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I haven't read through the whole thread yet, but I have a question...
I had at least a hundred bees this past summer raiding something they obviously liked in the compost bin and I have directions to build a bee box of some sort. If I build the box, does a queen bee ever come with the worker bees and will they take up residence in a new hive box, or would I need to buy bees? This isn't something I was interested in at this point, but if I've got bees and can keep them around the garden, I might have to get started in bee keeping soon.
Bees will sometimes search for minerals in strange places,compost piles being one of them.
You can put out a "bait"hive in the spring and sometimes a swarm will take up residence there.An old,well used hive body is best.
Thanks. I'll try it. Actually, they were starting to get thick on the Hummingbird feeders, but it was a jar of bread and butter pickles (vinegar and all) that I emptied out on the compost that REALLY attracted them.
Hey msrobin, it's great that you are getting interested in keeping bees, but I would like to warn you that buying bees is the smallest expense you are going to have. You need to budget at least $1000 for the equipment. I strongly advise against used equipment.
Keeping bees - healthy and for many years - not just for one season is not very easy. You need someone that will guide you. So, the best advise is to join your local beekeeper association and find a mentor.
Second best advise is to order your equipment, build it during the winter and line up your bees for the spring. The best way in my opinion is to introduce a population of local bees (rather than a package of bees from California which will have to adapt to your climate and vegetation). Again, your local beekeeper association may have members who rear queens and sell nukes (usually 5 frames with bees, brood and obviously a mated local queen).
In time you will have your 2 - 3 hives, learn how to split nukes, rear your own queens for the main purpose of re-queening your hives. And if your hives don't need re-queening you can either sell your nukes or increase your number of hives. By then you will figure out how much work goes into keeping many hives.
Then again, you may be the lucky one that buys a used hive for $50 at a garage sale and have a swarm move in. By the way, a swarm of healthy bees!!! And highly educated ones, bees that groom each other for varroa mites. It's like playing the lottery ... the million $$ prizes are out there ... but if you don't play, you are not going to win.
On the other hand, as we all know the odds of winning the lottery prize, you are better off planning for sustainable bee keeping.
You may want to google my web site: Kenosha Potato Project - this year I have planted 30 different potato cultivars in my garden and almost half of them set seed pods or TPS (true potato seed). Perhaps my hives have helped with the pollination. Who know how your garden will improve with you own bee hives on site.
I strongly disagree with the statement that it takes 1000 dollars to equipt a hive of bees.
msrobin,Google Brushy Mountain Bee Farm or Mann Lake ,or a dozen other suppliers to get some idea of prices.
Here you can sometimes find established hives,with supers,for under $150.00.If you start completly from scratch,with new equiptment,and purchase your bees locally,you should still come in under 200.Beyond that you will want a hat and veil and a smoker.
Anything else should come later.
I'm sorry if I made you angry with my posting. I purchased my equipment from Brushy Mountain and spent $700 for two hives. In my previous posting I stated $1000 because my purchase did not include honey extracting equipment.
I should have stated that my initial purchase included 2 hives plus 10 supers. I purchased 10 supers because 10 had a lower unit price than purchasing 8 supers ... that I ended up using.
Obviously you can spread your investment over years. You can start with one hive instead of two. I started with two because my mentor advised me that way. With two hives you have something to compare to. With one hive you may think to have a VERY strong hive, while it may not be the case. My mentor was surprised when the bee inspector stated that his one hive was in pathetic conditions, as he tought the opposite to be true.
Strong opinions may irritate. I sincerly apologize. Curzio :O)
Thank you both for sharing the info. I really know nothing about bee keeping, so this is quite helpful.
The reason I was asking about this is because I know of a hive a couple of miles down the road that an 18 yr old boy has. He doesn't strike me as being that interested in it. It's the only one I've seen in this area and over the course of the summer, the bees just started getting more numerous around our place. I also have lots of flowers and vegetables blooming all summer. I was just thinking that where ever they are coming from, that they seem to like it here and if they want to stay, then maybe I could provide a home for them. I have considered getting into bee keeping in the future, but we are still setting up our little homestead here, and bee keeping is/was a littlle farther down the list. It may have just jumped up to the top of the list. LOL!
The new hives are priced too outrageously, but if I did run across a used hive, what would I have to do to it in the way of cleaning it, etc?
Curzio,your post did not make me angry.My first thought when I saw 1000 as a price for setting up a hive was ,"what a rediculous statement".This was not something to say to a beginner.Think how discouraged you would have been if someone had given you that price before you knew better.Your second post gave much better info.
msrobin...best to buy new or to buy an existing hive from a local bee keeper.As Curzio said,used equipment is a pain and may harbor disease.You can use a blowtorch to scorch the inside of the hive body and supers and boil the frames in a strong lye solution.I don't think anyone does that anymore.First thing to do is make friends with a local beekeeper.Your local extension service can put you in touch with a group in your area.
if you have a chance to take over an existing hive ... wow ... that's like winning the lottery! If the young men is losing interest after finding out how much work is involved in keeping bees, maybe you can take advantage of the bargain. Of course you need to wait for spring to inspect the hives actually being alive.
Moving hives after dark in the spring is easily done.
One of the most important things to plan once you have a viable hive is the replacement of the frames. Make sure each frame is dated with the year. Plan to replace 2 frames every year, so that every 5 years all frames are replaced. The wax in the frames harbors more disease than the wooden components.
I'm planning to insert the new foundation frames between 2 brood frames in the center of the box ... often the outside frames are used for storage, the queen prefers the central frames.
If a bee inspector determines that the bees are not healthy, you may be better off killing them all and start over with a new nuke in the disinfected hive on brand new wax foundation.
Looking forward to read your future posts ... and welcome you to the beekeeper community. ciao, Curzio