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Beekeeping: Bees for pleasure not honey

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PeggyOW
Lady's Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

January 21, 2006
10:09 PM

Post #1991787

Hello,

I am new here, and I would like to get some feedback. I have three hives of bees. A year after I started keeping them in the trraditional manner, I became extremely allergic to bee stings. Although I have no worries about bees in the garden, I am a little concerned about working with the hives, even in a bee suit. Therefore, I decided to leave the bees alone, not remove their honey, and just enjoy their presence and pollination efforts in my garden. I have had a swarm every summer, but the remaining bees seem to be doing fine. Any thoughts, suggestions, etc.? I fear I have lost one of the hives, but I'm a little reluctant to install a new package considering my allergy.

Thanks,
Peggy
Penn_Pete
Glen Rock, PA

January 25, 2006
11:20 PM

Post #2000265

Hi Peggy. Your's is a real problem, and I think you are wise to give up beekeeping. If there is a neighbor who seems interested, I would let him/her have the equiptment with the understanding that it was a loan, not given, and that if that person was done with it, you would like it back. Most people who get into beekeeping get out after only a few years, and this way you could get most of your stuff back.

So far as what will happen to the bees, chances are they will die out. Around here we can expect more than 50% winter kill for untreated hives because of mites (tracheal and varroa). If you don't have Varroa mites yet, when they arrive your bees will likely dwindle.
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

January 26, 2006
8:40 PM

Post #2002240

You might want to switch to keeping mason bees. They are easy, will pollinate your yard (altho they don't travel as far as honeybees if your yard is very big), and are a pleasure to have around.

The initial investment to get into them is much much less too. Maybe you can find someone to sell your current equipment to and then switch over. The initial investment in mason bees is less than $50.

Gwen
PeggyOW
Lady's Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

January 28, 2006
7:53 PM

Post #2006802

I have tried to attract mason bees, but I think the "equipment" I used was not the best. Just a little board with holes punched in it.

What is the proper way to attract and keep them?

In regard to honeybees, we do have the mite in this area but so far I don't think it has affected my hives. Not quite as much a problem here but I am concerned about it. Perhaps I could medicate the bees without too much disturbance of the hive. It is only when I removed the frames that they got upset with me (who wouldn't?!)

Thanks,
Peggy
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 3, 2006
6:21 PM

Post #2019954

You can buy a canister that has carboard tubes with paper inserts. The tubes are refillable. They come with and without bees. I got the canister that came with about 20 tubes and then 3 tubes of bees. I also got a much smaller set up for another area. The smaller setup did better but I think that was because the bees I got for the larger setup I got off ebay. I've been told the bees do not take well to being knocked about and I think the shipping did them in. I plan to buy more bees for the larger setup locally. The bees that came back to next last year are being very carefully stored in our shed. This reminds me that I may need to put them out soon as we seem to be coming up on a very early spring!

Gwendalou
northeastwisc
Northeastern, WI
(Zone 4a)

February 4, 2006
4:22 AM

Post #2021385

Here's some information from Washington State University:

http://www.metrokc.gov/dchs/csd/wsu-ce/agriculture/PDFs/MasonBee.pdf

If you would like to get an inexpensive book on Mason bees, I can highly recommend this one:

http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KCNP&Product_Code=OMB2&Category_Code=BL

The above website is the author's, but the book would probably be available from Amazon too.
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 4, 2006
4:35 AM

Post #2021404

This is what the tubes look like:

Thumbnail by Gwendalou
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 4, 2006
4:36 AM

Post #2021406

The tubes with the brownish stuff around the opening are the tubes the bees came out of last spring. I don't have any photos of the tubes they rebuild their nests in but they deposit there eggs in the new tubes and then build a mud closing over the opening.

Gwendalou
cuckoo4rblackbe
Savannah, MO
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2006
1:08 AM

Post #2121991

Enjoying and learning some things about bees here.

cuckoo
philomel
Castelnau RB Pyrenée
France
(Zone 8a)


July 1, 2006
3:32 PM

Post #2454506

What an interesting thread. Thanks very much everyone for all the ideas and info. I too ahve been considering keeping bees just for interest and pollination of fruit and vegetables without necessarily harvesting the honey. I hadn't thought of encouraging mason bees...
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 1, 2006
3:58 PM

Post #2454601

There is also another variety of bees that are similar to the masons and their season is just after the mason bees' season. The people who wrote the above-recommended book live near here and sell their bees in our stores but so far the stores have not brought in the other bees. I think next year I will special order them.

The author's daughter comes to a local nursery and gives a little talk on the mason bees. She brings them along. I couldn't believe how tame they were!

For some reason, we didn't have as many bees in our yard this year but the flowers are better than ever, so I guess they're getting pollinated by something.

Gwen
philomel
Castelnau RB Pyrenée
France
(Zone 8a)


July 1, 2006
7:05 PM

Post #2455213

It looks as if I'll need to do some research to find european alternatives. The mason bees referred to are native to the US and anyway don't pollinate the wide range of plants that the honey bees do.
But all this has given me much food for thought and I shall have a delve into what is native to this area, thanks Gwen.
PeggyOW
Lady's Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 1, 2006
7:51 PM

Post #2455365

I had mason bees for the first time this year. They hatched right on schedule and were working busily in my fruit trees. Now they have finished their season and laid eggs for next year.

My only problem with them is they were out and about for such a short period, about six weeks. I look forward to their presence again next year, but I don't think they will ever replace honeybees in my heart!

Peggy
philomel
Castelnau RB Pyrenée
France
(Zone 8a)


July 1, 2006
9:14 PM

Post #2455610

Oh, that's interesting thanks Peggy.
Yes, when I looked at the details about them on the link it seems you can really only rely on them for orchard fruit tree pollination.
So you think honey bees are the ones for you? :o) Unless there are some very different mason bees in europe I think I'll be with you on that one.
PeggyOW
Lady's Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

July 2, 2006
4:22 PM

Post #2458256

I have kept honeybees fo several years and just love them. Then I became allergic. Through this list I found a delightful beekeeper who lives nearby and plans to set up several hives on my property, for which I am very grateful.

There is nothing like a honeybee, for pollination, charm, and don't forget the honey! They are just delightful creatures and completely harmless unless you are working with their hive. Then they sting, but only to defend themselves. When a honeybee stings, she dies, so they don't do it unless they feel they have to.

I will keep on with the mason bees and welcome honeybees back as well!

Peggy
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 2, 2006
4:31 PM

Post #2458285

I wish I could find someone who'd set up hives on my property! There were abandoned hives when we moved in so they'd have a start, altho I imagine some parts would need to be replaced.

Gwen
philomel
Castelnau RB Pyrenée
France
(Zone 8a)


July 2, 2006
7:31 PM

Post #2458931

That sounds like an excellent arrangement Peggy. I'm still seriously looking into beekeeping, but will have to do it myself...

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Other Beekeeping Threads you might be interested in:

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To catch a honey bee... WUVIE 10 Mar 25, 2007 11:18 PM
Dead Bees countryfarms 17 Oct 7, 2010 11:42 AM
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Bee sting - bee stinger mygardens 27 Nov 12, 2008 4:04 PM
Bees in the ground starlight1153 45 Sep 9, 2009 9:54 PM


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