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hayedid
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« on: April 12, 2005, 11:29:39 AM »

A homeschool journal got the wild idea of raising bees into my head.... however... I have some fears.  I'm fairly certain that I'm allergic to bees (I got stung by a bumblebee many years ago and my arm swelled).  One of my daughters is allergic to many of the things I am... but has never been stung by a bee... so we don't know if she is allergic to them or not.  
One of my primary reasons for wanting to raise bees is for the supposed health benefits (although I have taken regiments of local honey before and not noticed an improvement in allergies).  My daughter gets sick easilily like I do.

Anyway... to get to the point, we do live in the country, so we could move the bees away from us.... but they will likely come to our house for water and my wife's abundant flowers.  I was looking at building my own hive box (super?).... figuring I'd save a big of money and it would likely be built better (my book shelves could easily hold 3 suma wrestlers).

I would like [to know] the following:

1) Hopefully to get some honey the first year.  A good nuc is needed for this, correct?

2) Good plans for a hive box / super?  Anyone know a place online with some good plans?

3) To know the cheapest place to buy a good bee suit.

4) Where the best place is to puchase bees (apparently sometimes they are bred for calmness and honey).

5) How to best avoid swarms (this is my greatest fear in rasing bees).  Apparently, my old neighbor had 25 hives... so much for educating neighbors (I am to do better than that).  I didn't know swarming could be an issue with bees (until reading at this site).

Also, some sites said you could get into the hobby for $100 to $150.  This site refers to $500... which I don't have.  Bee suits themselves seemed to cost about $100 to $150.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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jathomas
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2005, 12:29:16 PM »

I wouldn't want to tell anyone they're not allergic to bees, but it is very rare to be "allergic to bees".  Most people think that they're allergic to bees because they were stung when they were young, and had a bad reaction.  I was stung by a bee when I was five, and my hand swelled up like a baseball glove. (And, like most, I'm not even sure it was a bee.  It was actually more likely a yellow jacket, since we had them all over.  The honeybee always gets blamed, though.)

But that's a normal "local" reaction.  The body is sending histamine to the area to combat the venom, and the activity causes swelling, and later itching.  After enough stings, you stop reacting so severely.  I was stung fifteen times this weekend, and two hours later, I couldn't tell you where.

The reaction you have to watch out for is the allergic reaction, which involves headache, fever, nausea, swelling of the face and lips, anaphylaxis, affecting the respiritory system, and inhibiting breathing.  It is rare to have this type of reaction but of course, it is not unheard of.  If you're worried about it, talk to your doctor.

Here is one (of many) sites on the subject:
http://www.entandallergy.com/allergy/bee_sting/bee_sting.html


For my first year, I wore the gear though, and didn't get stung at all when I did.  Having bees near the house wasn't a problem either, because they are docile when foraging away from the hive.  And since my hives are forty feet away, there are rarely bees in the yard at all.  Bees usually fly up, go for a quarter of a mile, and set down.  Foraging too close to the hive could give their location away to predators.

There are a couple of cheap ways to go, as far as suits go.  The disposable painter jumpsuits they sell at the hardware store are around $5.00, and I used one for half a season.  After it started tearing, I tried using an expensive bee suit, but it was really hot and sweaty!  So, I started just tucking my jeans into my socks, and wearing a long shirt with rubber bands around the cuffs.  Slap on a $25 veil and hat, and I'm good to go.  If you want gloves, get some thin leather work gloves and put your sleeves around them, so no bees can sneak past.

It sounds like you're a homesteader.  If you are, beekeeping should be right up your alley, if you can either avoid getting stung, or learn not to mind so much!  Good luck!
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hayedid
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2005, 12:54:59 PM »

Thank you for the reply.  I was looking at putting the hive at least 150 feet from our house.  I could be wrong... but I doubt I would ever visit the bees without being well suited... but maybe I would get used to them.

I understand that equipment is needed for extraction, etc..., but to start off with -- since spring is already here.  Would it be a good idea to simply buy a prebuilt hive and a nuc..... and then as spring and summer progress, I can build necessary additional supers and get the extra equipment needed?

Where is the best place from which to buy bees and a hive (I'm in New Mexico)?
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fuzzybeekeeper
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2005, 12:56:14 PM »

While I have never built my own equipment, I don't think you save that much  money by building your own.  This is totally different if you already have your own equipment (as you seem to) and you have lots of time and just love working with wood.  But the cost of pre-cut boxes is not that much higher than the lumber itself.  And trying to make the frames with all the cuts I see in the frames I get would just be a nightmare (FOR ME!)

I'm sure if you were building for 100 hives you would save a substancial amount, but for one or two I wouldn't bother.  

As usual, just my thoughts!

Fuzzy
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jathomas
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2005, 01:04:27 PM »

I think the fuzz man is sorta right.  The frames are too much to deal with, to save a buck apiece.   But you can get a good sized plank of pine from the hardware store for 15 bucks and get a couple of hive bodies out of it.  You'll end up saving ten bucks or so.  

One cheap way to get hives, is to find a guy who will sell you used hives.  Also, look up people who are selling beekeeping operations.  Sometimes they need the dough, and will sell a hive for cheap!  And if they don't want to, maybe the person who bought it will!  I met a guy who got a really good deal on hundreds of hives, but spent all his money.  He said if I wanted, he'd sell me hives for twenty bucks.  I had just gotten some new ones, or I would have taken him up on it.

Just goes to show.
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Robo
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2005, 02:41:24 PM »

I  agree with all the advice you have been given so far.

I would definately talk with your doctor about a possible allergic reaction to being stung,  and at least get an Epipen to have on hand.  As Jason has stated, some people think that a normal reaction is an allergic reaction.  Never the less, ones body can change and even someone who has never had a reaction before, can out of the blue have a reaction. That is why I would recommend to any beekeeper to see their doctor and keep an Epipen on hand.

Unless you cut your own lumber or have a really cheap source,  buying pre-cut is the best bet.

For gloves, also consider surgical latex gloves, as recommended by one of the moderator (Adam).  I not sure, but if I recall, Adam may be allergic himself, so he might have better advice for you. Here is his post (with pictures) recommending the latex gloves.
http://beemaster.com/beebbs/viewtopic.php?t=2131&highlight=gloves

I can not offer much advice on suits and gloves since I do not wear them, though the surgical glove idea I might try.  Gloves, in general, make it awkward/harder to handle and manipulate the hive.  The surgicals would keep the propolis off my hands.
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Rabbitdog
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2005, 05:31:04 PM »

I agree completely about purchasing supers/frames rather than building it yourself (unless woodworking is your hobby).  I'm the ultimate tight-wad and after looking closely at the equipment needed, I quickly decided to purchase new.  
I simply use a pair of white coveralls similar to what a painter would wear (at a used work clothes store, they cost $7).  Works great except the bees do occasionally climb up the pants legs but you could use tape or boots if they really bother you.  
Do buy a beekeepers hat and veil, smoker, and hive tool.
Don't worry about the swarming issue.  Sounds like you are concerned about it being a horrifying event.  The big problem is that it can reduce honey yield.  Otherwise, I think a nicely timed swarm and the opportunity to capture it is a wonderful thing and quite enjoyable.
Did you read about the beekeeping article in the April issue of "Home School Helper"?   Too bad you're so far away, I'd be happy to give a fellow homeschooler a new split ready to go.  Let me know if you end up in VA and want to transport bees back across the country!
Best wishes!
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hayedid
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2005, 05:38:51 PM »

Rabbitdog...

  Thank you.  Yes, the article was in the April HomeSchooling Helper.  Thank you also for the offer -- I wish I lived closer....

To All...

  Thank you for the advice.  I will definately buy a premade unit.
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Rabbitdog
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2005, 08:03:22 PM »

Oh, by the way, the woodware can be purchased assembled or unassembled.  You'll save a lot of $ if you assemble it yourself.  It may take a little time but it's easy and a great rainy day project.  I definitely recommend unassembled.
How many "arrows" do you homeschool?  We have four, ages 7 - 11.  The oldest is getting a beekeeping outfit for the next birthday and we are planning on incorporating some of the ideas for education from that article.  
Have fun, it's a truly rewarding hobby.  It costs a little to start up but after 3 years, I have reached the break even point and hope to make a dollar or two this year.
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firetool
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2005, 11:59:15 PM »

I would defently buy the unassambled. I would look at western Bee supply. They have a web site,I liked there prices the best. Mann lake has bee suits for around 58 dollars I think give or take a little. I would get the tools from mann lake also.

Brian
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Lesli
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2005, 06:03:44 AM »

In my experience, you don't need a beesuit. Most of the time, I don't even need a veil. If your bees are gentle, you can work them like I do, in street clothes, plus a hat (to keep them from getting tangled in you hair). When you do need a "suit," wear the veil and tape up your clothes. You'll get stung anyway, though. Smiley And it will probably be your fault, as it was mine--a hand put down carelessly on a bee. Best to get used to it. If someone in your family might be allergic, definitely see a doctor first, maybe ask for a prescription for an Epi pen, but at least have Benadryl on hand.

I can't speak to the economics of building your own versus buying, but if you're buying, the shipping can be a killer. I would definitely buy rather than build frames, though.

My dog and I regularly play fetch near the hives. When the bees are working clover or goldenrod in our field, they're around us, but they don't care. Unless you get a "hot" hive, or your bees are Africanized, I don't think you'll have a problem. If they are, you requeen.

I'd say the most important thing is to find a bee club, and with it, a mentor to help you out as you're starting.
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2005, 07:35:37 AM »

It occurs to me that you might want to try topbar hives. They're the cheapest to build. Do a google search for topbar hives, and you'll find plenty of info.
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Robo
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2005, 07:55:52 AM »

One other point that has been discussed heavily in the forums is don't buy into the "starter kit" that most supply houses sell.  Although they seem like a deal, a good portion of the stuff you get will get is not necessary and will most likely go unused.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2005, 09:33:07 AM »

A top bar hive or foundationless frames will be more educational from the point of view of what bees do naturally.  You'll also have less Varroa mite problems.  And it will be cheaper.  Regular hives with foundation would be more educational from the point of view of teaching how beekeepers normally keep bees.

On the subject of starter kits, I agree.  I've concluded that most don't have one item that I would have bought.  Let's try a typical one:

Two deep hive bodies.  I would have bought all mediums because I don't want to lift the full deeps (90 pounds full of honey)

20 deep frames.  Again, I would have bought all mediums.

20 plastic foundation.  I would have bought small cell wax.

A solid bottom board.  I would have bought a Screened Bottom Board (SBB)

A hive stand.  I would have put the hive on a couple of concrete blocks or treated four by fours.

An inner cover and telescopic cover.  Can't say I wouldn't use them somewhere, but all of my hives are not top entrances and most of those are done with migratory covers with shims to make the entrance.

Gloves.  I usually use a regular pair of buckskin gloves with them tucked into the elastic of my jacket with a zip on veil.  They provide the long gauntleted ones that are more difficult to take on and off.

Veil.  I usually wear a jacket with a zip on veil.  The bees don't get under the viel and I have somewhere to tuck the gloves into.

Hive tool.  I prefer the Italian hive tool to the regular one.

Smoker.  The one in the kits is always too small.  I prefer a large one.

Feeder.  They always come with a boardman and I don't like the susequent robbing from them.  I'd much prefer a Rapid Feeder.

Brush.  I suppose I'd use the brush, but a goose feather is nice.
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Agility Mom
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2005, 08:49:18 PM »

What is a migratory cover?
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Judy
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2005, 10:23:54 PM »

Telescopeing cover is one with sides that slid down over the hive body. Migratory is one that just sits on top same as the boxes and inner cover just sit on each other.

At least I don't think they fly south for winter.
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Jay
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2005, 11:27:29 PM »

Here is a migratory cover. Designed so that migratory bee keepers can push their hives together on the truck and therefore get more hives together for one trip. Cheesy

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