I thought I would introduce myself and tell you my bee history. . .
About 20 years ago I had two hives. a friend got me started by giving me my first hive and I went to an estate auction and bought some never before used bee boxes and captured a swarm for my second hive. I lived in a residential neighborhood, on a large lot over an acre in size. I had my two hives in a little stand of wild cherry trees surrounded by snow fence to keep my children and the neighborhood kids from getting too close to the entrances.
My neighbor was a retired gentleman. We were friendly and neighborly, but not in any means close friends. One day as I was sitting outside of my hives in a lawn chair watching my bees (as I did by the hour), he came over and complained to me that my bees were landing on the ladder of his above ground pool and his grandchildren were getting stung as they used the ladder.
This seemed odd to me, as I showed him that I had a large oval shaped galvanized wash tub right outside of my hives with bark floating on the top for the bees to get their water from. I told him that I didn't think that my bees would be flying 100 yards or more over to his house to get water when it was readily available and in fact obviously being used. as he could observe while we stood there and chatted. . .
But none the less, to my neighbor a bee was a bee. To him, I had bee hives therefore every bee in the neighborhood must be mine. In a more confident manner than I really had any foundation for, I told him that I would show him where the bees getting water from his swimming pool ladder were coming from. I had read about the technique of following the bee line back to a hive from a nectar source. I figured the same would work with water.
He was very skeptical, but allowed me to go over to his yard to begin my little quest. I lived to the due east of him and it was immediately apparent that the water gathering bees weren't mine for they were departing to the southwest from his pool ladder. I would see a bee fly overhead and I would walk, following it until I lost it and then wait for another bee to come along and follow it.
My journey wasn't very far. Only a few hundred yards to the southwest of my neighbor, in an overgrown weedy field, I was astonished to find dozens and dozens of bee hives. I can only describe it as a bee ghetto. Hives were toppled over and in all kinds of decay and disrepair. I was amazed. . .I'm sure my swagger and cockiness could have been seen for blocks around as I sauntered back to my neighbor's house. I asked him to follow me, that I had something to show him. I don't know. . .I think he was somewhat skeptical and reluctant, but he followed me. . . I wish I had a camera. His eyes almost came out of his head when we came close enough through the weeds and he could see all those bees. Sometimes things work out. . .
The ending to the story isn't very happy though. I called the Indiana bee inspector and told her about my find. She could hardly believe what I was telling her, but when she came out a week or so later, she told me that she had been looking for these bees for quite some time. The owner would never have his bees inspected (as required by Indiana law) and while she knew he had a large apiary she could never find where he kept them.
She inspected those hives that afternoon and ended up burning more than 30 of the hives as they were completely stricken with American foul brood. Apparently my bees had taken to robbing over there and contracted foul brood also and as a result I ended my bee keeping hobby. I loved keeping bees, but I just wanted a simple hobby. At the time I wasn't prepared for chemical treatments and antibiotics and all that, so I just quit.
My love for keeping bees has never faded and over the years I've kept up in reading about bee keeping problems, mites and hive collapse, etc. It has been growing on my mind to get back into the hobby. I am a chaplain and In my street ministry I am baking lots and lots of bread. . . giving it away to people on the street and I'm using large quantities of honey. I don't use any sugar in my bread, only honey. . .so for some economic reasons and also just for the pure love of bee keeping, about a week ago I ordered two packages of Russian bees for pickup in mid May.
I joined this forum today. This is my first post. I am so glad to have found this forum. . .