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Ask The Beekeeper
09-09-2011, 11:33 PM
Post: #21
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Hello! I do have a few questions and I'm so glad to find someone who might be able to answer them!

1. How did you get started? I've been looking into getting bees, but I wasnt sure how to get a colony. Is it better to get an established colony or just start with something smaller? And where do you get one?

2. What is the start up costs and what kind of basic things do you need?

3. Did you take any kind of classes to learn?

4. How often can you harvest the honey?

5. I've been hearing about the colony colapse illness. Is there any way to prevent it?

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09-10-2011, 04:42 PM
Post: #22
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Hi, Counselor, and thanks for the great thread!

How often do your bees swarm, and are you able to tempt the new Queen and colony to stay nearby, or are they lost to you at that point? We had a big swarm rest in a tree downtown this summer and for once, they let it be. It stayed for a few hours and then went it's merry way.

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09-10-2011, 06:12 PM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2011 06:31 PM by Counselor.)
Post: #23
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Swarms... The bane of a beekeeper. Rarely can you "tempt" a swarm to stay close. A swarm is natures way for bees to propagate the species so they tend to want to go far away where genetics cant get murky.

However, once they leave the parent colony (1/2 the bees stay and 1/2 leave to start a new colony) they tend to gather close by to make sure they have the queen with them (a new one is growing inside the parent colony) and to figure out where they are going. Just like scouts find forage, scouts find the new home. Once things are settled and everyone is accounted for, off they go. While they are gathered though, you can capture them and hive them back in your apiary. The swarming instinct is over once they find or are ushered into their new digs.
1. How did you get started? I've been looking into getting bees, but I wasnt sure how to get a colony. Is it better to get an established colony or just start with something smaller? And where do you get one?

There are several beekeeping supply places out there, Betterbee, Dadant, Brushymountain to name a few. Most sell either a Box-o-bees (3lbs of bees with a queen) that are available in the spring and can be picked up somewhere close to you. I would be willing to be that if you searched the internet, you might even find a beekeeping club near you that could help get you access to bees and a mentor.

I highly recommend working bees with someone for a year before you bring them into your yard. Opening a colony with 80,000 bees can be intimidating mentors can help significantly. Many will even get you started with your own bees (I know I try to). I would ALWAYS start with NEW equipment, don't buy someone elses problem!


2. What is the start up costs and what kind of basic things do you need?

It can cost between $3-500 to start a colony, depending on the type of equipment you buy and the way you buy your bees, 3 lb package or 5 frame nuc (small working colony with a laying queen). Generally nucs are more $$$ but you are more assured of a honey crop during your first year.

3. Did you take any kind of classes to learn?

I did take a class sponsored by my local beekeepers association. I also had a mentor. Check near you, I am sure the is a club that would be willing to help a new-bee.

4. How often can you harvest the honey?

Harvesting depends upon your winters (I need 100lbs of honey to get my girls through a New England winter) and mother natures willingness to create a nectar flow. Generally I can harvest 2x a year and get 2-400 pounds a harvest. This year i harvested 2x and got about 150 pounds each time.

5. I've been hearing about the colony colapse illness. Is there any way to prevent it?

Not really. My suspicion, based on what I have been reading, is that there are some nasty illnesses out there that are impacting the health of the honey bee. However, and this is not based on empirical fact, i suspect that industrial beekeeping will continue to be hardest hit. For many reasons they essentially create artificial health in their colonies so they can truck them all over the USA and Canada pollinating various crops. Mono crop feeding, GMOs, HFCS, etc all cannot be good for the bee and they live with all of these and more in an industrial setting. The hobbyist beekeeper, who monitors health and treats when needed, not prophylactically is generally not effected by CCD. I suspect this will not change right away.

November is now MOvember. Knowledge is POWER and the Mustache is KING. Support mens Health and my Mustache farm here: http://mobro.co/counselor
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09-11-2011, 01:12 PM
Post: #24
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Counselor, thank you so much! You are better than a website! I swear, you answered my questions much better than anything I found on the net! (Seriously, You should start a website!) I did check into the Beekeepers Association like you suggested. The closest to me is about an hour away, but I think there might be a more local one thats just not listed. I would certainly like to learn more about it over the winter and see if maybe I can join a group this coming spring.

So, if I may add two more questions about honey?

Once you actually harvest it, do you have to do anything with it before you bottle it?
Also, I bought some honey a while ago and left it on the kitchen counter and in a few days, it crystalized. Do you know why it does that? The room was fairly warm and I don't think it froze or anything.

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09-11-2011, 04:43 PM
Post: #25
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
(09-11-2011 01:12 PM)ladijules Wrote:  Counselor, thank you so much! You are better than a website! I swear, you answered my questions much better than anything I found on the net! (Seriously, You should start a website!) I did check into the Beekeepers Association like you suggested. The closest to me is about an hour away, but I think there might be a more local one thats just not listed. I would certainly like to learn more about it over the winter and see if maybe I can join a group this coming spring.

So, if I may add two more questions about honey?

Once you actually harvest it, do you have to do anything with it before you bottle it?
Also, I bought some honey a while ago and left it on the kitchen counter and in a few days, it crystalized. Do you know why it does that? The room was fairly warm and I don't think it froze or anything.

Thanks for your thanks! I am happy that people are interested enough to read and seem to be enjoying the forum. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

Some people do filter their honey. Others will also heat their honey. Heating makes it easier to filter and it also changes the structure of the honey making it slower to crystalize. I do neither of these, and sell our honey as Raw, natural unfiltered honey. This does NOT mean that there is wax and other unwanted material in the honey. if you use a 5Gal. pail with a honey spout in the bottom (easy to make) the wax will float, dirt etc will sink and the honey you bottle comes from about 1/2" off the bottom and it is crystal clear!

Honey will want to crystalize and some crystalize faster than others, basically suspended pollen or something else will get the crystals started and once seeded it goes very fast. Heating it will bring it back to a liquid state but once you heat it over 115-120 degrees you will have burned off any of the nuances of your local raw honey and have essentially the same thing you find on a store shelf.

I hope you did not toss the honey though. Honey is natures most perfect food, unless it ferments, it never spoils. It is my understanding they have even brought crystalized honey from the pyramids back to life with a little heat. Some would say fermenting is not spoiled either...

November is now MOvember. Knowledge is POWER and the Mustache is KING. Support mens Health and my Mustache farm here: http://mobro.co/counselor
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09-13-2011, 06:43 PM
Post: #26
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Counselor, So THATS why they heat it! Huh... I should have figured that. I like the way you get unwanted material out of the honey. Simple, clever, logical... I like it! But what do you do with all the stuff that sinks to the bottom?

I didn't throw out the honey. LOL... I figure its perfect for my morning tea. I just leave it near enough to the stove to warm it up a little bit. I also have to ask... how can honey ferment? I am assuming you have to add something to it?

Do you also use the wax? I know people make candles and such from Beewax. How is that done, and does it hurt the hive?

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09-15-2011, 05:19 AM
Post: #27
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
I feed the bottom 1/2" or so of honey back to the bees and just wash the rest down the drain.

If you harvest the honey and it is not cured all the way (too much water left in it) there are enough wild yeast cels out there that they will get in your bucket and and set it to fermenting. This, i assume, is how the first Meads were created/ brewed.

I do melt the wax cappings down and sell or trade the wax. This is generally the only wax harvested. It takes about 8lbs of honey to make 1 pound of wax so it can hurt the hive if you harvest more. dealing with the wax is actually one of my least favorite things to do so it generally gets put off until there is so much to melt down that it is almost too much... Which is the case for this weekend... I hate wax...

November is now MOvember. Knowledge is POWER and the Mustache is KING. Support mens Health and my Mustache farm here: http://mobro.co/counselor
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03-18-2012, 03:19 PM
Post: #28
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
As I was actually working in my bees today (its 80 here in balmy Vermont) I thought I would post a link to my website. I was not able to do much with it this past year, but there are some interesting bee pics and info in it for those of you who may be interested.

Hilltop Honey Maple

November is now MOvember. Knowledge is POWER and the Mustache is KING. Support mens Health and my Mustache farm here: http://mobro.co/counselor
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03-18-2012, 08:05 PM
Post: #29
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
(03-18-2012 03:19 PM)Counselor Wrote:  As I was actually working in my bees today (its 80 here in balmy Vermont) I thought I would post a link to my website. I was not able to do much with it this past year, but there are some interesting bee pics and info in it for those of you who may be interested.

Hilltop Honey Maple

SO interesting, Counselor! I must read more!

If I'd known you were French, I'd have worn galoshes...
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04-25-2012, 04:50 AM
Post: #30
RE: Ask The Beekeeper
Not really a question, but kind of a moment I thought I'd share.

Not sure where it came through, but there was a really cute honey bee that ended up in the kitchen. On the window sill. Trying to figure out how to get out.
So I scooped it into a small glass, took the little sweetie outside at one of our flowering plants. Seemed quite happy, wandering over the tiny white flowers...
*ahhh* nice.

Later, same afternoon, saw another (or maybe it was the same one, back for another visit?) Also on the kitchen window sill, also looking for a way out. I couldn't help laughing a bit as I scooped that one into the glass and took it out, to another of our flowers. Little purple one, this time, and honey bee seemed content to explore the bloom I found for it, and then the neighboring blooms on the same plant.

...

Couldn't help thinking of this thread. Wink

***I love honey bees. So cute! Heart

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