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Stacey



Joined: 18 Jul 2005
Posts: 8380
Location: Kernow
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 12:05 pm    Post subject: Bees  Reply with quote    

I find myself increasingly fascinated by the little buzzy bustlers. I have a healthy fear of all thngs winged and stinged but am becoming more and more drawn to having bes on the holding. The local agricultural college does a beekeeping for begginers course and I've asked for details but thought I'd ask on here as well.
Is it expensive to start up?
Does the labour outweight the benefits/enjoyment
Will I get stung a lot?

Answers on a beeswax candle

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It doesnt have to be labour intensive, we open our hives just twice a year usually, but stings are at least occasionally inevitable. Having said that, since investing in a horribly expensive beesuit I havent been stung once, so there is at least a small correlation between quality of exuipment and confidence in handling/frequency of stings.

New equipment is expensive, second hand may be free, but be very aware of the current pests and diseases that can afflict bees and be suitably cautious.

However, there are more ways to keep bees than the current European method, you may want to look into top bar beekeeping as a possible small scale option. But definately find your local beekeepers and learn from them.

Silas



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 6848
Location: Staffordshire
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I am really interested in keeping bees. Can you tell me how much space you need, I assume a garden would be too small. Is it normal to ask a local landowner for permission to keep a hive in a field and what sort of reaction are we likeley to get to the question. What is the best time of year to start, I assume that it must be seasonal.

Ta

Sarah D



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 2584

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It can be quite expensive to start, even with all secondhand equipment. My bee suit alone, new, was over 100.00, but that is a necessity; add on gauntlets, hive tool, smoker, feeder, buckets, etc for honey extraction , the extractor itself. This is before the hive and the bees themselves. Several hundred pounds to start at least I would reckon.
I was lucky in that I had a friend who gave me a hive, supers and bits and pieces, but I still spent nearly 200.00 on equipment. It should be seen as an investment, as , properly looked after, the stuff should last for years.
You can keep bees in any garden; mine are in my garden, albeit up in the chicken run. All they need is a good clear flight path out of the hive, facing away from areas where people go. Mine face up and away over the fields at the back of the garden, in the oppostie direction to the footpath that runs alongside.
It is a good idea to ask someone if you could keep a hive or two on their land, bearing the above in mind. Most should be quite happy for payment of a couple of jars of honey.
Best time is during the summer; I got my nucleus in June, which cost 50.00. This was 10,000 bees approximately. No honey was taken off that summer, but last year I got a good 38lbs, which was excellent.

Not the cheapest of hobbies, if you see it as a hobby, but I saw it as a worth while investment into the housekeeping/self-reliance side of things.

Lots of reading is worht the time put in too, to get familiar with the terminology, which cna be quite daunting to a beginner.

I've been stung quite a few times, with full suit and veil on, but it's a hazard of the job.

Thoroughly recommended if you can manage it.

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Its not so much the space to put the hive on- after all it only takes up about a square metre of ground- its more where the flightpath of the bees goes and whether they will fly directly through a busy footpath etc that may be the issue. People ahve successfully kept bees on balconies- but others may have huge gardens but find the neighbours are unsympathetic and its not worth the hassle to keep bees. Bees will range over several miles of land, so they will get everywhere, but usually fly fairly directly back to the hive once within sight of it, so you get quite obvious 'air traffic'.

Many farmers are happy to have bees on the land if their crops will benefit from the pollination, the traditional 'land rent' is one jar of honey, per hive, per year. But, be very aware that livestock will knock hives over without a second thought, so its often better to build a small fenced enclosure for bees if you get any animals in the area. Chat to your local beekeepers and see what their experiences are.

Silas



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 6848
Location: Staffordshire
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Well thanks for that, sounds good. We get through about 1lb of honey per week so it could be well worth while.

I'll make some enquiries locally now.

Thanks again

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14971
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 06 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Sarah D wrote:
.......No honey was taken off that summer, but last year I got a good 38lbs, which was excellent........


From just one hive, Sarah? That's a lot of mead!

Himself has a truly pathological fear of all things stinged and winged (lovely phrase, Stacey!) and is still quibbling about chickens, but I'll bring him round when we have a bit more space for him to avoid them in. My dad is moving to a smallholding in the spring, and wants to keep bees, so I'm going to 'sponser' a hive there.

Stacey



Joined: 18 Jul 2005
Posts: 8380
Location: Kernow
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

What is it about bees? I find them magical (even though I'm nervous of them) and in Scotland if you had a bee in your house you were supposed to talk to it and find out what message it was bringing you. Or maybe my family were just weirdos

Sarah D



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 2584

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bees have to be talked to every day, whether you can see them or not (all shut up for now, but I still do). It is also vital that you tell them of any death/s in the family.

Yes, WW, 38lbs from one hive; 28lbs went for honey , some clear and some semi-set; the resulting 10lbs was extracted from the cappings removed from the frames, and made 3 gallons of mead, which is maturing nicely in the cupboard.

I am considering getting anothr hive this year.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44239
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Sarah D wrote:
Bees have to be talked to every day, whether you can see them or not (all shut up for now, but I still do). It is also vital that you tell them of any death/s in the family.

Yes, WW, 38lbs from one hive; 28lbs went for honey , some clear and some semi-set; the resulting 10lbs was extracted from the cappings removed from the frames, and made 3 gallons of mead, which is maturing nicely in the cupboard.

I am considering getting anothr hive this year.


Definitely a worthwhile enterprise then, you must be almost self sufficient in sweetener terms then?

Is your honey very strongly flavoured or not?

Sarah D



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 2584

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It's fairly strong flavoured and a good colour - not too pale. Have had excellent reports from all who were given/bartered with on it, so that's encouraging.
I just hope the bees are making it through the winter - it's been cold and damp down here

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14971
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I love my garden bees - the bumble bees are so friendly with their furry little bodies, as they buzz round my foxgloves and campanula. Just the buzz is lovely company.

Do you ever swap honey for sugar in baking, Sarah? I'm sure you can, but I've never found out if you just swap it for the same weight of honey. I've got gallons of the stuff from when we went to the Sierra Nevada, and got carried away buying all different types.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14971
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Just noticed that a pound of honey seems to be retailing at about 2.50 in watirose, so Sarah's hive 'made' 95 this year. I'm not suggesting that it's there to make money rather than honey, but your investment might start paying off quicker than you'd think.

Sarah D



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 2584

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Yes, it's for honey, rather than money, but the jars I did sell I sold to very happy reipients at 3.00 per jar. It's ahrd work actually extrracting, and still a reasonable price for such a high quality product that couldn't be much more local.

I use honey in baking, but it's not swapped weight for weight; you need less honey that you would think, due to the sweetness being more concentrated than you think. It makes a very good cake with some cider added. The best sources of recipes seem to be 1970s hippy wholefood natural cookiery books, which are wonderful. My favourite is one I bought from e-bay which is hadnwritten and illustrated, very much a book of its time.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14971
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 06 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Any idea of a rough rule of thumb (I'll perhaps start with halving it, and go from there) and any chance of the honey and cider cake recipe? That does sound good!

the bit that made me laugh most in scenes from a smallholding was the descriptions of different types of stickiness in extracting honey. Honey always makes me think of Winnie the Pooh (before he got Disneyed )

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