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Author Topic: If I were to start over again as a newbie.  (Read 783 times)
JackM
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« on: August 20, 2013, 08:04:50 AM »

I would like to share some of my thoughts about what to advise a newbie what/how to start, please include your ideas.

I initially wanted to use all mediums.  I have a bad back.  I am recreational.  I currently have 4 hives.  I started with 2 packages.

Both packages did not make a full year.  I moved to nucs.

Start with a 5 frame nuc, especially if your weather can be iffy in spring or flow time.  Nucs mostly come in deep frames.  My first nuc is the strongest hive I have.  From that hive I have a split.  The second nuc was purchased this year from the same bee yard.

This forced me to go to deeps for the brood area for the nucs.  I then noticed that in the brood area the bees made really nice consistent comb (as they should for brood) and kept a moderate amount of honey and plenty of pollen along the top crescent of each frame.  

I don't plan on harvesting any deep frames as a routine.  If the queen has enough down there to lay in, and the hive is not over crowded, the supers will be all honey and nothing else.  Mind you this comb will not be consistent.  Little buggers want to use every bit of space to store the honey.  Even a full super is too heavy for me and I harvest a frame at a time.

Bee suit.
Unless you are really sure you are going to be involved with cutouts, or if you live close enough to have to worry about Africanized (AHB) bees, you only need a jacket and jeans.  I strongly recommend the Ultra Breeze or equivalent 3 layer type especially if involved with the AHB.  

Gloves.
Bees can sting easily through goatskin.  They can also penetrate and sting regular hide gloves....thus killing the bees and not getting you.  But I got some gloves rated for chemicals at Home Depot.  They suck to wear as they really don't fit.  They are thicker than dish gloves but not as thick as some, green in color, kind of cloth on the inside.  The exterior is smooth and the bees cannot get a stinger in, thus they live and I don't have an allergic reaction.

Tools.
Smoker and hive tool.  Long hive tool for leverage.  Some have an offset on the hook end so you can use as a fulcrum to slowly break the proplis on the frame to remove it.  Biggest smoker you can get.  Because when you forget to puff it to keep it going, it still keeps going.  Anything works, dry grass makes them just go nuts on gorging on honey and really calms them better.  I don't have many pine needles but I would assume the same....use natural stuff, easy to get.  I use mostly sawdust as that is my commodity.  Grass isn't always burnable here.  

Inspecting.
You don't have to see the queen!  Look for eggs, brood, capped brood.  You have visible eggs and your hive is okay.  Don't bother them any more than necessary to keep track of ...  1.  space - do they have enough.  2.  signs of illness.  3.  eggs and brood pattern.  4.  signs of superseceedure or swarming.  
It takes a experience to be able to tip a box or hive to determine if they have enough honey.  At first that is not a good way to check until you have learned the 'feel'.  You don't need to look at every frame either.  Lifting a super of honey will suffice in most cases.  Ask yourself what your reason is for inspecting the hive before you inspect.  It saves time.

Benadryl for when you get stung

So, I am still really a newbie, but
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OldMech
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 10:25:07 AM »


  I would add;
   Better feeding instructions, so I did not end up with a bound brood nest. I read a lot about feeding, but didn't read enough to reach that possibility.

   Recommendations to informative sites that add the details, like Michael Bush's website.  Just an example, not trying to leave anyone out.
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stella
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 01:13:15 PM »

I am still a newbee in my third year but my suggestion would be to use more common sense.

Read, read, read.
Observe frames a long time (weather permitting) when inspecting so you can begin to understand and admire the bees natural behaviors.
Watch the entrance. Suit up, sit down and think about what the bees are doing as they venture in and out.
Listen to your hive. The bees can tell you a lot by the sounds they make.

Education.
Intuition.
Common sense.
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Jwhatman
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 05:57:15 PM »

Great post.  I am a first year beek as well and at first I would go into the hive every 2 weeks, now I wait until I see something suspicious, or checking for food,etc.  I went into my little split hive today because there hasn't been much activity in the front.  Much to my pleasure all is very well in that hive.  They have a good laying queen, and plenty of stores.  We have been having some strong thunderstorms and very hot weather, so I just wanted to make sure all was well.  The big hive, my original, just got a quick peek, all is well there too.  Other than the quick peeks, I have been leaving them alone.

Joyce
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MsCarol
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 06:35:27 PM »

Jack,

You mentioned you wish to start/continue with all mediums.

I am also wishing to stay with all medium 8 frame boxes. My OCD  wants equipment modular. IS there a reason NOT to even consider it?

IS a single medium 8 frame unit close enough to use as a "Nuc"? Are there other reasons to use a nuc size nuc?

I too am getting older and although I can still easily hoist 50# out of the back of the truck.....or off the ground. That ability isn't going to last forever.

Joyce, As a newbee, I am so fascinated with what is going on inside the hives, I have been checking about once a week. Maybe not completely , but checking. maybe the bees will be thankful when the "NEW" wears off.
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Moots
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 07:01:06 PM »

MsCarol,
I made the decision to use all 8 frame medium equipment and so far, I've been very pleased with that decision.  I would say the two obvious negatives against going all mediums are #1, Equipment cost...You need more boxes and more frames, hence...more money!  Although many will argue that the extra money is more that offset by what you will save in pain and suffering, not to mention back surgeries.  grin

#2, If you are wanting to start with some Nucs, in certain areas, for whatever reason, Medium Nucs are hard to come by and not offered by a lot of bee operations.  I almost got snagged by this one myself, well after I had committed to the idea of all mediums and had ordered frames and built boxes, I discovered this problem.  It took some serious looking around, but I was able to find a supplier of medium Nucs within about an hours drive.

I've also heard the argument that in the extreme Northern climates that bees don't overwinter as well in mediums, although there are many who will argue this point.  Being in South Louisiana, it's a non-issue for me either way.   Smiley
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Oblio13
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 07:06:29 PM »

If you want to put deep frames in medium nucs, just make a simple 3" spacer.

If you want to transition from deeps to mediums, just put the deep boxes on the bottom of the hive. Cycle them out in the spring when the bees have moved up.
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JackM
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2013, 07:45:45 AM »

Originally I wanted to do all medium 8 frame boxes.  Yes only nucs around here are from deeps.  Thus problem #1.  They did not move out of the lower box during the winter, were half way still in it.  I never need to lift the bottom box, I just remove frames as needed. 

I am by no means a greatly experienced keeper, I just wish these things had been pointed out in the beginning a little more clearly.  Michael's book has been a huge asset.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2013, 10:40:04 AM »

> IS there a reason NOT to even consider it?

If you shop around you can often find medium nucs.  Sometimes they are hard to find.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#lighterboxes

There is cost, but I don't think you can save enough to pay for your back surgery...

>IS a single medium 8 frame unit close enough to use as a "Nuc"?

An eight frame medium is exactly the same volume as a five frame deep.  yes it works fine for the purposes for which a five frame deep nuc work.  But I still like having some two frame nucs for storing a queen or mating queens.

>Are there other reasons to use a nuc size nuc?

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

>I too am getting older and although I can still easily hoist 50# out of the back of the truck.....or off the ground. That ability isn't going to last forever.

And 50# is what an eight frame medium full of honey weighs.  90# is what a ten frame deep full of honey weighs...
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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MsCarol
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2013, 11:57:38 AM »

  Michael's book has been a huge asset.

That book is very high on my wish list. Shhh! Don't tell him. Don't want his head to get too big,  Wink but his web site has answered a gazillion of my questions already as I dig my way through it.

Thank - You Michael. I do feel I am on the right course. Some of the next cattle sale proceeds are earmarked to add equipment. I have been buying from Brushy Mt thus far. I need some more supers and frames plus want extra tops and bottoms. Right now I only have the two hives. Both from captured swarms. I just like the "modular" ability. I will look to at adding at least one medium nuc to the list. I suspect my larger hive will be wanting to swarm come spring, so already considering a split. Will need a place to put them.

Not quite up to the raising queen stage yet....maybe next year  Wink
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Santa Caras
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2013, 02:39:19 PM »

starting up, I understand there is always a need for more boxes than what one has at the moment. Since I'm a wood worker, I've made everything so far from stands to slatted bottoms, mesh bottoms, boxes, Miller top feeders. yeah. Bee's love wood!  I'm scrounging everywhere to find spare wood to make stuff with.
I feel like I will be giving them the Astoria when all they really need is a Motel 8!!   grin  So far...2 complete hives from top to bottom but no bees yet....I'll get to it. Need nucs and spare boxes and lets not talk about the frames needed....geeesh!!!!
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2013, 12:14:26 AM »

I, like MB, use only 8 frame medium boxes.  The advantages are many and the downsides are few, the only one I can think of is the greater cost of equipment due to need for more boxes, but buying what you need as you need it keeps the costs down as hives are built up. At over $15,000.00 per back surgery, that buys a lot of medium boxes.
 
I'm having my 2nd back surgery in 10 years next month, not the result of hefting bee boxes, my ram butted me in the back, had to have knee replacement surgery and now back surgery.  Advantages: Any one frame will fit in any box in the apiary, Easier to handle boxes--less weight & closer to body, bees prefer medium or western (3/4) frames and move between boxes much better, Bees build up much faster then they build out so using 8 frames allows bees to grow up and not as much manipulation of frames is required to fill the box with drawn comb.

There are more, but you get the idea.  I'm 60 miles south of the US Canadian Border at Blaine, WA or 30 miles east of Victoria, BC. 
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 08:14:55 AM »

Learn and practice ONE system (or beek, or book) well as experience is gained, instead of trying to follow them all.  Stay away from gimmicks and gadgets.

Seems like many beeks suffer w/ back issues.  I suffered a broken back, neck and head (and other injuries) in a Huey 'crash n burn' over 40 years ago.  Its why I chose all mediums.  In hindsight I guess/wish I should/would have gone to all shallows  Smiley 

So it goes.  Grandkids are helpful Wink
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