How expensive it is: There may be less expensive ways to do it, but I bought the hives ready to go from my local hobby bee supply store. I suppose I could have bought a nuc (nucleus colony) and the woodenware, but I just went with the whole hive. I think each one of the original hives ran about $350, then I also had to buy additional woodenware for top brood box. A painted, assembled box runs about $75.00. Again, there are less expensive ways to do it, and I’m hoping to get a couple of unpainted boxes that I can make beautiful this winter while I wait for the spring when I hope to be able to do at least one split. More hives, yay!
The expenses don’t end with the bees, either. Other purchases to get started include a bee suit, a smoker, hive tools and on and on and on.
How important it is to have two hives: Because it is so expensive, I ignored advice to not get only one hive. Well, sure enough, a had a queen fail because I let her become honey bound. Of course it was the day before we were leaving for 8 days, so I had to do something quick and I couldn’t find just a queen to buy locally. So, I bought an entire new hive. It’s a long story. Anyway, if I’d have had a 2nd hive already, I could have borrowed some brood from the healthier hive and perhaps let the ailing hive requeen itself.
How much to feed and when to not feed: I only got my bees in late May. Here in Texas we harvest honey over the Independence Day holiday (early July, for those of you not in the US). The popular advice I was getting starting in mid July was FEED, FEED, FEED. But here’s the thing. I hadn’t harvested any honey. My girls had all of the honey they had produced for their very own selves. Yes, you do need to feed your bees here in Texas starting after you harvest honey..because you just took a lot of their honey. But I didn’t take any! Plus, I assumed feeding them meant that you needed to make sure you have syrup available to them constantly. I would go out mid week and refill the feeders because the girls had consumed it all. So, my industrious hive did what bees do and stored resources. This took up all of the room that the queen needed for laying eggs. It didn’t end well for that poor queen. She has now been replaced.
I believe I have a better understanding of how to watch for when to feed and how to monitor the resources in the hive. At least I hope I do. I guess we’ll see.
Keep spare frames and boxes. At one point in my honey bound queen situation, I needed to have another deep box to put on. I didn’t have one. I did have a honey super that I ended up not needing, so I used that. The bees didn’t end up building it out, but it would have been nice to have an extra box. As I mentioned above, I’m going to get a couple and take my time painting and decorating them. It will be fun and I’ll them have a couple of extras.
How heavy a full box is: A medium box has 10 frames in it. Each frame when it is full of honey, weighs 10 pounds. Do the math there. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here. When I’m doing a hive inspection, it requires lifting some pretty heavy boxes. Some people use shallow boxes so that each box is lighter.
That my hives needed to be 100 feet from the property line: The wonderful lady whose land I have my bees on, she asked me to put them close to the fence line so that the flight pattern of the bees would be encouraged to be up and over the fence so as not to bother people. Well, as it turns out, our city ordinance requires that hives be located at least 100 feet from a property line. So, I had to move them and that was a bit of a pain.
How much fun it is: This is the biggest one. I assumed that I would enjoy beekeeping and find it interesting. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have done it. I have many interests, lots of things on which to spend my time. I have a demanding job and travel a lot. I don’t have time for things that I don’t love. And beekeeping? I LOVE! Every weekend (that I’m home) I can’t WAIT to get into the hives. If you follow my page on Facebook you’ll see that I’ve gone live several times for the whole hive inspection. I suspect to many people that that is incredibly boring to watch but I LOVE IT. I got a spam email the other day saying that my email had been hacked (it hadn’t). In it was a threat to send an email to all of my contacts with a list of the online videos that I’ve watched. I laughed out loud because it would be video after video of bee hives and hive inspections.
I went to an advanced beekeeping class a couple of Saturdays before. I just can’t learn enough. I could sit in a bee class every single weekend I think. I love every moment of it.