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Thread: Anyone else keep bees?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Anyone else keep bees?

    A couple years ago a coworker started telling me he wanted to keep bees. I wouldn't have thought much of it, but he was actively moving forward with having bees. He was going to keep the out at his family's land in Nacogdoches, which is about a 3 hour drive from Dallas where we both live. I told him I was much closer, only 30-40 minutes away, and had the space, so why not keep them here?

    So that spring he set up three hives and started keeping bees in the pasture behind my house. We, and I say we because I started doing hive maintenance for him since he could only get over here every other week or so, did pretty well. The hives flourished, produced lots of honey, and seemed to be doing well. It kept me in honey (yum!) and beeswax (which I used for casting and lubing), and was really low effort.

    The cold snap we had in February was worse than anyone expected, and killed all the hives. So we started again this spring, with all new packages of bees, and are basically starting over.

    The bees are doing great this year do far, already producing honey and brood, and I look forward to many more productive seasons.


  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Apiary work is fascinating! Once upon a time, I had dreams of having a hive or two. The rigid pecking order that exists in the bee world must be witnessed to fully appreciated!

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
    zarrinvz24's Avatar
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    I find this very interesting as well, what an amazing adventure that must have been. If this question is ignorant, apologies in advance: I've heard that killer bee's is the result of a virus that is slowly working its way through hives in North America. Is that something that one would need to be concerned with while raising a hive?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I have 4 now. I lost one to the cold. I caught 3 swarms in my swarm traps last year, but none this year. I gave one of the swarms to my friend who let me put the swarm traps on his property. His hive swarmed this spring. I got the swarm into a nuc, but they left and went to a swarm trap about 50 yds away. I have the hive at my place and will move it back to his place, (3 miles away) in a couple of days.

    I see a bunch of drone cells there.

    Bees are a lot of work, especially in the heat of the summer.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by zarrinvz24 View Post
    I find this very interesting as well, what an amazing adventure that must have been. If this question is ignorant, apologies in advance: I've heard that killer bee's is the result of a virus that is slowly working its way through hives in North America. Is that something that one would need to be concerned with while raising a hive?
    -

    No problem, Just kill the Queen and re-queen the hive with a mated queen . In 6 weeks all the worker bees have died and been replaced with the new queens workers.

    There are now (killer) Africanized bees all over the South.
    The new threats to the bees are Varroa mites that spread viruses, and small hive beetles that lay there eggs in the hive and their larvae destroy the comb and honey.
    Last edited by farmerjim; 04-29-2021 at 08:22 AM.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I don’t keep bees, but I do like bee juice! Love watching them work over the flowers, bees are amazing.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master reloader28's Avatar
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    I have a 4 box hive that is brim full of honey I got from a friend. The bees died for some reason, so I need to get some more.
    He also gave me an electric extracter and said he has a cooler full of honey filled frames somewhere in his stuff. Hes just finishing moving so when he finds it I'll spin out the whole batch and see if I can still get some bees

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy cephas53's Avatar
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    NWPA here. Any suggestions on how to protect the hives from black bears?
    If you take a dog which is starving and feed him and make him prosperous, that dog will not bite you. This is the primary difference between a dog and a man.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by cephas53 View Post
    NWPA here. Any suggestions on how to protect the hives from black bears?
    Electric fence.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Many years ago, some in my family kept bees. My Dad decided he wanted to get some, and we had a few hives. Sadly, the very first year of us getting some EXCELLENT, top quality Sourwood honey, (my Dad's favorite) he was unable to enjoy it. He was hospitalized & passed before he had the chance.
    We let a friend get our bees after that.
    But I've always remembered that, and thought how I'd like to get a few hives & such.

    Black bears can & will destroy hives to get the honey.

    Locally, we have a lot of bears, and it is a problem. As an Animal Damage Control Agent, I usually have folks build a PAIR of electric fences around their hives. Crank them up as high as they can, spaced about 1 ft apart, to where a bear has a seriously hard time trying to get into the hive area. Make sure the inner fencing is at least about 6'-8' away from all sides of the hives.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy memtb's Avatar
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    We only have two hives, which wintered quite well. We plan on doing a split soon. Our goal is 8 hives. Figuring that 8, gives us a good base to rebuild from, should we loose some for whatever reason the bees decide to die off!

    Our bees don’t really produce much honey. As in real estate.....location, location, location! We average only about 4”to 5” precipitation annually.....which doesn’t give the bees a lot of flowers/blooms to work with. memtb
    You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong." -Bob Hagel

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy

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    I have a hive. Several years ago I bought some bees from a shyster. He took a lot of peoples money including mine and I filed a claim against him with the state authorities. There is little I hate more than someone knowingly taking money when they have no product to deliver.

    Anyways, I still have the hive and occasionally we get swarms in the area. I might get a swarm trap to put out and see if I can attract one.

    Bees are a ruthless species. Workers will work the hive for the first few weeks of life and then start collecting nectar and pollen for the hive. when they die... Kicked out the entrance... Ruthless...

    A former friend of mine used to raise them too. He said that a lot of beekeepers would put their hives on scales and weight them regularly. In peak flower time, they'd gain most of their weight in honey in a few weeks.

    Gotta get this show started again.

    They make mite filters where the mites shake off of bees when they enter or leave the hive. And Africanized bees are a genetic variety with a predisposition for aggression. My friends hive had a bee or 2 that were very aggressive. He caught it and sent it off to be tested. I can't recall if it had African DNA in it or not. But you can always kill the queen and start with a new one once she is properly introduced.
    “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

  13. #13
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    My Dad keeps bees in Middle GA. He started about 6-7 years ago. He sells his honey and I get beeswax from time to time.
    You can miss fast & you can miss a lot, but only hits count.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy

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    Alright... Now you've all gone and done it.

    I have some lemongrass oil on it's way to try to capture a wild swarm...
    “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Bees can be fun, and yes a lot of work also.
    Dad started having bees back in the late 60's but lost his few hives to foul brood in the early 70's, what a nasty thing.

    I started back in the bees in the early 1990's when we bought a piece of larger property, and when I got out in 2001 I had 48 hives, my back simply could not take it any more.

    I think it was in 2000 I took in 70 gallons of honey in 4 varietys of blooms, white clover, wild berries, carrot, and mixed, amazing what differrent color and taste you can get and see depending on the flower bloom.

    J Wisner

  16. #16
    Boolit Man


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    Quote Originally Posted by cephas53 View Post
    NWPA here. Any suggestions on how to protect the hives from black bears?
    45-70 ?

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Great to hear about others doing it too!

    When my coworker first started he set up 3 hives and installed packages in them. They did great the first year, got up to 4-5 boxes each. The next year one hive died. We think we probably rolled the queen at some point, digging around in there, and the timing was bad so they didn't replace her. The cost of learning on the job.

    He was planning to split both hives this year, as soon as it got warm enough, but then that cold snap happened, and we just weren't prepared for a -14 degree wind chill. After it warmed up and we got in there to find out what happened, he got around 60lbs of honey.

    We started 6 hives this spring from packages, 4 for him and 2 for me.

    The property we're on has tons of mesquite, wild muscadine grapes, and blackberries. The honey we've gotten after the flow is noticably darker and more flavorful than what they produce while we were feeding them heavily.

    When I have drawn comb that's not needed, or if we take honey, I make little pucks of raw wax for the casting pot or for making lube (just mixed with Vaseline).

    It's been fun. It's definitely hot work in the summer here in Texas. But overall I haven't found them to be that much effort. Check on them a couple times a week, add boxes and address parasites as needed, and let them do what they do. We don't have any predators around here that go for honey, and the scavengers we have know better than to mess with a hive.

    And my garden has looked excellent since we started keeping pollinators.


    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    ryanmattes
    Do you wear a full suit, half suit. veil only, or nothing ?

    I wear a full suit and still get stung from time to time. I wish I could do like most of the beekeepers on youtube and work with no protective gear.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjim View Post
    ryanmattes
    Do you wear a full suit, half suit. veil only, or nothing ?

    I wear a full suit and still get stung from time to time. I wish I could do like most of the beekeepers on youtube and work with no protective gear.
    I wear a half suit, with my jeans tucked into my work boots. Before I got proper gloves I was just using work gloves like you get from home depot, and I got a few stings through the thin back of those.

    Mostly, though, they're not very aggressive. We have Italian bees, except he got one package of Sasketraz this year (Canadian bees are better at handling cold snaps, eh?).

    With the Italian bees they're really only aggressive when you're actively working inside the hive. Pretty much as soon as you put the cap on, you can walk right up to the hive in a t-shirt and they won't sting you.

    And smoking the hives helps keep that aggression down. I believe we both got stung the one time we tried to do hive maintenance without a smoker. We now have several smokers, so we never have to do that again.

    There's almost always someone out there with us with no protective gear on at all, usually just standing 10-15 feet away, and none of them have been stung yet.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy memtb's Avatar
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    I haven’t tried the Sasketraz yet, but have Carnolians.....which seem to handle our winters just fine with little to no winter precautions, other than reduce the opening size! memtb
    You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong." -Bob Hagel

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