My First Year as a Beekeeper

minimed paradigm Hi! My name is Zach, and this will be my first time owning and keeping honeybees! I will be documenting of my first year as a beekeeper, which can hopefully serve as a fun story of the triumphs and woes of a new beekeeper and maybe even get a few more people excited about taking the leap into this hobby.

site de rencontre 100 normand First, a little about myself and my situation. I am going into this endeavor with a little more experience than most first-time beekeepers. I took a beekeeping class in college studying and tending to 50 hives and helped start my father start a hive and cared for it for half a year.  That being said, most of this experience comes down to a little bit of biology knowledge and tens of hours in interacting with bees. Apart from that, I am a full-time engineer, I have a 1/3-acre backyard, a sweet dog, and a loving wife. This adventure has been many years in the making. I have wanted to keep a hive for four years, but certain things have made that difficult. First, I was living in a third-floor apartment with only a balcony. I have known beekeepers to have creative ways around such limited outdoor space, including keeping bees on the roof of the apartment building or keeping them in a local outdoor area – all with permission of course. But that was not for me. I want the convenience of having the bees right out my backdoor. The second difficulty was moving. We had been planning on upsizing and I really did not want to move bees. This is actually kind of silly as moving bees is surprisingly easy if done correctly – at night.  If you place an entrance blocker on the hive, the bees will remain in the hive without a problem. Then you can set them up in the new location and open the entrance blocker and they are happy as a clam. Large beekeeping operations load them up by the semi-truck load in this method and move them around the country. But for me moving is already stressful adding the bees in the mix is just one more added step. The last difficulty is my wife’s fear of bees. This is a fear many people have, and I understand it. They do have a stinging bit and there are thousands of them. That is scary. So, once we got to a yard size large enough, she was comfortable getting bees. Now what is “large enough” for a beehive, in all reality, is very small. The majority of bees are either in the hive or flying to and from the field collecting food. You will only start seeing a large density of bees about 2-3 feet from the hive and most of them will treat you like an immovable obstacle like a tree and just try to go around you. Now why do I want to keep bees? Yes, they help our environment; yes, they make honey; and yes, they will help my garden, but the real reason is that they are completely fascinating and cute. Yep, I said cute. Most people don’t agree with that. “How can an insect be cute?” they ask. But they are. They are fuzzy, have large eyes, are curious, and are pretty clumsy making them the insect equivalent of a cow. And yes, they have 6 legs and bug eyes, but they have little mannerism that are just silly. But my love for them stems from my time in the field with them. Before that, I was interested in their honey, wax and completing an elective in my senior year of college.

probleme messagerie free 2017 Peshtera What steps have we taken for beekeeping this year? First, I researched county regulations to see if I could keep a hive, and I can! Second, I did research on what type of hive I wanted (there are a lot to choose from) and settled on an eight frame Langstroth hive. These are slightly different from the standard hive, which is usually ten frames, but that makes them lighter when filled with honey which believe me is good as a medium deep of ten frames full of honey can weigh 60 lbs. and an eight frame can weigh 48 lbs. I chose these because they are very standard across the U.S., which makes any parts or replacements easy to find, and they are scalable which gives me more options for helping my bees survive. That being said, I was extremely close to purchasing a top-bar hive as those are much easier to access. The only downside is they are a fixed size and once they are full, there is nothing keeping your hive from splitting. After completing my research, I began purchasing most of the gear I will need. I intend to keep two hives, but the list below is for one. I have:

  • 1x eight Frame Deep Box
  • 20x Deep Frames
  • 1x ventilated bottom board with an insert
  • 1x garden roof (top board)
  • 1x Nuc

site de rencontre gratuit sans inscription maroc To define a few of these things, the boxes come in three sizes: shallow, medium, and deep. This corresponds to how tall (or deep) each box is. Each of my boxes will hold eight frames (of the correct height) but these boxes lack a top or a bottom. This lets the bees crawl up and down the entire hive but we want to protect the bees at the very top and bottom, so we provide a bottom board and a roof/top board. My bottom board is ventilated to allow more airflow in summer and hopefully make one of my varroa mite tests easier. With all of this equipment, there is still one thing missing: the bees. Bees are commonly sold in three forms: queens, packages, and nucs. All are for different purposes and have different amounts of bees. Purchasing a queen will get you about five bees. You will get a queen and roughly four attendants. These attendants are there to feed the queen and not much more. This is extremely useful for an established hive with worker bees already inside. There is a lot on this process that I won’t go into here, but if you want to look the process is called “re-queening”. Packages contain around 10,000 bees and a queen. These can be used to start a hive or replace a hive should one have died off. In general, the packages are a little harder on a fresh hive because there is no established comb, thus no place to lay the eggs or store food, which makes it a little harder on the bees. But this is much closer to what happens in nature. About 10,000 bees “swarm” with a new queen to find a new home and set up a hive. This swarm has nothing but the food it can forage or carry and with this they can create a new hive. A nuc, or nucleus hive, is an already established hive with about 10,000 bees. These will have about 4 frames already established with brood, food and a queen. This makes it the easiest to start with (also the most expensive) as the bees will be able to start normal hive operations from day one, which generally makes it the suggested way to start a hive. There are many right or suggested ways to start a hive, but in my experience “right” and successful are different. The first hive I set up with my father we purchased a package and we installed in a snowstorm.  Both of which are not recommended, especially the snowstorm part, but that year was one of the most successful years.

Apart from the beehive parts, we also purchased:

  • 2 x sets of bee protective gear (jacket, headdress, gloves)
  • 2 x hive tools (basically just a special crowbar)
  • 1 x smoker
  • 1 x Bee brush

For two hives, all the equipment came to an estimated $1,200. Now most of these things I went for the more expensive parts, but this is a rough estimate of what it takes to start two hives.

And now we wait. That’s what beekeeping in a temperate climate is: waiting and prepping for the next year. My bees come in May, so by that time I will need to assemble the deep boxes, purchase/construct a platform for the hives to sit on, probably purchase three more boxes (one deep and two mediums) to ensure there is enough room for my hive, and a cheap freezer for storage.

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