Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

January 31, 2010

Beekeeping class finale

Well, I've decided that there is one definitive rule in beekeeping....
It's all relative!

Seriously, the guy last Tuesday told us all the things that we "needed" to do and "how" we needed to do it; here's the catch, two thirds of it was in direct conflict with the things we were told that we "needed" to do and "how" we needed to do them by the guest the previous Tuesday. I do have to say, however, that the guy this last Tuesday when asked "Why?" to certain parts had specific reasons and studies that proved it or at least supported his point of view. He was an extension agent with Idaho and actually studies these things after all.

So, now we are at the point of deciding what and how we are planning on doing this. As one might expect there are quite a few decisions to be made and, at this point, not a lot of time to make them. I mean, we're not rushed by any means but there are decisions that need to be made within the next month at the longest.

For instance, what type of hives do we want to set up? We've pretty well decided that we want to stay traditional and use Langstroth hives ; they're readily available and have a large basis of information to pull from which will be particularly useful for beginning beekeepers like us. The biggest issue I have with respect to the hive styles is the materials that I choose to have them made from. Typically they are plain pine boxes that are painted on the outside and left plain on the inside. This is more cost effective to start off, but will require more time and money later in maintenance to scrap, clean and repaint them, and can also decrease the movement of moisture through the box walls. As the bees fan the fresh honey in order to lower its moisture level to the correct amount, that moisture needs to be able to leave the hive. This isn't normally a problem, but it is part of what causes hive box paint jobs to weather quickly. The best solution to eliminating, or at least greatly reducing the maintenance dilemma as well as to solving the need to paint at all, is to invest in a more quality hive body. Some I have found are made of cedar or cypress. Both of these woods will wear well when exposed to wet outdoor conditions and will not require paints at all. This is the direction I am currently leaning.

The other, and probably more obvious, decision that we'll need to make is what kind of dang bees to get? There are many sorts of production bees that can be gotten, and on top of that a selection of queens to be made too. I don't have all the information yet that I'll need to make that decision, but we are doing our due diligence. Any suggestions, experiences or opinions are not only welcomed but needed! I know from my initial post on the bees that there are a good number of you out there looking into starting your own hives as well? I hope you'll share your research and opinions with me? If you've taken the time to write a post on your experiences leave a comment with a link or send me over an email and I'd be happy to check it out and post a link to your place as well. The blogging world has so much to offer us all in the way of collaboration I'd hate to see us all have to do all the work on our own!

Right now that's about all I have on the bees, but there'll be more for sure.
Till next time,
Best to you all!


Kate said...

I know just what you mean about needing to make some decisions very soon. We're also attending Tuesday night bee classes, and we have a couple of one-day seminars coming up as well.

We're going with Langstroths too. I'll start with two colonies, one Italian, one Russian. Both in painted pine boxes, probably with screened bottom boards to be used year-round. Two deeps, and two shallow supers per colony, and possibly a spare set up in reserve in case of swarms. I'm almost certainly going to go with no foundation, starter strips only, and an early feeding for each colony via frame feeder. I will use the recipe for feeding recommended by the Demeter biodynamic beekeeping standards followed in the EU. (Diluted honey with a small quantity of chamomile tea and a smidgen of salt. Look up the exact recipe if you wish to follow this.)

My approach will be low-intervention treatments only for varroa and other diseases. No chemical treatments, only some sugar dust baths and possibly thymol or other essential oil/non-toxic treatments. I realize I may lose one or both colonies with this method, but I can't rationalize propping up a weak colony with too many toxic treatments. Ultimately I believe we need to breed for better varroa resistance while providing the bees with a less toxic environment and plenty of clean forage sources. So I will not push my colonies for production, but rather try to maximize their health. Dead bees produce no honey.

I am considering placing an order for a nuc (or two) right now with Kirk Webster for delivery in 2011. He's been working on varroa resistance (almost to the exclusion of all other trait considerations) in his colonies for about 8 years now.

-All of this is my take, from someone with zero beekeeping experience, and a moderate amount of reading under my belt.

Damn The Broccoli said...

I am looking to Bee keep in the near future amongst all the other skills I intend to learn but I am far more holistic in my approach.
I favour the Warre hive as it is closer to the natural instinct of the Bees, but I fully agree with having the Bees breed stronger resistance rather than weakening them further through medication.

A perfect example for my rationale at the weekend when talking to a beekeeper in a walled garden about all the care needed she pointed out a swarm in a hole in the wall to which my only response was 'and who cares for them?'

The Bees have been getting it right for millennia without us so I reckon they'll carry on okay without to much fuss.

The definition of an expert is essentially someone who is convinced their opinion is right, this being borne out by the conflicting info given to you. By all means read the books but let the Bees have a say, after all they significantly out number you!

Best of luck with it though, I look forward to reading more about them.

Sandy said...

Excellent. I start a beekeeping class in a few weeks. I'm trying to find a local beekeeper willing to sell me a hive.