Author Topic: My limited experience so far  (Read 443 times)

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Offline Noise Maker

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My limited experience so far
« on: December 01, 2017, 12:56:26 am »
About July or so last year, I built a bee trap and put it about 12 feet or so in a tree at the back of our property at the edge of a patch of woods. A bit late in the season I learned but you have to start sometime. A year later I happened to look at it real early September of this year lo and behold I had bees coming and going  :) My wife was thrilled, I was thrilled as she though it would never work. Now any normal person would have bought or built a hive and purchased some basic equipment, but not me :no: The guy who got me going to the beekeeper meetings periodically helped me get it down, and said that since it was late in the season the chances of them surviving the winter wasn't good as they wouldn't have much time to build up supplies and the combs were so crossed it would be a pain to get them into a hive.

So I spent a frantic weekend building a top bar hive with plans that could be better put together. It called for two bottom entrances, of which I only put one as the swarm was so small, my reckoning being they would not fill up that much space in such a short time, and it would be that much less space for the cold to get into. Hey I can add one in the spring right :yes:

Getting the frames out of the trap and into the hive was easy and great as it was the first time I had actually done anything directly with bees. The hive is situated only a few feet from the tree and fence where the trap was, and the next day when I walked down to look they were back to work bringing in the pollen. I opened the hive three times about 10 days apart just to see their progress and mainly to observe. They had built some more come and had a lot more honey than when they moved in.

I started feeding them at the end of September with 2:1 sugar water in the upsidedown jar entrance feeder. The feeder would not stay in the entrance for very long so I sit it on top of the hive and the bees work it when the days are warm enough. I learned to keep the part that should go into the entrance hanging over the edge so that when the temps change the flow drips over the edge and not on the roof of the hive. The dogs, horses, deer, coyotes and other critters don't mess with it thank god. On my daily walks to the hive to see if the jar is empty and to observe any activity, I put my ear to the hive to listen to the activity levels which to date are good. After three months they are still bringing pollen back. Lots of it two days ago. Where they are getting it who knows. My wife keeps water in a bird bath where we can see the bees collecting water from the kitchen window. We also have a horse watering station that is heated enough so it wont freeze, both about 200 yards or so from the hive. There are also two ponds for cattle real close to our property.

I know winter will set in at some point in the next several weeks and that will determine if I am a beehaver or a beekeeper. Either way, I've already started working on a new hive for the spring, hoping that they will make it and I can split it or I catch another swarm. By building my hive, and figuring out a few modifications I want to make, I have learned more about them, than I would have buying one. Also by just sitting next to the hive watching my bees, they are teaching me what questions I need to ask when I go to meetings and now here on the forum. For now, since the bees know best on what needs to be done, I fight the urge to open the hive and let them do there thing. Will feed them when the weather permits and let nature take its course. They are such a joy to experience just watching them. Plus the dogs enjoy the walk. I look at the bees they tear into the woods to chase deer or their other dog pals on the other side of the woods.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2017, 05:51:38 am »
It's good to hear you are going to plan on attending a local bee club meetings.  Relying on a friend that goes to meetings occasionally can be risky.  (Misinformation, people get busy, etc.) Most local bee clubs are very inexpensive to join, in my experience.
This winter, when there is little to see at the hives, will be a good opportunity to read.  Check out the Book section on this forum.
Welcome!  Glad you decided to join.

Offline Perry

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2017, 06:59:10 am »
It is plain to see you have been "bitten" by this thing that collectively binds us together as beekeepers. Your interest and passion are clearly evident in your first couple of posts. The beauty of this thing we do is that you will never really know it all, there is always something new to be learned, we would probably get bored otherwise. Thinking you might actually have the bees figured out is usually one of the biggest mistakes a keep can make (I speak from embarrassing experience here).
"It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor."      
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Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2017, 03:58:38 pm »
Thank you for the replies. My friend who told me about the meetings is a regular attender. Once in a while he misses a meeting or two. My wife and I attended periodically, until we had the bees in the trap. Now We make it a point to get to each one. Plus the pot luck dinner is great, and my wife loves to cook. I agree miss-information can be costly. I try to research up on information given to evaluate it for myself. Luckily I have another friend who I have known a lot longer who has been keeping bees since he was eight or nine with 40 plus years behind him who is a phone call away.

Yeah Perry I was bitten pretty hard. Inspired more the word for it, and have been blessed with a small swarm, and plenty of room to keep bees. I know I have made mistakes already, and have learned a lot from them. None of them are good enough to turn into a good yarn though!
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline neillsayers

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2017, 10:41:02 pm »
Welcome to this crazy world, noisemaker! Hope your little colony does very well. :)
Neill Sayers
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Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2017, 12:11:34 am »
Thank you all for the replies. Well, the nights are colder now since the front came through last night. No more shorts and sandals this year I think. There was a thin layer of ice on the bird feeder this morning. Went to look at the hive when the sun was at its strongest, temps in the upper 40s I think, maybe low 50s. The bees were buzzing when I listened, so I sat and watched for a while and sure enough, there were a few going for water and went to the feeder. Even saw one return with pollen!!

Had lunch after church, with the couple who told us about the local beekeeper meeting and he could not believe that my bees were still collecting pollen. He said no way. My reply was that if it wasn't pollen, they were bringing back some other orange substance in their baskets then, and the dandilions in our fields had nothing to do with it. Love watching those bees. My wife even carried a chair down to the hive so I didn't have to sit on the ground next to it.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 05:57:06 am »
I don't think it's surprising the bees are bringing in pollen.  They anticipate and stock pile food for brood.  Although they prefer feeding freshly collected pollen, they will store it too.  Don't be surprised if you see them bringing in pollen on winter days when they can fly.  Where do they find it?  Wildflowers that are still standing somewhere, I suppose.  The queen will start laying again after the winter solstice and the days begin to grow longer.

Offline efmesch

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2017, 12:36:01 pm »
My apologies Noise Maker--when I responded to your introductory post, I hadn't yet seen this one.  It's just the kind of information I was looking for. 
Looks like you and your wife have a bright future ahead as a beekeeping couple.

Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2017, 08:57:26 pm »
No apologies needed EF, and thank you for your kind comments. I really should thank everyone for their kind comments while I'm at it. It is the way in which people discussed things on this forum was perhaps the deciding factor for me to join.

I have no experience with bees, but can share what I have done and am thinking of doing whether its right or wrong, hopefully the bees will decide. Come spring hopefully they will still be there which will be my thumbs up. :)
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.
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Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2018, 08:12:17 pm »
So two months have gone by with some night temps getting down below zero and the bees are still buzzing!! When the weather was warm enough for them to be out I made sure that the sugar water feeder was in place ready for them. Now that the weather is starting to warm up a bit they are able to get out and about more, and I think it will be time to start them on 1-1 sugar water as my last batch of 2-1 will be gone in a few days. It is tempting to open up the give to see what has been going on all winter, but will wait until a few more weeks I think until the temps get higher.

Much to my horror one morning on our way to the nearest little market, I noticed that the hive had been knocked over on one of the coldest nights we had. The short story is that one of the horses blankets got loose and she freaked and ran around the field. I could see where it was dragging on the ground and the trail went right past the hive. Luckily the lid stayed on the hive and I could hear them buzzing inside. A neighbor helped me pick it up and put it back on the cinder blocks. That was just before Christmas and they are still alive!! I think a new section of barbed wire will have to be installed come spring to keep the horses away from the hive.

Also am building more frames, and will be putting out two traps as soon as I get the frames built for them. Am about half finished with a second hive in order to be ready for another swarm or in case I need to split the hive I already have. If I learned anything in the past few months is to have the equipment ready before I need it.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline rober

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2018, 09:15:53 am »
s.w mo............are you near Joplin?

Offline riverbee

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 10:30:05 pm »
"So two months have gone by with some night temps getting down below zero and the bees are still buzzing!! When the weather was warm enough for them to be out I made sure that the sugar water feeder was in place ready for them. Now that the weather is starting to warm up a bit they are able to get out and about more, and I think it will be time to start them on 1-1 sugar water as my last batch of 2-1 will be gone in a few days. It is tempting to open up the give to see what has been going on all winter, but will wait until a few more weeks I think until the temps get higher."

noisemaker, a couple questions, where is your sugar water feeder located and what is the sugar water in? it hasn't frozen?
 
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Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2018, 12:41:21 pm »
Sorry for not replying sooner, life has a tendency to get in the way of a lot of things. Life is still going on at its crazy pace.

Riverbee, I had bought an entrance feeder, but the entrance is a bit too high for it and it doesn't stay in place. I set it on top of the hive, and the bees worked it all winter when it was warm enough. If the temps were close to freezing, I did not add any sugar  water to it, just left it there, as the bees were staying in the hive those days. There was usually a little bit in there for those that did venture out. When it warmed up enough, I would go add more. It must have worked as they survived the winter, when everyone told me they probably wouldn't.

Rober, we're not too far from you, near Aurora.

I can't believe that the last time I posted was back in February. The bees made it through the winter just fine!! Come spring, they multiplied like crazy. With my big deep top bar hive they had plenty of room. In June, I built a second hive and split them. Had no clue as usual as to how splits are made, I just put equal amounts of honey, mixed, and brood frames in each hive. Checked them a few weeks later, and I didn't think that the new hive had raised a queen, so I took another frame of brood from the first hive and added it to the split. Will go in and check on things soon to see how they are doing. It seems as if there are more bees in there, but that could be just from the hatched brood. If there is no queen in the fall, I was thinking I can just combine the hives to get them through the winter.

With the deep frames, I have been dealing with broken comb. Heat, weight of the comb, and moving the frames are the biggest culprit, along with my lack of knowledge. The experience has also been a great teacher. I had to make more frames, as I had filled my two traps and used the rest when I made the split. Experimenting with wider frames, wiring, and starter boards. The broken comb yielded almost four pounds of honey, and 3/4 of a pound of wax.  Sold most of the honey, and built a solar wax melter out of scrap material to see what works. Just made a second version, that has a strainer and filter, which is working well, using the melted wax from the first version, which had debris that the strainer missed. The final version will be able to render the final product from comb in one pass, with a strainer and up to 3 filters if need be. Next on the to do list is lip balm and a wax starter strip mold.

I don't think anyone in our club is working with a Lazutin hive, so I'm kinda on my own as to what to do. I get good advice from people, and use my own judgement as to how to go about things. I guess it boils down to I was blessed to catch a small swarm last fall. Make small changes in the hive when needed, and let the bees show me if it works. They know what they are doing. Have not seen a hive beetle yet this year. There were some when I closed the hive for the winter. I think that when the hive population got strong enough, they took care of the beetles. I have yet to see a mite anywhere, and spent a lot of time looking. I need to my monthly inspection soon, and am not looking forward to doing it in the heat we have been having.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2018, 08:45:34 am »
Good to hear from you, Noise Maker.
We are just starting to see small Hive beetles in the hives.  They don't spend all of their life cycle in the hives.  So you might be prepared with some means of controlling them should they move into your area.  We have been seeing them in the hives in the last 2 weeks or so.
I have never heard of a Lazutin hive.  Can you explain or post pictures?

Offline Noise Maker

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2018, 04:32:28 pm »
I opened the hives the other day and saw a few beetles. The bees were really giving them a hard time.

I got the plans from the Horizontal Hive website. Met Dr. Leo Sharashkin, at our club meeting about two years ago, and we bought the book he translated. The Lazutin hive was created by Fedor Lazutin in Russia. Not having any experience with bees at the time, the way Dr. Sharashkin explained the horizontal hive and natural beekeeping, made a lot of sense to me.

I really have no desire to get into the debate as to whether or not the natural way to go is better or not, for me it was a good way to get started.

I will have to post some pictures as soon as I get them from my phone. That may take a long time. The hive can be as long as you want to make it, and the frames are about 19x19 inches. They do get heavy. Am thinking of building them a little less deep in the future.

Now that I know its going to be time to harvest soon, am hoping to have everything ready to harvest, crush and strain at least a week before I do it. It would be nice not having to cram everything into a few hectic days as the way this has gone for me in the past.

So far this year I have learned so much, and have even more questions. I wouldn't even know where to start in asking them. The main ones I ask when the situation arises. Just reading through this forum, has provided a lot of insight and answers!! Even some laughs. What a great community!! Thank you all.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: My limited experience so far
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2018, 07:41:09 am »
Glad you are enjoying and learning here.  Loosely quoting Keith Delaplane, "The more you know, the more there is to know."