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GardenRN
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Starting a Beekeeping Project

I found something else I can do in a backyard, while I'm waiting for the housing market to turn around a bit so I can sell my house and grab a bigger piece of land. Bees! It'll help the garden, help honey bee populations, and the honey and wax to boot. We (meaning I) have been reading, reading, watching videos, reading.....and taking in all I can find about beekeeping. Built a top bar hive today, and now just have to get a few pieces of equipment like a smoker and suit before spring. Then when spring comes, the bees. Can't wait to get started! Except for the whole getting stung here and there thing.... :P
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PunkRotten
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Sounds like a good idea. I may give it a go in the future too. Sounds like a lot of fun plus you get all the benefits you named above.

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GardenRN
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I just hope I can convince the kids it's a good idea to leave it alone. I think once they see or know that there's bees in it they'll happily stay away. Then again, a bee sting can teach a valuable lesson! I learned it a few times.....and since nobody here is allergic to the venom, I don't see where it's such a big deal. :lol: :wink:
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cynthia_h
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Be very careful. Allergies can develop with exposures. My first one or two bee stings as a kid were pretty much no problem. The third, on the tip of the middle toe of my left foot at age 8, made my whole left leg swell up.

That's when the doctor told me directly, rather than telling my mother (as if I weren't there in the examining room), "Make sure you aren't ever stung by a bee again. If you are, it could be...very serious."

I wasn't stupid, either then or now. "Very serious" was doctor-speak for "fatal."

Not saying this will happen to your kids, just that it could happen.

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GardenRN
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I'm aware, just don't always live by the "fear the worst" motto.....you know what I mean.
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rainbowgardener
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GardenRN wrote:I'm aware, just don't always live by the "fear the worst" motto.....you know what I mean.
I absolutely agree about not letting fear run your life, keep you from doing things and not living by "fear the worst." Seems a slightly odd statement though from someone who has food, water, and bullets stockpiled...

Re the bees, my church got a beehive in spring 2011. It has been wonderful and we have gotten an amazing amount of beautiful honey from one hive as well as having all the busy little pollinators. I live five blocks from the church and my garden has had way more bees in it, since the hive went in.

However, our hive is now infested with some kind of little mites? tiny beetles? We are considering what to do about it, since the treatment is harsh chemicals and we do all organic gardening. We may end up letting the hive die and starting over next spring. Even in a very diverse organic garden, it seems that it is harder to keep bee hives going these days.

But I think that is an argument that people should be keeping bees, even though it can be discouraging, not that they shouldn't.
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GardenRN
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rainbowgardener wrote:
GardenRN wrote:I'm aware, just don't always live by the "fear the worst" motto.....you know what I mean.
I absolutely agree about not letting fear run your life, keep you from doing things and not living by "fear the worst." Seems a slightly odd statement though from someone who has food, water, and bullets stockpiled...
Lol, I was thinking it as I was typing it. But that's not out of fear, it's more preparedness. And should someone get stung and suddenly go into anaphylaxis, I'll be prepared with the epipen in the house and EMT training.

Those mites may be Varroa mites? I have read about them a bit in researching keeping bees. They seem to be the biggest problem. Are they little black ones?

Out of curiosity RG, what kind of hive are you/ they keeping? One of the reasons I decided to build a top bar hive is that it is less susceptible to those mites because of the horizontal design as opposed to the verticle stacking of Langstroth hives. Also, since the langstroth hives use an artificial comb starter that is an unnatural size for the bees, it leave more room in the chambers where the larva are growing for the mites to grow. If you want a little more in-depth info PM me.....don't wanna put everyone else to sleep. But I actually read into this quite a bit.
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rainbowgardener
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I believe it is the langstroth style hive. I haven't really been involved with it except to eat the honey, so I'm not sure about the pest, except the people that have been talking about them have called them beetles. I don't think it is the Varroa mites, we know about those.
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GardenRN wrote: And should someone get stung and suddenly go into anaphylaxis, I'll be prepared with the epipen in the house and EMT training.
When I looked into acquiring an EpiPen kit, it was no good for me. In addition to being allergic to bee stings, I'm anaphylactically allergic to the benzo-alcohol family of preservatives. The EpiPen kit used, yep, benzalkonium chloride or another member of this family of preservatives, so using it would have further intensified whatever anaphylactic state I "achieved" from the bee sting. :(

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rainbowgardener
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In case it matters, the acreage at the church is all gardened strictly organically. However since I live five blocks away and I'm pretty sure the church bees come to my yard (since so many more bees showed up after the church put the hive in), I know in those five blocks the bees are travelling over are many not-organic yards, a big street, some shops, etc. So they are still city bees, with a lot of potential to be exposed to different chemicals and pests.
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GardenRN
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rainbowgardener wrote:In case it matters, the acreage at the church is all gardened strictly organically. However since I live five blocks away and I'm pretty sure the church bees come to my yard (since so many more bees showed up after the church put the hive in), I know in those five blocks the bees are travelling over are many not-organic yards, a big street, some shops, etc. So they are still city bees, with a lot of potential to be exposed to different chemicals and pests.
Hmmm, that hadn't crossed my mind. And I know that bees travel up to 2 miles (although usually not more than one) away from the hive to collect pollen and nectar. That's a large are for them to get into a lot of stuff! I wonder how much it really effects the honey. I just got a mental image of an industrial apiary with the hives in an enclosure feeding them only high fructose corn syrup lol. Wouldn't surprise me.
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rainbowgardener wrote:
GardenRN wrote:I'm aware, just don't always live by the "fear the worst" motto.....you know what I mean.
I absolutely agree about not letting fear run your life, keep you from doing things and not living by "fear the worst." Seems a slightly odd statement though from someone who has food, water, and bullets stockpiled...



There is a big diffrence in being scared and prepared! The wise man knows there are things out there to be scared of but the prepeared man does not need to fear them!

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I know this is an old thread but I have to put my 2 cents in. Bees are generally very non aggressive. If you do not swat at them they will work side by side with you and never sting. I was a child the last time I was stung by a bee (wasp are another issue). Mother always fussed at us for runnig around outside bare footed. We ignored her warnings and ended up getting stung by bees while running and playing in clover.

As a landscape contractor I often worked with bees swarming aroound my head. I left them alone and they left me alone.

Several years ago I was visiting my parents, We were sitting on the patio. 50' from the patio there was a covered area that Dad used for outdoor cooking and his other projects. There was an incubator on a table that he had used for raising quail. The incubator was almost invisible under a swarm of bees. At first Dad said he would let them be and harvest the honey. He thought a little more and realized that the hive would destroy is incubator. I grabbed some duct tape and aluminum foil and proceeded to seal off all of the openngs and cracks on the incubator. There were HUNDREDS of bees swarming around me. I moved slowely, made no sudden movements and was not stung once. My Mom was almost histerical thinking that I would be stung to death.

Big dummy that I am - :oops: I should have called my County Agent. They have bee keepers that will collect swarms. Know better for next time. Wish I lived in the country. I would love to raise bees and chickens.

Since I am not employed I have been thinking about working with a bee keeper next summer. Something new to do and something to learn. I will be lucky to get minimum wage but will enjoy the experience.
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Swarming bees will not sting I have waded right into the middle of them and have never been stung.

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Ozark Lady
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Last July, I went and bought 2 hives of bees from a friend.

I had read and studied for months while he built up and split hives. Finally, he was ready to sell.

I brought them home in a Suburban... Yikes! It was over 100 degrees so the mail houses would not ship. I had to go get them and plan to travel home in the cool of evening.

I was also trained in beekeeping, I spent the entire afternoon, inspecting hives, and equipment and learning about bees. I enjoyed it, but was a bit nervous about it.

I got the bees home well, and without incident. Late at night we are out there setting up bee hives!

I let them settle for a week, just watching them, then I had to work up the nerve to open the hives and take a look. I had to know if they needed anything or doing okay.

I got the hive open, smoker went out, I was roasting in the garb, and a goat jumped into the garden, where the bees and I were. Just what I needed was a goat bugging the bees. Okay, stop, pray, breath, I can do this... as my knees shook. I ran the goat back over the fence. Fired the smoker back up, and returned to the open hive. I looked and looked, yep there were bees in there. I was too dumb to really know what I was looking at.

Long story short, it got easier with practice.
But, I am a slow learner, the bees were looking good, so I added a box...
But, one hive had few bees, it was a more recent split. So, I decided to feed that hive, since they didn't have enough workers in my opinion to grow well.

A few days later, I went to check hives, and the strong hive was dead...
Dead as a door nail! The weak hive, was wimpy, but alive.

What???

I opened both and looked... and a light went off... they were out of food.
I searched both hives, no food. Lots of pollen, and the weak one had brood. Not even bugs in there, there was no food!

So, I successfully starved the big strong hive, in July. It was a drought, and it just never occurred to me that there was no flowers in drought...

I quickly fed the wimps, and daily I could see them get stronger.
Then they started building up in numbers.

Today, that hive is great, no honey for me yet. But they have lots sealed up for them.

I am still feeding them, just to be safe!

I got stung one time, a bee landed on me while I was milking, it was on my back, I couldn't see, so I swatted.... Yikes!

I never got stung opening hives, moving frames, feeding them, and they walked all over my fingers, my arms, etc.

Bees are not Killer Bees usually. They are pretty patient with you.

First warning is they buzz and get right in front of your nose...
I always listen to first warning.

But, anyone going to get bees, get two hives. If I had only one and killed it, I wouldn't have had one to learn on. And I would have called it a failure and never got bees again.

Also, look for capped honey, if none is capped... FEED THE BEES!
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Ozark - thanks for sharing your story. I had a mental image of your trepidation and the goat getting in the way.
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GardenRN
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Ozark, that's what I see my experience being like lol. Thanks for that experience! I'll keep it in mind as I venture into this bee bit. :)
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Ozark Lady
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I have three Langstroth hives.

I had hive beetles the first time that I opened the hives.

They were the missing bugs that was my clue that the hive starved to death.

Hubby and I like to go watch the bees coming and going, and interact with them, without getting into the hive. I do open it from time to time just to look around and see if I see food, pollen, brood and/or the hive building up queen and drone cells preparing to swarm.

I plan to order a product called Beatle Jail, it goes across the front of the hive and traps the beetles before they get in there to mess up your honey.

On You Tube there were several videos of dealing with pests in hives. One used tea tree oil, another used powdered sugar... both of those are less toxic than most chemicals.

Lesson #2. Don't bring old frames inside your home, with pollen etc. on them.
When the hive died, I rescued the frames so wax moths wouldn't eat all the wax up. I brought them inside, cut the wax off the frames and bagged it all up, to be able to give them back to the bees later. They were so nicely put away in little zip lock bags, and arranged in larger zip lock bags!

I didn't look into the box again for awhile. Suddenly, I had moths all over my house, they were all over my windows... inside!

I finally tracked them to the box of... what had been bags of wax.
Apparently there were eggs in there, and they hatched, ate the pollen and wax, and grew up... I had cocoons of moths in corners here and there and moths flying all around! What a mess! There were even maggot looking things all inside the box, baby moths I guess?

If you bring used wax inside, either melt it immediately, or freeze it immediately, unless you like a house full of moths and cocoons!

I like my bees, but it has been an interesting learning curve for me.

I still have to double check anything, not used daily, I will find cocoons in some of the oddest places! :oops:
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To Ozark Lady,

You might try looking into regressing your bees if you haven't already. You can do that by eliminating the use of foundation or using smaller size foundation. Here's a link that talks about regression. https://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

I started raising bees last Spring and used the Warre hive with top bars instead of frames and foundation. Plus I bought a package of bees that were already regressed and raised organically. I know I should have bought 2 packages but they are expensive. So I figured if my bees die, I'll just have to resort to catching swarms to repopulate my hive. So far, they are still alive and well. But winter is not over yet either. :(

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Ozark Lady
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Thanks for the link, I scanned over it, I will have to look closer and study it.

Bees are doing well, on warm days I see them returning with pollen in their leg sacks. They are pretty friendly ladies.

I, now have a mentor. A lady in Canada who plans to call me weekly to teach me about bees and their care. We will run into her being zone 3 and me being zone 7 though, that just makes a big difference. Also, she lives in farmland and I live in the Ozark forests. That too will make a difference, but I will love learning anyhow.

I joined a bee forum it was for the Warre hives, so I learned about them first, but decided to go with the Langstrom hive.

I do not use full sheets of foundation, I use half or less sheets and allow the bees to build their own foundation for the lower half. Best of both worlds was my idea, quick storage for them, and then room to build their own.

Those foundation sheets are a real pain in the neck to put into frames!
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MObeek
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And aren't foundations a little bit costly also?

You can actually use your Langstroth like a Warre hive. Some Warreors use top bars, some full frames without foundations and some half-frames. Here's a beek who uses half frames to encourage his bees to build straight combs and also be able to inspect the combs easily. https://milkwood.net/2011/05/04/urban-be ... arre-hive/

I don't intend to do a lot of manipulation so I opted for the top bars. And since I have some view windows in 3 of the hive boxes, I get to peek in more often without bothering them too much.

MObeek
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One more suggestion. You might want to try joining www.beesource.com/forums and learn from other beeks. I'm actually a member of 3 beekeeping forums and I have learned a lot from interacting with other beeks and reading past posts. There are a lot of very experienced and smart beeks out there, both national and international.

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There are ways to manage varoa mites and hive beetles organically. Some methods do spoil the honey, but it will save the bees. The hive beetles spoil the honey no matter what you do.

If nothing is done, the hive is usually doomed anyway. When the bees stress they will swarm.

https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/n ... os-bee.pdf

https://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/api ... 20copy.pdf
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Ozark Lady
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Here is the bee forum that I am a member of... I haven't been there in a very long time, but I signed in just fine.

https://www.biobees.com/forum/index.php

I still like the idea of the beetle jail.

I haven't seen any varroa mites. The man I got my bees from said they are not an issue here.
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applestar
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I don't have bees but I remember last year, there was a huge number of lost colonies in NJ because it was such an anomalously warm winter that the bees stayed too active in their boxes and used up their reserves of honey/winter food.

An online news article said that the bee keepers that realized this and fed their bees didn't sustain the warm winter temperature related losses.

It was rather warm through January this winter too, though maybe not as much overall as last year when we hardy had freezing temps.

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To Imafan26: very good links. Thanks.

To Ozark Lady: I am also a member of Biobees but they mostly deal with TBH's. There are a few beeks using Langstroth hives in there but using Warre hive method. Beesource.com and Beemaster.com have a lot more beeks using Langstroth hives the traditional way.

I have not done any kind of treatment on my bees so far. I know SHB's are in there but, one day, I also noticed my bees getting rid of larva so I know they know how to handle those bad boys. I did cover the ground with cedar shavings and sprayed garlic/onion tea all over the ground to break the life cycle of SHB larva. The only treatment I have been doing is adding some HoneyBee Healthy supplement to their sugar syrup when I feed them. Plus, since they are regressed, Varoa mites are cut down to a bare minimum. Although I haven't actually seen one on the bees nor noticed any deformed wing syndrome.

I bought my bees from this company and am very pleased with how their bees thrive. https://www.wolfcreekbees.com/philosophy.htm

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A little off the subject - Ozark - I love your use of language and your ability to tell a tale :!: I often become frustrated at the lack of language skills found on the internet. Thank you. I always enjoy reading your post for the excellent use of language even if the topic does not apply to me. Were you an English/language teacher in another life?
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Ozark Lady
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Well, thanks, Elizabeth, :oops:

I actually hate English and writing compositions. And don't get me started on trying to interpret what Shakespeare meant! :roll: But, I do like to talk!

I have to write a testimony for church, I am on the 4th rewrite and I have already heard that it still has issues, I just haven't picked it up to try again! So, thanks very much for the compliment. Let's see: I was disorganized, not explicit and left folks wondering what I meant... and the list goes on.
I did fine on spelling, and not so fine at verb/subject agreement...

It is 57F so I am going to go check on the bees, I believe it is even warm enough to open the lid and sneak a peek.

Besides, I want to be outside! So nice out!
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Lucius_Junius
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But Shakespeare understood bees so well!

"For so work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom."

I'm happy to see this post, because I just registered yesterday as a beekeeper with my Department of Agriculture. After researching various hives and methods and having come across the Abbé Émile Warré's book on bee-keeping, L'apiculture pour tous, I've decided on going with a Warré-style hive that I can build by myself. The only modifications I'm making is adding windows to the boxes so that I can observe what's happening inside without having to take the hive apart.

I'm going to start with two hives, and can't wait for the bees to arrive in May.

On other note, as to bees flying around over two miles and gathering their goodies from non-organic yards. If you're worried about honey quality, you may consider the case of the plethora of rooftop beekeepers in London, England, including the young man featured in this article:

https://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... 19/food.g2

While they're not operating "organically," reviewers are often surprised by the high-quality honey produced by urban bee-keepers. If quality is your concern, I wouldn't worry too much about bees dipping nectar from non-organically grown flowers. But then again, who knows? Has there been some science done on nectar produced from organically vs. non-organically grown flowers?

If anyone is interested in plans for building a Warré hive, please don't hesitate to ask here or message me! There are links available to Warré's book in English online, and plenty of instructions on building his hive and pursuing his methods.

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Ozark Lady
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I did sneak a peek at the bees, but I didn't suit up therefore I didn't get into the bottom box.

I was advised to put a second box on the hive, without frames, and use this box to feed the bees in, so that ants were not a problem for the bees and there would be no robbing and I wouldn't be feeding wasps.

Don't laugh, I got a chicken waterer, that goes on a jar. I then got a pint canning jar, filled it with sugar water, added marbles to the base and had a diy bee feeder with marbles to prevent drowning. Those marbles are tricky to get in there before the base fills with sugar water. I think I will silicone them on the base permanently...

As the hive started building, I did add 4 frames to this box, it is a 10 frame box, the spare room is becoming bee comb, and the frames are not drawn.

Boy, I might as well have a Warre hive! They have built their own comb up into my food box. I guess they didn't understand this was a cafeteria, and lounging room! :wink:

When I am properly suited up and hooded, I will have my work cut out for me in getting frames apart and the new bee made comb fastened into a frame. It is lovely, but it is also unreinforced and could break easily, when I have to remove the top box to get to the lower box.

There was nothing stored in the new comb, but it is full sized, almost large enough to completely fill a frame.

I could see the bees below, and they are working on a solid 8 frames and were very busy and lots of them. Many more than the last time I looked.

My hubby tends the bees more often than I do.
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MObeek
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To Lucius,

Good to hear of your plan to raise bees in Warre hives. I started raising bees last April on a Warre hive also. But, later on, I have done some modifications to my hive to suit the weather condition out here. After much research, I've decided to remove the quilt and roof and replace them with a top feeder/condensation trap (with an entrance hole) and a flat roof with deep sides to provide protection for the top entrance hole on the feeder. If you go to this link and look at feeder no. 8, you will see one made by a beek from Alberta, Canada https://warre.biobees.com/feeders.htm I did a similar design but with the entrance for the bees situated on the side. If you'd like to check out my feeder, just go to this link. https://www.keepandshare.com/photo/45509 ... ?fv=y&ifr=

Good luck with your beekeeping venture. :)

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Lucius_Junius
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MOBeek,

Now that's a nice-looking hive. Can you explain a little more about what specifically motivated you to alter the hive? I'm starting out with a hive as described by Warré, but I'm certainly open to modifications in the future. Was the quilt too much insulation? And why the flat, as opposed to chalet-style, roof? This is interesting, because I've seen a lot of Warré hives from France built with the flat roof - and often using tin or some other metal.

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Well, you could actually use the gabled roof even if you want to put a top entrance to your hive. Just make sure the hole is situated higher than the lower rim of the roof so it's protected from the wind, rain and snow. I just first got interested in flat roofs when I saw John M's set-up. Then, I found a wasp building a nest inside my gabled roof and that really put me off.

The main reason I changed my set-up was I figured that if John M's bees could survive Canada's winter with his set-up, then my bees should be able to do the same. Plus, you might want to go to this link to read the thread about Condensation and Varroa! The missing link to survivalists https://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic. ... 3989#83989 It's a very good topic started by Bernhard Zaunreiter. He's a very smart beekeeper from Germany. :)

Ohio Tiller
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Re: Bees

I added 3 new hives this year 2 new starts and one I inherited from my old friend who passed this month.
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This is the hive we started with a swarm we caught a couple springs ago.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bees

So glad people are keeping bees. Have you had any trouble with the hive beetles or mites?
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Ohio Tiller
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Re: Bees

rainbowgardener wrote:So glad people are keeping bees. Have you had any trouble with the hive beetles or mites?

I have not had trouble in the past but I am going to have to go work on a hive tomorrow that has got wax moth worms real bad! The stinking worms eat all the honey and end up starving the bees. I am going to swap out all the frames tomorrow with freshly extracted ones.

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Bees

I'm glad to hear people are making habitat and room for bees. We have made artificial hives for carpenter and leaf cutter bees out of wood and bamboo. But many people still consider bees to be pests if they are near their house.

Carpenter bees will make holes in your house but they prefer unpainted wood, so keeping your house painted and caulking holes and crevices and providing them an alternative habitat should be a sensible solution. Providing nectar plants and a pesticide free environment helps many beneficial insects to survive and with them around we end up with healthier gardens.

Leaf cutter bees like carpenter bees are solitary bees and don't make honey. They are still important pollinators. People don't always appreciate that. People are so removed from how their food is made that they do not realize that most of the fruits and many vegetables require pollination or that many of the animals are also dependent on plants that require pollinators to reproduce.

It is just not the bees in danger of extinction, it is also many plant species, animals who depend on plants to live and other animals who depend on other plants and animals to exist. Ultimately our own existence may one day be altered by the complex and often misunderstood interconnections of life on planet earth.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Ohio Tiller
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Re: Bees

I know a lot of folks that think global warming is a real problem but it is nothing compared to a total bee extinction life as we know it will never be the same!! The biggest threat to this planet right now is Monsanto!

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Sage Hermit
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Re: Bees

Keep up the good work.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

Ohio Tiller
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Re: Bees

Well took some honey off this last month and wow is it sweet this year!
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