Ins and Outs of Start-up Beekeeping?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have an opportunity (?) to purchase some hives at a good price ($175 for each hive, supers and frames, bees and set up along with connections to people who could help me if I need any help) from a professional beekeeping acquaintence of mine who is moving. Up till last week I had very little knowledge of beekeeping, but then was invited by a mutual friend of ours to watch she and this beekeeper collect and extract honey from their 4 hives. My homeschooled kids (7years,3 years and 3 months) watched the collection and helped a bit in the extraction and loved it! Especially the eating of the comb! It was truly fascinating, something I wasn't sure I'd enjoy, but did. I have spent time since then devouring what info sources off the net and books at the local library that I could get just to gain more factual knowledge. This beekeeper said he'd help me get started and show me things I'd need to do for hands-on knowledge before he leaves in Sept. MY QUESTIONS TO YOU (I know, FINALLY, right?) are: From here in north Mississippi, is beekeeping going to be just a tremendously expensive way to have honey? How serious a threat are some of the diseases and pests to bee populations in this area, given that I would keep up with routine maintenance of mite controls etc., particularly if I am starting with an existing hive, not something new? What things should I be looking for in the hives and bees I purchase? Should I start with a new queen or just stick with the one the others are used to? How often do you requeen? and lastly, would you do it if you were me given the amount of ignorance I've shown?? Thanks!
-- Sonya (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 07, 2000
Dear Sonya, I would personally Go For It! I have traded a pair of peacocks and some other non-vital to the homestead stuff, for a couple of hives and bees and (as you have on hand a VERY important instructor) when I have my orchard complete and he has some free time he will begin to show me all he knows. He makes available for sale here, several types of honey (Orange Blossom, Mesquite, White Clover, Etc.) Which I sell at the Ranch for $8.00 per quart. So I believe that when I have my hives working for me it will be another skill that will be valuable to have learned and that I will be able to pass that knowledge to others who would like to learn. I would NOT however attempt this little project on my own (suprised?). But as you have said you do have someone willing to show you the intricacies, so I would personally GO FOR IT! Thank you for your time.
-- Lawannea S. Stum (Whitedov1@citlink.net), August 07, 2000.
Hi Sonja, First let me tell you, that price is excessive ! New hives wuld cost half that price ! Start with a book called --First lessons in Beekeeping--by C P Dadant. The mites are controllable, we treat twice a year. Queens are replaced when they show a week egg laying pattern in the brood chamber ( you will learn this in the book). Most important--join a beekeeping club, it is a fountain of free and local information and fun,fun,fun. I'm sorry I can't spend more time in this response. Please E-mail me for any questions at any time . You caught us during sweet corn harvest.
-- Joel (Joel681@webtv.net), August 08, 2000.
I don't think that $175 is outrageous but it is not a super bargain. Depending on how many boxes per hive of course, but 2 # of bees would cost you nearly $40 alone. The best part of the deal is your hands on training. I was able to buy 100 boxes with lids, frames (dirty of coarse)and bases for $100 . I did have to get an ag inspector out to check them for desease, but I have no help learning about the hives. GOOD LUCK
-- Dianne (email@example.com), August 08, 2000.
I agree that $175. isn't a super bargain, but there are some other things which could make it sound better. How many brood boxes are included, and how many supers (the ones that will contain honey). Do the queen excluders come with the boxes? Are the supers deep ones (hard to lift because of the weight when filled) or shallow ones? Maybe that's not important for you but it is for me. Someone from your area should be able to tell you how many boxes of each type you should have.
Are they disease and mite free?- VERY important question. What strain of bees are they, some are harder to handle than others. Bees have moods and personalities just like people. Well, maybe not JUST like people but there are good times to work them and times when they will try to seriously discourage you. I'm not trying to dissuade you- in fact, I think it sounds like a great way to get started. Probably the most valuable parts of the package are the moving of the hives, set up and teacher. If you are interested, I say go for it.
-- Peg (NW WI) (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 08, 2000.
Thanks so much for the input. I have decided to hold off until I get more experience under my belt. I will see if my interest maintains and I can always go help my friend with hers. I don't like making rash decisions and from what I can tell, there might be this kind of chance again if I hunt for it. Price-wise, like several of you said, it isn't a super bargain, and yes, I was attracted to the having help gettting set up, but then again the guy is moving in Sept. and though he said he has friends to help, that's not all the same, yeah and for how much $$??? My husband isn't keen on the idea of it unless we are living on our farm not just doing weekly commutes (15 miles) and this won't be for at least a year. All in all, I'd like to do it right and be a better owner than I would be right now. Thank you for your comments and if anyone else has any more advice, I am still interested in learning so please feel free to comment!
-- Sonya (email@example.com), August 08, 2000.
I am an inexperienced beekeeper and have learned alot the hard way. I have had a couple of hives for about 3 years but do not have any of the original colonies. I have lost them to moths or other unknown causes. If someone can help you get started and answer all the questions that arise that will be the best deal you can get. I was on my own, thought I had read alot, but I'm always running into problems and have noone to turn too. Last year I managed to steal 2 frames of honey just to say I got some and it was delicious but the greatest benefit has been through the pollination. I have a large garden and an orchard and I can see how they have both improved since I have the bees. This year I only have one colony of bees left but I have 3 supers on it. Now I would like to find a used extractor, maybe this hive will be strong enough to split next spring and I will need it next year. Also because I live in an agricultural area I am always afraid of spray planes flying around, much less the mites and Africanized bees that are close by. Good luck and have fun and if it is something you really want to do, go for it!
-- Marlene (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2000.
The $175 is a little high, but setup is nice. In TN, I paid about $115 total for a brood box and an illinois, with wired frame (all new, put together and painted), bottom, inner and outer cover, plus about $40 for the bees (with a new queen). Several beekeepers in this area will sell a hive of bees with the above setup for $125, but they are usually caught swarms and have never been requeened - figure $10 for this and get one of the more gentle strains. Of course, the number of bees in his hive may be much greater than those I've seen around here - mine is much healthier and has more bees than many I've seen for sale (even if I do say so myself!).
The advice (and a free one-week course on beekeeping) from a local organization has been invaluable. With the heavy honey flow in this area, I had to purchase additional supers for honey and managed to get 25 pounds (most of the super was full) in this first year. Others in this area easily get 60-80 pounds per hive (some claim an average of 100, but seem to be overstating a little). Also, the local club has an extractor that any member can use, saving quite a bit in capital when starting up (they run from $200 up, from what I've seen). I extracted mine at a fellow club member's home "honey house", which saved a great deal of time and mess in the kitchen.
Make sure any hives you buy have been certified as pest and disease free and have the inspector show you how to look for such things yourself - if found and treated early, you won't lose the entire hive. Also, take the age of the equipment into account - it has to be replaced fairly regularly (at least in this area), so don't pay top dollar for equipment that has to be replaced right away.
Don't put it off just because you can only check them on weekends - that probably a little too often part of the time and just enough the rest of the time. Each hive might take you 20-30 minutes to go through and you have the rest of the weekend for other chores.
-- Karen Oland (email@example.com), August 10, 2000.