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Author Topic: I heard a rumor about some beekeepers not overwintering...  (Read 1801 times)
yvette97206
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« on: April 29, 2006, 02:34:57 AM »

Hi there, I'm a newbie...

I have a question that may not come accross very well, but I ask it with real honest intentions...

I was reading recently in a bee periodical about the idea of not overwintering a hive of bees.  His logic was that you are supposed to requeen every year anyway and any bees that you put to bed last winter won't be around anymore come spring.  Also, he said, if you take all of the honey you end up with about three times as much, thus justifying the cost (for us, about $65.00) of purchasing new bees every spring.  Also, he pointed out, you do not have to feed syrup, medicate, or do anything more than maintenance.  (Well, he put it more like "after harvest, close the lid...don't look back...").  You don't end up with using any chemicals, thus none end up in any honey.

As someone who loves bees, this is hard to swallow.  Any thoughts?  
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Jack Parr
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2006, 06:26:08 AM »

Bees don't drop bombs  smiley  That is a political statement and this is a Forum about bees, sooo...

I suppose that you are a pacifist  smiley

Anyhow from one who was a potential bomb dropper, for a long time, your question is old hat.  There was, and probably still is a method of beekeeping that did just that; Start fresh in the spring with a package of bees and a queen, let them do their thing, produce, hopefully, a good crop of honey and at season end gas the bees in the hive and be done with the problem of overwintering. Start fresh next spring. Go huntin' and fishing instead of worrying about some insects smiley

Canadian beeks did just that. Some of them at least. Now since there is a restriction on obtaining packages of bees from the US, where their bees came from, I believe that some of their bee killing practices have changed. Perhaps some Canadian beeks will chime in and fill us in with the gory details.

Actually if one were to consider all factors involved the bee killin' after one season does have it's merits, as was explained to me by a Canadian beek.  One important factor being that commercial beeks could get by with using low skilled labor, read cheap, labor. Also read here " Hispanic or illegal laborers  here in the US ".  wink

Overwintering bees in Northern climes is fraught with potential problems and is expensive. Just think, there is a nectar season of, at most, four months in Canada and eight months of worry over keeping the bees alive. Read some of Finsky's post to get an idea of what all is involved keeping bees in cold climes since he has been doing this for a loooong time.

Hope I haven't dropped a " bomb " on your little world of concern.
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Hi-Tech
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 11:04:08 AM »

IMO... As new as I am to this....  I would ask this...

Are you are going to be a commercial honey producer or are you doing this just as a hobby and not a business?

I think part of the fun for me is going to be seeing how long I can keep a colony around. I don't see me making much money (break even would be a treat!) but so far, I have had a great time...

Of course, ask me again next spring after I have had time for more of my stupid mistakes...  Wink
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Beekeeping and hunting.... Is there anything else?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 12:26:14 PM »

>I was reading recently in a bee periodical about the idea of not overwintering a hive of bees. His logic was that you are supposed to requeen every year anyway

Which I don't.  Most of my queens are three years old.

> and any bees that you put to bed last winter won't be around anymore come spring.

Not true.  Winter bees live much longer and some of the bees in the spring did make it through the winter.

> Also, he said, if you take all of the honey you end up with about three times as much

That's a pretty generous estimate.  In a bad year maybe three times as much but in a bad year that isn't hat much.

>, thus justifying the cost (for us, about $65.00) of purchasing new bees every spring.

IF there are bees available.  There have been shortages the last several years.

> Also, he pointed out, you do not have to feed syrup, medicate, or do anything more than maintenance.

I often don't feed syrup, I never medicate...

> (Well, he put it more like "after harvest, close the lid...don't look back..."). You don't end up with using any chemicals, thus none end up in any honey.

I already don't.

>As someone who loves bees, this is hard to swallow. Any thoughts?

As someone who loves bees, this is hard to swallow.

My bees don't eat 65 pounds of honey over winter and that's probably where it would have to be to actually save me any money and that's IF I could get packages in the spring.

If anyone nearby me wishes to do this, I'd be happy to take the bees off their hands.  I'll give them a home and enough honey for spring AND I'll sell you a nuc back in the spring if you like.

A package won't make a lot of honey.  An established hive in a good year will make 200 pounds of honey SURPLUS besides their own needs.  You'll never get that from a package.
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Michael Bush
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manowar422
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 12:55:13 PM »

evil  evil  evil  evil  evil  evil  evil

As an ominous silence decends like darkness over the cyberworld
forum of bee lovers as we contemplate killing our bees on purpose . . .

Just a joke yvette Smiley
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Understudy
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 09:06:28 PM »

In the days of old (before Langstoth hives) beekeepers would burn or kill their hives to get honey and wax.
Vegans don't already eat honey because you might kill a bee when putting a frame back or during the extraction.

If a farmer is killing bees in order to not overwinter them. He is probably trying to maximize profits, squeeze out that extra 1%. It is an idiot way to do it. Also it gives beekeepers a rotten image.  

Here are the problems for commerical beekeepers.
1. Profits for honey and wax are minimal.
2. The costs for bees and materials continue to go up.
3. There are not enough bee hives to pollinate farms and orchards.

The problem is #3 should cover 1&2 but they don't .

I am going to go at this with a certain amount of skepticism. If you can find a news article or a some type of report that verifies this I will take it more seriously. In the meantime I am reading http://www.snopes.com/.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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yvette97206
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2006, 09:46:23 PM »

As I suspected, not a very popular topic...

But, I have learned alot by posting this question, and I thank you all very much:)

I ordered one package of bees from California.  I haven't done this since high school. My husband is really a naturalist.  He has a big tractor and a mower and would rather mow the brush down than spray.  We both don't like the thought of chemicals.  I am happy to hear that not medicating several times a year and then trying to time the harvest and medications just right...well frankly that's scary.  And kind of gross.  So, my husband was very excited to hear that we had options about this as well.  I'm just happy I can do it without killing my bees!

I do plan on expanding my hives.  I have two complete boxes ready to go, so if I happen to splt or catch a swrarm or god forbid, I don't catch mine before they swarm.  The fun of beekeeping is watching them thrive and I find joy in that.  So, as I said, as a person who loves bees, I find this hard to swallow.

And, yes, it also goes against my pacificism!  Peace everyone-

Y
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 10:29:43 PM »

On my web site:

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

You'll find much on how to keep bees without chemicals.  Including a link to the organicbeekeepers site where you can talk to MANY other people doing just that.
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Michael Bush
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JP
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2006, 10:52:04 PM »

I believe that most users on this site (myself included) are appalled by the idea of killing their bees every season to maximize profits. That is not "beekeeping" in my opinion.
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yvette97206
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2006, 11:30:49 PM »

As I said, I am a newbie...

The saddest part about that article was that he did not sound like a comercial operation.  He was advocating this for the bakyard enthusiast!  He threw around scary words like "veroa" and "trachaeal mites" and even used this as a measure to control foulbrood.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2006, 12:25:37 PM »

>He threw around scary words like "veroa" and "trachaeal mites" and even used this as a measure to control foulbrood.

Well, dead bees definitely don't get any of those things.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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BeeHopper
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2006, 05:18:15 PM »

For the last 3 years of reading and researching the subject of honeybees and beekeeping ( and finally gettting my first packages this spring ), I find the method of destroying the colonies at year's end  appalling, its not beekeeping in my mind. ( do you know any farmers that destroy their livestock year after year and start anew ?) Any commercial beek or hobbyist for that matter who employs this method should contact beekeeping orgs or clubs to have them take the colonies off their hands instead. SAVE the HONEYBEE.  Cheesy
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