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Author Topic: Hive make-up and package bees  (Read 3742 times)
Hopeful
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« on: November 30, 2007, 08:50:09 AM »

Okay, time to get serious about the hives I am adding next year. I admit to be being a bit nervous, since this is supposed to be a cash crop sideline business, but at this point the costs seem to far outweigh the payoff (at $2 a pound, which is the going wholesale rate in OKlahoma. If I sell retail then there are the sales tax issues and red tape I don't want to deal with). I am "Hopeful" that once everything is set up that this will eventually make money for my family.

BUt down to business.

I wish to add about 20 more hives next spring (bringing the total to 32) and need to ask a few questions, and put forth a concern or two. First, my friend says that I can forget about making any surplus honey with those new hives the first year. Is this true? If so, we will still move forward, but with the knowledge that the first year is a throw-away year.
My next question is, since I am starting from scratch with these hives, will I be okay to go with the Mann Lake PF120 frames? I hope the bees will accept it. These hives will be about 75 miles away from home and I will probably visit them once a month. How does this play into my decisions?

Next, packaged bees or nucs? There seem to be more apiaries selling packages than nucs, and the nucs seem much more expensive. Also, the package bees come in three, four and five pound swarms. Is there any advantage in buying a larger swarm? If I have a hive all set up, then what advantage is a nuc box? Will I get honey this year if I go with a five pound swarm over a three or four pound? Or will the queen populate the hive so fast that it makes no difference and I am wasting money on a larger package? I have also found a real discrepancy in pricing. Some sell packages for $48 and others appear to sell the same package for $100; what gives? Who should I get my bees from? I have been told by some to avoid southern bee farms because of AHB concerns and mites. I have also been told that it makes no difference, except to avoid Texas and Florida bees, while others say it makes no difference at all.

PLease, no posts saying that I would do better working at Mc Donald's part time. I hear this with any business venture. I am committed to this for at least a few years. I am sure there are people who make money raising honey. I am just not sure how, with all the treatments, syrup, frames, foundations, containers, etc.

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bassman1977
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 09:35:25 AM »

Quote
I wish to add about 20 more hives next spring (bringing the total to 32) and need to ask a few questions, and put forth a concern or two. First, my friend says that I can forget about making any surplus honey with those new hives the first year. Is this true? If so, we will still move forward, but with the knowledge that the first year is a throw-away year.
Depends on variables like weather, flows, bee type, etc.  I've had packages that made just enough for winter and I've had packages that gave me 100+ lbs in the Fall. 

Quote
These hives will be about 75 miles away from home and I will probably visit them once a month. How does this play into my decisions?
You may find that you'll be visiting them more often than that.  I wouldn't make any firm decisions about how often to visit them.  They may need more attention than that and probably will need to if they are building up fast.  Sometimes they can draw out boxes lightening quick.  I have seen boxes drawn out in a week.

Quote
Next, packaged bees or nucs? There seem to be more apiaries selling packages than nucs, and the nucs seem much more expensive. Also, the package bees come in three, four and five pound swarms. Is there any advantage in buying a larger swarm?

Nucs you will get drawn frames.  Packages, unless you you start them out on already drawn foundation, may start on starter strips, undrawn foundation (pick your poison), etc.  With nucs though, you probably don't have to wait for brood, eggs, etc.

Quote
Will I get honey this year if I go with a five pound swarm over a three or four pound? Or will the queen populate the hive so fast that it makes no difference and I am wasting money on a larger package?

Personally, I would do a 2 lbs package if they are available.  That's my preference though.  They are kind of hard to find....most are in 3 lbs packages that I've seen.  Having more bees is definitely an advantage, but I don't think it's going to be that big of a deal unless you are in a short summer climate.

Quote
Who should I get my bees from? I have been told by some to avoid southern bee farms because of AHB concerns and mites. I have also been told that it makes no difference, except to avoid Texas and Florida bees, while others say it makes no difference at all.

Try to go local if possible.  They will be more acclimated to your weather.  If you can't, then go with recommended places (I have purchased from Rossman Apiaries in the past).  I wouldn't worry about mites....all hives have beens with some mites.  AHB...I can't answer that...I've bought hives from the south and never had an issue.  You can always requeen if you have an aggressive hive.

Quote
PLease, no posts saying that I would do better working at Mc Donald's part time. I hear this with any business venture.

People are ignorant.  Prove them wrong and keep plugging.

Quote
I am committed to this for at least a few years. I am sure there are people who make money raising honey. I am just not sure how, with all the treatments, syrup, frames, foundations, containers, etc.

If you don't have a bee association in your area, contact a commercial operation and tap their knowledge.  I've done that a good bit and they have been very helpful.

That's just some of my experiences and thoughts.  Others will have other opinions so weigh your choices that best fit what you are doing.

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JP
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 09:45:23 AM »


>I wish to add about 20 more hives next spring (bringing the total to 32) and need to ask a few questions, and put forth a concern or two. First, my friend says that I can forget about making any surplus honey with those new hives the first year. Is this true? --- Generally speaking, yes, the first season is a build up season, but if you have an exceptional flow, you could pull some honey from a first yr hive.  

>... These hives will be about 75 miles away from home and I will probably visit them once a month. How does this play into my decisions? ---Once a month is not enough to keep up with things during good flow times. You will have swarming issues because they wil build faster than you will be able to make room. In a good flow they need to be checked at least once a week.

> Is there any advantage in buying a larger swarm? If I have a hive all set up, then what advantage is a nuc box? ---If you can afford the cost of a larger package generally speaking more bees more honey, but a three lb package will usually be fine. If you have a great queen, that 3lb will grow quickly.

>Will I get honey this year if I go with a five pound swarm over a three or four pound? ---Perhaps, perhaps not. >Or will the queen populate the hive so fast that it makes no difference and I am wasting money on a larger package? ---There are lots of variables here, that question can't be answered 100%.

>PLease, no posts saying that I would do better working at Mc Donald's part time. I hear this with any business venture. ---I was going to suggest Wendy's, bahhhah! grin

>I am committed to this for at least a few years. I am sure there are people who make money raising honey. I am just not sure how, with all the treatments, syrup, frames, foundations, containers, etc. --- You may find yourself a niche. I would suggest no chemicals in your honey, this will bring the price up. A friend of mine found a niche with his honey,his label says Raw honey. Don't prostitute yourself for price. Get your price with a quality product. Great luck to you!!!!


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Jerrymac
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2007, 10:11:34 AM »

Honey is a food item. No sales tax....right  huh
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 10:12:49 AM »

pretty much agree with above.

  once a month for a visit won't do.  you need to feed, make sure you have space, a queen, etc.  later, you'll  need to pull frames of honey (if you get any) more often than once a month in a strong flow.  check to make sure predators (including the 2 legged kind) have not dumped your hives......treat  for mites or whatever......
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2007, 11:00:52 AM »

agree w/ above. The quicker you get built up, the sooner you'll have surplus honey from a hive. The longer your winter, the more true this will become.As such, try to find complete hives for sale locally from another commercial beek or retiring beek. Get plugged into the local club. You'll get inside info on local bees for sure.

In my first year I started two hives from deeps. They drew out another deep and i got about 3 gall of surplus from both hives. This year, I got 13 gallons and enough drawn deeps to supplement three nucs and enough drawn mediums  I left w/ honey and put on top of the nucs from these two hives. Now I have five hives.

and yes, the money all goes out initially. It will take a while to get into the black. Dont forget to keep receipts and take advantage of your losses on  a schedule "c" form. If you do it inside your house, take the deduction for that as well.
As for working at McDonald's, yes its easier initially, but not rewarding in the end.
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2007, 11:26:09 AM »

Honey is a food item. No sales tax....right  huh
in VA there's sales tax on food....I don't know about OK.

My suggestion is to sell retail as much as possible. I don't mean to discourage but wholesale will make it very difficult to make a profit. You would probably make more money from fewer hives and retail sales than what you plan. If there is a farmers market near you that you could sell at you could easily make $5 or more a pound. Have you prepared a formal business plan?
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2007, 11:52:36 AM »

I agree with all the above as well.

One point worth mentioning though is that a hive made from a package is in continual decline of it's population for the first month until brood starts to hatch,  coincidentally this is the same time you are expecting them to draw out comb.  Whereas a nuc will continue to grow it's population during this time and is therefore more likely to produce a surplus.   Yes there is a price difference, but you need to decide your environment and which makes more sense.

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Hopeful
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2007, 12:48:46 PM »

What excellent advice! Yes, OK has sales tax on food items. Sad
Farmer's Markets are usually on Saturday, which is the time I spend in prayer and worship (no religious plug intended Smiley )
There are, however, a couple of flea markets that are open on Sunday. My concern is that the cost of a table would offset any profits. MY brother in law's brother has bees and gets $5 lb for his honey, but he ibnklcudes it in with a basket of organic veggies he sells for a total price, and delivers these baskets to "subscribers" once a month. I am not able to do this kind of thing right now.
    So far, we are marketing our honey to stores already bottled, labeled and ready. We are getiing $2.50 for the one pound squeeze bottle and $6 for the 3 lb mini-jug. The stores are selling these for $3.95 and $8.95, respectively.Makes me think we could get more for it.
I do intend to buy used hives and supers, and have a friend with hundreds of extra ones for $5 each, with frames, but without foundation.

BTW, How long does a guy keep his bees in a nuc before transplanting to a ten frame hive?
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Hopeful
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2007, 12:53:02 PM »

Oh, and does having them in a nuc create problems for putting them in plastic frames? I have heard that you transplant the nuc frames into the hive body, but if they come with wax foundation in the nuc, it seems the bees would then reject the plastic.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 02:00:39 PM »

>First, my friend says that I can forget about making any surplus honey with those new hives the first year. Is this true?

Some packages will and some won't make a surplus.  It's not generally expected.

> If so, we will still move forward, but with the knowledge that the first year is a throw-away year.

That would be my plan and then if they make a surplus you can enjoy it.

>My next question is, since I am starting from scratch with these hives, will I be okay to go with the Mann Lake PF120 frames?

I've had good luck with them.

> I hope the bees will accept it. These hives will be about 75 miles away from home and I will probably visit them once a month. How does this play into my decisions?

If they have no where to expand except the PF120s they will most likely use them fine.

>Next, packaged bees or nucs? There seem to be more apiaries selling packages than nucs, and the nucs seem much more expensive.

If you're intent is to try to get small cell, and the nucs aren't small cell, you'll be ahead to get the packages.  If you don't care, you'll be ahead to get the nucs.

> Also, the package bees come in three, four and five pound swarms. Is there any advantage in buying a larger swarm?

Three will work fine.

> If I have a hive all set up, then what advantage is a nuc box?

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm

Go to the "what nucs are good for" section.


> Will I get honey this year if I go with a five pound swarm over a three or four pound?

It won't make a significant difference.

>does having them in a nuc create problems for putting them in plastic frames?

No.  It's not whether there are wax and plastic, but whether there is any other space for them to fill.  If the only space they have is plastic foundation, they usually fill it fine.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2007, 04:37:50 PM by Michael Bush » Logged

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Jerrymac
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2007, 02:23:18 PM »

WOW  shocked

Sales tax on food. Can't imagine that. Here there is no tax on food unless you buy from McDonalds or some place like that.

Perhaps you might consider working for Burger King  grin
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2007, 02:23:47 PM »

another suggestion about marketing your product.....see if you can find any CSA's around your area who may be interested in offering your honey to their subscribers.
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Hopeful
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2007, 02:37:11 PM »

Uh, what's a CSA? Confederate States Army? Chile Sauce Apologists? Again, my ignorance is made manifest..... huh
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2007, 03:02:39 PM »

California Sunbather Association
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2007, 03:57:50 PM »

Community Supported Agriculture. get your google on and check it out.
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2007, 04:01:48 PM »

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BTW, How long does a guy keep his bees in a nuc before transplanting to a ten frame hive?

42 days.

Really, move them whenever they are 1. almost out of room and 2. they are building up.

..or from Google...Canadian Standards Association..although that was # 4  and doesn't make sense Smiley

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JP
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2007, 07:05:59 PM »

Why should we have to compete with the mass produced crap that's not raw, not fresh, a combination of who knows what that tastes like crap? Get those prices UP!!!!!
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2007, 10:16:51 PM »

another suggestion about marketing your product.....see if you can find any CSA's around your area who may be interested in offering your honey to their subscribers.

Farmer's Markets are another good place to sell local honey locally.
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2007, 12:51:17 AM »

PRICES UP  cheesy SELL SELL SELL grin                                                                                                                                                     http://img166.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000091nk7.jpg                                                     http://img527.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000093lu9.jpg                                                                          http://img504.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1000092tt0.jpg                                                       Wink RDY-B
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