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Any Beekeepers here??

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 03:02 PM
So it came up the other day that I am a backyard beekeeper. Anybody else on here do beekeeping??

It's a rather "different" hobby I guess, but so interesting. I never would have thought I'd end up with bee's but I have to admit that it's pretty neat. Bee's have a wonderful social structure and are truly amazing.

So I'm going to post a couple of pics from two summers ago. I don't have any yet this year, I'll need to get my son out to take some pics in a couple months once the hives are up to speed.

First picture is of the bee's sitting out front of a hive on a hot day. If it gets too hot in the hive they'll sit out on the front board to cool off.

Second is a really nice full frame of brood. Each hive box (super) will have 9 - 10 of these frames with bee's on each side, and a full hive will have about 75,000 bee's in it.

Melinda
March 16th, 2010, 03:04 PM
ohhh more pics for hubs!!! so will the warm winter help or hinder the honey supply this year DD?

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 03:05 PM
Two more pics. The first picture has capped honey. The brood box is normally on the bottom and a second box is placed on top of that one as a honey super. A wire frame separates the two boxes (if you want) so that the queen doesn't lay eggs in the honey super.

The second picture shows the queen right in the middle. You will notice she is not striped like the other bee's and is much longer.

The queen lays about 2000 eggs a day. Each egg will hatch out within 21 days and the bee's will live for six weeks. The queen however will live for about six years, although most beekeepers will kill their queens and requeen their hives every two years. This is because a newer queen will lay more eggs, resulting in a stronger hive and more honey.

So if you have any questions feel free to fire away and I'll try to answer them.

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 03:07 PM
Hi Melinda, not really sure. I lost two of three hives this winter, and on the Island they had huge losses. So a warm winter doesn't seem to have done much for us. The bee's did have an early start to the season though with our tree's having pollen very early. Hopefully that will mean lots of honey, I see that my two new hives are already making honey. It's a good sign I hope.

Sib.HuskyMom
March 16th, 2010, 03:19 PM
The second picture shows the queen right in the middle. You will notice she is not striped like the other bee's and is much longer.

The queen lays about 2000 eggs a day. Each egg will hatch out within 21 days and the bee's will live for six weeks. The queen however will live for about six years, although most beekeepers will kill their queens and requeen their hives every two years. This is because a newer queen will lay more eggs, resulting in a stronger hive and more honey.

This may seem like a silly question, but I know nothing about bees :o.
Out of so many thousands of bees, how did you find the queen so easily? I mean, it was easy to pick out in the picture because she was right there, but how did you find her to take the pic?
Also, how do you kill her and "requeen"?

And one more question. The obvious one that all us "non bee" people are thinking :rolleyes:.
How on earth do you keep that many bees around and not get stung?:eek:

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 03:38 PM
There are no silly questions SHM. It is not always easy to find the queen and sometimes you can't. She will run and hide whenever possible. You actually can buy pens though that you can mark their heads with (like a little green or red bead). People with lots of hives use these because it enables them to remember what year the queen was put into the hive. Red would be 2010, green would be 2009, whatever you pick. I check the hives every week to ensure the queen is still alive (sometimes they just die) and laying eggs. If your queen dies and you don't notice it you will lose your hive very fast since they have such a short life span. So if you can't find your queen you definitely want to find eggs.

Sadly when it's time to requeen you have to find your queen and pick her out and then squish her. It's kinda brutal, but your only option.

As for stinging, as you can see from the pics I'm not that brave and I still wear a full suit, but bee's die when they sting you, so they don't really want to sting you. I get stung about once a year and it's always my fault. I may have a bunch of bee's sitting on me when I'm working on the hives and I'll lean a box up against my leg while I do something and squish a bee against my leg and she'll sting me. Always something stupid that I do. They really are gentle and if you work smoothly and regularly with your hive you won't have a problem, they'll be used to you.

hazelrunpack
March 16th, 2010, 04:57 PM
That's just too cool, DD!

I think I read somewhere that if the queen is removed, one of the eggs is transformed by a special food given by the workers and becomes a new queen? Is that true or something madame hazel just made up in one of her dissociative episodes? :o

:goodvibes: for the two new hives!

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 05:02 PM
Hi Hazel. Yes ideally if your queen dies (or becomes old and stops laying) the workers will feed Royal Jelly to several of the eggs to grow new queens. They will generally grow three or four queen cells that look like peanuts hanging off the frames. The first one to hatch out will kill the others. The queen then flies from the hive on a mating flight (this is a virgin queen) and returns to the hive after mating and never leaves again - unless the hive gets too congested and she decides to swarm. Queen's don't generally fly because they are too heavy with eggs. She will also not mate with drones from her own hive. If your workers start queen cells it's a good sign that something is out of whack in the hive.

hazelrunpack
March 16th, 2010, 05:08 PM
Wow! hazel does have a bit of memory left! :eek:

That's pretty fascinating! So have you ever had a queen swarm? How do you keep the hive from getting too congested?

Winston
March 16th, 2010, 05:14 PM
Oh my goodness I have never met a beekeeper before! :thumbs up Didnt actually know thats what your called so I learned something new today! :thumbs up

I am sure I can come up with a lot of questions but right now I just have to know?

Your ankle area is exposed in that one pic! wont they sting you? I know you said they are gentle but you obviously have your body covered for a reason??? :D

Oh ans honey in the jar is runny do they add something to it or is it just a different stage of the process?

Cindy

BenMax
March 16th, 2010, 05:21 PM
How so very very interesting DogDancer.

Tell me - how do you get different honey flavours?

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 05:26 PM
Yes Hazel I did have my hive swarm two summers ago. It is not something you want to happen as you lose so many of your bee's and then you don't get the honey production you want. The hive will swarm if it gets too crowded, so ideally you are really watching your hives and you would add a new box (super) on top of the first or second as needed so that the bee's have more space. They will travel upwards into the new boxes. If your hive swarms it will normally swarm a couple of times and it's quite scary/awesome to see 30,000 bee's all in the air at once. Not sure how my neighbours felt about it mind you. I was able to find both of my swarms and recapture them and put them into two new hive boxes. They are very gentle when in swarm stage because they are not protecting their hive or honey. I was lucky because both of the swarms landed low in the tree's and I was able to cut the branch off and take it back home. :D

Winston, I had socks on in the pic, and yeah sometimes they could crawl down into your shoe area and get squished, but generally they don't sting unless you threaten them. I'm just a big sissy about having them get in my hair and into the sleeves of my clothes or something so I suit up. Plus, bee's poop when they're outside of the hive mostly and the suit keeps me from getting covered in bee poop. (Which is sorta watery yellow liquid.)

The capped honey shown in the picture has a wax cap on top of the liquid honey. When we extract the honey you have to first scrape the wax off so that the liquid honey comes out of the little combs. Because I am a small producer I rent a centrifuge type spinning basket. You put four combs of honey into the basket and spin it like crazy for five minutes, then you turn the combs around and spin some more so that the honey spins out of the frames. It is a very slow process to collect the honey, and then we filter it through cheese cloth and bottle it. Because it is natural honey and not heat treated if you leave it out on your counter for three or four months it will crystalize and get sugary, however, letting the bottle sit in simmering water will turn it back to liquid. Most store bought honey (like Safeway) is heat treated to keep it from turning to sugar, but once it is heat treated it loses all it's medicinal and healthy benefits. Don't put your honey in the fridge, it will crystalize almost immediately.

Just a tip, pure honey can be used on cuts and scrapes as it has natural antibiotic features.

Dog Dancer
March 16th, 2010, 05:29 PM
Hi Ben Max,
The different flavours of honey would come from having your beehives in different crops. Commercial beekeepers will rent their hives out to farmers during the polinating seasons and then collect up the hives and collect the honey. So if you have your hives out in a blueberry field you will get blueberry honey. My bee's just hang out in the city and don't have a specific crop so we get pretty generic honey with a lot of clover and dandylion in it. But it's tasty honey!

14+kitties
March 16th, 2010, 06:10 PM
That, my friend, was a very interesting read. You are very smart lady!! :D And I don't care what you say, brave!! I just would not be able to do that! I also am not a huge honey fan. My mom loved it. She used it in everything.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Very interesting! :thumbs up

luckypenny
March 16th, 2010, 08:46 PM
Neat photos and interesting information for us newbees to the bee world :D. Thank you!

growler~GateKeeper
March 17th, 2010, 01:39 AM
Great thread Dog Dancer :thumbs up

How did you get into Beekeeping?

TeriM
March 17th, 2010, 01:50 AM
Wow, very cool information DD :thumbs up.

Kudos to you as well for helping bees out in this time of such scary dwindling numbers :).

Golden Girls
March 17th, 2010, 09:47 AM
The only thing I know about bees is to RUN for my life! I remember you posted DD before about this hobby, very interesting, you are a brave one :)

Dog Dancer
March 17th, 2010, 01:12 PM
Hey all, thanks for looking in. LP I like your pun "newbees" indeed.

Growler, I got into beekeeping because we noticed one year the garden was not doing well and we hadn't seen many bee's. So off I went and took a bee course and voila - dumped a pile of money to buy bee's and bee stuff and we were in! Last year we had enough tomatoes to feed the entire neighbourhood. Given the price of tomatoes this year due to the Florida weather if we get another crop like last year I'm opening a fruit stand in the driveway!!:thumbs up

TeriM yes there are so few natural bee's around now, it seems a lot of people are getting into beekeeping. I live right in the middle of the city and the neighbours actually think it's pretty cool - even the one who runs the daycare across the road. She takes the kids outside to her garden and shows them the bee's and tells them where they live and such. My other neighbour gave me cherry jam because he's never had so many cherries as since we moved in with our bee's.

GG don't run from the bee's - they won't hurt you unless you swat them. The wasps are another story though, and they are the ones that come and bother you during dinner.

BenMax
March 17th, 2010, 01:15 PM
Dog Dancer - I am so impressed. I have learnt something from this thread and I find this absolutely interesting.

WOW - we have a bee keeper at Pets!!! How great is that!:thumbs up

Dog Dancer
March 17th, 2010, 01:19 PM
BM - Does that make me a backyard breeder?? No, I guess not, I don't sell my bee's for profit. Although I have sold a wee bit of honey....

luckypenny
March 17th, 2010, 01:24 PM
BM - Does that make me a backyard breeder??

No, that makes you a backyard beeer :laugh:.

:o :laughing: :o

BenMax
March 17th, 2010, 01:27 PM
No, that makes you a backyard beeer :laugh:.

:o :laughing: :o

:laughing::laughing::laughing: Oh that's a good one!

LOVE IT!:laughing:

Frenchy
March 17th, 2010, 07:58 PM
Hi Hazel. Yes ideally if your queen dies (or becomes old and stops laying) the workers will feed Royal Jelly to several of the eggs to grow new queens. They will generally grow three or four queen cells that look like peanuts hanging off the frames. The first one to hatch out will kill the others. The queen then flies from the hive on a mating flight (this is a virgin queen) and returns to the hive after mating and never leaves again - unless the hive gets too congested and she decides to swarm. Queen's don't generally fly because they are too heavy with eggs. She will also not mate with drones from her own hive. If your workers start queen cells it's a good sign that something is out of whack in the hive.

that is so cewl :p wonderful how nature works :thumbs up I really like the pictures .... I also can't believe we have a honey breeder here !! :thumbs up

No, that makes you a backyard beeer :laugh:.

:o :laughing: :o
:laughing:

hazelrunpack
March 17th, 2010, 09:43 PM
As long as she speuters before selling any bees :angel:

:p

14+kitties
March 17th, 2010, 10:49 PM
As long as she speuters before selling any bees :angel:

:p

Mmm, how does one speuter a bee? I'm not volunteering!!!! :eek:

Chris21711
March 18th, 2010, 09:39 AM
So intriguing DD, thanks so much for sharing :thumbs up....so informative.

Hi Melinda, not really sure. I lost two of three hives this winter, and on the Island they had huge losses.

Lately from what I have read, they have discovered that a mite is attacking bees leading to heavy losses in the Bee population, do you think that your bees were lost due to this mite?

Just in the paper a few weeks ago they said that Importation of Queen Bees from Hawaii had been halted, but now have resumed.

Last summer our Bee population was way down compared to other years :(

Melinda
March 18th, 2010, 09:45 AM
sounds more like a hoarder to me......................:crazy:

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 11:18 AM
We always make sure our bee's are sterile (except for the queen). :thumbs up

Chris, it is entirely possible that mites are what caused my loses also. The mites have been around for a long, long time. The problem with them now is everybody treats them with the same chemicals and they are becoming resistant - just like the human germs. So now you have a strain of mites that you can't destroy and they do kill the bee's. They are like a flea really. There are very few options on how to deal with the mites unfortunately. Some bee losses every year is normal, but the Island losses were huge.

The bee's I brought in came from Australia. In another month or two we will be able to buy local queens. I haven't figured out how to raise my own queens as spares yet. Maybe one day.

Chris21711
March 18th, 2010, 11:42 AM
Chris, it is entirely possible that mites are what caused my loses also. The mites have been around for a long, long time. The problem with them now is everybody treats them with the same chemicals and they are becoming resistant - just like the human germs. So now you have a strain of mites that you can't destroy and they do kill the bee's. They are like a flea really. There are very few options on how to deal with the mites unfortunately. Some bee losses every year is normal, but the Island losses were huge.

They showed pics of the little blighters in the article I was reading......they mentioned that they were probably the cause of Colony Collapse.

I haven't figured out how to raise my own queens as spares yet. Maybe one day.

That would be a really cool achievement :thumbs up

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 12:27 PM
I believe chemicals play a large role in the collapses also. I don't spray my garden or lawns, but I don't know what my neighbours put out on their lawns. The bee's travel up to 3 km's in any direction from the hive on every flight, so you just don't know what kind of chemicals they're ingesting. Which later we ingest through the honey also....

BenMax
March 18th, 2010, 12:29 PM
DD - have you ever been 'attacked' by these bees while retrieving the honey. I know that you wear the suit, but are they really territorial or aggressive?

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 01:27 PM
BM no I have never been "attacked" by the bee's. My mother was sure that I would be attacked and killed. When they are bothered by us (as in p'd off with us) they will generally just fly into you and bounce off. Like I said, they really don't want to sting you unless they have to. When collecting the honey they are a little more possessive than usual as we are a threat to their food supply, but I've never been stung during that process.

When we take the frames away to collect the honey, we go to the garage with them to extract it. Some of the bee's will follow us into the garage, by which point I don't have my suit on anymore. They are generally content to find a puddle or two of spilled honey though and work on cleaning that up for me. While they are a nuisance at this time, they aren't too much of a threat.

My husband regularly works in the garden with hundreds of bee's flying around him or landing on him. They like to land on you and rest in the sun. He's much braver than I am, in fact I often have to remind him to at least put on gloves when he's handling the hives with me.:rolleyes:

BenMax
March 18th, 2010, 01:54 PM
Fascinating DD..just fascinating.:thumbs up

aslan
March 18th, 2010, 01:58 PM
i'm with benmax,,this is a wonderful education...just curious do you have any concern of the killer bees joining with your bees..

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 02:13 PM
No Aslan, I don't worry about killer bee's or African bee's. I don't think they're prevalent out here, and they are really just very aggressive bee's. It is in fact the law that if your colony is overly aggressive you must report it to the Dept. of Agriculture and they will send someone out to inspect it. If they feel it has been "Africanized" they will order you to destroy the colony. I haven't heard of that here though.

I'm glad you guys are enjoying this. Maybe I'll inspire somebody else to take it up!:thumbs up Honest, it's really an amazing hobby, and quite the conversation starter.

BenMax
March 18th, 2010, 02:18 PM
DD - how can a batch of honey be spoiled? Also - how do you process cones into honey itself?

aslan
March 18th, 2010, 02:42 PM
hmmm i know the africanized bee's have made it part way into california that's why i asked...i'm just gonna watch you from afar, i'm allergic to bee stings.

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 03:14 PM
BM - I'm not sure how you could spoil honey honestly. If you harvest it too early (before it has the wax capping) it will be too watery. I know you don't want to leave it over a winter in the hives because it will crystalize. I do know that sometimes it can ferment, but I've never had that happen to me.

I assume you are asking how you make comb into honey - you said cone but I'm not familiar with that (although there's certainly more that I don't know that what I do know...) The comb that the honey is extracted from is made of wax so you don't actually make honey out of it. The bee's make the wax from honey, so you can remove a large chunk of comb with honey in it and chew on it. Many people remove the wax and use the wax for candles and such, but I don't do that.

Aslan, I don't know just how far the African bee's are, I just know that I don't have to worry about them yet. My husband gets a bad reaction to being stung, although he is not what I would call allergic, just sensitive. My older girl Shadow is allergic so we have to watch her closely when the bee's are around. Halo likes to bite the bee's if she can catch them, and her lips will swell up, but other than that she's okay. You think she'd learn huh - nope! Does it every year. :shrug: I don't put flower pots on my patio deck as I don't want to attract the bee's to the deck, but we still get wasps up there which is a pain in the butt.

BenMax
March 18th, 2010, 03:25 PM
Dog Dancer...I totally meant comb!:o (how embarassing):laughing:

I hope you don't mind all these questions. I just am totally amazed as to what you do!:thumbs up

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 03:51 PM
I don't mind the questions. Six years ago I had just as many, in fact I still do! I am going to take another course this May and see if I can get a few more answers and ideas. I am currently reading "Beekeeping for Dummies".

BenMax
March 18th, 2010, 03:55 PM
I don't mind the questions. Six years ago I had just as many, in fact I still do! I am going to take another course this May and see if I can get a few more answers and ideas. I am currently reading "Beekeeping for Dummies".

And i think i better get the book: 'Beekeeper's dummy friends'. I had no idea about this very interesting hobby of yours.

Dog Dancer
March 18th, 2010, 04:00 PM
I really think one of the coolest parts is you can do it right in the city. Some people do it on an apartment balcony. The convention centre downtown has a green roof and the fellow that I consider my "Bee Guru" has helped them to set up bee hives on the roof of the centre. You can do this anywhere. I found a lot of people taking the class when I did had property that was in an agricultural land preserve, so in order to keep their lower tax status they had to have a crop on it. They did bee hives and honey to keep the agricultural status. I don't think I can get a lower tax rate in the city though for having my hives. Darn.

growler~GateKeeper
March 19th, 2010, 03:09 AM
Nice of your neighbour to share the bounty of his cherry tree too :thumbs up

Many people remove the wax and use the wax for candles and such, but I don't do that.

If you did at some point want to ;):

How to make sheets from beeswax (http://www.ehow.com/how_4897718_make-beeswax-sheets.html)

How to make beeswax candles from sheets (http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/projectsforbeginners/ss/ssrolledbw1.htm)

Dog Dancer
March 19th, 2010, 01:57 PM
Just not gonna be me making wax candles Growler. The wax is really quite sticky messy and I'm just not crafty or motivated enough to deal with it after extracting the honey. I know, bad me, but so be it.

Growler be nice to any bee's you see this summer, they may be mine you know...

Dog Dancer
March 19th, 2010, 11:13 PM
One other thing about honey folks. Although it has excellent health benefits for adults, natural/raw honey must not be given to children under 1 year old. Natural honey can contain botulism spores. While an adult's body will take care of that, a child cannot. Nursing mothers are fine to eat it as their bodies will cleanse it before it makes it's way into the milk.

Natural honey is wonderful if you have seasonal allergies. If you can find honey from a local producer eating a couple tsps of honey a day from your area will give you a small dose of the pollens you are allergic to and that can help to naturally control your allergies.

hazelrunpack
March 19th, 2010, 11:17 PM
Who woulda thunk it!?! :eek: Honey is almost as fascinating as the bees themselves. :o

14+kitties
March 19th, 2010, 11:26 PM
EDUMACATION!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!! :thumbs up

growler~GateKeeper
March 20th, 2010, 12:10 AM
Just not gonna be me making wax candles Growler. The wax is really quite sticky messy and I'm just not crafty or motivated enough to deal with it after extracting the honey. I know, bad me, but so be it.

Growler be nice to any bee's you see this summer, they may be mine you know...

:laughing:

I'm always good to the bees, even the wasps :angel:

Dog Dancer
March 20th, 2010, 09:35 PM
I'm not nice to the wasps. They'll sting you just for the heck of it, plus they raid my bee hives and steal the honey and that makes for angry bee's. Angry bee's makes it much harder to work on the hives.:frustrated: