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Old 04-08-2014, 09:06 AM   #41
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Only doing 1 hive to start, unfortunately. Have a spot for one hive, with possibility of a second next year. I am tapped in to some local beekeepers, though. Have the equipment and painted the hive boxes on Sunday. Pickup of my package bees is supposed to be April 26th, although that is likely to be weather dependent.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:50 AM   #42
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All in all, a great hobby. My wife and I had 6 hives about 25 years ago, and even transported them to the fireweed in the cascade mountains in july, which while productive, was working way too hard.

The big thing for me in terms of interest was managing bees by working with their behavior [the only way...you play by their rules]. An example is catching the foragers that ended up in the kitchen during honey extraction. Bees, like any insect, will fly to light in twilight, so we shut off the kitchen lights when we were done and shone a flashlight thru the bottom of a quart mason jar so the foragers would fly in, take it outside and release them.

Good times, we talk about starting up with one hive again, soon as she quits work maybe.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:29 PM   #43
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I made a new beekeeping friend that lives about 1 1/2 miles from me. He has about 10 hives and started last year. Here's some interesting numbers Larry sent me the other day about bee population of a package bee installation...

The average worker bee lives about 35 days, give or take...So....

Day 23 or 24 shows lowest bee population.
Day 30 shows return to package initial population. Growth continues.
Day 40 shows twice initial package population.
Day 42 marks the point when all bees in hive are truly your bees.
Day 50 shows three times initial bee population.
Day 59 marks beginning of population stabilization as deaths offset births.

Pretty neat huh?
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:08 PM   #44
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Very neat, dave. You guys are in a much more favorable climate for beekeeping, so I am hoping this summer and fall go well so that the winter is doable.
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:33 PM   #45
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That's amazing the average worker only lives 35 days. I thought they lived longer, at least through a season.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:36 PM   #46
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Yeah, Aspen...The worker bees work themselves to death for the good of the hive. And that's not counting the ones eaten by birds, disease, and pesticide. That's why the queen has to lay a lot of eggs, (up to about 1500 each day), to replace old bees and grow the hive. It takes on average about 21 days for an egg to grow into an adult worker bee.
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:11 PM   #47
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That's amazing the average worker only lives 35 days. I thought they lived longer, at least through a season.
Actually a worker bee's life expectancy varies considerably. Season, weather, nutrition, distance to pollen/nectar sources, pollen/nectar source quality, and the need of the hive for nurse bees versus foragers all influence when a worker bee becomes a forager, and how often and far the foragers fly. During the summer most foragers die of something after about three weeks of duties outside the hive. A forager will literally fly until their wings become so tattered they can not fly anymore if nothing else gets them first.

A worker spends about 3 days as an egg, about 6 days as a larva, about 12 days as a pupa, and then about 15-38 days as an adult during the summer, but about 140-320 days as an adult in winter conditions where they are not flying much if at all.

In contrast the adult life span of a drone (male) is 4-8 weeks in the summer, but they are kicked out of the hive and quickly die in the fall. So drone's do not have a winter life span.

A queen's adult life span is 2-5 years.

Those numbers are from "The Beekeeper's Handbook, third edition" by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:56 PM   #48
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Bamsphd...I was wondering about how long as larva, (6 days), and then pupa, (12 days).

I have "The Beekeeper's Handbook", on order as we speak from Amazon! It's supposed to be one of the best books on beekeeping from what I understand.

How many hives do you keep and where are you? The honey flow is just beginning I believe around here.
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:23 AM   #49
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I have "The Beekeeper's Handbook", on order as we speak from Amazon! It's supposed to be one of the best books on beekeeping from what I understand.
It is certainly the best bee book in my personal library. The only more detailed bee book I recall reading was a textbook I checked out from the local library consortium. I'm glad I read it, but the textbook was too expensive for me to buy after I had already finished reading the library's copy.

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How many hives do you keep and where are you? The honey flow is just beginning I believe around here.
I'm in New Hampshire. I used to keep two hives until the bears found them. I gave the bees to my brother-in-law when bears hit the hives three times in less than two weeks. My electric fence had failed, and I didn't want to spend the money to replace it with a new more powerful fence.

Ironically, my most recent bee keeping activity was putting back together the hives a bear had hit at the end of my street last fall. A local commercial bee keeper has them there under a pollination contract. He was out of town, and his electric fence was not on because he had not had time to trim back the plants which had grown up onto the wires. I did get stung a few times despite my bee suit, but I couldn't leave the hives exposed in late fall. I knew the bees would not have a chance if I did that.

I actually still have two empty hives sitting in my front yard. I generally say I'll get back into bees when the bears stop knocking the empty hives over, or when a swarm repopulates my hives. So far the bears keeping knocking the hives over at least a few times a year, and the swarms keep finding better quarters elsewhere.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:56 AM   #50
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I've often wondered...how it is possible to get stung while still wearing the full bee suit?
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:52 PM   #51
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I've often wondered...how it is possible to get stung while still wearing the full bee suit?
In this case while squatting to pickup a hive body my chin and neck pushed against the mesh which usually hangs in front of but not touching my face. I believe two bees got me through the mesh.

You sometimes get a "partial" sting through some normally loose fabric pulled tight against your body, though as soon as the fabric moves it usually pulls the stinger out. Bees often sting my gloves, and occasionally the stinger makes it through. If you don't cinch up hand and foot openings they can get into the suit that way.

My first few stings were actually bees which landed on my suit and rode it into the house. Then they stung me when I took the suit off inside the house! I quickly bought a bee brush specifically for brushing bees off the outside of my suit before going inside.

Understand that how defensive bees are depends partly on bee genetics, the so called "killer bees" are extremely defensive while most bee keepers use much more mellow bee strains. How defensive the bees are also depends heavily on the availability of nectar and the state of the hive. It also depends on what you are doing to the hive. If you are smooth, the bees will be more mellow. If you bang or drop parts of the hive, or smash bees, the bees will get more upset. Reassembling hives at the end of the fall with minimal nectar flow and the hives literally knocked over and scattered around by a bear the night before is about as bad as it ever gets. There were also twelve hives involved in this case, so I was dealing with LOTS of angry bees, and I was not using any smoke. During a nectar flow, opening a healthy mellow hive with smoke you might only have a few guard bees trying to warn you off. Knock the hive over and you will have more than a few. Leave the hive open and exposed for hours, and you will encounter quite a few guard bees.

Suits also vary considerably in quality and design philosophy. They also get old, dirty, and torn which can effect how well they work. I'm a wimp and an amateur, so I bought a good suit which barely fit, and then an even better very good suit which was easy to get on and off (Golden Bee Products). The professionals often work with just a veil, long sleeves, and long pants. Though they usually cinch or tuck their pant legs into boots to prevent bees from crawling up inside the pants. They would also certainly use a bee suit if one was available when dealing with hives knocked over by bears. The main downside of bee suits is that they are hot to wear, and most bee keeping work is done during the summer. The main downside of gloves is that they make you more awkward, which tends to disturb the bees.

As I understand it, if you are stung about 20 (I'm not sure I'm remembering the right number) times a year, and you are not allergic to bee stings, most people develop a tolerance to the stings. The initial sting still hurts, but you no longer have the swelling and itching reaction of someone who rarely gets stung. As an amateur, I did not want to get stung 20 times a year. For a professional normally working bees with just a veil and no gloves, getting stung more than 20 times a year would be just part of the job.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:23 PM   #52
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That's very interesting Bams. You are also a good writer besides being a beekeeper. When I lived at Waycross, Georgia...bees were a big commercial industry down there. And the were quite a few bears. The Okefenokee is right there. All the beekeepers used electric fencing around their bee yards.

This is an interesting short discussion on bee stings by Mike Palmer. By the way...If you want to learn a lot about bees look up Mike Palmer's talks. He's my favorite.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:40 PM   #53
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I found this in, "Beekeeping for Dummies"...one of the books I am reading. I am simply amazed at the complexity of organization that bees have...


Life of a worker bee...

Housekeeping (days 1 to 3 of the bee's life)
After being born she will binge on pollen and honey, then starts cleaning and polishing empty cells for new eggs and to store nectar and pollen.

Undertaking (days 3 to 16)
The hive is one of the cleanest and sterile environments found in nature. The worker bee disposes of other dead or dying bees, brood
or any other alien objects in the hive.

Working in the Nursery (days 4 to 12)
The worker bee will then feed and care for developing larvae. These nurse bees will check a single larvae 1300 times a day, feeding pollen, honey, and royal jelly.

Attending Royalty (days 7 to 12)
Some selected worker bees feed the queen, groom her, clean her and coax her to lay eggs.

Going Grocery Shopping (days 12 to 18)
These worker bees take the nectar and pollen brought in from the older foraging field bees, then deposit the results and add
enzymes to the honey and begin the drying process.

Fanning (days 12 to 18)
The worker bee takes a turn at controlling the temperature and humidity in the hive and at the entrance. They also contribute
to the communication within and outside the hive by using their Nassanoff gland.

Becoming Architects and Master Builders (days 12 to 35)
The workers are mature enough to begin wax production from wax glands under the abdomen. They then help with building
new wax comb and capping cells.

Honor Guard (days 18 to 21)
The worker bee's sting glands have finally developed with venom. These guard bees watch the entrance and fend off other bees, insects, and vermin.

Steppin' Out (days 22 to 42)
With her life half over, the worker bee steps out to join the ranks of the field bees. She takes orientation flights and learns landmarks. Foraging bees visit 5 million flowers to produce a single pint of honey. She will fly a three mile radius of the hive, (about 6000 acres). She will darken in color and her wings will become torn and tattered. She has avoided birds, predators, storms, cold weather, and accidents.
If she makes it back to the hive but finally dies, her youngest sisters will carry her body out of the hive for disposal.

Wow!
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:17 PM   #54
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Thank you for a fascinating thread. Am enjoying the stories and the facts. Please keep it coming.

Not to intrude, but just a word about sensitivity to bee stings. In my case, back in 1966, ground wasps... one wasp... aroused by my mowing over the ground nest/hive? One sting... between the big and first toe... Kept on mowing, but foot hurt, and became itchy... within ten minutes, looked down at leg, (wearing shorts) and saw a reddening foot. Five more minutes... both legs.. up to knees.., red and itching... Five more minutes... red and swollen up to waist... and feeling woozy... Ran into house... and up to second floor bathroom... old eagle claw tub.. and started filling with cold water... By then chest was inflamed, and the "red" was going down my arms... as I climbed in, I could feel my throat swelling and was having trouble breathing... That was the last I remember, until DW was slapping my face, maybe 15 minutes later.. She helped me downstairs, out to the car and to the emergency room... an injection of nitroglycerin, and back to normal in 20 minutes.

After that... five years of "shots", monthly at Dr.'s Office...to de-sensitize. It was a long time ago, and the thought was that desensitizing would happen for all stings. More recently, I learned that there is no "one size fits all" desensitization, but that the injections are specific to one kind of hornet/bee.

I have been stung since then... the first few times, just in case, I'd go to the emergency room in the hospital, and just sit until the swelling stabilized.
Why pay $500 for nothing?
So now I don't worry any more, but for safety's sake, keep epi-pens in the house and the car... just in case.
About as close to death as I want to be... The memory is fresh.
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Old 04-19-2014, 06:01 AM   #55
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Here's another update with pics...

We got two more nucs on Friday. A nuc is 5 frames of brood, honey and pollen with workers and a queen. It's like a mini-hive and a better way to go than a package of bees. We should get a couple more nucs in another week or two.

The first pic is a bee swarm trap mounted on a tree. When bees swarm, they send out sentries to look for a new home. If you put up a likely home with an attractant to lure them in, the swarm will go to the trap. You check your traps, and if you catch a swarm...that's a free bunch of bees to make a new hive with. I have several traps set out in likely places in the woods. It's like fishing.

We got the bees installed just before it began raining. Eddie got one Italian nuc and the other is Russian. It will be interesting to see the differences between the bee varieties. And the grand kids did a colorful job painting some hives, too!
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File Type: jpg Bee stuff Wrightsboro 4-18-2014 (1).JPG (224.6 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Bee stuff Wrightsboro 4-18-2014 (5).JPG (169.4 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Bee stuff Wrightsboro 4-18-2014 (7).JPG (190.7 KB, 11 views)
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Old 04-19-2014, 06:03 AM   #56
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Following along...

And you never know where life leads you...and it sure is a fun ride.
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File Type: jpg Bee stuff Wrightsboro 4-18-2014 (11).JPG (162.1 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Bee stuff Wrightsboro 4-18-2014 (12).JPG (137.7 KB, 12 views)
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Learning about bees
Old 04-19-2014, 06:35 PM   #57
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Learning about bees

Hello bee peoples!

I was going to dive into beekeeping this spring, and got overwhelmed with how much important knowledge one needs. Soooo, I talked to a local apiarist who teaches at an educational farm, and lo and behold, he was beginning to offer apprenticeships. I am now taking a 9 month long apprenticeship, 2 - 3 days per month shadowing this incredible man, and TRULY learning from the bottom up. The beekeeping will begin for me next spring, when I feel more confident. I will have experienced the full gamut of bee seasons.

PS - my mentor is training me to keep bees without a bee suit, and without using smoke (except on my own body after I get stung).

It's exhilirating to stand amongst the flighty bees for the first time!
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Old 04-19-2014, 07:30 PM   #58
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Well, I am due to pick up my package in one week. I have a couple of minor tasks to do between now and then, the most important being leveling the site the hive will rest on. Otherwise I am prepared. Should be very interesting.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:29 AM   #59
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Hi there Eev! Bee Peoples or Beeks! You are lucky to find someone around to show you the ropes. That's the best kind of learning. Learning by doing.

Hey Brewer...Post us some pics will ya? Are you getting Italians or some other variety?

When Eddie was at the bee yard getting the nucs, he did not have much room in the back seat for them, with the grand kid painted hive boxes. He said that he thought about putting them on the front seat passenger side. He put them in the back of the truck instead. When we opened the tailgate, a bunch of bees were flying around back there. I could only wonder about the front seat...we had a good laugh.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:06 AM   #60
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I am trying Italians, yes. If I have problems I will probably go for Russian or Carnolian.

I will try to get DW to take some pics from the safety of the house...
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