I have been keeping bees for five years. I read about bees for 4 years before I decided to get them. I watched hundreds of beekeeping videos. Even today, I still read about bees at least weekly, and still watch beekeeping videos and listen to podcasts. One of the recurring themes in beekeeping is “if you ask four beekeepers about any bee topic, be prepared to get five different answers”.
There are certainly ins and outs and the learning curve is steep. I highly recommend attending a local beekeeping class and joining a local beekeepers group. I did not do that and I might have been a better beekeeper sooner. I live in the boonies and worked a lot of evenings and weekends during the time I started beekeeping, so attending classes or group meetings wasn’t feasible. But now after watching and reading that much about beekeeping and having five years of experience, I have developed my own style of beekeeping, and I am going to share that with you during the next couple of posts.
First of all, I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of hives. I am a backyard beekeeper. I had nine in November and it appears that eight of my nine hives have survived. We are not done with winter yet, and March is the the time when most hives starve to death so I have been feeding them to give them a little umph if they need it.
I started with two packages of bees in late April 2017. One package left me after a week. Talk about ghosting… The second hive did well throughout the summer. In November 2017, that hive was then attacked by roving, rampaging, robber bees that devastated the hive leaving no queen, no eggs, no honey and broken honeycomb . It was like National Geographic in my yard everyday, as no bee cared that I was two feet away peering at them (most times without gear on) as the robbing and fighting was that intense. I tried wet sheets and robbing screens, I tried Bengay along the cracks in between boxes to disguise smell and drive the invaders off…to no avail and I lost that hive.
I had bought two other packages after the first one absconded. Those hives did have some incursions of robbers but as they were in a different part of the property, they faired better. And I think they took in many refugees from the robbed hive.
So from those three hives…I now have eight. I caught a swarm last year. But I also had a hive cast a swarm.
So follow along with me! We will see what this spring brings!
I am going to list some items that I have personally used in my beekeeping. The author that I return to time after time (and I also listen to his podcast) is Kim Flottum. His books can be found here: Kim Flottum book
I have bought several sets of hives from Amazon and found them to be good quality. I paint them and put them together and let them air out for a few weeks before putting them into service. And it appears that I have bought them four times throughout those 5 years…I trust them with my bees! Honeykeeper hives
I have also bought some really thick, protective bee suits on Amazon: Humble Bee Suit
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