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  • Honey BeeKeeping

    In a way, this starts about early February, when WifePerson tells me we'll be attending the local beekeeping association's meeting, the second Wednesday of each month, in a few days. We'd talked about keeping honey bees, on-n-off the last several years, but had never done anything active about it. I get that feeling we are about to do so.

    It's also been several years since "we", I at least, have done any reading on the subject, so I'm a bit late on the curve here.

    We attend the meeting and notice a mix of ages and types, but leans towards mid-century in age and mostly male. We hear tales of colonies lost to Winter's cold and etc., and discussion of prep to do for the upcoming season. Now is the time to order your packages to get Association 'group rates'.

    Lots of information, a few interesting contacts made. Little do I know what is in the making ...

    Mount Baker Beekeepers Association ~ MBBA
    http://www.mtbakerbeekeepers.org/
    Last edited by G David Bock; 28 May 14, 00:51.

  • #2
    Any sign of the African Honey Bees up there yet? They are in Texas for sure.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

    Comment


    • #3
      So it's early March and time to go to another monthly meeting of the MBBA. We meet there after work at our respective jobs and seems tonite is the last shot to sign up for and buy your package of bees.

      Next thing I know, She is making out a check and talking to the person co-ordinating the Bee package list. As we come to find out, a "package of bees" is a 3 pound box, about 4" x 6" x 12" of about 3,000 worker bees and a "caged" queen, with a can of sugar-water syrup feed to hold them over a few days as they ship and "you" put them into their new home.

      Great. We haven't a home/hive for the incoming bees, so will have to purchase a 'Deep'/'Brood' box with frames, plus a bottom board and top board(or two), some form of feeder (to feed them until Spring bloom provides enough nectar and pollen); PLUS some personal gear and tools such as a veil (or two), a smoker, a hive tool, and and few other items likely.

      I'm thinking this might not have been in either the time or finances budgets, but looks like I'm being over-ruled.

      Injury to assault, the packages are due to arrive on Easter weekend. This has become the weekend of annual extended road-trip East to Spokane, WA. and Kalispell, MT. to see respective daughters, their spouses and pairs of grankids. We'll need to find bee-setters to keep our "package" for a few extra days until we return.

      March into April now has an extra scrabble item on the to-do lists.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        Any sign of the African Honey Bees up there yet? They are in Texas for sure.

        Pruitt
        Not that I've heard of and many measures taken to prevent such. Cooler climate tends to help a bit.

        Comment


        • #5
          So March to April finds us putting together the gear and kit to start keeping honeybees. When we return from the Easter Trip, we decide to wait a couple of days before placing the bees in their new home/hive. Saturday April 26th is the Dump Day (D-Day) for the Package of bees. I'll cover this in more detail in a later post, but FWIW, I did get stung, first in over a decade, with no major re-action.

          Also, in future posts, for context, will provide some details of honeybee physiology (as well as dialogue on other "bees"= wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets, etc.) and sociology.

          The honeybee hive/colony is about 99.9% female, with the Queen the only fertile female Reproducing, all the Workers non-fertile females, and a few hundred of the 50-60,000 in a Healthy Hive being the male drones*.

          Also in future posts will describe some of the gear and process of bee~keeping, as well as the Seasonal Concerns of the beekeeper in tending the nutritional and health/medical needs of his~her Hives through-out the Year.

          Next post will try to focus on the first month in Hive/Colony for "the gyrls".

          Comment


          • #6
            We have all the stuff -- in one of the barns. We did honeybees a couple years --- GREAT honey and lots of it. We lost both hives at once to that "disappearing hive syndrome," apparently. We were all Tyveked up and went out there : no bees at all! Suddenly.

            However, we want to try again when Himself retires. I'd like that.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've never kept bees but I do love eating raw honey right off the frames. This is the best way to serve it.


              Comment


              • #8
                ^ For those whom like beeswax in their honey ...

                Challenge is the bees will have to reconstruct comb next honey season before they can fill it with honey. Major reason why honey in comb costs much more than plain honey.

                Usual harvest is to use a centrifuge extractor that spins the honey out of the comb and leaves the comb intact for next year's/season's honey gathering to refill it.

                This is one of the obstacles we have as newbies, our colony/hive has to first draw out the comb on the foundation of their frames before filling it with honey. Actually, right now they are busy making comb for the queen to lay eggs in and hatch brood since a healthy colony/hive will be up around 50-60,000 bees for the honey season. They will also be filling some of that comb with pollen and honey for winter stores for the hive.

                Only after the two brood boxes/Deeps are full of comb and that filled with larvae~pollen~honey for the colony will we be able to put "supers", medium height boxes, on top for potential honey harvest of our own. Saving the drawn comb on the frames gives the hive a head-start next year, they won't need to make as much wax and get right into filling with honey.

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                • #9
                  We got our bees from a septuagenarian beekeeper with a young wife and family of toddlers......

                  He was more than a little of a show-off.

                  He took us out to his hives and showed us around -- he had a LOT -- and opened them up, did all sorts of things, showed us inside --- all with no protection whatsoever.

                  I thought that was how you did it! If you moved slow, and so on.

                  Once it sort of worked.

                  The next time, it was hot and overcast and the bees were irritable.......

                  I was running for the house and combing them out of my hair! I got hit like 12 times.

                  Then I realized the beekeeper had been showing off.

                  Tyvek for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                    So it's early March and time to go to another monthly meeting of the MBBA. We meet there after work at our respective jobs and seems tonite is the last shot to sign up for and buy your package of bees.

                    Next thing I know, She is making out a check and talking to the person co-ordinating the Bee package list. As we come to find out, a "package of bees" is a 3 pound box, about 4" x 6" x 12" of about 3,000 worker bees and a "caged" queen, with a can of sugar-water syrup feed to hold them over a few days as they ship and "you" put them into their new home.

                    Great. We haven't a home/hive for the incoming bees, so will have to purchase a 'Deep'/'Brood' box with frames, plus a bottom board and top board(or two), some form of feeder (to feed them until Spring bloom provides enough nectar and pollen); PLUS some personal gear and tools such as a veil (or two), a smoker, a hive tool, and and few other items likely.

                    I'm thinking this might not have been in either the time or finances budgets, but looks like I'm being over-ruled.

                    Injury to assault, the packages are due to arrive on Easter weekend. This has become the weekend of annual extended road-trip East to Spokane, WA. and Kalispell, MT. to see respective daughters, their spouses and pairs of grankids. We'll need to find bee-setters to keep our "package" for a few extra days until we return.March into April now has an extra scrabble item on the to-do lists.
                    You need someone who's no nonsense, and be careful about volunteers wearing full fur coats...
                    Attached Files
                    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                      You need someone who's no nonsense, and be careful about volunteers wearing full fur coats...
                      You laugh, but in Western Maryland bears are a real prob.....

                      No, wait, you're from Canada: Canadians have too many bears to joke about them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Phebe View Post
                        We got our bees from a septuagenarian beekeeper with a young wife and family of toddlers......

                        He was more than a little of a show-off.

                        He took us out to his hives and showed us around -- he had a LOT -- and opened them up, did all sorts of things, showed us inside --- all with no protection whatsoever.

                        I thought that was how you did it! If you moved slow, and so on.

                        Once it sort of worked.

                        The next time, it was hot and overcast and the bees were irritable.......

                        I was running for the house and combing them out of my hair! I got hit like 12 times.

                        Then I realized the beekeeper had been showing off.

                        Tyvek for me.
                        You definitely want to gauge their mood, but a smoker does help a lot. Try for a warm, dry, no wind day when most of the foragers should be out-n-about. So far we are getting by with long-sleeved shits and a veil hat, and I opt to wear nitrile gloves. When the honey flow/season is in swing they tend to be most mellow (so I've been told), but later on we'll also likely have to do the tyvek suit thing.

                        Before you get started again, I recommend at least read the "Beekeeping for Dummies" book, loaded with information of generic sort for North American use.
                        http://www.amazon.com/Beekeeping-For.../dp/0470430656
                        Might also want to plug into any local beekeeping association for source of bees and local tips. Here's an interesting website/book for additional ref;
                        http://www.beekeeping-for-beginners.com/

                        Seems interest in beekeeping is a bit of voque right now. The MBBA just published this years member list and about 1/3 of the names have joined within the last year. Lots of "new" beekeepers in our county. One other sign is that local suppliers are out of brood/deep boxes and frames and many of the national makers/suppliers are also out of stock, several week backlog.
                        [url]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Long overdue to up-date this one ...

                          Let's start with some Lay-Person's Basics on Honey-Bee sociology and Hive/Colony structure.

                          At the top of the hierarchy is the Queen. One only active Queen per Colony/Hive, her main task is to lay eggs and keep things going. While a Queen can remain fertile and productive up to five years (or so), She is at her prime for a couple/three at best, meaning "re-Queening" is something a 'Keeper' has to bare in mind.

                          Next are the Worker Bees, about 99.8+% of a Colony/Hive. All female and hopefully non-fertile. Their eggs take about 21 days to hatch into adult bees, and then they spend about three weeks as house bees; cleaning out hatch cells, helping foragers, making beeswax for new cells/comb, fanning for temperature control, guarding the entrance, etc.

                          After about three weeks the "house bees" begin foraging for nectar (used to make honey) and/or pollen (main food/protein source for the colony). They might live for another three weeks or so (if not eaten by predators) before literally working themselves to death for sake of the colony/hive. So main lifespan of most (Worker ~female) honeybees tends to about 6-7 weeks.

                          Next in the colony/hive are the Male honeybees, Drones, whose main purpose is to mate with queens. Somewhere within a mile or few of their home colony is a swarm area where queens go to find drones and mate, shortly after a 'New" queen is hatched. This one mating session will last for the queens whole lifespan (impregnated with enough sperm) and usually includes joining with about a dozen Drones/male honeybees. For the "lucky" males/Drones, after successful 'orgasm' they lose there male genetailiy and fall to their death. The queen, once mated enough, returns to her colony to begin her life-cycle of egg layer.

                          Male/Drones usually only amount to about a dozen plus to scores in numbers in a colony/hive, but where usually honeybees are lethally hostile to outsiders, Drone honeybees tend to be welcomes in any hive/colony. Downside is that by end of Summer, approach of Fall and cooler weather, any surviving Drones are literally kicked out of the colony/hive to fend for themselves ~ starve.

                          As Winter approaches, a colony/hive that might have been upwards to 50-60,000 bees tends to shrink down to about 20% that number to ride out Winter. Males/Drones are an unnecessary excess on colony/hive resources. Everything focuses upon keeping the Queen alive and a minimum number of workers to start things one Spring arrives.

                          In some ways, a honeybee Hive/colony serves as one example of how a literal "socialist/communist" society might exist and thrive ...

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                          • #14
                            I have a buddy who have several hives in my field, we always get a bottle or two from him each year

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              California drought stings bees, honey supplies

                              http://news.msn.com/us/california-dr...honey-supplies


                              Fortunately, other parts of the country are doing better than CA.

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