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Old 4 March 2014, 10:40
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Brownsurccapt Brownsurccapt is offline
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SOCNET Beekeepers

The wine/beer maker thread sparked this one.

Any other Beekeepers on SOCNET??


I started keeping honey bees a little less than a year ago and this should be my first year of honey crop.


A co-worker of mine started together and each have one hive, side-by-side in his backyard (two houses down from me). *it's always a good idea to have a minimum of two hives, never just one.*
We wanted to get into beekeeping, but wanted to start small and slow, too many new beekeepers start alone, buy all the stuff, have two hives that die and give up.
We figured beekeeping would be fun, interesting, help pollinate our small gardens, and the neighbors, and if SHTF, honey is great for bartering and an incredible energy source. Plus you can make mead!

We did everything the cheap route, learned how to make the hives from scrap wood (I have the plans via PDF), and caught our bees one spring afternoon the old fashioned way, during a swarm. About the only thing I had to buy was the wax foundation, the smoker, and veil (which I rarely use).

Having honeys bees has been absolutely amazing, it takes very little, work after you get the bees in the hive, and just checking on the girls once in a while is reward enough. This year I should be harvesting some honey, +/- 100lbs, if all goes well.

I have really tried to take the "No Welfare" approach. Other than when we first caught the bees and locked them down in the hive for the first few days, I have not fed them anything and have given no medication. They will either thrive or not- they are thriving.

So far no Small Hive beetles, Varroa Destructor (mites), or Wax moths. They only issue I had was at the end of summer- the yellow jackets swarmed my hive and nearly wiped them out. My girls fought hard and won, but the yellow jackets took their fair share of honey and worker bees lives. I was concerned they wouldn't make it through winter, but; so far so good. Lesson learned, reduce the entrance before the yellow jackets arrive.

You can keep bees in the busiest urban neighborhoods with no problems, we live in a neighborhood but its more or less rural. Some of the neighbors were skeptical at first, and one even told me that I would be responsible for the death of her son. (he is deathly allergic to bees) After a few weeks and walking them over and showing them how docile the bees were, they now embrace it; and the son is still alive!

I highly encourage everyone to keep honey bees, they are in danger right now and need help. Without honeybees, we are doomed. Find a local beekeepers club, they are everywhere. attend meetings and learn as much as you can.

On Netflix instant you can watch the amazing documentary "More Than Honey". Its ground breaking and breathtaking. (must watch with subtitles on, a lot is in German.)

Okay, my rant is over, to those who made it to the end, thanks for reading and please share your thoughts or experiences with honeybees.

Me checking my bees mid summer.
beekeeper.jpg

bees landing.jpg

bees.jpg

Catching the first swarm
swarm.jpg
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Old 4 March 2014, 11:55
tooslow tooslow is offline
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I ran hives for about ten years until I accidentally starved them one winter. By then, I was pretty much done, already. After a while I ran out of people to give the honey to.
Must admit; honey was the slickest annual crop I bought in. A bit of work to extract (and a bit of a mess).
I gave my hive and tools to a neighbor when I was done; they are still producing!
Honestly, I used to love to just sit beside the hive and watch the bees fly out of sight and come back with 'filled suitcases'! VERY calming.
Enjoy them! (Honey makes a great gift).
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Old 4 March 2014, 12:17
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Awesome! I am in the middle of my retirement right now and depending on the direction my next job takes me, I might be contacting you for more details. I grew up on a small farm andlove the idea of raising bees. I have steadily been landscaping my yard with edibles (blueberries, blackberries, apples, plums, peaches) and I think bees are the next logical step.
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Old 4 March 2014, 13:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooslow View Post
Your post
I am sorry to hear about your bad luck. That is my fear, not lacing enough honey for their winter supply. At least the equipment is being used for good. I already have a ton of friends and family asking for a bit of honey this year. Sitting out and watching them forrage is awesome, and catching one of the girls on a flower is a reward in its self.

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Bees would thrive around your home, and your edible crop yield would easily double. The initial setup is a bit of work and can be costly if you don't amo everything yourself, but once that's done it's very little work. Aside from the honey harvest. As Tooslow stated, it can be a bit of work and messy if you go it alone.
Luckily I have a mentor that has been keeping bees for 40+ years and has ~50 hives. He has an old tabacco barn that has multiple honey slingers and associated harvesting gear. All the bottling equipment too and three or four of us combine our efforts. Harvesting honey from 50 hives with multiple supers"hive boxes) is a lot of work!
I'd be more than happy to answer any questions and help set you in the right direction.
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Old 4 March 2014, 13:59
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A family that kind of adopted me in Israel while I was serving kept bees. It was a side hobby, but fairly lucrative, like $70k a year or something. Their tried to train me in, and I helped out for 4 months or so, but I got obliterated by the little bitches (since you call them girls, haha), and started to develop an allergy. The guy I worked with wore no gear, just a tshirt and jeans. They paid him no attention, he would open hives and remove the slats, sweep bees off with his hand, etc. Nothing. I'd step out of the truck, and you could hear the tone change to anger.

Too bad, they were willing to give me the business, and I enjoyed the work a lot, love the bees too outside the 'ow little fucker' aspect.
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Old 4 March 2014, 14:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poison View Post
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Poision. A tbs of honey in coffee is amazing!
I know what you are taking about, with my hives I can work them in shorts, flip flops, and a tshirt. They pay me no attention, I get near my buddies hives and they start flying into me to warn me to get away. If I don't heed the warning the bitches start stinging me. It's hilarious.
The reason I refer to them as girls, is the hive is made up of 99.99% female bees most of the year. This time if year there isn't a single male in the hive. When the temp hits around 55 in the early fall the worker bees kick all the male bees out to die. Males bees don't forage or do any work. They are drones. All they do is have sex with a virgin queen, once, and die instantly. Female bees are a result of the queen fertilizing an egg before she lays it (she stores millions of sperm)- where as a drone is the result of and un-fertilized egg. A drone has no father but has a grandfather. Crazy!
We figured last year 55 gallons of honey "can" yield up to $10,000 (creamed honey) But that's a ton of energy and time. One hive super gives aprox 4gal.
It can be a money making hobby but what sickens me is the commercial bee keepers who only care about the dollar.
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Last edited by Brownsurccapt; 4 March 2014 at 14:36.
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Old 4 March 2014, 14:44
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MilkBoneSkivies MilkBoneSkivies is offline
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Man this is an awesome thread. I have recently approached my wife with the idea. She sounds like your neighbor, not wanting the kids or dogs to get torn up. We have about 10 different citrus trees on my street and the adjoining one. I thought two hives would be a good place to start. I'm glad you're being successful, now maybe my wife can see the benefits. THANKS!
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Old 4 March 2014, 14:56
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Originally Posted by Brownsurccapt View Post
Poision. A tbs of honey in coffee is amazing!
I know what you are taking about, with my hives I can work them in shorts, flip flops, and a tshirt. They pay me no attention, I get near my buddies hives and they start flying into me to warn me to get away. If I don't heed the warning the bitches start stinging me. It's hilarious.
The reason I refer to them as girls, is the hive is made up of 99.99% female bees most of the year. This time if year there isn't a single male in the hive. When the temp hits around 55 in the early fall the worker bees kick all the male bees out to die. Males bees don't forage or do any work. They are drones. All they do is have sex with a virgin queen, once, and die instantly. Female bees are a result of the queen fertilizing an egg before she lays it (she stores millions of sperm)- where as a drone is the result of and un-fertilized egg. A drone has no father but has a grandfather. Crazy!
We figured last year 55 gallons of honey "can" yield up to $10,000 (creamed honey) But that's a ton of energy and time. One hive super gives aprox 4gal.
It can be a money making hobby but what sickens me is the commercial bee keepers who only care about the dollar.
Yeah, my family was doing around 10 55g drums. Or a bit more. They had a centrifuge in the shed to extract it.

I know it's proven bees memorize the routes to the flowers, and pass it on year to year, but the guy I worked with said they do the same with knowledge of people, which is why they were fine with him. Cool critters.

So what is your major flower source? Keep them away from onions.
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Old 4 March 2014, 15:04
sabasarge sabasarge is offline
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...... Keep them away from onions.
Absolutely, but if you can get 'em near avocados, do it! On a private farm in the Western Galilee that I managed, we had about 10 acres of avocados, and placing our bees in the vicinity was one of the smarter things we did.
Yummie
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Old 4 March 2014, 15:20
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Brownsurccapt, let me know if you have some leftover honey you'd like to offload. I'm always on the lookout for sources, and would prefer to do business within the community...
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Old 4 March 2014, 15:25
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Our wives thought we were crazy and told us no way! We did it anyway and now they come out and help us spot the queen and check the brood. We have 5-6 houses sounding us all with small children and the bees leave them alone. We also have the hives in a cordoned area in the back of the yard just to be safe.

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We really don't have a major nectar source, they forage what they can. We have a lot of unused open lots in the neighborhood that we are planning on seeding with wildflower and clover seeds. In the late summer/early fall there is a huge field of cotton, but this year was so rainy it didn't do much good. I've never heard onion honey was bad, but Almond honey is bitter and gross! Yet almonds 100% need honey bees to pollinate.
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Old 4 March 2014, 15:33
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do you have any fear of africanised bees invading your hive? I've read that when they breed with the european bees the pass on their aggressiveness.

How did you locate the original colony of wild bees from which you started your hives?
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Old 4 March 2014, 15:34
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Brownsurccapt, let me know if you have some leftover honey you'd like to offload. I'm always on the lookout for sources, and would prefer to do business within the community...
I will more than keep you in mind.
Are you just wanting honey for yourself at the house or on a larger scale? I know a network of bee keepers that attend farmers markets and county fairs to sell their product, and it isn't hard to sell honey these days, but would rather to sell to you than some of the scoundrels that buy it... (cut it with corn syrup and resell it as "fresh local honey" in the dead of winter... and suckers buy it).

Creamed honey is the best substance in the world, most Americans have never heard of it. It's much more expensive than runny honey. It's basically honey that's purposely crystallized with a starter (creamed honey), to form super fine crystals and then mixed and stored at 57degrees until it forms the constancy of butter. It can be flavored with cinnamon or anything really.
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Old 4 March 2014, 16:04
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Not as of right now, they are not able to survive in the cold conditions of North Carolina winters...yet...
bee-map.JPG

And to be honest, africanized bees are not all that bad, depending on the situation; If I lived all alone out in a very rural area, away from other people and children I would love to have some "Killer bees". They are more aggressive, yes, but they are less susceptible to mites and beetles and other diseases that are killing off the other species of honey bee. And they produce and excess of honey.
The aggressiveness is what made them an attractive bee species way back when in Brazil, that's why they were cross bred. MSM is what made them "killer". If you watch the docu "More than Honey" it talks about this. (you-tube link)

The first swarm we caught was via phone call from a property manager that heard we were beekeepers, before we ever had bees! He called and said a swarm of bees was in a bush outside a house. (The picture of the swarm above)
We showed up, put a box under them, opened a pheromone and shook the bush so they all fell in the box. I got the whole thing on film!
VIDEO
The second swarm we caught was in our Mentors bee yard, he has about 50 hives out there. He was at work and called me "Hey Matt, I've got the feeling there will be a swarm today", so we raced over and sat there watching the sky and treeline. And all of a sudden the sky went black and we got to see the swarm happen. After about 15 minutes the bees settled on a tree about 6' off the ground, we grabbed a ladder and a cardboard box, held the box under the bees and knock them off into it. Dumped the box into a empty hive and viola!

There is a phrase I have learned, as 10 beekeepers a question, and you will get 13 answers.
You can go out a buy bees, and queens and you will pay good money for them. But I know from experience of others, here in America, they are no where near as successful as a swarm caught of a good, established hive. Bees and queens bread for the market are just that, not bees bread to thrive. (mass produced)

And here is a video of part of last years spring honey harvest. VIDEO
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Old 4 March 2014, 16:08
poison poison is offline
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http://greenaid.co/

This may or may not be relevant to the urban beekeepers here.

Also, why cream it when it automatically solidifies within months, if you don't pasteurize it?
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Old 4 March 2014, 16:25
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Creaming It precisely controls the crystallization process, so that you get fine crystals and make the consistency of butter. Honey that crystallizes on it's own will form big crystals, this makes the honey un pourable and un spreadable, and most importantly in palatable.
If your honey crystallizes on the shelf just heat up some water to 120F and allow the jar of honey to sit in the water for an hour or so and it will return to its normal state, this will not harm the honey or good enzymes and proteins in the honey.
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Old 4 March 2014, 16:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownsurccapt View Post
Are you just wanting honey for yourself at the house or on a larger scale? I know a network of bee keepers that attend farmers markets and county fairs to sell their product, and it isn't hard to sell honey these days, but would rather to sell to you than some of the scoundrels that buy it... (cut it with corn syrup and resell it as "fresh local honey" in the dead of winter... and suckers buy it).


Some for my own use, with tea and such...and probably 4-10 lbs every so often for making mead...different honey gives a different flavor, and it's always tough to find a source I can trust, so yeah...if I can source from a fellow Socnetter, that's the way I'd like to go.

(and no, I don't sell my mead, though I do give a lot to family and friends...)
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Old 4 March 2014, 16:35
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Some for my own use, with tea and such...and probably 4-10 lbs every so often for making mead...different honey gives a different flavor, and it's always tough to find a source I can trust, so yeah...if I can source from a fellow Socnetter, that's the way I'd like to go.

(and no, I don't sell my mead, though I do give a lot to family and friends...)
Copy on all! I'll talk to some of my fellow local beekeepers who have hives on a much larger scale. And put you in touch with them to source your honey.
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Old 4 March 2014, 17:04
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Let's see...
In my neck of the woods, all honey is wildflower honey; we just don't have enough of any one crop to be dedicated honey. Hives are transported to apple orchards, so there is a CHANCE of getting apple honey.
One day, I had a brain cramp; I couldn't remember if it was better to open the hive on a sunny day or a cloudy day. I opened it on a cloudy day. LESSON LEARNED! Popped the top and WHOOSH! They chased me all the way down the road to the barn.... my family laughing hysterically all the while. Got a few stings but the one I REMEMBER, to this day, was the lucky lady that got me on my scrotum!
In my ten years I found that, after a while, ALL the honey would crystalize and I'd have to boil the bottles to 'clear them up'.
Our hive was near the gardens. When the hive would swarm, the queen and her caretakers would fly to a tomato stake and land. In the end, it would look like a Q-Tip. I'd call a fellow down the hill, and he'd come up, lay a sheet in the garden, break the tomato stake, wrap it all up and earn himself a new hive!
I started with Italians... and never saw another breed (i.e. African).

I did see signs of a
I STILL have my hive tool; what a handy device that has proven to be... for many things!
Well, perhaps now that I am retiring, I may start another hive. Just talking about and thinking about bees has started a yearning that I haven't felt in some years. If only I could get someone to volunteer to extract for me; I never had enough hives to justify purchasing an electric extractor. I'd have to slice the capping off, place two frames in a centrifuge and crank like mad. What a mess, in the kitchen, when I was done!
Uh... leave the bees alone when it is cloudy
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Old 4 March 2014, 18:03
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Thats awesome! Yes a cloudy windy day is the worst, they get so aggravated! I'm hoping to control the swarm process so they don't!

Look around for a local or a club that isn't too far- I've yet to meet a beekeeper that wasn't willing to help or share their tools.
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