Al's adventure with honey bees.

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by trail twister, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. trail twister

    trail twister

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    This is going to be long as I have been keeping bees for a very long time.
    First thing I will say if your thinking about becoming a bee keeper is to join a club before you even get started.

    I got my start with a dead fall Ash tree the Emerald Ash Bore killed. I burn fire wood to heat my home, so was cutting on this Ash tree to finally get it down.

    Once it was down I started cutting it into blocks of fire wood, then some thing was flying off the chain and when that block fell off I see honey comb and a whole lot of bees. So I left it bee while I went and had dinner. I told Kare during dinner about the bees and she says we need to save them I saw a PBS show they are in trouble. that was well before colony colaspy story came out.

    After dinner we get ready and go to see if we can find some help saving the bees at the local USDA office. They gave me the name of two bee keepers, First one had died 4 years ago I was told and the person I was talking had no idea how to save them nor knew any one i could call.
    Second one was into apple sales and candles please lkeave a message. Never have gotten a return call from them.

    The internet was a very new thing and we were useing it to send E mails to our daughter in college at MTU in Houghton.
    I had never tried to do any thing else with it but decided to give a search engine a try. Found Western Michigan Bee Keepers club all the way across the state from us. there were several E mail addresses of club officers listed so i sat about sending a E mail to each and evey one.

    Next day I had 3 Emails returning a reply to my quest. Best oen was a E mail address for a member Jim Jure. I sent Jim a E mail Help me save these bees, he replied to try to get the log standing up again, since it was Oct to cover any exposed end that was in the air then wait till spring.
    I got the log standing and made a frame around it to make sure it stayed in place. Jim and I exchanged E mails for some time till he said he was going to flordia with his bees for thre winter and contack him mid April.

    I asked for bee keeping things for Christmas, Smoker, hive tool, deep hive body frames and a helmit with veil.

    I some how managed to loose his E mail address so when Mid April came around I was once again on the internet searching for help.
    Fellow in Missouri came to my aid, told me to set my deep hive body atop the log and make it so the bees had to go thru there to get in and out. Set frames with foundation in the hive body for them to build on even. He even sent me a frame of drawn comb to put in there. End of May the bees were all gone and not in the deep I had sat on top of the log. I was told the bees in the log had probably died during the winter.

    Now what to do it is end of May I have equipment and no Bees. Once again the fellow (sorry I just can't remember his name at this time.) in Missouri came to my rescue with the name of a fellow up north in Mt Pleasant who sold Nucs and had one left I bought.
    Even that didn't go easy. I get them installed in my deep and was feeding sugar syrup as told then added the second deep needed for bees to fill with winter food enough to make it thru a winter.

    I opened the bees just before adding the second deep and saw workers draging the queen out of the hive. Call the fellow in Mt Plesant and he sent me a new queen USP over night.
    Got her in the hive and thought they were doing well so I did the things to get them ready for winter.

    In the mean time the fellow from Missouri dissappered no replies to E mails and none from snail mail. He had told me his healt was bad so I assume he passed away.

    So I have two words of advice to a wannabee Keeper.
    (1. Join a club ASAP and learn as much as you can before you get bees.
    (2. Start with two hives that way you can compair between the two hives how they are doing and add brood from a strong hive to a weak hive.


    I had pictures but lost them when Image station stopped hosting pictures and I didn't get them switched some place else soon enough. A computer crash finished the rest off.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  2. trail twister

    trail twister

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    In December in the local News paper they reported a new county bee keeping club starting up.
    Kare and I went to their next meeting and joined the club. Found out a 40 year bee keeper lived a half mile down the road.

    My hive didn't make it thru the winter so i was told here to buy a package of bees and had learned I should have two colonies. I bought two 3 pound packages of bees. Got them installed in the hives ready for building up.

    First inspection I invited another bee keeper to come and give me pointers. Go in the hive and Bob says some thing is wrong here and I don't know what it is, call Billy.
    I call Billy and he comes right away and looks at the bees and say yes some thing is wrong. Looks like fowl brood but doesn't stink like fowl brood.
    Let me ask around and I will call you this evening.

    Called me that evening asn said AL no one really knows what the bees have but spray them with soapy water to kill the bees tonight. Burn the boxes and frames and I will give you a couple boxes and a swarm I caught.

    I did as told and good to his word he gave me two deeps frames with drawn comb and a swarm of bees and told me to get more deeps as he might get another swarm to give me.
    I got more boxes and frames but never got any more swarms from him.
    Bob how ever gave me 5 swarms so I wa skept really busy assembling boxes and frames, I hate installing foundation.

    I went into that winter with 6 colonies and only lost one.

    During the winter I joined a second club and the regional club. Went to the spring semenatr put on by the state club and joined it. Learned as much as I could and bought books so i could refur back to them.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  3. trail twister

    Becky Administrator

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    Becky, Sep 13, 2018
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  4. trail twister

    trail twister

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    Rewarding :whistle::rolleyes: . If you figure in the equipment to get started cost of bee's (out ragest today.) and the amount of honey you cn harvest in a couple years. Not very rewarding your in a big deep hole. Third ypu tink Great the girls are doing great I can really stack the honey supers on. Yup just what we did, State pasted a new cottage indursty law and we could only sell our honey off our front porch unless we had a licenced honey house.

    $3500.00 for a pole barn kit. $25.00 building permint, $95.00 special building permint because the creek is on the other side of the hill and the silt might run up hill. that was the county part so back to the state.
    Have to have a double bowl stainless sink, got lucky and bought a used one from a resturant for $250.00.
    Running water anothe rcouple hundred to have it ran from the house, I ran the electricty so that cost was low just for the Romax and breaker box.

    Next was the floor another couple hundred, a washable walls and ceiling another couple hundred but we got it done in 2 years.

    Yes very rewarding when yopu go to the club and do a class for all the new bees. Very rewarding when you get a call fro a swarm and collect while people look on in wonder at the crazy guy in a base ball cap t shirt and Jeans merssing with a huge wad of bees.


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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  5. trail twister

    trail twister

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    Year 3 I came thru the winter having lost just one hive of 6. I contacted one of the clubs bee keepers that does it on the commercial side with 500 colonies and tell him I want to buy 5 queens. He tells me that he has SMR Carnolionas for $10.00, you can't buy queens for that kind of money today.

    I took each of my 5 colonies and split them in half and inspected them for queens. The ones that didn't have a queen got one of the SMR's so they now all had queens.
    Now I have 10 colonies in our back yard. Once again I was given a few swarms also. At honey extracting time I had made a deal to have one of thre club members extract for half the honey, Boy was I stupid he kept the capping wax also, capping wax is a beautiful yellow and worth $6.00 a pound then. So he did the spring extracting and the fall extraction.
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    I went into winter with 10 colonies in the back yard and 5 in our front yard.

    Year 4 I was a whole lot smarter and decided i would start raiseing my own queens. Billy the fellow down the road came to my resuce, teaching me during the winter the basics. By April Billy was very sick and in the hospital, he got word to me he had 7 colonies a bit away from me he would sell me. Kare and I went to the hospital to visit him and buy those 7 colonies and obtain the right to leave them at that yard.
    We now have 20 colonies those 7 colonies we bought were just boiling over with bees really mean bees (but you would be mean also if you had a one room home and 9 people shareing one bed room.)

    We didn't just split those colonies we made 4 colonies out of every one. We are at 40 some colonies now and running out of room. Ran into a fellow I had worked with that had a farm said sure we could put bees on his farm. We put 12 colonies to start with there. The queens I was raiseing were doing real well and we still had to many colonies at home.
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    So I startedd serching for more out yards. Found one across the road from my farmer friend, a christmas tree farm. Place was so big and perfect we put 25 colonies there. Word got out and we were contacted by a nursery with a big green house so we put 3 colonies there as a trial. lady up the road saw them and asked the owner about them so she called us. We put 6 colonies at her house.

    Then I go t a call to to recommend some one to remove honey bees from his garage. A two hour drive to get there and over 4 hours to remove then. Got fed by the family it got so late. He had been a big farmer so had a big equipment shed where he repaired cars and trucks. A lady came to get her repaired car and saw me and asked what I was doing.
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    He told her removing Honey bees. A few days later she called and said she was a news paper reporter for the Rodger City news. Few days after the news paper came out I got two calls.

    One was from a fellow who wanted me to come back up there and take down a ded tree by his cabin that had honey bees in it.

    The second was from a fellow that lives about 10 miles from me that had lived there at one time and asked if I would put bees on his place.

    I took the tree down and got the bees out of it for the cabin owner. He also fed us a meal and sent us home with about 10 pounds of summer sauage sticks.
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    Caught a few storms.

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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  6. trail twister

    trail twister

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    We went into winter with 108 colonies. Went to a fall auction sale and bought some equipment includeing a 2 frame extractor. In the spring at a Club meeting we were aproched about buying some equipment from a retireing bee keeper.
    We bought a 36 frame extractor, two settleing tanks, a honey pump, 2 hot knives for uncapping a uncapping tank and a bee blower (kare would never let me use it, afraid I would blow a queen out in the weeds.)

    We lost 10% over the winter so I started raiseing queens and makeing nucs. My nucs are 5 frame and have a feeder compartment so I can feed two quart jars.

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    Had enough colonies by May to number 140 with swarms and nucs raiseing queens and doing some splits.

    The very best Fathers day I ever had. Recieved a call early in the morning a limb had came down in the street In Flint Mi. did I know any one who would come get the bees. Since our plans were to go to Kares dads place and we both have fathers day together I gave the fellow 4 names with instructions to call me back if no one else would go, after all it is Flint Mi. He called me back about an hour and a half latter and said no one would come. I tell him I will be there soon.

    Tell Kare to tell dad happy fathersday from me and load my gear and left. Loading rhe gear didn't take to long as I carry a lot all the time.

    What I saw when I got there.

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    I had a box in a box bee vac then so I would suck a box about 3 pounds worth and change the box.

    Use a shovel to scoop a bunch up and dump in the hive bodies I had brought.

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    Cut the limbs up so I could get to the bees easier, that is when the party begain. I would cut comb with brood and rubber band into frames. Cut honey comb and soon peole were unafraid of ther bees and ask for some of the honey comb. they inturn were bringing me Ice tea offer beer I declined, water mellon and potato salad, hamburgers a regular block party it had turned into. I was sad sort of when I had finished. Had met some of the finest people ever.


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    They went to a new out yard, less than a mile from my father in laws.

    Kare and I were setting in a coffee shop having a donut and coffee one afternoon while we had been out inspection colonies.
    A lady cop came in and asked who owned the truck with thew honey for your health stickers and the stickers of honey bees on it.

    We told her we did and she asked if we would put some bees on her property. We had inspected it a week before the block party. and had put some bees there and had a open slot left. I was able to go to th efolks house and finish up a great fathers day.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  7. trail twister

    trail twister

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    Uncapping honey is hot work in the honey house. Try to keep it as hot as we can stand it because honey flows better when hot.
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    The knife is hot the frame is from 8 frame honey supers so are fat, comb shaves off to uncap all cells so not scratcher required. I start at the top of the frame a friend starts at the bottom.
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    The caps go into a capping tank. The tank came out of a milking polar. I made a narrow board that goes across the tank with a sharpe spike in the center that holds the frame from slideing as I run the knife down it.
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    Hard wear cloth goes across to hold the capping knife when I am getting another frame or drink of water.

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    I have a heat lamp in a reflector set up under the tank to keep the honey in ther flowing out the drain.

    A honey pump moves the honey from th eextractor to the settling tanks.
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    Honey settles in the settling tanks and every couple of days the bee parts bits of comb are skimmed off and set out for the bees to get it in the morning away from the honey house.
    We strain from the settleing tanks thru a double strainer into food grade 5 gallon pails with sealable lids.

    Our last exteraction was done with a evewn bigger extractor we bought. It is a Kelley company 72 frame radial stanless set it and forget it model. We extracted 2700 some odd pounds of honey in 60 hours.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  8. trail twister

    Sheal

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    I know very little about bees Al but that was an interesting read, thank you. :)
     
    Sheal, Sep 13, 2018
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  9. trail twister

    trail twister

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    I make most of my own equipment, screen bottom boards with slideing winter closures.

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    Double nuc box out of ten frame deep hive bodies.
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    Made my own bee vac so the bees go right into a hive body. has an ajustable suction door also.

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    Made my own form board for installing foundation in frames and wireing it. Made my own wire winder wireing jig also.

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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  10. trail twister

    trail twister

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    I really get a good laugh out of 240 pound men going crazy when a ity bity honey bee is around them.

    In 2008 my grand daughter came to visit for a week, she was 8 years old.

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    No way I would have let her stand under this swarm if honey bees were a danger.

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    She went to school the next fall with pictures, 3 pounds of honey, a whole bunch of buns and some peanut butter to share with the class mates.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 13, 2018
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  11. trail twister

    trail twister

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    I love catching swarms or should I say I like removeing swarms. I was on a national site for swarm collection. But that site folded up maybe ten years ago, I have not gotten a call in two years despite being on the states call list, regional call list and a couple of club call list.
    Stands to reson I suppose with the truble bees have today. I have my idea on that besides what the expert reserchers are saying but won't go in to that here.

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    Swarms can be low to the ground even on the ground. They can be very high also.
    On one job they were so high I asked the home owner if he minded looseing a tree branch. When he said he didn't care I asked if he had a 12 ga. shot gun?
    He did so I used it to shoot the limb down the bees were on as I couldn't reach them.
    They landed on the box I had below and those that didn't hit the box were soon swarming it makeing me believe the queen had went in.
    Normally the girls are full of honey to start a new home and won't sting. If you see one don't spray it call a bee keeper.

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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  12. trail twister

    trail twister

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    If you can get a hive body under a swarm they will usually go right in if you have some drawn comb in there. I try to keep some drawn comb on hand and once thre bees are in the hive add a couple of frames of brood so they will stay and nurse them.

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    I have a 10 foot step ladder, climb up with a 5 gallon bucket with a lid attached. Place the bucket under the swarm pull the branch down and give it a sharp upward push. Jars the swarm loose so they fall in the pail quickly put the lid on.

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    Lady told me the swarm had been there only 3 days. long enough they started building comb on the branch.

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    Have many more pictures but their on the Photo Bucket site. Many people got caught off guard when they started demanding $500.00 to 3d party host them.

    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  13. trail twister

    trail twister

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    This swarm removal got a lot of attention. My sister in law went shopping saw this swarm and called me and let the store management know about it. They placed shopping carts all around it makeing people walk away from it.

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    We opped to use our bee vac on this swarm so as to not stir them up as much as a branch snap does because of all the people standing behind the carts watching.
    Bet we answered 5 thousnd questions while doing this removal. Several many times as new people came and others left.

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    This was mother day May 14th 2012.


    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  14. trail twister

    trail twister

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    This is our honey house, county was making it diffacult to get a bilding permint so it laid covered for close to a month.

    Finally the last time I went to apply and they started giving me a hard time I told them I was finished fooling with them and ( I love Cell phone some times) whipped out cell phone and speed dialed our lawyer on speaker. It came out Law office of Burns and Cass how can we help you. took 5 minutes to get the permint after that call.

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    They demanded a 12" hole for 6"x4"poles so i had to hire a guy to dig the holes.

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    Told the jerk that came to inspect the holes we (wife and I ) would have it up and roof on in a week. He said we couldn't do it. Was shocked when we calle d4 days later for the finish inspection.
    Kare and I did get some unexpected help when her mom and dad showed up early one morning to help finish frameing & sideing it. Also help with the roof.

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    I loaded the roof trusses up all alone one evening after the folks had left. They were amazed to see them the next morning.

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    Mom went around and rounded over every nail from the sideing that poked thru the perlns.


    Up goes the roof. nailing it down.

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    Finishing the roof.

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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  15. trail twister

    trail twister

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    I covered the roof with black plastic then put down the furing strips to nail the steel roofing to.

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    Kare started staining around the windows.

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    Ready to call the inspector. out side will be finished by the time they stop draging their feet and get here.

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    Winter arrived and we done till spring when we could do thre concrete floor and all the back filling. FED X backed into it so I set the big rock to protect it from farther damage.

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    Work on the washable walls and ceiling went well. Also installed the covered lights.

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    Our presant extractor a Kelley 72 frame model we bought used.

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    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  16. trail twister

    trail twister

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    Kare and I went on several days to set down with a young lady to design and print our honey lables. were luck we put the program on a CD because the place closed its door a year later. Flower pictures from Kare's gardens.

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    Went to a Auction and bought two trailer loads and 3 truck loads of stuff for $10.00. People are afraid of use wooden ware. I scorch the stuff and have a big tank I mix 4:1 ratio of bleach to water and soak the stuff for about 7 days.
    Also got Jars lids and other things.

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    Another auction buy for $2.00, sold one set up to a fellow for $2.00
    so was free except for the drive.

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    Planting Clematis along side the Honey house.

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    A stack of extracted honey supers set out for the bees to dry. they clean up every drop.

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    A frame of brood from eggs to capped.

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    We do not have meen bees. I breed our queens with gentile queens and drones from gentile hives.

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    Mouse guards over a entrance reducer. used reducers for about 4 years then just got rid of them.

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    Any questions?


    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  17. trail twister

    Upsy Daisy

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    Takes me back to my childhood days, my grandfather was a beekeeper (but not on a grand scale like you). We loved going up to visit him as we kids found the whole experience so fascinating and educational .
     
    Upsy Daisy, Sep 14, 2018
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  18. trail twister

    Sheal

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    You've been very thorough Al and the pictures have helped to show us your set up. Thank you again.

    Two questions....

    I believe the queens are larger than the others, is there much difference in size?
    Also, how often do you 'harvest' the honey please?
     
    Sheal, Sep 14, 2018
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  19. trail twister

    trail twister

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    The queen with the black tail, workers with sort of strips.

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    We harvest the honey the first round about mid June after the Danolion bloom/flow is over in our area.

    Second harvesty in last week of August or first week of September. Hopefully we miss the Golden Rod bloom ( makes thick dark honey, great winter bee food.


    :D Al
     
    trail twister, Sep 14, 2018
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  20. trail twister

    Sheal

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    Thanks Al. :) Twice a year and with what was it? 140 hives approximately. It must take a while to get through them all.
     
    Sheal, Sep 15, 2018
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