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Last night I received my "Back to basics homesteading book" and was glancing through it and came upon a section about keeping bees. Fresh honey, free wax, good for my garden and plants, yea I'm in! Pretty much decided right then and there I'd give bee keeping a try, which is funny since I am usually terrified of bees and always worried about getting stung :upsidedown:

So this morning I looked up bee keeping here on the forum, as well as did a Google search on it. Come to find out, there is a local "bee keeping club/group" not even 5 miles up the road! They meet at a nature center 1x per month, and aside from a small recommended donation of $10 a year, its pretty much free! The group takes a small break in the winter but is actually holding its first meeting of the season next week Tuesday! Next week is kind of like a meet & greet / social, and they will have "honey wine" that they have been fermenting, how cool is that!

The first real meeting in Jan will cover intro to bee keeping, in February we will be building our own hives, and in March we will have a person supplying us with the bees. This group sounds perfect as it has bee newbies like me in it as well as people with over 25 years experience in it. It sounds like a good group of people from the discussion I had with the woman over the phone.

I will post updates, pics, tips, and my experience as I go with this and hopefully it will help someone out there looking to do the same. This forum has been a great resource for me in the short few days or week I have been a member, but I also strongly encourage people to look into their local resources for things like this. Sounds like we might "bee" making some new friends soon and becoming bee keepers (who would have thought I'd become a be keeper lol). Looking forward to some fresh honey at the end of the year!! :thumb:

12-18-13 UPDATE: So last night was our first meeting, it was actually more like a social, and the real meetings where we dive into the actual bee knowledge, hive building, purchasing of the bees etc. will start next month. It was a very nice group of people, and although we did learn a little bit it was mostly just a meet & greet type thing. The president of the club said he got 140 lbs of honey the first year he did bees and that was one hive!! He said that he has never had that much honey since, even with 3 hives now. Another guy there also said he got more honey the first year than he did later with more hives too. So hopefully we'll have a good first season, if I could get 25-30 lbs I would be very happy! One of the people I met offered me their chicken coop for free, and I also met a guy there which will probably be my new source for maple syrup. We also learned about a "earth fair" which sounds like a cool thing to check out and participate in. I'll post an update after the next meeting!
 

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i started with bees 3 years ago ,,,so far i have not been able to keep them over winter ,,,they die out in march for some reason,,,they are not starving out ,,,all the hives had lots of honey left in them ,,,they had used way less than half the honey i had left for them ,,,im in northen minnasota ,,, it gets bitter cold here,,,but it dont seem to be the cold thats getting them ,,,in march its starting to warm up

i find its a lot like gardening ,,,theres a learning curve to it,,,and actualy doing it helps as much or more than just reading about it

most bee keepers here will kill the hive in fall ,,,its cheaper to replace the bees than to feed them honey all winter

this fall i built a small barn to house them in ,,,it seems to keep them warmer so far ,,,between 5 and 10 degrees differance from outside to inside ,,,but the proof isnt in yet till they make it to pollen season next spring
 

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M.R. Not
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i started with bees 3 years ago ,,,so far i have not been able to keep them over winter ,,,they die out in march for some reason,,,they are not starving out ,,,all the hives had lots of honey left in them ,,,they had used way less than half the honey i had left for them ,,,im in northen minnasota ,,, it gets bitter cold here,,,but it dont seem to be the cold thats getting them ,,,in march its starting to warm up
Are they swarming? Do you have the queen above an excluder to keep her from leaving the hive, seems strange that this is happening in March....

Rancher
 

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Are they swarming? Do you have the queen above an excluder to keep her from leaving the hive, seems strange that this is happening in March....

Rancher
no they are not swarming ,,,they are dieing in the hive ,,,im in northen minnasota,,,theres usualy still snow on the ground here when they are dieing out,,,my thoughts are it warms up and they break cluster ,,,then we get hit with a cold snap and they dont make it back together fast enough,,,thats the reason for the barn ,,,to moderate the temp swings a bit
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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no they are not swarming ,,,they are dieing in the hive ,,,im in northen minnasota,,,theres usualy still snow on the ground here when they are dieing out,,,my thoughts are it warms up and they break cluster ,,,then we get hit with a cold snap and they dont make it back together fast enough,,,thats the reason for the barn ,,,to moderate the temp swings a bit
The last three years, each spring as it warms up they go out for cleansing flights, etc. Then after the next cold snap, my bees are all dead.
 

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The last three years, each spring as it warms up they go out for cleansing flights, etc. Then after the next cold snap, my bees are all dead.
do you think it because they are not making it back into cluster fast enough?

or do you have any other ideas as to why???

any ideas as to how to prevent or reduce the problem???

im not asking for proof posative,,,,just your ideas and insight
 

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i started with bees 3 years ago ,,,so far i have not been able to keep them over winter ,,,they die out in march for some reason,,,they are not starving out ,,,all the hives had lots of honey left in them ,,,they had used way less than half the honey i had left for them ,,,im in northen minnasota ,,, it gets bitter cold here,,,but it dont seem to be the cold thats getting them ,,,in march its starting to warm up

,,,but the proof isnt in yet till they make it to pollen season next spring
I know absolutely nothng about beekeeping, but I have heard my local 'honey gal' saying early spring is tricky up here because the longer days tell the bees they should be out gathering, but there aren't any blossoms that early up here. :xeye:
 

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I know absolutely nothng about beekeeping, but I have heard my local 'honey gal' saying early spring is tricky up here because the longer days tell the bees they should be out gathering, but there aren't any blossoms that early up here. :xeye:
if the bees were missing from the hives that would make sense here as well ,,,but they are in the hive ,,,with a small cluster of dead bees ,,,,the rest are scattered all over the hive dead,,,they are alive and well untill the cold snap after it warms up,,, the cluster is in honey so its not a starvation issue ,,the other scattered bees are on capped honey also ,,,

wonder if blocking them in would solve the problem ,,,stop them from seeing the light coming in the hive entrance??maybe put small ventalation holes in dark areas of hives??
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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do you think it because they are not making it back into cluster fast enough?

or do you have any other ideas as to why???

any ideas as to how to prevent or reduce the problem???

im not asking for proof posative,,,,just your ideas and insight
A local bee-breeder [old guy who has been keeping bees for 60 years, and was the state bee inspector for 30 years] has been advising me.

We think it is a combination of things. Being early there is no nectar flow going yet. Also I live in forest that has a lot of peat bog. The high water table gives up high humidity. Fungus and mold is a big problem here.

At first I was advised to put my hives onto a platform, to stop moisture from migrating up from the ground.

Then the next year, I moved the hives into an unheated greenhouse.

This year I moved the hives into an unused motorhome.
 

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Do you have a wind break to protect them from the harsh March winds? I lost a hive because of the cold the first winter I had my first hive. So then I put the second batch of bees up by the barn where they would be protected from the wind. A spring bear tore their hive apart and I couldn't chase it off quick enough to save the hive. It was too small and took off with the queen. I want to try a 3rd batch this spring.

Another thing that will kill bees is if rain water is dripping down on them. Put a 1" piece of board at the back of your hive so that any water that gets in will roll to the front of the hive.

Are you wrapping your hives with some kind of insulation to help them retain the heat that they work so hard to create?

I suggest that you join your local bee club and get involved with a mentor. I would join our club but they are 70 miles away and I don't feel that I want to travel that far. I did find a bee guy in the valley who will be selling bees and giving classes this year and I will be taking them for him. Hopefully I will have better luck.
 

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A local bee-breeder [old guy who has been keeping bees for 60 years, and was the state bee inspector for 30 years] has been advising me.

We think it is a combination of things. Being early there is no nectar flow going yet. Also I live in forest that has a lot of peat bog. The high water table gives up high humidity. Fungus and mold is a big problem here.

At first I was advised to put my hives onto a platform, to stop moisture from migrating up from the ground.

Then the next year, I moved the hives into an unheated greenhouse.

This year I moved the hives into an unused motorhome.
my first year i wrapped the hives with tar paper as i had been told ,,,it failed ,,,last year i insulated the hives with 2 inch foam and taped the seams all but at the top so moisture could get out of hive,,,it also failed

this year i built a small barn 8 x12 ,,insulated it to r11 in walls and r13 in roof ,,,the hives set up against the inside wall ,,,with entrances framed into wall that lets them get in and out,,,so far its been staying 5 to 10 degrees warmer in barn than outside temps are,,,its not heated ,,,but has a large south facing window that lets it gain from solar,,,the hives also set against the south facing wall on a bench,,,in the sunny area inside ,,,tight against each other
 

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Do you have a wind break to protect them from the harsh March winds? I lost a hive because of the cold the first winter I had my first hive. So then I put the second batch of bees up by the barn where they would be protected from the wind. A spring bear tore their hive apart and I couldn't chase it off quick enough to save the hive. It was too small and took off with the queen. I want to try a 3rd batch this spring.

Another thing that will kill bees is if rain water is dripping down on them. Put a 1" piece of board at the back of your hive so that any water that gets in will roll to the front of the hive.

Are you wrapping your hives with some kind of insulation to help them retain the heat that they work so hard to create?

I suggest that you join your local bee club and get involved with a mentor. I would join our club but they are 70 miles away and I don't feel that I want to travel that far. I did find a bee guy in the valley who will be selling bees and giving classes this year and I will be taking them for him. Hopefully I will have better luck.
all the beekeepers here think it cost to much to carry the hives over ,,,its cheaper to kill the hive ,,,take all the honey,,,sell honey and buy new bees each spring
 

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Deo iuvante
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The bees in my one hive were eaten by yellow jackets this year. Hopefully I'll get another box-o-bees in the spring. I was recovering from knee surgery most of the summer and fall and didn't get to check on them much. :(
 

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my first year i wrapped the hives with tar paper as i had been told ,,,it failed ,,,last year i insulated the hives with 2 inch foam and taped the seams all but at the top so moisture could get out of hive,,,it also failed

this year i built a small barn 8 x12 ,,insulated it to r11 in walls and r13 in roof ,,,the hives set up against the inside wall ,,,with entrances framed into wall that lets them get in and out,,,so far its been staying 5 to 10 degrees warmer in barn than outside temps are,,,its not heated ,,,but has a large south facing window that lets it gain from solar,,,the hives also set against the south facing wall on a bench,,,in the sunny area inside ,,,tight against each other
I have been attending workshops for five years so far, and I a member of our local beekeeping club.

Some guys swear by insulating, and others do not insulate. Even among professionals who offer courses, they do not agree on insulation. There is no consistent benefit either way.

If bees are too warm through the winter, they will consume 10X more feed. As compared to if it is cold.

Windbreaks are good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Lots of interesting discussion, and the issues that are being brought up makes me glad that I have a bee keeping club so close. It will be nice to be in a group who are using the same climate, bees, hive design etc. as I am. I plan on putting the hive at the edge of my backyard which backs to woods, that should serve as a wind break. We'll see what the experienced ones in my club have to say about it though. All I know is I can't wait for that first batch of honey!

Which leads me to a question, how are you guys extracting the honey from the combs? I've read about different ways, some which destroy the comb others that don't. What has your experiences been with getting the honey?
 

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Last night I received my "Back to basics homesteading book" and was glancing through it and came upon a section about keeping bees. Fresh honey, free wax, good for my garden and plants, yea I'm in! Pretty much decided right then and there I'd give bee keeping a try, which is funny since I am usually terrified of bees and always worried about getting stung :upsidedown:

So this morning I looked up bee keeping here on the forum, as well as did a Google search on it. Come to find out, there is a local "bee keeping club/group" not even 5 miles up the road! They meet at a nature center 1x per month, and aside from a small recommended donation of $10 a year, its pretty much free! The group takes a small break in the winter but is actually holding its first meeting of the season next week Tuesday! Next week is kind of like a meet & greet / social, and they will have "honey wine" that they have been fermenting, how cool is that!

The first real meeting in Jan will cover intro to bee keeping, in February we will be building our own hives, and in March we will have a person supplying us with the bees. This group sounds perfect as it has bee newbies like me in it as well as people with over 25 years experience in it. It sounds like a good group of people from the discussion I had with the woman over the phone.

I will post updates, pics, tips, and my experience as I go with this and hopefully it will help someone out there looking to do the same. This forum has been a great resource for me in the short few days or week I have been a member, but I also strongly encourage people to look into their local resources for things like this. Sounds like we might "bee" making some new friends soon and becoming bee keepers (who would have thought I'd become a be keeper lol). Looking forward to some fresh honey at the end of the year!! :thumb:
I have three hives, and I love my little winged ladies. I try to keep them over the winter, so I only take about 60% of the honey....which this year I got about 80lbs of honey.

Having experts to help answer questions is a must. In your first year you will make mistakes, less mistakes the second, but it is enjoyable!
 

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Blackhorse Cav 3/11 ACR
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check out beesource
for active discussions on beekeeping.
Going into 1st winter of beekeeping with 2 colonies here.
Hard telling if they will make it through the winter.
I hope so, desperately need apple tree pollinators and that was my initial reason for getting in to it. No bees, few apples.
They were a big boost to my squash and cuke production this past summer also.
 
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