I am now a Beekeeper!!

I am now a Beekeeper!!

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Discussion

Tonsko

6,299 posts

182 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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22 said:
What happens to a hive with no human involvement? How do the bees manage their own honey stocks? Obviously bees survived before humans started to keep them as hobbies/businesses. A (half-arsed) bit of research seems to suggest the bees move on after a period, but that's not always the case. There was a dilapidated but active (man-made) hive on a farm track near me, walked passed it almost everyday for nearly 14 years with my pooch (RIP my old mate). Although they were quite fond of it, the farmers say no one ever touched it, but sadly last year the hedge-cutting-tractor-thing wiped it out (contractor, not the farmer).
Last year I really didn't have the time to check them, so just left them. They are still there, keeping on keeping on. Checked last thing before winter and there was a absolute stack of honey. Probably going to put some food (sugar water rather than fondant) on for them as there's been a warning out form beebase about the warm winter meaning they're prolly using stores up too fast.

Nimby

2,819 posts

117 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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22 said:
What happens to a hive with no human involvement?
These days they would probably succumb to varroa infestation after a few years. Varroa is a parasitic mite introduced from the far east about 25 years ago and our native bees have no resistance. Isolated colonies might survive and there is some evidence that native bees are just beginning to evolve some behaviour to cope a bit better, but it will take tens or hundreds of years for a natural balance to establish.

Any beginners course today will cover varroa management - it's not difficult but it is vital.

LordLoveLength

971 posts

97 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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I've a cousin who keeps them and gets his Queens from Germany (bit like the UK in that respect) as they have better workers or something (ditto).
Still, brexit will teach him!

Quite a lot of work involved though, but he enjoys it.

Tonsko

6,299 posts

182 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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There's a new prototype hive out as it goes that has a built in varroa treatment. Uses solar thermal panels on the outside to raise the temp inside the hive. Not enough to disturb the bees, but enough to kill the varroa mites.

Great idea, even works in northern climes, but hellishly expensive! Cost will drop I imagine as volume increases.


https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thermosolar-hiv...

ali_kat

31,775 posts

188 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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brrapp said:
Sorry, I've got no advice but I'm planning on starting myself this year too. I'll be watching this thread.

ps, I've been told that beekeepers are very friendly, tolerant people and are always ready and willing to help newcomers with positive advice, so probably not a lot of them in these forums wink
Ditto!

One of the girls in the office keeps bees & will let me have a swarm once we're ready smile

Nimby

2,819 posts

117 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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ali_kat said:


One of the girls in the office keeps bees & will let me have a swarm once we're ready smile
I'm not sure how you would do that. Normally you try to stop them swarming. But they invariably will - and unless you're lucky and they settle nearby someone else could claim them. It's not clear in law who - if anyone - owns a swarm once they leave your property.

Much better if your colleague creates a nucleus colony or does a "split" for you but that depends on her having the same sized frames, and there are loads of variations.

mybrainhurts

90,634 posts

222 months

Wednesday 11th January 2017
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brrapp said:
I'm planning on starting myself this year too.
Well done. How long have you been laid up?

Tonsko

6,299 posts

182 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Nimby said:
It's not clear in law who - if anyone - owns a swarm once they leave your property.
Remember reading years ago that the swarm is yours 'as long as it's in line of sight' (paraphrased) which pleased me mightily. Practical solution from a simpler age!

monoloco

289 posts

159 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Nimby said:
I'm not sure how you would do that. Normally you try to stop them swarming. But they invariably will - and unless you're lucky and they settle nearby someone else could claim them. It's not clear in law who - if anyone - owns a swarm once they leave your property.

Much better if your colleague creates a nucleus colony or does a "split" for you but that depends on her having the same sized frames, and there are loads of variations.
she's probably referring to either an 'artificial swarm' (a beekeeping technique that pre-empts a natural swarm) or one she's collected --most experienced beekeepers get asked to rescue/recover swarms in the local area during the sping/summer.

basic advice though:

as several above suggest, join your local Beekeeping Association (google the county and 'beekeepers' or just go to the British Beekeeping Association website www.bbka.org.uk although not all local associations are affiliated to the nation one).

Most Assoc's run training courses starting around now so you have the theory ready for the practical sessions when the weather warms up.

Go to the local assoc's meetings and make friends -we beekeepers are a friendly lot and they will help you source your bees -often free of charge.

Avoid weird and wonderful 'new' style hives -they are a pain! Stick to the mainstream type of hives -eg National, WBC etc (lots of WBC parts are interchangeable with National). There's reasons why they tried to standardise things! There's huge benefits in keeping your hive parts the same as others in the area -borrowing kit, cheap supply from multiple vendors and even when you get the bees as they will inevitably come in a small hive/nuc that has frames of brood/food/etc and you'll need it to be compatible with your kit.

Read lots of books -although you'll then find your bees have read a different one and do things differently!

Aside from that, enjoy! I've kept bees for nearly 15 years - they still fascinate me and its a really sociable thing to do. Everyone wants to talk bees regardless of whether they keep them themselves and its fun giving (or even selling) honey to your neighbours/friends/colleagues -proper beekeepers honey is vastly better/tastier than the processed muck you get in the supermarkets!

Be aware its addictive though -I went from one colony to 7 in short order and in my best year produced a third of a tonne of honey without even trying -and that's a heck of a lot of honey!

22

1,616 posts

104 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Grrr. Now I want to fix up the hive that the hedge cutter destroyed. It's quite a distance from houses/people etc and without the pooch I'm not sure how often I could get there. From the outside it looks very homemade and would certainly pre-date anything even vaguely modern that's available to buy. If it could become self-sufficient as it was for years then all the better, but I guess it should have some human involvement to keep it healthy.

Without taking the sensible step of researching, I'll ask the PH knowledge base.... how often are you maintaining, cleaning, harvesting etc (or what's a realistic bare minimum)?

Tonsko

6,299 posts

182 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Weekly inspection once the season gets underway, no need to clean - the bees do that themselves, harvesting once at the end of the season. It is actually a pretty low maintenance hobby (despite me saying I had no time last year!) if you only have one or two hives.

monoloco

289 posts

159 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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yep -I'll go along with Tonsko on that except the single harvest - if you have any oil-seed rape growing within a couple of miles you'll need to do one or possibly two earlier harvest/extractions (april-june) as rapeseed honey sets like concrete in the comb if its left too long so you have to extract it as soon as its ready. Slightly trickier to process than normal 'runny' honey but tastes good nonetheless!

Tonsko

6,299 posts

182 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Ah yes, Rape honey. Good shout.

monoloco

289 posts

159 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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Rapeseed is a real mixed blessing -crops well but a pain to deal with. However, I'm pleased to report my local farmer has rotated his crops so instead of f-knows how many hundreds of acres of rapeseed like last year my hives are surrounded by field beans as far as the eye can see. Fingers crossed for a good season because bean honey is fabulous!

dickymint

Original Poster:

19,624 posts

225 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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I can remember 'tis .....

https://www.honeyflow.com/

Last year and thought it was either snake oil or a April Fools joke! Anybody seen it?

S6PNJ

4,274 posts

248 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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dickymint said:
I can remember 'tis .....

https://www.honeyflow.com/ or (UK/Europe Site)

Last year and thought it was either snake oil or a April Fools joke! Anybody seen it?
Certainly not a joke - I've been following flow hive for quite a while now and it is big in Australia (home of the inventors) and America. Lot of highly rated bee keepers swear by it and the inventors claim to have done extensive testing 'in the field' with bee keeping experts prior to the launch.

It was originally launched on Indiegogo. They also have a Facebook page. My wife and I would like to keep bees if not this year then starting next year and I'm strongly considering this system.

Edited by S6PNJ on Thursday 12th January 19:43

dickymint

Original Poster:

19,624 posts

225 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
quotequote all
S6PNJ said:
dickymint said:
I can remember 'tis .....

https://www.honeyflow.com/ or (UK/Europe Site)

Last year and thought it was either snake oil or a April Fools joke! Anybody seen it?
Certainly not a joke - I've been following flow hive for quite a while now and it is big in Australia (home of the inventors) and America. Lot of highly rated bee keepers swear by it and the inventors claim to have done extensive testing 'in the field' with bee keeping experts prior to the launch.

It was originally launched on Indiegogo. They also have a Facebook page. My wife and I would like to keep bees if not this year then starting next year and I'm strongly considering this system.

Edited by S6PNJ on Thursday 12th January 19:43
Glad it's real as my initial thoughts were (and are) it's so non invasive for both keeper and more importantly the Bees - I've not yet checked but my gut feeling is that traditional keepers don't like it?

S6PNJ

4,274 posts

248 months

Thursday 12th January 2017
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dickymint said:
Glad it's real as my initial thoughts were (and are) it's so non invasive for both keeper and more importantly the Bees - I've not yet checked but my gut feeling is that traditional keepers don't like it?
Pretty much nailed it on the head! Seems to be a bit like marmite in that respect.

monoloco

289 posts

159 months

Friday 13th January 2017
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I'm definitely in the 'hate it' camp on this one -basic idea is clever and maybe in other warmer countries it will work but UK honey can be quite thick and has a definite habit of granulating (setting/crystalising) especially if there is even the minutest bit of rape seed nectar in it (rapeseed nectar acts as a crystalisation catalyst). Once it starts to set the only option is to scrape away and/or melt the comb down so if you had this in a 'flow' type comb you'd be stuffed. Similarly Heather honey also sets into a thixotropic gell so that wont flow out either.
Also, as I mentioned above, there is a great benefit in standardisation for beekeeping kit -that's why they came up with the idea of the BS-National Hive etc. The national isn't perfect but it is more than likely to be compatible with most other beekeepers in the area so you can borrow/swap kit in an emergency, or when someone gives you a swarm/nuc of bees you can just pop it straight into your hive without having to ditch the frames/comb/brood it arrives on. Also, there are loads of manufacturers/suppliers of National kit so pricing is keen. If you buy something weird and wonderful you are tied to one manufacturer so at their mercy price-wise and if they stop supplying then once again you're stuffed. Stick to mainstream hives in my view -National/WBC/Commercial etc as many parts of WBC's and 'Commercials' are interchangeable with Nationals. I use Nationals with 14x12 brood boxes (ie BS-National Extra-Deep) -parts are cheap, everything fits and they just work.

dickymint

Original Poster:

19,624 posts

225 months

Friday 13th January 2017
quotequote all
monoloco said:
I'm definitely in the 'hate it' camp on this one -basic idea is clever and maybe in other warmer countries it will work but UK honey can be quite thick and has a definite habit of granulating (setting/crystalising) especially if there is even the minutest bit of rape seed nectar in it (rapeseed nectar acts as a crystalisation catalyst). Once it starts to set the only option is to scrape away and/or melt the comb down so if you had this in a 'flow' type comb you'd be stuffed. Similarly Heather honey also sets into a thixotropic gell so that wont flow out either.
Also, as I mentioned above, there is a great benefit in standardisation for beekeeping kit -that's why they came up with the idea of the BS-National Hive etc. The national isn't perfect but it is more than likely to be compatible with most other beekeepers in the area so you can borrow/swap kit in an emergency, or when someone gives you a swarm/nuc of bees you can just pop it straight into your hive without having to ditch the frames/comb/brood it arrives on. Also, there are loads of manufacturers/suppliers of National kit so pricing is keen. If you buy something weird and wonderful you are tied to one manufacturer so at their mercy price-wise and if they stop supplying then once again you're stuffed. Stick to mainstream hives in my view -National/WBC/Commercial etc as many parts of WBC's and 'Commercials' are interchangeable with Nationals. I use Nationals with 14x12 brood boxes (ie BS-National Extra-Deep) -parts are cheap, everything fits and they just work.
They're bringing out Flow Frames to fit Nationals wink