Just investigating yet

Monticello, IA

I'm so glad you guys started this discussion.

I took down everyone's suggestion for a newby bee keeper but I have one question please?

I noticed many of you like "Italian" bees but all too often, I have seen imported species destroy the native populations.
Other than planting bee friendly plants and hoping for some native Iowan bee to come find me within the many 100's of acres of corn around me, is there
a place where you can purchase native bees?

I've not seen many bees at my house but have planty of wasps so I think I'll need
to add a swarm to get my skep going.

I did find this site interesting:

but would also love to hear some "native" opinions :).

Milton, FL(Zone 8a)

If I understand your post correctly it seems that you think "Italian" bees are a non-native species that may adversely affect the ecosystem.That isn't the case.While it is true that "Italian" bees are non-native,they have been here since the first Europeans landed.They are the regular honeybees you see on your flowers.Native bees do not make usable amounts of honey.

Monticello, IA

Thank you so much for your explanation!

Kenosha, WI

the best way to start: find your local beekeepers' association. That's how you find someone who can tutor you at the beginning, help you order the equipment.

If you can find someone that has strong hives going into the winter, likely they are going to have splits in the spring (nukes). Buying a nuke is the most "native" hive that you can have ... as those bees have been bred locally, and the queen has mated with local drones (males).

short of finding what I described, then you need to order a 3 pound package of bees. The great majority of these bees are shipped from California ... but many of them originate from Hawaii.

No Central, AZ(Zone 7b)

Has anyone tried this that I saw available from High Country Gardens?


If so, would it be good for a non-beekeeper like me to supplement bees for my veggies. I have some bees on the other side of the house where I have planted for hummers and butterflies. There are a couple butterfly bushes and a lavendar plant not too far from veggies, but not as many bees go to the veggies.

Kenosha, WI

Mason bees and honey bees are very different insects ... mason bees are a very good choice for pollination purposes!

Monticello, IA

Is there a problem with having honeybees and *NOT* harvesting the honey, other than I read that when
they have the holes filled, they will swarm right? My neighbors might not appreciate that no matter how
many acres there are between us.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Chances are, your neighbors will never even notice!

Kenosha, WI

if you are planning to keep honey bee without the hassle of managing the honey flow, you may want to check out backyardhive.com

swarming is in the nature of this insect. It will happen no matter what (with or without honey and hive management).

Akron, PA(Zone 6b)

Forgive me as I am just starting to learn about beekeeping. I would love to consider having bees, mostly for helping to repopulate them. The honey would be a fun bonus, though.

When you speak of the bees" swarming", what exactly do you mean? What I picture and what it actually is may be different.

And also, how far away should the hive be from your neighbors? I have about 1/4 acre, but our property is along a farmer's field (hay or corn). It is suburban, as I have neighbors to the right and left. How far is proper and safe for all?

Lastly, I love the information on making a bee skep...I would love to try a hand at making one. I may not be posting, but I love to read and learn more about bee keeping so one day when I am ready to start one, (if I have enough land around my property that it is ok to.) Thanks.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Bees swarm when they feel the hive is too crowded. The queen takes a portion of the workers and leaves the hive. The start out as a mass of bees flying in a loose group. They will fly back and forth till they get their bearings and then the queen will land on a tree limb or something else that will support a few thousand bees. Most of the other bees will land and surround her. It will look like a living basketball. A few scout bees will fly out and look for a suitable place for the swarm to start a new hive. This process can take a few hours or a few days. As soon as they have located a place, they return to the others and pass on the information. The queen will then take all the workers and move into this new space.

Bees who are swarming and almost never agressive and this is the time to collect the swarm if you are starting a new hive. You place the hive body or box under the ball of bees and give the branch a good shake. The bees fall down into the box. As soon as the queen is in the box, a few bees will stand on the edge and wave their fannies while fanning their wings. This is to tell all the other bees that the queen is there and that they should come. nce you know the queen is in the box you put the lid on and make sure that there is a way for any remaining bees to enter (like a small hole or the hive entrance). Within days, if they like their new digs, they wioll start producing comb and the queen will begin laying eggs.

It is really an amazing sight to watch this process. I have stood in the garden while an entire swarm of bees flew around me like a tornado. After that swarm landed, I went out and collected the swarm with only a veil and a pair of gloves. I've never been stung by swarming bees.

We also live in an suburban setting with neighbors on each side and a pasture in back. We put the bees along the pasture fence right in the middle of the property. Bees love hayfields! Our beewere there for two years and the only way the one neighbor realised they were there was when we gave her honey for Christmas.

I remember a man in our apartment building in New York city that had a hive on the roof.

Akron, PA(Zone 6b)

Thank you so much for the wonderful explanation of a swarm. I had never heard or seen this little miracle before and it was definitely different that my assumption. What a fantastic miracle how they do what they do and how they communicate! I was truly impressed with your description of their behavior!

Hmmmm. Sounds like I should research this idea some more and consider this more seriously now that I may have enough room. Does it matter if the hive is in the sun or shade? Midway on my back property it is mostly shady and gets a little sun. I was thinking I would have to live way out on a farm to have enough space around the hive. After the explanation of the swarm, I think I would love to have a hive just to study their behavior, too. Very neat.

Thanks again.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

They prefer sunny spots. Google hive location and you might find some formulas for placing it. I just picked a spot where they would have good access to water (even a bird bath will work as long as you keep it full), near the garden and open pasture and my fruit trees. A good book to start with is Bee keeping for Dummies.

I got my starter kit from Man Lake. Everything , but the bees came in one box. We added more hives as we needed them. I bought my bees locally as I wanted ones that were acclimated to my area.. If you have any Amish in your area, they have great local bees that usually don't have a lot of chemicals. The only thing I have ever treated my bees with is powdered sugar.

Akron, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the great information...how "sweet" you give your bees sugar....LOL

I have a larger pond all dug out and ready for liner in the spring, so water will be plenty. although with electricity proposed to go up about 40% in a year, not sure if I should put water or dirt in that hole...

I will continue to read more about beekeeping...besides reading through the threads on beekeeping on DG, is there a particular book that is well liked by many on the subject?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

The powdered sugar is used to treat mites. You sprinkle it on the bees and the mites slip off or suffocate, then the bees lick the sugar off each other. It's a "sweet" deal.

Akron, PA(Zone 6b)

I like that....can't say those bees hate to take their "medicine"....

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