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Author Topic: How can a newbee raise bees using organic methods?  (Read 4455 times)
winenutguy
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« on: September 21, 2008, 08:20:08 PM »

Hello all;
I have just recently decided to keep bees next spring.  My wife and I have 5 acres in N.W. Washington and we noticed we didn't see many bees this year.  After deciding to do this I checked out some books and one of the them was Ross Conrad's book on organic beekeeping.  It really made an impression and I have made the decision to not have any non-natural materials or chemicals in or near my hives.  What should be my first steps.  I've joined the local bee club and signed up for a class but that doesn't start until January.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  My first question is what kind of bee's and queens should I have, given that I am not going to use chemicals or antibiotics?  Thank you for your help.  Winenutguy.
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JP
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 10:03:20 PM »

Start reading here, he is one of our members: http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm


...JP
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nkybeekeeper
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 11:08:39 PM »

Here's a post from my blog.  I'm a first-year beekeeper and had a lot of fun and learned so very much this past season.  Of course, many people will have different opinions, but here is my 2 cents worth.

Recommended Resources for Beginners
I'm often asked how I got into beekeeping.  Most of the time what people mean is 'how' I got into beekeeping and learned what I needed to know. 

As a first-year beekeeper the amount of advise can get overwhelming, but for those of you who are interested, I've made a top ten list of things that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in keeping bees.

1.  Look at the calendar.  The beekeeping season actually starts well before spring.  A first-year beekeeper will have to order/make hives, buy a few simple tools, and secure some bees, either by mail order or from a local source for delivery in March or April.  Either way, the time to start reading, gathering supplies, and preparing for the season is during the winter.

2.  Get to know some local beekeepers.  The best way to do this is to find the local beekeeping club.  If you don't know where to start, contact your local agricultural extension agent, state apiarist, or ask around at the local farmers market.  Find out who the local beekeepers are in your area and ask them about their beekeeping activities.

3.  Buy, borrow, or check out several books on beekeeping.  I highly recommend 'Beekeeping For Dummies' and 'The Beekeeper's Handbook'.  Both are excellent resources.  Other recommended resources can be found on my blog under 'On My Bookshelf'.

4.  Surf the net for topics on beekeeping.  Many beekeepers come at it from different angles.  You may be interested in pollination, producing honey or honey products, or you may be interested in beekeeping as a business.  Whatever your interest, there are literally hundreds of websites that will have information for you.  Be sure and check out blogs, web forums, and chat boards.

5.  Order supplier catalogs and start getting familiar with equipment.  Many suppliers carry slightly different items.

6.  Attend a beekeeping workshop or field day.  Many beekeeping clubs or organizations will host a weekend workshop on beekeeping.  Theses are geared toward the beginner beekeeper and will prove invaluable in building your confidence and knowledge base.  (I attended two of these before I ever had bees.)

7.  Get to know your equipment and how to use it properly.  Practice manipulating the hives, using the tools, lighting the smoker, and manipulating the hive before there are bees in it.  Assemble and have it painted and ready to go by the day that you put bees in your hive.
 
8.  Start with two hives.  This was a great piece of advise that I got.  It allows you to compare and contrast the two hives with each other and lookout for disease and pests.  Also, if one fails for any reason, you have not lost all of your beekeeping for the whole season.

9.  Don't be discouraged by what happens.  When I found out I had mites I was devastated.  Then I realized that everyone has them.  Bees are natural creatures in an unnatural environment.  There will be mishaps, missteps, accidents, defeats, and discouragements.  The joy in beekeeping in being successful despite these setbacks.  Beekeeping is a very old and time-honored tradition.  Only a very special few partake in it.  That's what makes it special.

10.  Keep a journal, blog, or some type of record of your beekeeping activities.  I decided early on to photograph and blog about my experience as a record to refer back to, share with friends and family, and encourage others to become beekeepers.

These are just the main points that I wanted to stress to anyone who is looking at becoming a beekeeper.  If you are interested, let me encourage you to e-mail me and tell me about your interest.  I'd love to hear from you.

www.nkybeekeeper.com
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2008, 12:43:19 AM »

Winenutguy,

If you want to purchase equipment and packages bees close by try Lange's/Belliville Honey on Old 99 just north of Burlington.  I think they're at Old 99 and Dalstaht Rd, 1st road east bound north of Cook Road.  Cross and tressle and hang a left and another left into their driveway.  BTW, they are Mann Lake Ltd distributors and are listedd in the Mann Lake catalog as Lange's Honey Skep.  (Harold Lange died over 30 years ago but his name lives on.)
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
winenutguy
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2008, 09:55:55 PM »

Thank you all.  After doing some further reading and asking a few more questions I have decided to do the following.  Medium boxes and frames, no chemicals or antibiotics, small cell foundation or just foundation-less (not sure yet about this), and screened bottom boards.  I think I want to stay as hands-off as possible with the bees.  Just let them do their thing and support them as gently as possible.  I'm not looking to make a ton of honey, I just want to see bees around our property. 
By the way, with a screened bottom board is a slatted rack useful or even necessary?  I'm in N.W. Washington state and in a pretty wet area.  Any ideas on keeping bee's dry over the winter?
Thank you all.  Winenutguy.
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Cindi
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2008, 11:14:28 AM »

Winenutguy.  You have asked this specific question a couple of times, and no responses, the question about the wet rainy weather of the PNW.  I live in Canada, 45 km northeast of Vancouver.  I am in that same very wet, soggy and rainy Pacific Northwest too.  When you get your colonies, it is very important that they do stay dry.  They will stay dry if you provide upper ventilation in the hive.  That means that the inner cover MUST have a slot in the front.  The bees keep the inside of their box(es) pretty warm, and pretty dry.  If the condensation that is created within the colony can escape through the slot in the inner cover, they will stay dry.  It is indeed wet bees that will die.

So, understanding what you speak about with the rainy, wet and coolness of your climate and my climate, I can answer this question for you with total accuracy.  My bees have never had any issues with being wet.  Plain and simply put....the slot in the inner cover a must. Hope that this answers your question, keep asking more if you are not getting the answers that you require.  Have the most wonderful and awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
winenutguy
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2008, 02:02:10 PM »

Thank you Cindi!  I'll make sure I do this next spring.  I really appreciate the help.  Best, Winenutguy
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2008, 07:55:11 PM »

After doing some further reading and asking a few more questions I have decided to do the following.  Medium boxes and frames, no chemicals or antibiotics, small cell foundation or just foundation-less (not sure yet about this), and screened bottom boards. 
Thank you all.  Winenutguy.

if using foundation is organic then I am organic because I have never done anything to my hives, oh wait I have fed sugar syrup so I guest I am not, the organic thing is very hard to do and justify so you are trying to do the hardest thing there is to beekeeping, its almost impossible now day to say you honey or bee's are organic, I have never added a chemical of any kind to my bee's but cant say what or where the forage so even if feeding sugar water is my only bad the organic bunch says "then your not organic", I am not worried about being organic, I just want bee's that live without any treatments and I have been doing that since I started, mostly by getting bee's that I sen live without treatments from doing removals, I have only had bee's for 5 years and have hives that have been going for 5 years, the queens I raise from these have done very good, its just a matter of luck is what some say, I have tried a hive with small cell and grafted from this hive, put queens in regular cell foundation hives and they still going good, small cell might help (i cant see it, but believe its the bee's themselves)but I just use regular foundation and my bee's do fine, I have never done a sugar shake or mite count, dont have time to do studies, to me from what I have heard being organic is not you can do one thing and not another, manipulating a hive in any way is not organic from what I heard so using any kind of foundation that comes from anywhere you get and dont know its past from start to you would be considered to me not organic. no I am not bashing anyone but I dont believe small cell is all its been hipped to be and I think unless your in the middle of 100 miles square with know one living in it or a deserted island where no chemicals or fertilizer are and go foundation less you might be organic.  good luck with you in the future beekeeping and welcome to the club..... grin
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2008, 09:46:01 PM »

Winenutguy called me today, he's coming by at 10 am in the morning for a look-see on my operation.  I hope I can be of help.
If I can't answer all his questions I'll overwhelm him with hype.   LOL

I'll let him tell you if he learned anything as I don't like to brag.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2008, 10:32:13 PM »

Brian, good and yeah!!!  You are meeting another forum friend, how cool is that. No doubt you will give WineNutGuy a good bunch of visuals and knowledge at your place, go, Brian, go!!!  Have the most wonderful day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
winenutguy
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2008, 04:03:24 PM »

I thought I would say thank you here as well Brian.  I really appreciated your time.  I learned alot!  Best, Marcus
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2008, 05:20:50 AM »

Winenutguy called me today, he's coming by at 10 am in the morning for a look-see on my operation.  I hope I can be of help.
If I can't answer all his questions I'll overwhelm him with hype.   LOL

I'll let him tell you if he learned anything as I don't like to brag.

Looks like a potential new face for the next picnic!! Wink
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Windy Ridge Apiary
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2008, 12:50:03 AM »

One of the best places to stay up to date and to learn different techniques is "Bee Culture" magazine. Welcome aboard.

Doug
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Shawn
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2008, 11:23:41 AM »

Im glad to see beekeepers are helping each other out every way possible. Brian I commend you on your actions by inviting someone over to help them out. It not often in todays world that people help others the way Ive seen people in the forums helping each other. Maybe its just my line of work because all I see is the bad, usually.
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