View Full Version : Newbee here with loads of questions

04-27-2006, 05:16 PM
I have read a few of the threads in this section and am thinking of trying another hobby in bees! You guys are having too much fun to pass up, and I need honey like mad!

I am in north alabama, and am looking for information as to what I should do to get started aside from the obvious...hives. I found a site that has plans for hives, and various other pieces of equipment, and pulled all the PDF files that were there. Building what I need should not be a problem at all.

What I need is good reading material. Any suggestions? I am also in need of what I should be watching out for int he way of pests and diseases that may affect my hives based on the general area I am in. Are pests or diseases a regional thing or should I be wary of any and everything?

Considering it is about to be May, is this the wrong time of year to start this? I am still going to build my hives, even if I have to wait till next spring to start them off, but am hoping that it is not too late to start them.

thanks in advance on the replies!


David Baldwin
04-28-2006, 10:18 AM


I'm new at this too. As with most of my hobbies I probably over-researched before I got started. The book I found most helpful was The Beekeepers Handbook. You can buy it through Dadant.com or I found it on Amazon.com as well.

There are several beekeepers on the forum here who are much more experienced than I am. This late in the year, you may have trouble buying package bees. The last time I checked with my local Dadant branch they were out. I bought 3 of their last 10 packages in February.

Good luck and keep us posted.


04-28-2006, 10:38 AM
I still have to get my hives built first, so I guess I have loads of time to wait to order my bees.

The shame of it is I lost a good opportunity to get a hive going from an established hive this time last year. My boss had a wild hive in the walls of his house. Big nasty mess oozing from the walls (fiberglass honey), and a load of bees. I think he just called pest control to get rid of them.....oh well.....

Found this list of plans, and am going to be getting with it to put together a couple of hives. Should be interesting. Want to make sure I have my stuff together before I order bees....

Is there a bad time of year to try to get a hive going aside from the obvious late fall and winter?

The Honey Farmer
04-28-2006, 11:48 AM
Hi Doc, Two other books to read are, The Hive and the honeybee, from Dadant.com and ABC's and XYZ's of beekeeping, by Roger Morse, that should also be at Dadant.com if not try beeculture.com. Have fun and welcome to beekeeping and mead making.


04-28-2006, 11:55 AM
Doc, I think it is to late for you to even order bees. I ususally order from Kelly in Febuarary and get them the middle of April to early May.
You should look up local beekeepers now and let them know that you are looking for a nuc. I think a nuc is a better value. Then being a newbee you will just have to have faith in that the guy doesn't sell you off a sic or infested nuc. But I think there is a good brother hood in this hobby and proffesion and that scammers are relatively few. From my experience.

04-28-2006, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the info guys!

I guess I will take my time then and put together a couple of hives, and spares for them, and get with the reading. Nothing like learning material!

I do know of a couple of bee guys nearby, but have yet to meet them.

Since I am too late this year I can spend the time getting ready and reading up. this will be better for me and the bees for sure, and I hate not being prepared.

the beekeeping was for the mead. I have 5 batches working now and honey ain't cheap. Figured I coudl have a little fun, learn something, and supply my mead habit too.....

Thanks again!


04-28-2006, 02:03 PM
By no means is it to late to get bees. You may not get honey this year, but you will have an established colony for next year. You should be able to get at least 30 or 40# of honey if your bees draw out foundation quick.

04-28-2006, 02:47 PM
Considering it really doesn't get cold here till late November will that still hold true for this year (no honey)?

How much shoudl I leave behind for the winter months?

I have to get hives built too, and I work like everyone else here..lol..

Will build my hives and get back with you as far as time goes. I need to order books, and read a bunch too. I don't want to damage my bees by not knowing half assed what I am doing when I get them....

04-29-2006, 01:37 AM
Well when I first started I didn't know how hard I caould push them. I imagine that your bees will be drawing out foundation and this takes a lot of work. You probably want 2 deeps as a brood chamber, Depending on where you live. Then when you put supers on they have to draw out that foundation too. So really the only thing that will hinder your honey production will be the bee's wax production. If you have a long season you could see 100lbs this year. Countin gon a good summer.

05-01-2006, 10:12 AM
I have looked into beekeepers here in my area, and foudn a very old family apiary not far from my house. I will be calling him this week to get some local info from him.

I am thinking that since it is May, and I am not in a huge hurry to get this started, that I am going to arm myself well with the best weapon I can find.....information. I can build my hives (2) and read alot, and have things ready to go come next spring. Seems to me that my bees will be happier, and I will get better results if I am armed with as much information as I can get my head into.

I like the idea of playing with living things, but I am one of those who has to know all I can learn before I will get started with anything. I was the kid who read the instructions in the model airplance box before doign anything....lol....


05-03-2006, 11:00 PM
Try giving your state agricultural branch a call, they might know of a local beekeeper who has bees for sale or a local beekeeper in your area (possible source for local honey). Most beekeepers love to talk bees and should talk you ear off if given a chance. You might want to subscribe to the magazine "Bee Culture" lots of information and suppliers, well worth it for a newcomer to beekeeping even if you don't have any hives set up yet. Building the hive bodies is easy, it is the frames that are hard to get right. There are deals on E-bay if you keep your eyes open but you need to watch out for overpriced items and added shipping costs. Do as much research as possible before buying any equipment, there's a lot to learn with beekeeping and once you have the bees things can move fast. You could still set up a hive this early in the season if you can find the bees. Luck with it and let us all know how it works out. As to pests the worst is the Varroa mite which is everywhere and will kill a hive in under a year. You can treat for the mites but it seems to be a ongoing battle. As with anything the more you know the better off you will be.

05-04-2006, 01:45 AM
Doc, hook up with the local bee keepers, beeboy is right they will probably like to talk. you will learn more than just by reading. See if you can go out to the yards with them for a day. You can only get so much from reading, you will learn a lot more by handling. Even if your not sure of everything, the girls are good at taking care of themselves, mostly you will have to watch for pests and disease. I say if you are serious about starting get some bees ASAp. You will be able to build them up enough to get through the winter. i didn't get honey until my 2nd year 35# worth. plus my first colony died. But all is well. I now have a better understanding and have healthy bees.
Even if you don't get any honey your first year think of all the good you will do for the local farmers and gardeners.
This year New Jersey is giving away bees to get people to keep bees, just the other year N. Carolina did it too, all because the agriculture industry was suffering so bad because of a lack of pollination.
Have fun and good luck!

05-04-2006, 09:52 AM
Kace069, you were lucky to get any honey during your second year, took me two years to get a hive through the winter and harvest a crop. I had the hives in a bad location for the winter, not enough sunlight on them during the day. My first crop was only 45lbs but the next year the hive produced almost 100lbs. Seems anything over 50-60lbs per hive is a good year.

05-05-2006, 03:09 AM
Well that second year was a brand new colony. I had 2 colonies and got 35# from 1. lol
But I have learned al ot from the commercial guy I work for so. i am looking at maybe 200# this year and ending with 4 colonies to go into next, winter permiting. Mostly I want to get supers drawn out. i have aquired a lot of supers, more than I neeed really, but of course I plan to expand.
Currently I have 2 active colonies and about 15 supers.

05-05-2006, 09:56 AM
That should be enough equipment for around four or five hives. I always keep a deep super with top and bottom board handy in case a swarm appears, would hate to loose a swarm because of no equipment. My total for supers is 11 deeps and 12 shallows, enough for five hives but I'm keeping it at four right now. Planning to set the hives up with two deeps and throw on a queen excluder with a shallow or two for the honey flow, looks good on paper, let's see how the bees like it. Most hives I have seen in the area are set up with only one deep, a queen excluder and then the shallows for honey, really pushing the bees. Once I get the hives stronger I'll try different setups to see what works the best, till then I'm trying to leave the girls alone.

05-09-2006, 04:20 PM
I do appreciate the replies fellas. I found something that might help all of us.

there is no better teacher than experience, and the link I am about to leave is to a site run by a guy who has 70+ years of it! now that is some learning....

I have read everythign on this site, and see no reason why I can't get into this late int the summer with a big feeder to keep the bees fed and get them drawing out comb, medicated through the winter, and ready to run come spring. I am printing all these pages out and culling through some of the babble and making a notebook and calendar of how this guy does it. he says he gets somethign like 125 to 150 per colony per year, and rarely loses a hive to a swarm.....


I found the local beekeeper association, and have an email out to the president. I will be going to the next meeting to meet some of these old fellas,a nd gleen from the years of experience. This is gonna be fun!

I have also secured use of 48 acres to place several hives on. I am going to start with one,and may very well outfit 4 hives with bees before the cold sets in to get them ready for spring. From what I am reading I shoudl be able to get 4 moving quite well by October if I play it right, have them medicated and healthy for the spring, and reap the rewards of my work come July of next year.

I can only think of how much mead I can make with 400 pounds of the sweet stuff on hand....lol.... I wonder how many buckets that would take to hold?

I gotta get moving on this one before it is too late.

thanks guys!


05-09-2006, 04:37 PM
That's great, four hives is a good number to start with, lets you see the way different hives build up. 400lbs of honey would fill just over six five gallon pails at 60 lbs per bucket, hoping for about the same from my four hives.
The requeening of my laying worker hive has gone well so far, introduced the queen Saturday still in the cage, checked today and looks like the queen had moved into the hive. Will check for fresh eggs and brood at the end of the week, till then need to leave them alone. ;D

05-09-2006, 05:05 PM
If I recall what I read correctly you check the new queen after 3 to 5 days and don't touch again fro 7 to 10 after that or you take the chance that the workers will kill her. just long enough to make sure that she is laying and moving around and leave her alone to do her thing.

I am going to take a chance on the city (nothing worth having is doable here in the city limits), and hope my neighbors don't complain until I can provide them with a quart or two of honey....lol. One hive in the yard being constantly fed syrup for wax production, and splitting off for the other 3 shoudl be good.

the property (48 acres) belongs to my grandfather. At 83 he is very interested in seeing me set up shop at his farm. he uses honey for everything, and knows he will have and endless supply from me.

Loads of tulip poplar and clover out there. Not sure hwo to disseminate which honey is what, but I am not overly concerned with it as I am goign to make mead out of most of it anyway. Will save the stronger flavored stuff for me, and may try to sell or give the rest away depending on how much of it there is....

05-10-2006, 09:59 AM
Well you can "hide" the hives behind a hedge or fence and paint them an off color green or brown, the bees don't care. Make them less obvious to the neighbors, the old out of sight, out of mind. You are right, it takes 7-10 days for the queen to be fully accepted by the hive and start laying after getting out of the queen cage, guess I'll check that hive mid next week to see how it is making out.
I had some Tulip Poplar honey when in Pennsylvania, it is earlier than clover and has a darker color, almost greenish with a good taste. I wouldn't worry about trying to get different honeys this year, just concentrate on getting the hives built up, any honey you get is a bonus. With beekeeping you need to plan almost six months ahead, mid winter is when you order bees and equipment for the spring, spring is when you decide which hives are strong enough for the summer, summer you plan for the fall and winter months. It took me a long time and a few hives to learn to plan ahead that far. :-\ Luck with the girls

05-10-2006, 11:03 AM
The local big bee guy is telling me that I am way too late this year to get started. I may try anyway. At least if they don't make it through the winter I will have the comb, and the hives built up waiting for bees.....

May go ahead and get a swarm cone, and some bait and try to bait a wild swarm to play with and try to get ready for next year. At least this way I will have some experience, and I just might get lucky and have a ready to roll hive come next spring....