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TexasFreedom

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Hi Robin. Yup, I'm a BK.

So it 'depends'. Like everything, there is cheap junk that is throw-away and there is good enough and there is top notch.

For example, my first suit was 'only' $60, and after getting stung through it 100 times, I tossed it aside & got a $100 vented suit. And after a bunch of bees kept getting inside that one, I spent $150 and got a quality vented suit. I started with leather BK gloves, $20. Got stung through them dozens of times, now I use a $6 harbor freight long-sleeved glove. Now keep in mind all my hives are africanized and I always use a full suit.

But reality is this: you have to start somewhere. You will find you have certain preferences and only experience will tell you. So individual pieces you will just have to try and see.

One thing you absolutely need: a mentor. In fact a few mentors. About the only time you should react and do something with your hives is if they are floating down river. Other than that, if you see something wrong, take a picture/video and call/email your mentor. 95% of the time it's nothing. You are your bees worst enemy for the first year or two. 95% of the time your actions will make things worse. Everyone loves to inspect their hive. Yup, it's the #1 way to kill your queen. Everyone loves to remove queen cells, only to realize later the bees were trying to replace the queen you killed and now you have nothing.

Second thing: what type of box? Top bar? Langstroth? Most BK like 8 or 10 frame BK's. If you can life 100 lbs easily, go for 10 frame. If you are under 40, go for 10 frame. More of us older folks are turning to 8 frame boxes (not me yet, by golly!)... yet. You will want at least 3 boxes per hive. And you will want to start with 2 hives. If one is weak, steal from the second to help it. With only 1 hive you have no options.

Also, what sizes? Everyone things you need to have a deep or two on the bottom then medium boxes above it. I disagree, only use medium boxes for everything. That way all frames can be interchanged from any box to any other.

There is a fellow that I think has great advice. Michael Bush, wrote a book "The Practical Beekeeper". $60. A bargain.

Bees. I'm a huge fan of getting local bees, not a package. Our local club has a program: help your mentor do a cutout (take bees out of somebody's garage/shed/etc). Go a second time: those will be your bees. Trading hours of work for dollars. But also learning experience worth far more.

But you have to start somewhere. I have found BK to be an absolutely addictive hobby. Very rewarding. Potential once you figure things out to actually at least cover its costs/be 'profitable'. If the local club is selling these kits, it's probably a good starting point. Clubs typically don't push junk, it will only hurt them coming back around.
 

Robinjopo1

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Yes they are Langstroth. I cannot lift 100# by myself though. Everything In have read says to do with the 10 not 8, but I'm almost 59 years old. Lol

Should I expect that many stings or were you just checking yours too much. I read that there are better times during the day and the smoke helps a lot.

My husband thinks we are going to get stung and die. I think for that price I should get the supplies even if I wait till next year to get the bees.

I saw where one of the club members is selling nucs so the bees would be local.
 

TexasFreedom

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OK, more thoughts. First, just FYI, you can ask 5 BK's a question & get at least 9 answers. First, Langs are a better option.

Go with the 8 frame. Unless you have free back surgeries. Stings are only a question of how fast your learn. You will get stung. Stupid hurts, really stupid hurts longer. Every BK spends some time in stupidville. Fun things, like how close can I get with the mower? A buddy checked his hives, it was just going to be really quick, without his gloves. A key thing will be to always be completely prepared before you start. You don't have time to go get this or that. Create a checklist & double check it before you do anything to alert the bees.

Many people say gentle bees are far more fun. Where is the fun in that? I could die every time I open one of my hives. Talk about getting your blood flowing! Good news, I haven't died yet. But tomorrow is another day. It would be smarter to start with a gentle hive (I didn't do that). But aggressive hives are far more hardy.

I wasn't checking my hives too much, it's a combination of learning/bad suit/aftricanized hives/doing cutouts/etc. How often you inspect is really a question of the types of bees you have. Africanized bees require almost zero inspections. Italians need more. Some need it every week or two.

Just because somebody is selling bees does not mean the queens are local. Just ask him where he gets his bees, that is no secret. A friend here sells lots of bees/nucs. And he brings them all in from Georgia.

Keep in mind, bees are an almost perfect prepper 'pet'. Once established, they are very low effort. Once established, you have no need to feed them. They provide you with a very healthy sugar source. Honey is also an excellent anti-bacterial used on wounds in hospitals even today. Wax has multitudes of uses. Bees can even stop intruders. And 1 hive can turn into 3 or 5 or more hives for next year.
 

Robinjopo1

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You brought up a good question for me. How far away does the hive need to be away from lawn mowers. Etc. I can go deeper away from the lawn.

I also use a tiller in the spring. In my Beekeeping for Dummies book, he doesn't even wear gloves except for certain times of year when they are more easily agitated. He has Italian and Russian.

The head of the bee club says that 3 of the members sell bees so that' worth looking into. Her hives are 10s, but I read that when you are acclimating the queen, you only use 8 to have room for her box. Do you have to add the other 2?
 

TexasFreedom

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Things are 'relative'. Not only the general temperament of your hive but weather and conditions. Here's the basic thing: you have 30,000 sisters all living together. Do you think there will be good days and bad? They don't like bad weather, cloudy, cold, dearths (no pollen/nectar available). One day you can open your hive in shorts with no issue. Another day you can be 10 ft away & get stung.

For mowers and tillers, remember that bees are deaf but they HATE vibration. I've gotten within 20 ft of my hives without ticking them off. Remember bees don't fly after dark, so that's a good time to mow/weed wack closer. Not at dusk (I made that mistake once), I mean dark & not with lots of lights. I also know people who can mow within feet of their hive without issue. Just make sure the outgoing grass/exhaust does not blow toward the hive... they really hate that. And don't touch/knock the hive or stand, that's vibration. In my case I keep my bees maybe 700 ft from my house, but I have the land.

You don't 'acclimate' a queen, at least not 10 vs 8 frame. If you have a small colony, you can start with a nuc (5 frame). But that's more for guys doing this on a larger scale. Usually your 'space' will mean stacking more boxes vertically. So you start with 8 frames in 1 body, when that is 80% full you put another 8 frame body on top of it. Nobody 'starts' with an 8 frame the 'expands' to the 10 frame. Get one or the other, they are a fixed size. As I said, I think you'd like the 8 frame more. To see how the 3 sellers' bees are: go to their place and watch them work their hives. You'll see quickly how gentle they are.

Another key thing: ask each what do they do to treat their hives. There are 2 main issues: SHB (small hive beetle) and varroa mite. I don't treat, that's the perfect option (my bees are extremely hardy). SHB isn't that big an issue, easy to 'treat' with a trap that isn't a chemical issue. Varroa is the issue. Some people treat regularly with some nasty chemicals. You can ask this by phone of each of the guys. You'll want 2 things: gentleness and hardiness.

Some bees have a natural ability to control varroa/SHB. They call it 'cleaner' bees, they 'clean' each other and the hive. Some go too far: bees will actually drag out their baby larvae in cleaning the hive (yup, exactly the 'toss out the baby with the bathwater'). People that treat their bees with chemicals & such are actually making their bees weaker as well as their SHB/varroa stronger.
 

Robinjopo1

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When i said acclimate, I meant when you stick their little box in and wait for them to eat the marshmallow so the queen can be released.

The local club gets their stuff from Kelly Bees in KY. I happen to be familiar with them because I was born in that little town.

She said I would need the upper deep and could order it and it would be delivered with the kit.
 

TexasFreedom

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For the slow-release of the queen (marshmallow thing), an 8 vs a 10 frame body does not matter in the least. You mention 'deeps'. Here are two nice write-ups from Michael Bush regarding deep vs medium and 8 vs 10 frame bodies:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeseightframemedium.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#uniformframesize

It is a lot to read, but he makes really good arguments for his choices. He also gets into the foundation vs no foundation discussion. Note, I would definitely recommend getting extra bodies and frames. Also each area/location has it's advantages, Michael talks about what works for him in Nebraska over 20+ years.
 

Robinjopo1

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For the slow-release of the queen (marshmallow thing), an 8 vs a 10 frame body does not matter in the least. You mention 'deeps'. Here are two nice write-ups from Michael Bush regarding deep vs medium and 8 vs 10 frame bodies:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeseightframemedium.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#uniformframesize

It is a lot to read, but he makes really good arguments for his choices. He also gets into the foundation vs no foundation discussion. Note, I would definitely recommend getting extra bodies and frames. Also each area/location has it's advantages, Michael talks about what works for him in Nebraska over 20+ years.
Thanks for the great info
 

TexasFreedom

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No problem. Let me add one more detail. 80% of new BKs quit within 5 years. They get bees, mess up & kill them in the first year. OK, there went $150 in bees. They get another colony the next year, and mess up again and kill another $150 in bees. At that point they sell their equipment at 25cents on the dollar.

My recommendations. #1 Join the local club and attend monthly. #2 Get a mentor or two or three that you can call. #3 Study. Read things like Michael's book. Go on youtube & you can get a bachelors in BK. You will get different opinions, but with time you can evaluate the trade offs for each. There are whole 15-session 1-hour sessions on youtube.

Good luck. And I'm happy to answer other questions. Note that I don't follow all threads, if I don't reply in a day or two send me a message.
 

Robinjopo1

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I am joining the local club . The lady seems very patiepatient and helpful. The first meeting is when I pick up kit on February 24th. Going to read a lot before then so I don't seem so green.
 

Robinjopo1

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Texas. I was told I need to buy an extra hive body, 10 frames and 10nsheets of wax foundation in addition to the kit. Does this sound correct. They don't get a take on these so I k ow that's not their objective
 

TexasFreedom

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Robin,

I would recommend having an extra body as well. You need to decide if you want 8 or 10 frame. Also, for the foundation, you have choices. Wax, plastic, or none (let them make their own). The good thing here is that you aren't spending much on the foundation, and you can change later.

Actually I'd recommend having an entire hive body (bottom/top/body/frames). You never know when you'll get lucky (get a swarm, or unlucky & your hive swarms but you catch them).

Another thought. Ask others from the club that if they're going to be opening their hives for anything, to call you as you'd like to be there & learn. There is nothing like hands on. Nothing. I had done plenty of reading & research & thought I was 'ready'. Then I went over, and we went from 50 bees in the air to 5,000 bees in the air in about 5 seconds. Yes, defensive hive. Proud to say I didn't wet myself. But I was fairly useless, mostly in awe/shock. But experience like that (ok, that one was a bit much for most newbies) helps prepare you for later.

Keep in mind, most BKs love to talk about their bees.
 

Robinjopo1

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Texas...newbie question. I read that you have to leave about 60# of honey for the bees. Then I read that you can take everything in the top and leave what's in the bottom for the bees. Does this sound correct?
 

TexasFreedom

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The amount is a VERY region answer. Down here in central Texas we typically leave a full deep and a full super on top of that. A fair bit of that is is brood. But it works out to maybe 70 lbs of honey+ pollen. We have a short winter (less honey converted to heat) and quicker new food sources coming up as well as earlier flying times (warmer weather). I know closer to your region BK leave at least 2 full deeps. Again a bit of brood, but the 2nd deep is 100% honey. So 100-120 lbs of honey.

Talk to local BK. Key word: LOCAL. And not just within 30 miles, but someone with similar plants/soil to where you are.

I'll give you an example. In my region if you go west of I-35 you have limestone and very hard nectar/pollen sources. In fact many people have to feed their hives in drought years. Go east of I-35 and it's better soil. But some areas are surrounded by crops like cotton and others in prairie and others in woods. Each sort of nectar/pollen source affect how much stores they will need. So local BK will have the best guidance on what to leave.

And note that their biggest needs are right as they get into spring. The colony is needing lots of honey and pollen to feed their brood for a month before food really starts coming in. A hive could starve as it's trying to make bees who will bring in the spring crop. Or they make weak workers who will not live long nor work hard to bring in the nectar/pollen.

Hope this helps.
 

Robinjopo1

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The amount is a VERY region answer. Down here in central Texas we typically leave a full deep and a full super on top of that. A fair bit of that is is brood. But it works out to maybe 70 lbs of honey+ pollen. We have a short winter (less honey converted to heat) and quicker new food sources coming up as well as earlier flying times (warmer weather). I know closer to your region BK leave at least 2 full deeps. Again a bit of brood, but the 2nd deep is 100% honey. So 100-120 lbs of honey.

Talk to local BK. Key word: LOCAL. And not just within 30 miles, but someone with similar plants/soil to where you are.

I'll give you an example. In my region if you go west of I-35 you have limestone and very hard nectar/pollen sources. In fact many people have to feed their hives in drought years. Go east of I-35 and it's better soil. But some areas are surrounded by crops like cotton and others in prairie and others in woods. Each sort of nectar/pollen source affect how much stores they will need. So local BK will have the best guidance on what to leave.

And note that their biggest needs are right as they get into spring. The colony is needing lots of honey and pollen to feed their brood for a month before food really starts coming in. A hive could starve as it's trying to make bees who will bring in the spring crop. Or they make weak workers who will not live long nor work hard to bring in the nectar/pollen.

Hope this helps.
Very helpful. Thank you very much
 

TexasFreedom

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Robin,

No doubt. It IS expensive to get started (or usually is). I wouldn't recommend anyone start without spending at least $1000. You can do it 'cheaper'. For example don't get a suit, cut your own wood, etc. You can save a little by driving some nails & assemblying/painting it yourself, but that's maybe $50 or $100. Now some things you can 'borrow' or work around: you usually can 'borrow' an extractor from a local club for free.

I'll tell you what I've got into 10 hives. Probably $5k in equipment and that doesn't include an extractor. I've dedicated one vehicle 100% to beekeeping (I use it for nothing else). But they cash isn't my shortcoming, I'd rather pay someone and get an assembled/painted hive than spend the time. I've put some things together just to see where weak points are. I've also got spare equipment to put together at least 5 more colonies. And I'll likely have 20-30 hives this time next year (that may vary with marital negotiations!), so I'm spending with a target in mind. I love this hobby, and I already spend $10-20k per year on another hobby, so this one is actually 'cheap' for me.

That doesn't mean not to do it. You can get started on the cheap, and you'll still really enjoy the hobby. If someone is struggling to feed themselves, don't start this. But I don't know the situation you're talking about.
 

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