Author Topic: beekeeping, what would you do differently?  (Read 4143 times)

Offline fritz_monroe

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beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« on: February 12, 2013, 11:06:56 AM »
I'm going to get started with beekeeping this year.  I've been looking at all the equipment and am amazed at how many choices there are.  8 frame or 10 frame?  Mixed supers or mediums only?  Top Bar or Langstroth?  On and on it goes.

So I figured I'd start this thread.  For all you existing beekeepers, think about starting an apiary.  You are starting over from scratch.  You have NO current equipment but you have all the knowledge that you have obtained during your beekeeping years.

What would you do differently?
How would you set up your apiary?

Offline halh

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 11:03:36 PM »
I'm really liking top bar... haven't used one yet, but I really like the concepts and it seems to make more intuitive sense to me. I have used Langstroth hives, it has been a few years and I would change to the top bar hive.
one thing I have noticed is that some of the newer bee keepers seem to mess with their hives way too much, opening them up for inspection every few days. I would keep that to a minimum... the disturbance to the heart of the hive is too risky. My thoughts are that the bees would react much like they would if a bear kept busting up the hive every few days. And I think it would be too easy to cause damage to the queen. This is just my opinion... others may have a different one on that.
setup of the apiary would be site specific based on local conditions... I have no advice for you there.
good luck
Hal

Offline cheryl1

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 07:17:12 AM »
 :popcorn:

I am starting beekeeping this year as well.

Offline rdg

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 01:58:54 PM »
fritz_monroe,

The main thing I would do differently is buy a nine frame radial extractor to begin with. I think Michael Bush recommends this. Anyway, I started with a two frame tangential extractor. It is not worth it.

You might not have to worry about this this year though. If you are starting from bare foundation and a package of bees, you might not get a crop your first year.

The things you mentioned have advantages and disadvantages. I do 10 frame langstroth hives with deep supers for brood chambers. I might go with all medium 8 frame equipment if I had it to do over again. The major advantage is standardization of equipment and everything is lighter. Full supers of honey are very heavy. They will need to be moved on a sunny day during the late summer when it is very hot outside. The disadvantage is that the 10 frame equipment seems to be more popular and there are plenty of extra equipment made to work with the 10 frame form factor. Things like the all season inner cover.

http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/store/all-season-inner-cover-frame-p-232.html

I like extracted honey so I like langstroth hives. If you prefer comb honey, the top bar hive makes a lot of sense.

Good luck with the bees. Consider joining a local beekeeping club. It was very helpful to me to have an experienced beekeeper help install my bees the first time.

-RDG

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2013, 06:45:50 PM »
Thanks for the info.  I'm seeing a lot of 8 frame stuff this year, at least more than previous years in the catalogs.

I will be joining a club.  I take a class beginning in 2 weeks and that includes membership in the local club. 

Offline Entity

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2013, 11:19:58 PM »
8 frame equipment?

The local interpretation seems to be to just space the frames a little further apart to get the bees to draw the comb out past the edge of the frame, and thus the box is the same, there are just two fewer frames, since the frames a now less close together?
Is this what you mean?

If so, what special equipment, other that possibly spacers to stop the frames from being shoved together?

Offline rdg

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2013, 08:47:11 AM »
Entity,

It is possible to take a standard size super that is made for 10 frames and reduce it to 9 frames AFTER the comb has been drawn. I do this in my honey supers. You end up with about the same amount of honey but you have less uncapping to do.

8 frame equipment uses smaller boxes that are designed to hold only 8 frames. The equipment is available in a lot of mail order catalogs.

I would not advise attempting to use 8 frames in a super built for 10. This would violate the concept of bee spacing that enables the langstroth hive to function.

Offline rdg

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 08:51:46 AM »
fritz_monroe,

I wanted to make a note about the apiary.

The number one problem I have had was putting my supers in a shaded area. The hives need morning sun. It would be ideal if they had afternoon shade. I only made the shade mistake once and the hive was not very strong and did not produce much honey.

Things that have worked well.

1) Keep your bee hives as close to home as possible. In your backyard is best. If this is just a part time hobby, the farther you have to travel the more of a hassle it will end up being.

2) Shelter the apiary from wind if possible. Helps over wintering.

3) Put some kind of fence about 2-3 feet in front of the hives. I have a chain link fence in front of my hives. The bees will not fly through it. This forces them to fly up and out as they leave the hive. This keeps them up above my head for the most part.

-RDG

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 11:40:31 AM »
Thanks again for all the advice.

rdg, the smaller boxes that hols 8 frames instead of 10 is exactly what I'm talking about.

As for the apiary, I have 2.5 acres.  About 1.5 is fenced in and the house is on that.  The front acre is on a west facing hill and gets sun from about 8:30 on.  I plan on putting the hives in the middle of that.  I'll clear the grass and plant a hedge in a semi-circle around the hive.  The Winter wind blows up that hill.  The hedges will block the wind and will wrap around the hives to block them from the only neighbors that could be an issue.  But without the hedge, the hives are probably 500' from the nearest neighbor.

Offline Serenity Gulch

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2013, 01:37:58 PM »
I've been doing the 8-frame all medium supers and have been happy so far. The one thing that didn't work out well for me was the year I tried plastic foundation. The bees just didn't seem to like it at all. I'm now in the process of converting over to top-bar. Since I need the wax as much as if not more than the honey using the crush and drain method will work just fine for me and saves me the cost of an extractor.

Another thing is to be sure your hive stand is strong and level. I started out with just a couple of 2x4s laid across 2 cement blocks. I had the blocks too far apart and the 2x4s started to sag. Once I had a couple of boxes on the hive it started to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Offline jaseemtp

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2013, 11:16:29 PM »
Ok,
I am a 3rd generation beekeeper, but I have only been keeping bees for the past 4 years.  I am beekeeping as a part time job, (wife says it is full time).  It would depend on what you wanted from your bees.  Are you after maximum honey production?  Are you keeping them just to have them around to help out with pollination?  What is your physical strength like?
If you are after maximum production I would go with 10 frame langstroth hives.  Have a deep for the brood nest and then run mediums for your honey supers.  I suggest this because this is the standard through the industry.  I figure those commercial boys keep bees this way for a reason and what ever the reason it must work.  Do not take this the wrong way y'all, but if you are not strong or female, or elderly then 8 frame langstroth or top bar hives work well.  Again if your after maximum honey production and going to be asking for help from your local club I would go langstroth.  If you more into wanting to harvest bee wax and don't mind the mess of having to crush and strain your comb to get to your honey then by all means do the TBH. 

I do not know it all, so please do not jump all over me if you disagree.  Bee keepers are some very defensive folks when you do or say something they do not agree with.  When I first started I kept my girls in 8 frame mediums.  I did like it as it allowed me to exchange any box in any location with any hive.  As time has gone on I have moved to all 10 frame medium equipment and it has worked well.  That being said I have started moving my bees around and getting paid to pollinate crops in my area.  Since I am doing that I am moving to the standard 10 frame deep with mediums as supers because that is what the farmers are use to seeing.

I also have 2 TBH that I built.  I enjoy those hives but they are more my "pet" hives.  They will never leave my property and I do not harvest much honey from them.  I kinda just let them "bee". LOL.
My wife likes them as she can easily lift the single top bars to check on the bees, where as with the langstroth you need to be strong enough to lift the entire super to get to the next level.  Well this is just one rednecks 2 cents.  Hope it helps and if you have any more questions just let me know. 
Jason

Offline Varginna

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2013, 01:28:38 AM »
 :popcorn: I'm on my second year of beekeeping so I'm a noob

The only thing I noticed is that it's good to choose a "bee race" that is native/good in your area, like we have "nordiska bin" and they fly even in a Little bit bat weather, witch is good since I live in Sweden and theres a joke about Swedish summers that rains away.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2013, 04:39:32 AM »
The only thing I noticed is that it's good to choose a "bee race" that is native/good in your area,
I'm in the US, so none of the honeybees are native to my area.

On recommendation from my course instructor, I went with Italians.  They are so much less aggressive than the Russians that are up at the nature center I helped her with a couple of weeks ago.  Those bees were so aggressive that if I had worked with them prior to getting my own bees, it would have made me not get bees.

Offline Varginna

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2013, 06:03:01 AM »
I'm in the US, so none of the honeybees are native to my area.

On recommendation from my course instructor, I went with Italians.  They are so much less aggressive than the Russians that are up at the nature center I helped her with a couple of weeks ago.  Those bees were so aggressive that if I had worked with them prior to getting my own bees, it would have made me not get bees.
I don't know what russian bees are but if they are "black" bees like the nordiska then the problem might be that they are hybrids. because if you "mix" "black" bees with the more yellow kind (like Italians) they get aggressive. The nordiska have a reputation of being aggressive but there are roomers started "by hybrids" they are really weary kind.

So if you want kind bees I would go with bees that many have in that area so that it's smaller risks for hybrids.

Offline jaseemtp

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Re: beekeeping, what would you do differently?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2013, 05:31:22 PM »
Fritz,
I like the Italians, the are gentle bees and will produce a decent honey crop. One of the problems with them is that they tend to carry larger populations through winter, therefor having an increased likelihood of starving in winter. As long as you retake precautions to make sure they have enough honey or stored syrup you will be fine. Since I am in the south I can check on and feed my bees most of our "winter".

We do not have a native honey bee in the US but there are some subspecies or races that do better in certain regions if the country. The carnolian and Caucasian are suppose to be great for the northern part of the country while for us folks in the south it is said Italians are #1.

The honey bee know as Russian is derived from Caucasian or carnolian bees that were taken to the Primorsky region and were exposed to varroa mites some time ago. It is believed that since they have had to deal with the mite longer than most other European honey bees they have developed some resistance to the mites.

Hope this helps y'all out.
Jason