Keeping Bees

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Keeping Bees

Postby George Collins » Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:04 am

I am heavily researching beekeeping as the potential next phase of permsteading our place. Still I have some questions and was wondering if anyone here keeps bees.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby mannytheseacow » Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:01 pm

I've been keeping bees a few years, George. I'm by no means an expert but I'd be happy to share what I know and learn from your experiences. Things might be different up north where I am but I went out of my way to get Russian bees and my hive has survived several seasons while many others round here have lost their colonies.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby George Collins » Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:00 am

My first question is, is there a best time or a bad time to try and start a hive? Stated another way, if I were to knockout building a top bar hive over the course of the next week, would I have time to get a hive up and running this year or should this be put on the winter to-do list?
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby GrahamB » Sun Jun 23, 2013 1:56 pm

George they are swarming around here at the moment. If you managed to capture a swarm they would settle in okay, but you probably wouldn't get any honey off them this year, unless you had an awesome pollen season. I got offered a swarm last week, but I didn't have my hive put together.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby mannytheseacow » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:44 pm

George, I think since you're so far south you'd be okay if you got your hive together soon. Like GrahamB said, you might not get any honey off of them this year, but they would have a good store built up to get through the winter. You might be lucky enough to capture a swarm but just like your pigs I would get good solid genetics if you want them to perform and that would mean getting a queen from a reputable source... that might be hard to do this time of year. I haven't purchased a colony in several years but when I did buy my current colony I ordered in December for an April delivery, and they were sold out in January. If you know someone with a good quality colony you might be lucky enough to get a couple of frames from them and you could try rearing your own queen but if you're just starting off you might want to get started on the right foot and get a quality hive started up next spring.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby Jasper County Native » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:18 pm

I got mine from a fella in Philadelphia. Ordered them sometime late summer or fall and they were ready in April or May. He will sell you a "nuc", which is a small box with a small colony of bees that you transfer to your own hive after you get them. I didn't have my own boxes so I had him start them in a 10-frame hive. I picked a location at home, fixed my cinder blocks, picked up bees and hive and set them in place. I think the colony and boxes (2 medium supers, top, bottom board) was about $200. I believe he was selling the nucs for around $85.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:30 pm

My son just got a weir hive for Christmas. He has 2 supers, top and bottom, he needs to order the Bees for this spring. From what I have been seeing on line they are just under $100. I called an old fella that used to keep bees years ago, his wife is getting bad now so he doesn't do much but care for her. He was very helpful and said to give him a few day, he had to go out to the Barn and see what he had, and if it was still any good, assuming the mice hadn't chewed it all to heck. He thought he had a hat, smoker, overalls and maybe some other tools. :D My son is not sure if he can keep the bees in Clarion Boro or not. If they are not allowed because of zoning he has a friend with a farm out of town. The only problem he sees with that idea are the Bears, they are pretty prevalent in that area and he is afraid they will rip up the hive. Option number 3 is my place, :lol: he thinks the powers that be won't mind if he put them way up in the field. I have wanted to get bees for many years, but it turns out that her oldest son has more influence than I do. :lol: He seems to have a lot more influence with the Zoning officer than I do. ;) So we shall see where the bees end up. He told me that there is a class on bee keeping in Pittsburgh this Feb, it is held Friday afternoon and all day Sat. He will check it out, I think we may both attend.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:35 am

I contacted an old fellow that used to go to our church, and also used to keep bees. He said he had not been able to keep bees for some time, his wife isn't good and if I gave him a few days he would go up to the barn and check what, if any, equipment he still had. He called when I was in Harrisburg at the Farm Show and wanted to drop off some stuff. There was a box of stuff in the garage when I got home. There was a rusty hive tool, a rusty smoker, a pair of good gloves, a bee suit, 2 hot knives and 2 bee hats with vales. I took some sand paper and cleaned up the hive tool and smoker and then oiled them both. They cleaned up very well. The hot knives still work great, they are used to cut the wax caps off the honey so it can be extracted from the comb. I have not tried on the bee suit yet, Jim is a much smaller man than either my son or I, but we will try to make it work. It was a wonderful gift from an old friend and kindred spirit bee keeper.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby GrahamB » Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:56 am

That's great Guy. You must have a couple hundred bucks worth of gear there. That's the stuff that usually holds you up getting a hive going. I have been adding to my kit over the last year or so and all I have to get now is a smoker. Once the weather settles down I will get to work building my hives. A friend at work has a couple of hives and if he gets a split this year, he says I can have a starter.
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Re: Keeping Bees

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:40 pm

That's great Graham. I had thought about starting a hive for many years, when Lolly told me about the Top Bar Hive and I started to compare it to the normal way to keep bees. My son was given the regular 10 frame supers painted white that we all see every where. It looks like he will get a place in Clarion to keep the bees and not have to worry about the bears getting into them, so I am going to be with out a bee colony in my back yard. I am still thinking I need one, forget about the Zoning issue, I need it. So I am still going to attend the bee keepers class in Pittsburgh in Feb. The cost is $50 for a bee keeper, but he can bring a guest for $30. I wont get what ever stuff the bee keeper gets, but I still get the knowledge, and that is what is important to me. If things work out and I seem to like bee keeping while I watch my sons progress I may consider getting a Top Bar Hive, or I may buy a hive from a local carpenter that was making and selling bee boxes pretty cheaply I thought. I will get into this Hobby sooner or later.
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