Hi John and All.
Just thought I'd introduce myself. I stumbled across your website and was thrilled to find a place where I think I'll be able to learn. Although my dad was born and raised in New Jersey (Cedar Grove), the Navy landed him years ago in the Seattle area where he worked 37 years as an engineer for Boeing. Thus, most of our family is out here on the other end of the country from you.
About five years ago my wife had a bout with breast cancer which caused us to drastically change our dietary lifestyle. Among the many changes we made, was the fact that we began sweetening with honey. I grew up with some kids whose father had kept bees for many years, so we started buying honey from him - four gallons at a time. For several years, he would show me what was happening in his hives whenever I'd show up to buy honey. Of course, I was fascinated and told him that one day I might have to have a hive of my own. Time passed and last January I bought his last seven colonies when he decided that 86 years old was too old for beekeeping - at least for him.
I took a class from a gal out my way with an apiary supply store and got myself headed, I think, in the right direction. Made it through my first year with only three swarms (all recovered) and managed to extract about 110 lbs of blackberry honey taken from four of the seven hives. Built my own extractor and had enough honey for many Christmas gifts.
Currently, I am, as I'm sure all beekeepers are, keeping my fingers crossed in the hope of still having bees in the Spring.
The thing I wish for the most, but have not been able to find yet, is someone who actually knows what they're doing who'd be willing to come and actually see/watch what I'm doing and tell me whether any of it is correct or not! I feel as though I'm virtually always flying by the seat of my pants. I'm hoping that, short of that, your site/forum may expose me to some experts who'll be willing to answer specific questions when they come up.
One question I have is: What are the pros and cons of using HFCS to feed with, and if it's alright, is it really any less expensive than just making my own syrup using sugar? There seems to be a couple different schools of thought on this.
At any rate, I'm sure I'll be in touch using the forum, but thought it would be good to write and thank you for what appears to be a fabulous resource for me!