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Bee Keeping?
Old 10-06-2012, 01:00 PM   #1
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Bee Keeping?

Anyone out there tried bee keeping? Talked with a friend, bought a book and am thinking about putting one in the backyard. If you have been keeping bees, what are the good and bad about it. Thanks
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:12 PM   #2
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The good: Free moonshine? Just kidding.

It sounds like a very interesting hobby.
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:36 PM   #3
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I kept bees about 20 years. It was really fun, hiking through the forest to capture swarms, re-queening, etc. I mainly harvested the honey "on the comb", though sometime I took the it to a friend who had an extrator to get liquid honey. My sons liked doing it with me too. It is a very sensually pleasing hobby. Put a few puffs of smoke into the hive, remove the lid, and get ready for the wonderful smell of honey being fanned by thousands of bees.

I had an uncle who took me on his bee excursions when I was a boy, and then I learned the craft by joining a club. Lots of nice guys involved in this, and a very few women. Women often are not crazy about being stung, and you will get stung.

When the domestic period of my life fell apart and I moved back to the city, that was the end of beekeeping for me. I continue to see the odd hive in backyards, especially in the CD, where there are many gardens and some chickens and ducks too.

Ha
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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I know nothing of beekeeping, but we do have a hive in our back yard. It belongs to the guy up the street, who has dispersed his hives to a few receptive neighbors around town. Periodically, he comes by and does his thing with the hive.

The bees are fine guests. Most of the time we are entirely unaware of them. And I think that they have improved the fruiting of our tomatos.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:12 PM   #5
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Wouldn't it actually be mead?

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The good: Free moonshine? Just kidding.

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Old 10-06-2012, 07:56 PM   #6
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Wouldn't it actually be mead?

Amethyst
Once you distill it, no. It would then be some sort of brandy or spirit. Some vodka is distilled fermented beets. So a vodka made from mead would be distilled fermented honey. All the beets or honey or corn or grapes or apples or whatever do is serve as sugar for the yeast, and that fermented product serves as as input to the still.

Ha
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:32 PM   #7
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We used to see a sight in Ft. Myers that would just facinate the hell out of me. Because of all the vegetable and fruit growing down there, one big business going was plant polinization. Many times we would see flat bed trailers loaded with hives of honey bees traveling the area, going from field to field. Got behind these a few times, on purpose, and got a kick out of the 100's of stacks of hives and all the bees flying around. Not sure how they transported them while the hive was active. We thought there might be a way to put them to sleep but apparently not. There were always bees flying around.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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I kept a few hives a long time ago. Bees are terrific. They have moods and it's clear what they are. When the sun is shining and the nectar flowing, they have a happy hum. When it has been raining for the previous few days and they have been stuck in the hive they get cranky and are more likely to sting you. It's not obvious why their mood expressions should be recognizable to us, but they are. Some hives are more aggressive and more efficient producers than others. Very fascinating.

Had I not been living in urban environments since then, I would still keep a few hives.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #9
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Before you start, remember to check for regulations. A lot of zoning codes are becoming more friendly to beekeeping, but there is often a required setback between the property line and any hives.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:39 PM   #10
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I've not done it myself, but have known a couple, and there's one in town here.
The downsides I know of are 3:
1. pesticides sprayed on flowers, crops, and in the environment (that can get into the honey).
2. africanization (depending on your location).
3. colony collapse disorder

Old Bee Keepers don't die -- they just buzz off....
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:25 AM   #11
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Bee keeping will definitely be on my to-do list when I retire, much healthier and rewarding than social networking. Who knows what will happen. It might be useful for bartering by then.

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It was really fun, hiking through the forest to capture swarms, re-queening, etc.
It probably will be even more fun and rewarding if the swarms came from your neighbor's hives. Another person's loss is your gain.
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:16 AM   #12
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It probably will be even more fun and rewarding if the swarms came from your neighbor's hives. Another person's loss is your gain.
Careful... that can go either way...
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:24 AM   #13
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Stoopid question: can I do this in my yard in the burbs? There is no regulatory/ermit issue (people can keep a goat, fergawdsakes).
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:15 PM   #14
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Stoopid question: can I do this in my yard in the burbs? There is no regulatory/ermit issue (people can keep a goat, fergawdsakes).
Unless your property is such that you can place the hive 3 miles from each boundary, considering all the who-knows-what the county/town, neighbors, lawn contractors, etc. might be spraying, I wouldn't chance consuming the honey (and my conscience wouldn't let me sell it to anyone else).
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:18 PM   #15
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Unless your property is such that you can place the hive 3 miles from each boundary, considering all the who-knows-what the county/town, neighbors, lawn contractors, etc. might be spraying, I wouldn't chance consuming the honey (and my conscience wouldn't let me sell it to anyone else).
Umm, wouldn't this be an issue for pretty much any commercial honey?
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:36 PM   #16
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Umm, wouldn't this be an issue for pretty much any commercial honey?
Yes, and usually worse. My bees mainly worked blackberries, which no one bothers to spray. And commercially one of the big sources in most places is clover and sweet clover, and down south, orange groves. Good stuff. Commercial bee keepers often get paid both for pollination by the growers, and then sell the honey. It is hard physical work that requires a lot of travel too.

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Old 10-09-2012, 10:25 PM   #17
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(snip)It probably will be even more fun and rewarding if the swarms came from your neighbor's hives. Another person's loss is your gain.
I don't think that's how it works. I believe when the swarm departs from their old hive, the queen goes with them, but leaves behind larvae in queen cells which are fed by the worker bees. When the larvae metamorphose into queens, the first one out of the pupa opens the other cells and kills the rival queens. She then becomes the new queen of the part of the colony that remained at the original hive.

So the person that captures the swarm gains, but the person whose hive the swarm came from does not lose, at least not permanently. They still have their own colony, but honey production goes down temporarily until the number of bees in the old hive recovers. And if you catch a swarm that came from a feral hive, nobody loses at all.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:54 AM   #18
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Umm, wouldn't this be an issue for pretty much any commercial honey?
It is, and a reason I avoid most commercial honey. We're not big honey consumers anyway, but we usually have a jar in the house. We know of some small scale apiaries and how they operate (in cooperation with vinyards, greenhouses, and farms -- all that don't spray), and tend to patronize them.

It's pretty much impossible to get pesticide-free foods of any type; the chemicals are in the ecosystem. But we take what measures we reasonably can to reduce the amount of chemicals we ingest. Honey is one product in which the chemicals can get pretty concentrated.

Google: pesticides in honey
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:24 AM   #19
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Google: pesticides in honey
Doing so appears to bring up a ton of stuff that is either straight out marketing by someone selling something, stuff written by apparently crazy people, or stuff that is both. Have any links to academic studies or hard data?
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:09 PM   #20
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So the person that captures the swarm gains, but the person whose hive the swarm came from does not lose, at least not permanently. They still have their own colony, but honey production goes down temporarily until the number of bees in the old hive recovers. And if you catch a swarm that came from a feral hive, nobody loses at all.
That's correct. Thanks for the clarification.

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When the larvae metamorphose into queens, the first one out of the pupa opens the other cells and kills the rival queens. She then becomes the new queen of the part of the colony that remained at the original hive.
Based on what I read, worker bees will not allow the new virgin queen to kill her arch rivals unless she can carry a lot of sperms back from having as many mating as possible with a lot of drones who would literally burst to death after their missions are accomplished. Amazing creature, isn't it?
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