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Author Topic: Doing some research  (Read 973 times)
Jay64
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« on: March 25, 2013, 08:58:44 AM »

Hello all.
I'm trying to do some research to educate myself on beekeeping. I'm trying to help get the family farm going again and really want to diversify so that we have a lot of different sources of food. To me, beekeeping is an essential part of having a sustainable farm. When I was very young, we had a friend of the family that lived on the next farm over and he was a beekeeper, so I have seen the operations of a small bee farm, but I didn't get into any of the technical stuff, since I was younger than 7 at the time. I've been studying about beekeeping online, but was finding a lot of places used specific terms that I guess they figured everyone knew what they meant. I have a general idea of what they mean, but I would like to get very proficient in every aspect of this. I was looking online to see if I could find a local beekeeper that I might be able to mentor under and found a local beekeeping club that meets once a month. Somehow that led me to this forum. Since I will be out of town for next month's meeting, I figured I would jump in here to get a jump start on my learning.
One of the biggest issues to me starting a hive right away is the fact that the family farm is on Maui, Hawaii. I currently am living in St. Petersburg, Florida. I go back home 2-3 times a year to help get things going on the farm, but I am a professional motorcycle racer, so I need to be on the mainland during the season. My mom doesn't want me to start a hive until I move out there because she remembers our friend tending to his hives a lot. So I guess my first question that I haven't been able to find an answer to is: How often do you need to check on your bees. Are there any situations where you can plan ahead and get the hive set up so that you can just leave them alone for, say, 3 months at a time or so? Could you potentially kill your hive if you left them alone that long? I remember finding big hives of wild bees up in small caves in the rock walls of the valley below our house when I was younger. Obviously they can survive on their own without human interference, but I also know that sometimes if you create an artificial environment (a wooden hive box) then possibly the situation might change.
I'm thinking that to maximize the honey harvest, then collecting the honey more often will get them creating more. But I'm wondering if you don't harvest it enough, will this somehow hurt the hive? Right now my main concern is getting more bees on the land to help pollinate the plants, and if we can get some honey out of it, that would be a great bonus. A lot of what I'm doing right now is to get things in place so that when I retire from racing and move back to Maui, I will have a farm with everything already in place.
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Joe D
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 10:22:55 AM »

Welcome to the forum, Jay64.  They might survey, but I wouldn't want to try it with mine.  A month or 2 you may get by with or not.  With the pest and disease, and their deciding to swarm, someone stealing them and numerous other things I wouldn't recommend starting now.  Others may have a different opinion. 
 
As for not taking enough of the bees honey, I think some may take to much, I don't know if you can take to little.  It is what they live on.



Joe
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Jay64
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 10:40:01 AM »

Thanks for the response Joe. This is the type of stuff I'm looking for. I need to know what I don't know. Ha ha. How often do you check for pest and disease? What would one do to fix this problem if you do find it? How does checking in on them prevent them from swarming? From the information I have seen, it seems like when the hive gets over populated and they are too cramped in the hive they tend to swarm. Is this correct? Or is it something else that causes this? Can bees really get that over populated in 3-4 months? I'm not trying to argue at all, just trying to find the information.
I'm not worried about somebody stealing the bees, there are other people living on the farm to prevent people from just coming on the property and making off with the hive boxes, but they don't want to be responsible for checking in on the bees or harvesting them or anything. I might possibly be able to get one of my friends to kind of check in on them every once in a while. But I'm wondering how often they should be check, what they should be looking for etc. If we can get a set up where they can just look for starts of problems, but save the labor intensive stuff for when I get back. I am open to just starting all of this later, but looking at possibilities of being able to help propagate more bees in the area. Really want to weigh all the options on this one. 
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 07:04:23 PM »

You would need to be close by to check you hives.   Small hive beetles in Maui would wipe out your hives in no time from what I hear.  Try raising some in Florida to get some training and practice in since you would be able to work them more often. 
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Jay64
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 09:39:33 AM »

Just curious, how does a natural bee hive survive?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 09:42:13 AM »

> How often do you need to check on your bees.

For the sake of getting good crops and managing them well, assuming Langstroth hives where you can pile on supers at the right time, maybe three times a year would be minimum.  If you don't care about crops, never works.  If you want to learn about bees, I'd say once a week...

> Are there any situations where you can plan ahead and get the hive set up so that you can just leave them alone for, say, 3 months at a time or so?

Yes.

> Could you potentially kill your hive if you left them alone that long?

You won't.  Something else might, but if you have natural comb and healthy bees and you haven't messed up the natural ecology of the hive, they should be fine indefinitely.  Of course they sometimes swarm and sometimes that works out and sometimes they end up queenless.  If they end up queenless, they will die out without intervention.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm

> I remember finding big hives of wild bees up in small caves in the rock walls of the valley below our house when I was younger. Obviously they can survive on their own without human interference

Obviously.  Yet there are those who don't believe that...

> but I also know that sometimes if you create an artificial environment (a wooden hive box) then possibly the situation might change.

Especially with artificial comb.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

>I'm thinking that to maximize the honey harvest, then collecting the honey more often will get them creating more.

Sort of.  Certainly you can manage them for more production.

> But I'm wondering if you don't harvest it enough, will this somehow hurt the hive?

No.  Other than them swarming, and half the bees taking to the trees...
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Jay64
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 09:54:15 AM »

Michael, thank you for answering so many questions I had.
Do most beekeepers check their hive once a week? My initial questions were trying to find out how long I could leave them without checking on them, but I would also like to know what is the norm. Pests and mites seem to be a problem, would you check for these once a week? Or was the once a week thing just to be able to study the workings of the hive and see how they socialize etc? Obviously if I was checking once a week for learning purposes I would also be checking for pests while I was doing that, but wanted to know if people check once a week just for pests?

I will dig into those links you posted and try to do more learning on my own now that I have more info to know what I need to learn. laugh I am really interested in this natural comb/artificial comb topic that you brought up. I like to try to work with nature as much as possible. If there is a sustainable way to go about this, I would definitely like to experiment with that.

Thanks for all the input everyone is giving, I'm learning a lot with you guys. I appreciate the support.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 03:50:44 PM »

>Do most beekeepers check their hive once a week?

No, but a lot of new beekeepers do.

> My initial questions were trying to find out how long I could leave them without checking on them, but I would also like to know what is the norm.

The norm is somewhere between 3 times a year and a dozen...  The longest I've gone is 3 years... but that wasn't by choice and is not recommended, ESPECIALLY if you want to make honey or bees.

> Pests and mites seem to be a problem, would you check for these once a week?

No.  I don't check for them at all.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm

>Or was the once a week thing just to be able to study the workings of the hive and see how they socialize etc?

Yes.  To learn about the bees.

> Obviously if I was checking once a week for learning purposes I would also be checking for pests while I was doing that, but wanted to know if people check once a week just for pests?

No need to check once a week.  Things won't change that fast.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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10framer
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 07:02:21 PM »

welcome.
i'm thinking beekeeping in hawaii is probably quite different than most anywhere in the mainland.  does no winter mean some sort of constant flow?  i'm thinking you may need more geographically specific information.
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Jay64
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2013, 10:46:27 AM »

In Hawaii we do have flowers year round. Some plants only flower at specific times of year, but there are always some sort of flower available. I'm not up to speed on beekeeping, so I don't know if they will continue to make honey any time there are flowers present. In the area that the farm is in, it is considered extremely cold when the weather gets into the 60s.

As far as a hive swarming, does that just mean that they leave the boxes? They would just leave and find another home nearby, right? My biggest goal for trying to keep bees on the farm is to encourage bee pollination of our plants and to try to increase the number of bees in the area. To me, I don't really see it as a bad thing if I am able to build their numbers up and they swarm. They should still be in the general area and still able to help pollinate our plants. I wouldn't be viewing them as my "property" that I was loosing. I have been hearing a lot of the declining bee numbers and I want to try to help out in building them back up. With that being said, I don't want to create an artificial environment with them and screw something basic up and kill a whole hive because of my meddling. So I do want to do my research and make them as healthy and thriving as can be. I am also interested in some of the requeening info I have been seeing. It looks like I could raise a new queen and start another hive and therefore multiply the number of bees. I am very interested in this if anyone has any info/experience on this that they would like to share. I don't necessarily need to try this while I'm away racing, but getting the knowledge for it so that I can be proficient with it when I do move home and start doing it full time.
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Georgia Boy
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 09:04:26 PM »

Welcome Jay64.

Hope you find what you are looking for here.

Everyone is very helpful.

Good luck

David
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Jay64
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 10:13:06 PM »

Thanks, yep, I've found a lot of very helpful people here already. I'm looking forward to learning from y'all.
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Jay64
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« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2013, 12:42:55 PM »

I've heard that I'm going to need "bee keeper's tool." I've looked this up online and found a variety of things listed. What is considered a bee keeper's tool? I've been told that it is the most critical thing to have for bee keeping. I was also told that there might be a possibility of finding used ones somewhere. Anyone know where used ones might be found?
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Better.to.Bee.than.not
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« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2013, 02:26:24 PM »

i hive tool is nothing really special...a piece of metal that allows you to wedge between frames, boxes, etc when stuck with propalis and pried apart minimalism damage to the equipment as much as possible. I and many beeks personally just use a small roofing bar, cause I have it around, some are twisted or more easily handled but it works fine with me, many people feel the need to buy it only if it says 'beehive tool' and thus get charged 2-5 times what it actually costs when it is just a small roofing bar, or nail praybar:

http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/276/981/387/387981276_109.jpg

I am sure this is a mighty fine product...but not sure if the bees care that it costs $30...
http://www.beethinking.com/ultimate-top-bar-hive-tool/

I'm more of a get it from harbor freight or somewhere cheaper type of guy and use common sense....I wouldn't even pay this much, but its a lot less then $30
http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/100123416?productId=100123416&storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&cm_sp=BazVoice-_-RLP-_-100123416-_-x

from harbor freight $2.99
http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/pry-bars/15-1-2-half-inch-flat-pry-bar-2529.html
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 02:37:48 PM by Better.to.Bee.than.not » Logged
Jay64
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« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2013, 03:46:18 PM »

Thanks for your response. I actually have a few of those flat pry bars. I was under the impression that it was going to cost somewhere around $300.
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Better.to.Bee.than.not
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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2013, 04:26:00 PM »

I could sell you a super special, best of all hive tools for $299.99 so you could save some money if you wish...it is made out of special harder than iron monoxide material, with enhanced beveled edges, that make working with it 97% easier than without it, specially made for enhanced hive ergonomics and design to be used with ALL current hive designs and platforms, so you will not have to buy any additional add ons in the future if you decide to go with a different hive design even.... other hive tools are a hassle, they make a mess, and are clumsy <insert video of someone bumbling with a hive tool here and knocking their hive over getting stung to death, with their children sad at their funeral.> but with this hive tool you will feel confident in the performance of your hively duties. act now before it is too late and you and your family are put in needless risk.
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