Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: What I learned in my first year....

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Somerset
    Posts
    1,874
    Blog Entries
    35

    Default What I learned in my first year....

    This is a shameless rip off of a similar post on a similar forum but now I'm entering year 2 and hence now know everything there is to know about beekeeping I thought it might be interesting and hopefully useful.

    1) Don't buy anything until you've done a couple of inspections at your local association or with another beekeeper.

    The first time we opened up a hive I will admit, in my best Asterix, to thinking "@*!%%^". This wasn't a Nuc, but a full on, packed to the rafters double National hive that I don't think would be an exaggeration to say was boiling over with bees. it's one thing watching stuff on TV or You Tube, very different when you've got bees pinging off your veil. Despite that, I loved it, nerves put to one side, curiosity took over. With the inspection over and with hair in my eyes I retreated to a safe distance, removed my suit to try and regain some vision and was promptly stung twice by two hangers on. Stings on my first visit! No reaction! I'm hooked.

    I think, as a prospective beekeeper, you're allowed to feel a little intimated when confronted with this sort of thing:



    I used to dive a lot and help out my local dive club training new divers and this reminds me a lot of what I saw then. People get really keen, run out and buy loads of really expensive kit and then baulk at the reality of it. In the case of diving, it's taking your mask off in open water. In beekeeping I suspect that it's the first time a beekeeper encounters a hive that is a broiling mass of (possibly angry) bees.


    2) Don't be afraid to have an opinion.
    Especially if you don't think something is right. We shook swarmed my colony last year far too early. I thought so at the time, but I'm the new guy and he knows what he's doing so I'll shut up. If you've done an introductory course you should already be familiar with the equation:

    Opinions = (number of beekeepers present + X)
    Where X is a number between 1 and infinity.

    3) Your bees have read the same books you have.
    They know what you're expecting. They're doing something different to mess with you. Mine swarmed in August, that's not supposed to happen, all the books say get past June/July and swarming season is over. I do at least think I know why it happened but it still brings me to...

    4) You will lose a swarm.
    My aim this year is to try not to. It's my aim for next year too.


    And the year after.

    5) To limit my Inspections.
    The temptation is to go up and open them every couple of hours.
    Remember when you were a kid and your Mum was always going on at you at the state of your room? It's the same thing, except bees don't panic when you start rummaging around under the bed.

    Why are you going to open up the hive? What will it tell you that sitting in your apiary with a flask of coffee or a bottle of pop wont? You can learn huge amounts about what is going on just watching your bees come and go. And it's a lovely way to kill an hour or two on a sunny afternoon without having to fanny around suiting up and lighting smokers and all that jazz.

    6) You can never have too much kit.
    Year 1 sucks. You've bought the bare minimum of gear and the cost of that made you gasp. All your frames are foundation and you could really do with a frame of comb. A spare broodbox yesterday would have made all the difference.

    I keep bees with another guy I met on my beginner's course and it's been a godsend. We've got two colonies, and enough gear between to switch things around when we need to. Having two colonies on the same site has come in especially useful. With one colony your options are limited, with two you can help one out with the other.

    And here also seems a good place to mention the quote "There is little in Beekeeping that cannot be solved by putting something into, or taking something out of, a Nucleus". Expensive I know, but handy.

    7) Find a backup Apiary site.
    This goes double if you're contemplating keeping bees on an allotment. Personally I think you want somewhere where you can put several hives, having to go 20 minutes out to inspect 1 hive quickly becomes a chore.

    I live in a city, I have my bees on an allotment, I know that if for some reason there's a problem I have to sort it now or I'll be told, not asked, to take them away. I now have two alternative sites I can move hives to if I need to. One will hopefully become a second apiary, the other is a stop gap measure I could put a hive on if I have to.

    8) A forum like this can be an incredible resource.
    You can come back and post "I've just seen this..... What does it mean?" and you'll get several answers. They'll probably all tell you different things, but that's part of the fun.

    9) Don't fixate on finding the queen.
    If you don't need to find her then you don't need to find her. Even marked queens can be elusive buggers. Have you got eggs? Have you got eggs standing up on end? If yes, you've almost certainly got a queen. She'll either be on the QX, the sidewall or that frame full of pollen that you're ignoring by the way.

    And the number 10....

    10) It's an incredible hobby.

    I love it, I really do. I'm "that guy who keeps bees". You'll never be short of conversation beekeeping and I learn so much just from questions everyone else asks me because I hate having to say "Honestly, I really don't know." more than once
    Last edited by Neils; 03-03-2010 at 12:25 AM. Reason: slight re-write of point 1, don't write under the affluence of inkyhol.

  2. #2
    Senior Member POPZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Isle of Mull
    Posts
    138
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Nellie - rip off it may be but very weird at the same time! Parts of it must have been written about me??? Love it

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Isle of Mull
    Posts
    799
    Blog Entries
    18

    Default

    Brilliant! I vote this goes on the homepage!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Lindau Germany
    Posts
    705
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Hi,
    this got my five stars (don't forget you can rate threads at the top)!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Somerset
    Posts
    1,874
    Blog Entries
    35

    Default

    I forgot something!

    If you have long hair, tie it back and wear a hat before you got within 2 miles of your apiary. Bees love nothing more than long hair, seriously, they love it. They must do or every single time I've gone near my apiary with my hair down the little buggers wouldn't fly straight into it.

    There are numerous ways you can try to deal with this

    1) Put your head down, and try to brush the bee out with your fingers, a hairbrush (I always have one in my suit ) an uncapping fork, twigs or anything else that comes to hand while remaining calm
    2) Tell whoever it is stood next to you to stop laughing and come and help, you will never locate the bee on your own.
    3) Apply a Mk I open hand swiftly and sharply to the vicinity of the buzzing. This will achieve two things, one it will kill the bee. Two, it will give you the slap about the head you deserve for being stupid.

    I absolutely do not recommend waiting until the other beekeeper has one boot off, his suit wrapped round his head and then tearing off down the path, squealing "There's a bee in my hair! Get it out! Get it out" at a pitch only bats, dolphins and navy sonar operators can hear. Especially if you also intend to complain that said beekeeper didn't rush quick enough to your aid for the rest of the week.


    And thanks for the nice comments

  6. #6
    Senior Member POPZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Isle of Mull
    Posts
    138
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nellie View Post
    I forgot something!

    If you have long hair, tie it back and wear a hat before you got within 2 miles of your apiary. Bees love nothing more than long hair, seriously, they love it. They must do or every single time I've gone near my apiary with my hair down the little buggers wouldn't fly straight into it.
    AND, at this time of the year, when the odd lady pops out rather drunkenly, they usually make a beeline for a lovely warm landing site - a bald head. This requires enormous patience whilst alowing her to recover her senses, reorientate herself, and return to her wee hoosie. By this time, another lady has spotted what the first lady was doing, so decides that this must be a grand idea. And so it goes on. Just as well it gets dark pretty early! Also, it does give a feeling of being needed.
    POPZ

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Somerset
    Posts
    1,874
    Blog Entries
    35

    Default

    Your secret is out! You're not keeping bees for the honey, you're keeping them for the fur aren't you.

    This year's must have fashion accessory, a hat made from bee fur.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Isle of Mull
    Posts
    799
    Blog Entries
    18

    Default

    Does that make Popz a bee fur-mer?

  9. #9
    Administrator gavin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Tayside
    Posts
    4,461
    Blog Entries
    41

    Default

    Any more dreadful puns like that and you'll be put onto moderation!

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Somerset
    Posts
    1,874
    Blog Entries
    35

    Default

    I thought I'd tag it on here rather than start a new thread, but now that it's suddenly become relevant again, some other things I learned in my first year is

    1) Be careful putting together kit
    I'm now starting to think that the instructions I got for all my gear was for making it Top Bee space rather than Bottom which is standard for National hives. Now I'm needing to put supers on I've found that not only is my brood box top bee space but both the supers are too.

    Once you start banging nails in it's very hard to undo mistakes. In my case, what I've had to do is take some castellated spacers, drill holes in what would normally be the top and nail them to the side walls of the hive in order to raise the frames up to make the kit bottom bee space.

    It wouldn't normally be a problem but I inherited a number of supers and brood boxes that are, you guessed it, bottom bee space and the two don't mix that well so whichever way you go, deliberately or otherwise, stick to it.

    I can't offer an argument either way as to which is better, I just know that you want one of the other, not both if you want your gear to play nicely together and it's a lot easier to make top beespace gear bottom beespace than the other way round.

    When I become a rich, famous and influential beekeeper I will direct the main makers of hives to Ikea as an example of how to make their assembly instructions just that little, tiny, smidgeon less vague.

    2) 9 or 10 frame castellated spacers are <expletive deleted> if you have foundation.
    They sound like a pretty good idea starting out but if you're working with foundation they're also a really good way to get very uneven comb if you aren't careful. On the plus side it gave me my very first block of wax but it made manipulating the frames at the time very difficult.

    This year I'm experimenting with plastic spacers instead. I have 13 frames in the super. 9 Drawn comb, 3 Foundation and an experiment with foundationless frames. All of these frames are using plastic spacers with the spacing set to narrow. My Intention is that as the wax is drawn out and I start to add extra supers I'll start to both cycle foundation into the lowest super so they're at the warmest point of the hive and then start to widen the spacing to allow the comb to be drawn out further.

    I'm told in lieu of having spacers that a thumb width apart is a decent benchmark and with foundation I think you can start narrower and increase the spacing as the comb is drawn. It does seem to me that exact spacing is much less important in the supers and that reducing down to 8 frames in a standard National Super is more than possible.

    3) You can never have too much drawn comb.
    The downside to starting out, is you have pretty much none. This maybe should be in next year's version but any opportunity you get to sneak away a frame of drawn comb or sealed stores, and replace it with foundation, take it. One of the things I noticed in my first year was just how much advice starts with "take a frame of comb......." That's not to say that it can't be done with foundation, it just tends to slow things down a bit. Although I've never, ever, opened up a hive two days running I can opine that it's more than possible for even a small colony to draw out a national frame more or less completely in 24 hours.

    4) It's very easy to overfeed
    If you're not expecting to take honey it's not too much of an issue I suppse. I wasn't last year and I fed my bees litres and litres of syrup for a variety of reasons, not least inexperience and in some cases I ended up throwing a lot of it away.
    A litre of 1:1 syrup goes a long way so a miller or ashforth feeder might be overkill tempting as it seems when you're putting your kit list together. Personally I like rapid feeders that sit over a crownboard, you do need a spare super though, but if you're feeding then there shouldn't be supers on for honey.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •