Okay, since my intro is getting a little derailed (I want to keep talking, Jim!) I figured I should talk to some folks more in depth
I've never seen a honey-bee hive, ever. I've never entertained the idea of keeping bees before, but the job is being plopped on me. I like bees. Hell, I once attempted to save a bee from drowning--- but the bastard stung me. Okay, she really wasn't a bastard, it's just sad that help isn't a universally understood action by every forms of life. She didn't know any better. Anyways....
I'm moving to Panama at the end of February, and I'm not talking about Florida. The people I live with now, an older couple, own land out there and plan on starting a whole bunch of coffee and such, as well as other things. They invited me to come along, and are even paying my way, giving me land, all in return for me to work for them. I wholeheartedly intend to. One of my jobs will be raising bees, mainly for their honey.
Right now, I'm just trying to make sense of things, and really, I don't know what to expect. I think I like the idea of a top bar, and letting the bees do what they do naturally, rather than trying to make them appease my sensibility. I would want to alter the plans for the top bar, as I LOATH the idea of crushing the bees every time I go to close up the hive. I'm kinda curious as to the whole queen excluder really does, because I keep seeing that she only tends to make brood near the entrance anyways, and it's not like I can't keep brood from showing up in my honey with a strainer, since I will need the strainer to keep out the wax too.
My first hive is likely to die a miserable death, because honestly, I have the feeling that I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. I currently live in Seattle now, and everyone is burying the hatchet for the season, and won't be opening their hives again until after I'm gone. But I'm going to try and hunt down someone who will let me see a hive in person.
Panama uses African Honey Bees, and their temper is not one that I'm fond of, so I'm not sure if I will use them or not. I like the idea of not needing more than a vale, as Panama is hot and muggy--- or so people say, so the less I have to wear the better. But that being said, I don't want to introduce a non native bee either....
So much to say, so much to think about, I suppose this is enough for now.