PDA

View Full Version : Question for the beeks here



Squatchy
02-02-2015, 08:46 PM
I have sorta thought about buying some hives/nukes ect. I haven't spent much time yet figuring things out. I just thought I would touch base with some of you guys and get your thoughts. Seems as thought it's tons of work to own and work your own hives. I'm wondering if it's even worth it. I don't even own any land so I would need to travel some to put hives on other peoples land. Do hives work in the city with a rural surrounding? Can I even harvest anything my first year? I'm wondering about harvesting the honey once I do have some combs full.

Can I get a bit of comments please. I'm not sure that it's just easier to pay someone who is already set up. I might use 100 lbs a winter or so.

Thanks

Recurve
02-03-2015, 02:45 AM
Hi Squatchy

I am only in my 2nd year of beekeeping so am still learning as I go but can answer a few of your questions. I do not consider it a lot of work to keep bees, during your 1st year most new beekeepers are advised to inspect the hive once a week mostly so you get a feel of what goes on inside the hive eg the brood pattern where pollen is stored etc. I now inspect my hives less frequently about every 2 weeks (except in swarm season). You can tell a lot just by walking past your hives.

I started my 1st year with 2 Hives at the start of our summer. By winter I had extracted approx 50kg (110lbs) we had a good autumn honey flow. I have extracted another 25kg at the start of this summer from the spring nectar flow and will need to extract again soon. Each area is different. I live in the city so a city/rural setting is fine

If you are looking for a forum that can answer all your questions as well as likely find beekeepers in your area (local knowledge is the best) I would suggest you check out http://www.beemaster.com/forum/index.php Youtube also has some great videos search for Don The Fat Beeman

Hope this helps

WVMJack
02-03-2015, 03:28 AM
Contact a local group for advice, each city had different ordanances - some people keep their bees in cities on their rooftops - urban beekeeping, subscribe to beeculture magazine, if you are serious they should have beginners classes starting soon so dont wait, there is a bee shortage so if you want bees best to contact the local group and see what is out there, we have one beekeeper who is commercial who will let you adopt a hive at his place, you go in and take care of it all year and he mentors you and then you can decide if you want to continue in beekeeping or not, very much ahead of their time at Geezer Ridge but that is a little far for you to go so this week find a club near you, dont take the time to think about it or you are going to miss the season, people are buying up the nucs right now. WVMJ

http://coloradobeekeepers.org/

Denverbee.org

Tenbears
02-03-2015, 09:38 AM
In all Honesty bee keeping can be an interesting and rewarding hobby, as well as providing education, and challenges. However, the rewards for a hobbyist are on a different level than those of a professional beekeeper. When I started keeping bees in the late 60s it was a fairly simple task. One simply set up a hive, went to Montgomery Wards and bought a 3 pound package of bees, and placed them in the hive. When the bees drew out all the frames you added a second hive body, and when that was drawn, a honey super was added. It was not uncommon to get honey the first year although the volume would not be huge. I lived in Bloomfield Co. for many years and kept bees. So I can tell you first hand that it is a productive place for them in the Denver area.

With that said. In todays world if you are looking to get into bees as a way of procuring cheep honey, Forget about it! First off a single hive runs around $300.00, A 3 pound package of bees is going to run around $100.00, you will need a bee suit, smoker, and basic tools also. which depending on what you get can be another $100.00 or more.
Bee keeping is no longer a place them and forget them, with only occasional check ups. Tracheal mites, Varroa mites, Small hive beetles, and the associated maladies they bring have mad beekeeping a hands on endeavor. One that requires knowledge, education and perseverance. If you are the type of individual who rises to a challenge, capable of putting forth great effort for the sake of the challenge, while at the same time reaping a special reward then I recommend beekeeping, for the same reasons I caution about beekeeping

Shelley
02-06-2015, 06:49 AM
If you use 100 pounds of honey per year, then you're probably reaching the point where it makes more sense to own your hives rather than buy honey (or convince a family member to own them). Here are some thoughts from an upstate NY perspective.

-- Don't expect a honey crop the first year. It's an agricultural endeavor. If the weather is bad, the honey harvest is poor. Even in a good year, don't expect a honey crop. You will start with pristine equipment and the bees will need to build up comb first; wax is estimated to cost about 6 pounds of honey for 1 pound of wax.
-- It's an agricultural endeavor. No guarantees about your harvest from year to year. Theoretically, you should get about 70-80 pounds of honey per hive on average. I might be approaching that after five-ish years of doing this. I have taken honey from the second year on.
-- Plan for a 50% wintering loss. You can't loose half a hive, so you might be better off with two or more hives to start with.
-- Package bees this year are about $110. Nucs (not nukes) run about the same. Buying a nuc will give you a three-week head start, buying a package will force you to pay attention to your bees right away - you'll probably learn more about beekeeping in the first year with a package than a nuc, but nucs are probably easier to get up and running.
-- My first year with three hives plus equipment (smoker, suit, hive tool, feeders) cost about $600. That didn't include bees. That was four or five years ago.
-- You will need to feed your bees. Almost certainly the first month+ of owning them, and probably here-and-there after. Bee feed can be as simple as sugar water, but probably should be more complex. Sugar water with nutrients, if possible.
-- It can be just as addictive as mead making. I started a "hobby" with three hives, now I have eight hives and a baby business making mead kits. Go figure!
-- Making the honey is one thing. Extracting it is another, with another set of equipment. If you can borrow equipment from someone, great, otherwise you're looking at coming up with something that will work as an extractor, uncapping knife, bottling bucket, uncapping tank -- for the most efficient method of honey extraction. (There's something called the "crush and strain" method which you can do for small volumes, but there's more collateral damage to the honeycomb and more honey loss.)

I'm not throwing this at you to dissuade you from the hobby. These are just some data points that not knowing can be frustrating when you discover it. I love keeping bees. I lose hours in the bee yard, and I'm nudging my kids to beekeeping. I want more toys, I want more hives, I like the independence and challenge. In an apocalypse I can make sweetener and booze -- top of the heap, I'm tellin' ya! (Okay, that was the writer in me taking over. Ahem.)

Your best course is to connect with a local bee club, take a bee class, or take a summer and offer to volunteer with a local beekeeper so you can learn in a hands-on environment. They might even throw some honey at you as a thanks. My club (the Finger Lakes Beekeepers Club) has the fortune of running club hives, where we meet in the summer. If you can find a situation like that, then you'll have the chance to get a lot of tutoring under experienced guidance. The more hands-on you can get before you buy your own hives and bees, the better experience you'll have.

There are also online courses (Penn State extension offers one), books a-plenty, and lots of forums. While I dove into the hobby headfirst with all naiveté, I do recommend folks take time to get in some hands-on experience first. I hate seeing someone start out the first year, have their hives all die, and then give up!

Shelley

LuckyHoneyCo
02-06-2015, 12:05 PM
I think Shelley's answer is pretty complete. I might add that if you are getting into the beekeeping hobby for cheap honey...I'd advise against it.
I'm 10 years into beekeeping w/10+ hives. Making mead came from wanting to do something with a surplus of honey (and I like wine). I think if I added up the cost of equipment and time vs. the honey I sell and the value of the wine I make (personal consumption)- I doubt very much if I've broke even. Yet.

Squatchy
02-06-2015, 11:48 PM
Thanks everyone for the good information. It gives me a much clearer picture. Not sure how I feel about it. I would need to make the top bars myself and then put them on other peoples land. None of the land is very close to drive to, half hour or more each way and not a ton of spare time. Then if I figure I will not even get a harvest my first year. I'm not sure it's the way I should go now. I think it might be best to go get some hands on first to see if it's worth getting into for me. Maybe it ends up cheaper just to buy 15 or 20 gallons a year.

Shelley
02-07-2015, 06:23 AM
Offer to help out a beekeeper, then. It'll let you get your feet wet without investing anything but time, and you might get some free honey out of the deal.

Squatchy
02-08-2015, 01:09 PM
Thanks Shelly. That is my plan

pokerfacepablo
06-14-2015, 08:32 AM
Don't mean to thread jack but looks like the conversation went cold.

Wonderful thread and I had the same idea of starting beekeeping in the near future. Looking at buying a small parcel of land next to a national forest. Lots of wild flower and hardly any monoculture. Guess I'll start off with befriending a beekeeper. That seems to be the consensus. Any good sites for cheap but quality hives and equipment? I found this on craigslist but if anyone has a better idea.
http://stcloud.craigslist.org/grd/4995281342.html

Found this gem on youtube but probably a bit outdated. Are there better videos than this one? I do plan on buying a few books through amazon and maybe doing the Penn state online course. Has anyone taken the course? or is it a big waste o time and money?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjrdwXXEtLo&list=PLF3090CE32602616C

Shelley
06-14-2015, 09:45 AM
Don't mean to thread jack but looks like the conversation went cold.

Wonderful thread and I had the same idea of starting beekeeping in the near future. Looking at buying a small parcel of land next to a national forest. Lots of wild flower and hardly any monoculture. Guess I'll start off with befriending a beekeeper. That seems to be the consensus. Any good sites for cheap but quality hives and equipment? I found this on craigslist but if anyone has a better idea.
http://stcloud.craigslist.org/grd/4995281342.html

Found this gem on youtube but probably a bit outdated. Are there better videos than this one? I do plan on buying a few books through amazon and maybe doing the Penn state online course. Has anyone taken the course? or is it a big waste o time and money?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjrdwXXEtLo&list=PLF3090CE32602616C

First, snuff the idea of "cheap but quality" from your mindset. You get one or the other, but both usually means taking advantage of someone. While that might sound a little snippy, it's a frustration beekeepers face at the market every week. Quality honey isn't cheap, not if you fairly account for all of the time and equipment you put into your product. Same is true for your beekeeping equipment. If you want stuff that's going to last, you may need to spend some money on it.

Compare the Craigslist equipment to a similar set offered by Dadant, BetterBee or Brushy Mountain, and you'll get a price comparison. That's a good set of starter equipment. The bigger beekeeping houses can realize some savings through sheer mass of production, so you may find that you can set yourself up with a hive for less cost than a local woodworker. You'll also need to buy a smoker, hive tool, personal protective gear (some variation on a suit and/or gloves), and bees.

Check out http://www.mnbeekeepers.com/ for more info as well. Under "links" they have a list of beekeeping clubs, one in St. Cloud (http://www.tricountybeekeepers.com/). See what they have to offer for you.

McJeff
06-14-2015, 02:56 PM
Offer to help out a beekeeper, then. It'll let you get your feet wet without investing anything but time, and you might get some free honey out of the deal.

this is prob your best bet. See if you can watch/help someone with theirs. Google bee clubs in your area.

pokerfacepablo
06-17-2015, 10:21 AM
Thanks Shelly and McJeff. The sites should be helpful, I'm certain.

jdranchman
07-30-2015, 10:18 PM
Have you found a beek nearby to shadow? Let me know and I may be able to point you to a more local person. Since my wife got into the hobby, she became active in her club and the CO state beekeepers association too. She has people who know people... Sometimes you can negotiate to host a hive and learn that way too.