriculture which includes a once a year random inspection. The registration is cheap, something like $10 for up to 5 hives, and in my opinion absolutely necessary.

The article you linked points out that the problem is a large number of unregistered hives. If these hives go untreated they can potentially spread disease and parasites to otherwise uninfected hives.

There's also a new trend (at least here in the US) to breed "survivor stock." These are hives that weren't treated for a particular parasite or disease and were able to fend it off naturally, while other failing hives weren't. The idea is to breed the bees so that they have a natural immunity where other hives don't. It's a bit of a toss up at this point whether it's working or not but the idea seems sound enough.

SinJin
Aug 2, 2008


I'd like to add :


My Uncle is getting into Beekeeping and he had told my Mother that the County he lives in is paying for his starter kit. Here in Ohio, a lot of Counties are trying to get people to increase the bee population.

Maybe check with your Township Trustee and see if there is a similar program.

Free bees ? Oh hell yea.

kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002


How hard is it to train them to attack on command?

CuddleChunks
Sep 18, 2004



My parents had some hives for a while and it was pretty neat to get fresh honey and raw honeycomb from them. :3: Yay for bees!

Blue Footed Booby
Oct 4, 2006

got those happy feet




Slippery Tilde

TouchyMcFeely posted:

...

There's also a new trend (at least here in the US) to breed "survivor stock." These are hives that weren't treated for a particular parasite or disease and were able to fend it off naturally, while other failing hives weren't. The idea is to breed the bees so that they have a natural immunity where other hives don't. It's a bit of a toss up at this point whether it's working or not but the idea seems sound enough.

This could either work or end up with hilarious unintended consequences. There was some experiment where some Russians tried to domesticate foxes for fur farming purposes, and as they were bred for temperament they developed floppy ears and sort of border collie coloration. The bees could turn green, change size, or produce honey that melts through steel. Anybody's guess.

Slung Blade
Jul 10, 2002

IN STEEL WE TRUST



kid sinister posted:

How hard is it to train them to attack on command?

Not that hard, but it rarely works out for the best.





Good luck with the bees OP, it should be a fun adventure :)

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



CuddleChunks posted:

My parents had some hives for a while and it was pretty neat to get fresh honey and raw honeycomb from them. :3: Yay for bees!

I'm actually just keeping a hive for the sake of keeping the hive. I do a bit of gardening so I hope to see better returns from my veggies this year. The honey will certainly be nice but they'll produce WAY more than I will use. Looks like my neighbors are going to be getting little honey care packages this year.

Blue Footed Booby posted:

This could either work or end up with hilarious unintended consequences. There was some experiment where some Russians tried to domesticate foxes for fur farming purposes, and as they were bred for temperament they developed floppy ears and sort of border collie coloration. The bees could turn green, change size, or produce honey that melts through steel. Anybody's guess.

Hah, that's awesome. There's actually a new Russian strain of bee introduced here in the US just a few years ago. They're supposed to be much more mite tolerant and much more winter hardy than what we've had here until now. This first hive I'm doing are going to be Italians but I'm thinking really hard about requeening them with a russian and seeing how that works out.

cakesmith handyman
Jul 22, 2007

Pip-Pip old chap! Last one in is a rotten egg what what.



I'm sniggering like a retard on acid at the thought of receiving a box of bees in the post.

Bees are awesome, I'd like a big enough garden in a reasonable location to make a hive worthwhile.

Slung Blade
Jul 10, 2002

IN STEEL WE TRUST



Cakefool posted:

I'm sniggering like a retard on acid at the thought of receiving a box of bees in the post.

Bees are awesome, I'd like a big enough garden in a reasonable location to make a hive worthwhile.


Well that's the best part, you don't need a garden at all for this to work. As long as you have room for the hive, the bees will fly out and seek flowers in the area.

From what I understand lots of people have hives on the roofs of their apartment buildings in europe. It's like farming without any land at all.

CuddleChunks
Sep 18, 2004



TouchyMcFeely posted:

I'm actually just keeping a hive for the sake of keeping the hive. I do a bit of gardening so I hope to see better returns from my veggies this year. The honey will certainly be nice but they'll produce WAY more than I will use. Looks like my neighbors are going to be getting little honey care packages this year.

Your garden will be pollinated, your neighbor's garden will be pollinated, the neighbor's neighbor's garden will be pollinated all thanks to our hardworking little friends.

You're in for a treat when it comes time to sending out gifts because those bees are going to be making honey for you. Ridiculous amounts of honey. Asstons of honey. *Bathtubs* of honey. Over the years my parents had their hives they would take the honey to a local beekeeper for processing and then come home with jars and jars and tubs of honey. "This year we got 150 pounds!" Hahah, no poo poo it was amazing. They'd store it in a big plastic tub and when it was time to pour it into smaller jars would have to throw the thing into the hot tub to decrystallize it.

I still have a quart jar of honey from their bees kicking around and they're down to a mere twenty or thirty pounds of honey.

One side benefit of raising bees is that you can finally feel comfortable putting out all that bee-related hooked rug artwork and bee-themed home decorating items that you've been keeping in the closet.



As a practical suggestion I would urge folks who are looking to get into this to look around their town and see if there is already a beekeeper group. Usually it's staffed by older folks and they are incredibly knowledgeable about how to successfully raise a hive, fend off predators (gently caress you wasps!) and will have the equipment to help process the honey that you get.

Some general informational links:
National Honey Board: http://www.honey.com/
American Beekeeping Federation: http://www.abfnet.org/
Beginning Beekeeping: http://www.badbeekeeping.com/howtobee.htm
University of Florida's Apis Website: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/sanford/apis/beginner.htm

For the ladies, if you are lucky enough you may be able to compete and become this year's Honey Queen: http://www.goldenbeeinc.com/honey_queen_2005.htm :3: There's even a national Honey Queen for when you want to go pro.

Crazy Armed Pilot
Mar 6, 2007
You can land anywhere once.

I would like to say that I saw last years thread and that is the sole reason that I took a beekeeping class and have a beehive that needs to be assembled. I am SO raising bees! I have too much with school for this week, and then finals, but after that its hive building time!

Lots of pics will follow.

Crazy Armed Pilot
"You can land anywhere once"

Ashcans
Jan 2, 2006

Let's do the space-time warp again!



The thread title is 'backyard' beekeeping, but realistically how much space do you need? I live in the city so I'm pretty sure I can't participate in this, but I thought that I could at least ask. How much space does a hive need, in terms of not having them freak out at my neighbours?

Crazy Armed Pilot
Mar 6, 2007
You can land anywhere once.

Ashcans posted:

The thread title is 'backyard' beekeeping, but realistically how much space do you need? I live in the city so I'm pretty sure I can't participate in this, but I thought that I could at least ask. How much space does a hive need, in terms of not having them freak out at my neighbours?

Disclaimer: I have never actually raised bees yet.

As I understand it you don't need much room. They actually raise bees on the tops of buildings in NYC. They really wont bother people like wasps or hornets will because they are not attracted to your bbq. The best way to keep neighbors from freaking out is to hide the hive and make sure they have water on your property. Most complaints stem from bees stealing water from a neighbors hot tub/pool/leaking faucet. Also have a barrier in front of the hive entrance that makes the bees fly up. If they get up above head height they wont drop back down until they are at their destination.

Crazy Armed Pilot
"You can land anywhere once"

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



^^^You bastard

Ashcans posted:

The thread title is 'backyard' beekeeping, but realistically how much space do you need? I live in the city so I'm pretty sure I can't participate in this, but I thought that I could at least ask. How much space does a hive need, in terms of not having them freak out at my neighbours?

As long as there aren't any laws or regulations against keeping a hive, your paranoid neighbors can go screw themselves. With the exception of Africanized bees, they aren't an aggressive bug and you won't get stung unless it's a life and death situation (for them).

As far as space, I've read of people with hives on the balcony of their highrise in downtown areas. There are even beekeepers in New York City of all places. Really, you can keep bees anywhere you have the space and there is some sort of vegetation.

Wreckus
Dec 15, 2007

From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.

What do you do if your bees become Africanized?

CuddleChunks
Sep 18, 2004



Wreckus posted:

What do you do if your bees become Africanized?
Get them together and release an album apparently:

SWNomad
Jun 28, 2008


Wreckus posted:

What do you do if your bees become Africanized?

I'm curious about this too. I just found the other beekeeping thread last week and have been pondering a hive. But I live in an area under a lot of threat from africanized bees. In fact, I stumbled upon a documentary on africanized bees that takes place where I live.

Crazy Armed Pilot
Mar 6, 2007
You can land anywhere once.

In my beekeeping class the instructor talked about some places that actually work Africanized bees because that's all they have. Just keep them calm. Its apparently not too hard and they don't attack people like Americans think, but when they do decide they don't like you... well you get what the TV shows tell you.

Crazy Armed Pilot
"You can land anywhere once"

Ashcans
Jan 2, 2006

Let's do the space-time warp again!



Apparently there is a Metro Atlanta Beekeeping Association, which is pretty awesome. Unfortunately I missed their annual 'Introduction to Bees' course, which was in January. That might honestly be for the best, because we have so much stuff going on this year I don't know that I could really try a hive. What I might do is get out to some of their meetings and talk to people - apparently they work closely with the Botanical Gardens, which have their own hives, so I might be able to get an idea if I actually want to do this.

Wandering Knitter
Feb 5, 2006


I've always wanted to take a class on beekeeping, but there's none in my area. Doesn't anyone in NJ love bees? :smith:

SWNomad
Jun 28, 2008


Update on the whole Africanization Issue:

I went down to a local bee supply store and they were quite helpful. From what I gather, the key is to watch for your queen going missing or drones laying eggs. If your queen is replaced by an Africanized one, then you could keep them; they just become more grumpy. If you live in the city, it is probably better just to trash the hive and start over.

rifles
Oct 8, 2007
is this thing working

My great grandfather kept bees, and he let them sting his hands. The venom apparently does wonders for arthritis, as he apparently never had it after he started letting them do it - it just went away.

Crazy Armed Pilot
Mar 6, 2007
You can land anywhere once.

SWNomad posted:

Update on the whole Africanization Issue:

I went down to a local bee supply store and they were quite helpful. From what I gather, the key is to watch for your queen going missing or drones laying eggs. If your queen is replaced by an Africanized one, then you could keep them; they just become more grumpy. If you live in the city, it is probably better just to trash the hive and start over.

Drones dont lay eggs, they are the male bees. I think they said look for a queen that starts to lay drones. It would look something like this:


Note: The cells that have a little bulge are drone cells.

Crazy Armed Pilot
"You can land anywhere once"

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



Crazy Armed Pilot posted:

Drones dont lay eggs, they are the male bees. I think they said look for a queen that starts to lay drones. It would look something like this:


Note: The cells that have a little bulge are drone cells.

I don't believe that is right either. An over abundance of drones is self defeating as they're lazy assholes who don't do anything but eat and breed. Drones develop from infertile eggs and an overabundance of drones may indicate that the queen has left or died and a worker bee is now laying eggs. When I looked into the topic, the only way to identify africanized bees is through their aggressive behavior. Otherwise, they are identical to non-africanized honey bees.

To the general question of mating: The only way a hive can become africanized is if the queen mates with enough africanized bees. During the mating flight the queen will leave the hive and mate with any and all drones she can find that aren't from her hive. At worst you'll end up with a half africanized hive that may show stronger signs of aggression.

The best way to "fix" the problem is to requeen the hive. The new queen will go out on her mating flight, hopefully mate with non-africanized bees, and your hive should be back to normal in a matter of weeks.

This could be a problem if you're in an area with a dense population of africanized bees but if that is the case there is always the option of purchasing an already mated queen.

TouchyMcFeely fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Mar 8, 2009

spog
Aug 7, 2004

It's your own bloody fault.


CuddleChunks posted:

Over the years my parents had their hives they would take the honey to a local beekeeper for processing and then come home with jars and jars and tubs of honey.

Beginning Beekeeping: http://www.badbeekeeping.com/howtobee.htm

quote:

Ten hives with an extractor to separate combs from honey and
all the other stuff required will be about three thousand bucks.

So, if I have room for a pair of hives on my roof...I still need something else to actually get honey in a jar?

Zuph
Jul 24, 2003
Zupht0r 6000 Turbo Type-R

spog posted:

So, if I have room for a pair of hives on my roof...I still need something else to actually get honey in a jar?

A buddy of mine just bought a huge mesh strainer and crushed the comb in it. His end product ended up with a lot more wax in it than you would get at Kroger, but it was only a cosmetic effect, really.

Invalido
Dec 28, 2005

BICHAELING


Good thread.

My dad kept bees when I was a kid. we lived in a suburban house in northern Sweden of all places. Bees will even produce honey in sub-arctic climates is what I'm saying.

I have vivid memories of every doorknob in the house being sticky during the honey harvest, and how awesome it was to crank the big shiny honeycomb centrifuge he'd borrow for the job.

He had two hives, and had a couple of successful seasons, but I recall he had problems with the bees getting more grumpy, and they'd sting a lot more. He requeened once or twice, but then he had an entire hive succumb to some disease or other, and he lost interest and got rid of all his gear. He also shaved off his beard and went a lot more yuppie than before, so there might be a connection there. Come to think of it, the calm and patience that seems to be important in successful beekeepers is rather deficient in my father's personality.

Anyway, I have an interest in honeybees since childhood, and I'd like to keep a hive or two at some point in life. Can't do it now, but who knows in a few years?

Safety Engineer
Jun 13, 2008



Where in Utah are you? The only place I've seen people with hives have been rural areas like Grantsville.

cakesmith handyman
Jul 22, 2007

Pip-Pip old chap! Last one in is a rotten egg what what.



Zuph posted:

A buddy of mine just bought a huge mesh strainer and crushed the comb in it. His end product ended up with a lot more wax in it than you would get at Kroger, but it was only a cosmetic effect, really.

I saw a really funky strainer/spinner made from an old vertical washing machine - slice the front of the cells off, bit of metalwork to hold three frames, hand cranked, tres funky.

Edit: There's also a video explanation of bee boxes at Makezine, the kind for hi-jacking wild bees.

cakesmith handyman fucked around with this message at 20:50 on Mar 8, 2009

CuddleChunks
Sep 18, 2004



TouchyMcFeely posted:

I don't believe that is right either. An over abundance of drones is self defeating as they're lazy assholes who don't do anything but eat and breed.
Gooooooooonz!! :argh:


spog posted:

So, if I have room for a pair of hives on my roof...I still need something else to actually get honey in a jar?
Yes. That's why it's pretty important to look up your local beekeepers group because they will have the skinny on who has the honey extractor equipment. As was mentioned in a post above you can do a cheap extraction by just mashing the stuff around or you can setup a little centrifuge (like a salad spinner) to try and get more honey and less comb in your end product. The professional products will give you nice clean honey at the other end, not a mess of wax and honey.

Your initial product will be a board with a great big honeycomb on it where the ends are sealed up against the elements with that lovely beeswax. When you buy fresh honeycomb in the store they have shaved off the top and bottom of the comb a bit so you have the open cells of honey ready for you to dig into like a hungry bear. For homebrew extraction you could probably even warm things up a bit and just tilt the honeycomb over a bowl and let gravity do its work. You may want to pass it through a tight metal mesh a second time to strain out any bits of non-honey but that should get you something to spread on crepes or whatever.

Warning: Honey is basically just sugar so don't become a huge fat gently caress of a bear with all your deliciousness coming out of your hives.

Also note that raccoons will steal your honey because they are nature's bastards.

spog
Aug 7, 2004

It's your own bloody fault.


CuddleChunks posted:

For homebrew extraction you could probably even warm things up a bit and just tilt the honeycomb over a bowl and let gravity do its work. You may want to pass it through a tight metal mesh a second time to strain out any bits of non-honey but that should get you something to spread on crepes or whatever.

Thanks. It sounds pretty interesting.

So, as long as I have a big of spare roof space (and some flowers reasonably near by), I could keep a couple of hives for not much effort and enjoy that sweet, sweet honey!

TouchyMcFeely
Aug 21, 2006

High five! Hell yeah!



Freaklife posted:

Where in Utah are you? The only place I've seen people with hives have been rural areas like Grantsville.

I live in Ogden. It's very much a suburb but I have 1/3 of an acre that I'm turning into my own little suburban farmstead.

Regarding extracting - the crazy bee shop near me lets you rent an extractor for a weekend for a pretty reasonable price. If you would rather make your own, the USDA put up plans a few years ago that look pretty sound. Additionally, someone brought back plans on a home built extractor from africa.

WerrWaaa
Nov 5, 2008

I can make all your dreams come true.

Tell me about moving hives. I live in a rented home and intend to move down the street next year, just a couple miles, and was wondering if that would disturb them too much of if they would be ok if i just picked up their boxes and took off. Would they bug rage and kill me?

Dewski
Dec 15, 2005
Whoop-de-Whoop

I was going through goldmined threads a week or two ago and caught the original beekeeping thread and I was hooked. I've checked out my local laws, the permits I'd need, and know of an apple orchard that is nearby to help out. I then found out the the U of I has a beekeeping facility just off campus that my dad ends up visiting every so often. We have a sample of their honey and OMG it's unbelievable. Hopefully I can get some advice and encouragement from them.

This thread might just be the push to actually do this!


Wandering Knitter posted:

I've always wanted to take a class on beekeeping, but there's none in my area. Doesn't anyone in NJ love bees? :smith:

https://www.beemaster.com I'm pretty sure this guy lives in NJ IIRC.

Invalido
Dec 28, 2005

BICHAELING


WerrWaaa posted:

Tell me about moving hives. I live in a rented home and intend to move down the street next year, just a couple miles, and was wondering if that would disturb them too much of if they would be ok if i just picked up their boxes and took off. Would they bug rage and kill me?

I may need to be corrected on this, but I seem to recall that you have to move a hive some distance in order to be safe - if you don't move the hive far enough, bees will fly back to their previous home location and just sit there looking stupid. This problem can be avoided by first moving the hives far away for some period of time and then back close to the original location.

e: I'm pretty sure "a couple of miles" will be far enough, but I don't know for certain. Either way, beehives are moved all the time. Some make their living moving tractor trailers full of hives around North America pollinating different fruit orchards and whatnot.

Invalido fucked around with this message at 10:48 on Mar 11, 2009

colonelsandy
Dec 28, 2006

"We in comparison to that enormous articulation; we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half finished sentences out of a stupid suburban novel."

This is a cool thread! I've heard the bee population is in bad shape so hats off to you for helping out. Not to derail or poo poo the thread up but I came across this video couple of months ago when I was doing a paper for my environmental biology class http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fTrSOFyfxs

Crazy Armed Pilot
Mar 6, 2007
You can land anywhere once.

I am in the process of building my hive!

Here are some pics to get you slackers motivated.

The stuff (some assembly required)


The westerns going together:


Glue and nail:


Deeps with two coats of primer:


Frames (some more assembly required):


They go together like this. Black foundation helps stupid noobs see the larva:


Two deeps worth of frames:


Now I have a question, am I supposed to prime/paint the bottom, inner cover, and cover too?


If you find this interesting, this poo poo isn't hard. Its not too late to start, I am getting early bees, and they are coming in 2-3 weeks. Get off your fat rear end and get bees!

Crazy Armed Pilot
"You can land anywhere once"

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Eaglehound
Sep 29, 2005
Find the awful, boy! Find it!

Now I have a question, am I supposed to prime/paint the bottom, inner cover, and cover too?


You should paint the out-sides of the bottom board and the outside of the telescoping cover. Dont paint the inside of the telescoping cover or any part of the inner cover. Some people paint all of the bottom board, some paint just the first couple of inches, which are 'outside'. Your choice. Remember: 'Ask 3 beekeeps - get 4 answers'.

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