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Author Topic: Hello from Central Indiana  (Read 990 times)
AndrewT
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« on: April 22, 2012, 11:35:11 AM »

I've been keeping bees in central Indiana for twenty two years.  In 1990, I got my first hive from the Banta Bee Store, just south of Indianapolis, and a few weeks later, my first package colony (I think it cost around $30.00).  I didn't have much money in those days and my bee suit consisted of a hat and veil from Kelly's, and a pair of leather welding gloves to which I had sewn cloth extensions with rubber bands sewn into the end seams.  My smoker was made from a metal coffee can with a bellows made from two small boards and a piece of old vinyl.  I wish I still had that home-made smoker, it was pretty cool.  Later, I upgraded with a smoker that I bought at a flea market for $5.  It was from Roots, in Medina Ohio.  It looked every bit of 80 years old, but it still worked great for the season that I used it (now it sits on a shelf in my garage).  Another good flea market find was a 1908 copy of "The ABC  and XYZ of Bee Culture".  Being a biologist, I was fascinated by the detailed and in-depth information in that old book, and I read it cover to cover.
That first package colony moved right in to the hive that I had carefully assembled (including, like, ten coats of white paint), and set up at the back end of our big yard.  They drank up the sugar syrup that I provided in old mayonnaise jars, drew out the foundation, and filled up two deep boxes before the end of the first year, just like it said in the "First Lessons in Bee-keeping" book that came with my hive stuff.  The second year, I followed the book, successfully built up a booming colony with no swarming, and produced several shallow supers of some of the best honey I've ever gotten from a hive.  In later years, I discovered that there are several large groves of Black Locust trees near me, and when the timing is right, I get wonderful light colored honey.  I had taken some of the comb honey, put up in clear plastic boxes from that first year in to work to show the friend who had gotten me started keeping bees and he said it was the finest comb honey he'd ever seen and that I should enter it in my county fair.  I ended up giving most of it away.  I still give more honey away than I sell.

Over the years I've learned a lot about keeping bees.  The most important thing I've learned is that I keep bees for pleasure, and the only way to do it wrong is to stress out about it.  Another thing I've learned is that you can't make bees do anything.  You can only give them options and let them decide.  I've also discovered over time that I've killed as many bees and watched more swarms fly away because I "did" something as I ever did by "not doing" something.  Except for a couple of bee-less seasons, I've had bees ever since that first package of pretty yellow Italians.  I've gotten quite a few packages in years past from Hardemans Apiary in Georgia.  Right now, all three of my hives originated from a wild swarm that I collected twelve years ago or so.  I've gotten away from medicating my bees and I never purchase queens.  I make my own splits, let them raise their own queens, and I haven't used any chemical treatments in probably 8 years.  I love my scruffy little feral bees.  They over-winter really well, although I can't figure out why the smaller colonies from the previous years splits always out-perform the older colonies.  I can't remember the last time I've even seen Veroa mites in my hives.  I think it's a combination of the way I make splits every year, which interrupts the brood cycle when they have to raise their own queen, and using only a small strip of foundation at the top of my frames, letting them build smaller-cells.

I love talking about bees, and after all these years, I still feel like a novice at times, and I've never gotten over the sense of wonderment I always feel when I see a beautiful fat young queen, just starting to lay in a new nuc, or frames filled with golden honey in July.
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Give a man a fish and he will have dinner.  Teach a man to fish and he will be late for dinner.
Larry Bees
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2012, 04:15:35 PM »

Welcome to the site!

I keep my bees for pleasure too. It's a great hobby and I enjoy it.

Larry
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specialkayme
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 05:14:16 PM »

Welcome to the site!
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2012, 06:36:41 PM »

Welcome to the forum.
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Joe D
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Location: Ovett, Ms


« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2012, 10:01:42 PM »


Welcome to the forum, Andrew.  Alot of us are fairly new to this hobby, I am sure you can teach us thing with your years of beekeeping.

Joe
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tefer2
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2012, 10:57:09 PM »

Welcome to the forum Andrew.
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3010
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2012, 02:22:24 AM »

Hi!  We are in the southern part of the state.  I'm new to bees but my husband grew up with them.  I may end up testing your "love to talk about bees" statement; so far my only resource is books!
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indypartridge
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2012, 07:21:54 AM »

Hello and Welcome!

Always nice to see another Hoosier.

I'm wondering if we've every crossed paths - do you attend any meetings of the State Association? Belong to a local club?

Where in Central Indiana? I'm down in Brown County
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AndrewT
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2012, 09:59:57 AM »

I'm in Delaware County, little bit east of Muncie.

A co-worker/friend of mine got me to go to the "Bee School" a few years ago.  Is that sponsored by the Indiana Beekeepers Association?  Anyway, it was pretty informative and it was cool to see all the bee stuff displayed by the venders.

One thing about the bee school is that they mostly recommend beekeeping methods that I've gotten away from and it seemed to be more for people who just generally were more serious about it and who worked harder at it than I do. 

When I first stumbled on Michael Bush's website, it was the first time that I saw someone who was doing things a more natural way, that had always made sense to me.  I'd always been led to believe that the way I did things (like letting my splits raise their own queens and not using foundation or chemicals) would never work for a bigger, profit conscious operation.  But here was Mr. Bush, doing it and apparently succeeding and (I suppose) making a profit.
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Give a man a fish and he will have dinner.  Teach a man to fish and he will be late for dinner.
Rurification
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2012, 02:09:49 PM »

Welcome!   I'm down in Greene County.   It's great to find more experienced beeks in Indiana.   I'm so glad to have you on the forum.
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AndrewT
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2012, 01:27:09 PM »

Hey Greene County,

If I'm called an "experienced" beek, it brings to mind experiences like:

The time I found one of my two hives (the good one) was close to swarming, with a bunch of capped queen cells.  It was packed with bees and I was counting on a big comb honey crop so, I cut out all the capped queen cells to keep them from swarming (so I thought), and they ended up swarming anyway, leaving me with a queenless hive and no freshly laid eggs to raise another.  oops.

The time I got home from work on a cloudy, rainy, cool day and went out to put bee escapes under comb honey supers.  I was wearing black jeans and a light shirt; just threw my veil on, no smoker; gonna get in and out real quick.  That day I learned several things.  Getting into a bee hive that's bursting with bees on a cool, wet day is a bad idea.  Getting into a bee hive with black jeans is also a bad idea.  Doing the first two and not bothering to use a smoker is a bad idea.  On the plus side, my wife bought me a nice full bee suit with zip-on veil on my next birthday.

Then there was the time when I tried to re-queen the same hive the following year (cause they were, you know...mean) and I was waiting for the honey flow to start, then I ordered the new queen.  I found the old queen and killed her, and waited a couple of days before putting the new queen in a cage into the hive.  Turns out I should have looked for new eggs before I put her in there.  Three days later I was going to get in the hive and pull out the cage, but before I did, I saw my new queen laying dead on the ground in front of the hive.  Inside the hive, there were so many bees in two deeps, I didn't find the queen, but right away I did see fresh eggs, so, again, oops.
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Give a man a fish and he will have dinner.  Teach a man to fish and he will be late for dinner.
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2012, 04:36:52 PM »

 
Hey Greene County,

If I'm called an "experienced" beek, it brings to mind experiences like:

The time I found one of my two hives (the good one) was close to swarming, with a bunch of capped queen cells.  It was packed with bees and I was counting on a big comb honey crop so, I cut out all the capped queen cells to keep them from swarming (so I thought), and they ended up swarming anyway, leaving me with a queenless hive and no freshly laid eggs to raise another.  oops.

The time I got home from work on a cloudy, rainy, cool day and went out to put bee escapes under comb honey supers.  I was wearing black jeans and a light shirt; just threw my veil on, no smoker; gonna get in and out real quick.  That day I learned several things.  Getting into a bee hive that's bursting with bees on a cool, wet day is a bad idea.  Getting into a bee hive with black jeans is also a bad idea.  Doing the first two and not bothering to use a smoker is a bad idea.  On the plus side, my wife bought me a nice full bee suit with zip-on veil on my next birthday.

Then there was the time when I tried to re-queen the same hive the following year (cause they were, you know...mean) and I was waiting for the honey flow to start, then I ordered the new queen.  I found the old queen and killed her, and waited a couple of days before putting the new queen in a cage into the hive.  Turns out I should have looked for new eggs before I put her in there.  Three days later I was going to get in the hive and pull out the cage, but before I did, I saw my new queen laying dead on the ground in front of the hive.  Inside the hive, there were so many bees in two deeps, I didn't find the queen, but right away I did see fresh eggs, so, again, oops.

Andrew, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who does things like that.    Thanks for the laugh.
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GeezzzBeezzz
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2012, 09:33:12 PM »

Hi Andrew - really nice intro post. It's great that you seem to feel like you are always learning something and that the process feels new even though you've been at it for a long time. That is something a newbie like me really like to hear. My grandfather kept bees and loved to make mead. I've heard so many stories about him over the years I realized keeping bees is something special. It's like a life story. The really cool thing about your intro is that it seems to reinforce that everyone has their own way of going about keeping bees and because of that they have their own unique stories & events! Unfortunately, after reading your intro I'm starting to think the custom BLACK beekeeping outfit with multi-color rhinestones spelling Bee King on the front might not have been the best use of my limited funds.
Thanks for your post it was a delight to read.
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Tart words make no friends; a spoonful or honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.
~ Benjamin Franklin
AndrewT
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Location: Central Indiana


« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2012, 10:22:37 PM »

Geezz,

You might be OK, just use LOTS and LOTS of smoke Wink
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Give a man a fish and he will have dinner.  Teach a man to fish and he will be late for dinner.
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