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Top Bar Hives for Bees
September 20, 2011
10:04 pm
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Wildflower_VA
Augusta County, Virginia
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I am so happy to find this thread!  I have been a member of Biobees.com for a couple of years, but to find people in the USA that are keeping bees in top-bar hives is hard to do.  The active beekeeping season is wrapping up for the year, but I will be active on this thread come springtime.

September 21, 2011
10:38 am
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Angela P
SW Michigan
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waveWelcome Wildflower, Glad to  have you here. Even though Bee season is wrapping up or down… we still like to talk bee stuff. Lots of great info to share and inspire others. Im thrilled to see so many tbh beekeepers. 

Has your hive booted out the droans yet? One of mine has, scared me. Ive seen them get rid of the adult droans, but never the larvea. Freaky!

Winter is hard on us beekeepers, isnt it? Lets keep the buzz LOL!

Bee-st of luck to you and your hive,

Angela

September 21, 2011
11:10 am
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Angela, I just want to tell you that your honey is AWESOME!  Thank you for sharing some with me.

 

I almost want to get some top bar hives and get bees!  Almost.  It's on my list.  I'll get to it!  That honey is so good!

Clover made me do it.

September 21, 2011
9:01 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Dooooo it, Suzanne!  With Angela's coaching, it is not hard… and NO HEAVY LIFTING!  It is the strangest thing, but I love it when I am working with the bees and they are just calmly doing their thing.  It is a very peaceful thing.

September 23, 2011
9:44 am
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Angela P
SW Michigan
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Angela, I just want to tell you that your honey is AWESOME!  Thank you for sharing some with me.   I almost want to get some top bar hives and get bees!  Almost.  It's on my list.  I'll get to it!  That honey is so good!

Im sooo happy your enjoying it!   You are welcome.  If you  are interested in becoming a beekeeper Id be happy to help you get started! And Im always just a text/ email away if you have a question. Plus….Id be happy to donate a Top Bar Hive just for you as a thank you for all the wonderful things you do for all of us. Let me know when you ready! wave

September 23, 2011
11:06 am
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Angela P
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CATRAY44 said:

Dooooo it, Suzanne!  With Angela's coaching, it is not hard… and NO HEAVY LIFTING!  It is the strangest thing, but I love it when I am working with the bees and they are just calmly doing their thing.  It is a very peaceful thing.

 

Hey Bee Buddy  hug…with OUR coaching  hug….your a beekeeper too and a GREAT yesyesyesyesyes one at that! I do hope she does it! Cool!shimmy

September 23, 2011
2:45 pm
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Sonia
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I agree Ang…Bee sister's unite, let's go help Suzanne set up her Top Bar Hive! :)))

Well, due to unforseen circumstances, my bees did not arrive this year.  My TBH is sitting there looking so lonely.  Well, that will change as soon as the spring shipments arrive.  No more waiting for the bee club to get their bees in.  I am striking out on my own, LOL!  That will just give me the excuse to set up the perfect area for my bees…they can have their very own bee garden.

:)))

October 14, 2011
9:01 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Angela, I am serious! (Sorry, just getting back to this topic, I've been working on a project here.)  I WANT BEES. Er, honey, but I'm ready to get past my bee fear!

 

I just read a book where the guy said he got new bees every year because he couldn't keep them over the winter.  Is that normal?

Clover made me do it.

October 14, 2011
11:32 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Angela has been helping me with my bees.  I will tell you some of the things she has taught me and what my plan is for over wintering my bees. From what I understand, they can die, but they often do just fine through winter.  Some bee keepers purposely throw the bees out of the hive in fall, and take the honey.  This seems so cruel, after the hard work they put in making honey all summer.  I would rather try to provide as natural a habitat as I can, letting them do their thing to get through winter.  So…I left all the honey they made, since they are new hives.  (I will take what is left in spring.) I wrapped the hives against moisture, with tar paper, leaving the front entrance alone.  I put bales of straw around three sides of the hives ( I moved both hives so they are now side by side), leaving the entrance free.  I filled in some of  the entrance holes with straw, so they have ventilation but some protection.  They can still come and go on warmer days when they will take their “cleansing flights”.  I stapled hardware cloth across the entrance to keep mice out.  Saying prayers for a healthy hive in Spring! 

Suzanne, I have been stung a couple of times, but it was not bad.  Both times I would have to say, were my fault.  Example, walking barefoot around the hive, ha ha.  We mow and weed wack, etc.  They pay no attention.  I love my bees.

October 15, 2011
9:36 am
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Look at the beautiful honeycombs on this site.  You will see why you want bees!  So beautiful!

http://www.velvetowlblog.com/

 

Second to the last photo of the first family on the Velvet Owl blog.

October 15, 2011
3:43 pm
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Angela P
SW Michigan
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Sniff. Sniff. My work is done..Shes a Beekeeper!  Well said Cathy!  Im so proud of you!!! Always.

Im curious about the book you read Suzanne. Not sure of the circumstances as to why one couldnt over winter bees. I will say. You can do everything “right” and they will die. Bees in my opinion are delicate. Im a bee coddler. I jokingly state that I knitt my little buggers winter sweaters!  Some believe in order to grow a stronger hive you must let them over winter with no protection.  I  wrap my hives with plastic encased R 19 insulation, then black plastic around that with a 1/2″ pvc pipe as an access hole, placing leaves or dried pine needles in that to close up their doorway. As Cathy stated, they will remove that when necessary.  See? Bee Coddler.. My theory is this, my bees came from Georgia. Im in MI….It gets very cold here. Last year -1*.  To wrap my hives costs me about $40 and I can re-use it next year. Hopefully. Bees are an investment. One I could never throw to the snow. Very sad what some do for the money of honey.

I was a beekeeper for 3 years before I ever got stung. Keep in mind theres Apitherapy too. To some bee stings are beneficial.  Are you allergic to bee stings? 

This year I built a Warre Hive. It was amazing and took off like no other hive I have had. However the girls from that hive, were pure evil!  Grouchy!  Your going to learn when and how to deal with your hive or hives.

Things are going to happen. Its how you deal with it that counts. You do your best. Read, study, learn all that you can.  I think the best teacher is experience.  Jump in with both feet. Keep notes. Talk to other beekeepers. Its all a matter of opinion.  I will give you my personal cell number, you can call me or text me any time. I will do my best to help you in any ways I can.

On my hives I have written… Bee Grateful…. Not just for what the bees do for us all, or the honey or the wonderful soft buzzzz sound they make but for all. Bee Grateful.  This is an amazing adventure youre going on. Enjoy it!  Just wait until your  sitting by your first hive, in total awe as you watch your hive in action. Amazing!

October 15, 2011
5:58 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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I have seriously been considering periodic bee stings for arthritis.  When I did step on the bee, it was with my foot which is affected by arthritis ( too many injuries growing up.)  I noticed marked improvement for a couple of weeks, after the sting.  I have also noticed that now, when I am stung, my reaction to the sting is much less then it used to bee. (Hee hee) happy-flower

October 15, 2011
8:03 pm
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Angela P
SW Michigan
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When I got stung by my eye, the skin was much smoother. Im sticking with lotion! LOL!

The next step Suzanne will bee to decide who you want to order your bees from. Lots of online places sell bees or you can look for a local bee club.  Local bee clubs usually offer a pick up point others may ship to your local post office who will call you IMMEDIATELY when they arrive!  LOL!   I know theres going to be a variance in prices, last year I paid $72 for a package. Ordering usually begins in January.  You might have a choice to order a “package” about 3 pounds of bees with a queen or a “Nuke”  which is many, many more bees, 5 frames of brood with honey and a mated queen. Obviously the nukes are more $$$. I have had great success with just a package The choice is up to you.  IF you have the  option on delivery dates.  I would highly recommend late Spring,  May is wonderful.  Heres why. Its warmer, flowers are in blossom, so you will have to feed less and for less  length of time.  Because they will be collecting nectar and pollen.

Then let me know your delivery date and I will ship your TBH!  Wish I were closer because Id love to help you set it up in person.  Cathy can tell ya, we had a ball!  So are we road tripping to WV Cath??? We could help her get a really, really good start in bees!!!!!!

October 15, 2011
10:36 pm
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CATRAY44
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I will go if I win the lottery, lol.  You don't need me (but it sure would bee fun! )

October 16, 2011
6:29 am
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SarahGrace
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Suzanne,

You may know this already, but just in case you don't.  Roane County has a Bee Association.  I talked to one of the members a couple years ago at the Black Walnut Festival.

http://roane.ext.wvu.edu/agriculture/beekeepers

October 16, 2011
7:17 am
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Yes, that would be fun, and you all need to come because I don't know anything about bees!  I'm the least likely person to join an association because I don't have time to go to meetings….  But I need to SEE to learn……  Leslie and Diane, who we got Jack from, have bees, and I believe they told me they have top bar hives, but I may have waited too late in the year to get the idea to go out and see their hives because if it doesn't dry up around here, I won't be able to get to their place, but it's something I could do (later) in the spring.  (They are in an even less accessible location than I am!)

 

The book I was talking about is this one:

http://www.kurtwoodfarms.com/kurtwoodfarms/Journal/Journal.html

 

It's mostly a farm memoir type book, and it's a pretty good one, but it's unusual in that he has extensive sections on things like beekeeping and killing a pig and so on.  I just lapped up everything he said about how he keeps bees, though I didn't really understand much of it other than that he gets new bees every year.  (Inspiring thing about that book–how much he does with only 13 acres!  He has like half a dozen cows, some sheep, chickens, bees, fruit orchards, vegetables, and pigs on just 13 acres.)  I think the only thing he sells is cheese, so I don't think he sells the honey.  Not totally sure why he gets new bees every year.  I think he had trouble overwintering them, from what I could grasp, and now just routinely gets new bees every spring.

 

SarahGrace, do you want to get bees?  Maybe we could learn together!  Or–you get bees and I'll come to your farm and copy you!  yeah, that's good.  When are you getting bees, SarahGrace? happy-flower

Clover made me do it.

October 16, 2011
10:34 am
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Suzanne and Sarah Grace ( I love that name!), one of the great things about  Top Bar hives is you basically leave the bees alone to do their thing.  This means less stress on the bees and stronger, healthier hives.  I think, while there are still things that can go wrong, I was over thinking things and imagined it would be a lot more complicated than it really is.  But, really, the Lord made them able to take care of themselves.  If we give them what is most natural to them, and stay out of their way, they do fine, most of the time.  I would think they would have little to worry about from chemicals on your place, Suzanne.  TB hives do not promote pest invasion nearly as much as the traditional type. I rarely opened my hive up.  Only when I needed to check them for winter stores. I loved my observation window- could see a lot of what was happening without bothering them.  I will find the link to a really neat article I read about observing what goes on at the hive entrance to tell the health of the hive….

I do know what you mean about having to see to learn, I am the same.  I did go out and look at Angela's and watch them. Mostly to make sure I truly would not freak out around them, lol  Now I know that was an imagined fear.  They are so different from yellow jackets and hornets.

One of the things I appreciate about Angela, is she really encouraged me to learn the basics, but go with what felt 'right' to me in how I manage them.  She encouraged me to watch them and listen to how they sound and pretty much let them lead me as far as anything I did with them.  I did a LOT of texting her in the beginning, lol.  Like a mom with a first baby. ha.  I took her lead and do not use a smoker- which stresses the poor things out.  I did take a little spray bottle of simple syrup to spray to occupy them, but my sprayer clogged up.  I did just fine without it!

October 16, 2011
2:18 pm
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Angela P
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Road Trip to WV!!!!   Shhhhh. Dont tell Cathy, Im bee napping her and bringing her with me!  Heres a thought…Lets do a mini  CITR  Bee Retreat!?????? 

I understand Suzanne, I learn best by seeing too. 

We still have plenty of time to get something going Im sure ;)   Dont worry, all will Bee fine.

Lets get a plan and work it! 

October 16, 2011
3:58 pm
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SarahGrace
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I do want bees!  I haven't done a whole lot of reading on them yet, but I've been around people who have had them off and on my whole life.  I had thought about doing them this year until someone mentioned getting his bees down from a tree because they had swarmed.  That was the first time in my life that I had heard about moving a swarm from the top of a tree and it confused me.  I don't think I could do that!  I don't mind climbing trees, but not sure I'd want to do it for bees-especially to the top!  So I thought I should get to reading seriously about them before just doing it or going by what I thought I knew.  It's on this winter's list: study bees.

I don't know about here in WV, but I know in Ohio they have a class every year that one can go and learn the basics.  A friend in Ohio went and he had bees for several years.  He just sold all his stuff this past year.  :(

Oh, that reminds me, Suzanne!  Not to go off topic, but do you ever drive to Dayton using 35?  There's an overpass that I go under when I do.  The road is Stringtown Rd!  Everytime I drive it I keep telling myself to remember to mention it to you.  I have now, so lets carry on about bees. happy-butterfly

If there is a class here in WV, I'd be very interested in taking it next year.  If not, maybe I could catch the one in Ohio.  Want to do it with me, Suzanne?

October 16, 2011
4:47 pm
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CATRAY44
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The 50th thing I learned from Angela, haha.  Bees often swarm around July 1.  There are several things you can do. You can let them swarm… they will leave behind the old queen and half the bees, which will start rebuilding.  You can get another hive and capture the swarm and start a second hive. Or, you can do what I did and  and towards the end of June, before they swarm, take 4 bars with brood comb and honey, and put them in a new hive.  They will make a new queen in the new hive and hopefully and usually, avert any swarming. Mine did great.  That was actually the first time I opened my hive ( I forgot about that one.)  My bees beehaved beeautifully when I did. It was actually pretty fun to have them buzzing all around me.  They were calm, just on alert.  It was really cool.

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