For you guys that don't have your plate full enough. Try beekeeping with a couple of hives.
I had bees for seven years in Wisconsin. Then since I moved to Maine I never started the hives back up.
When My wife suggested that we get some bees, I thought that they were too dangerous. But that's not true at all. Honey Bee's are very gentle and safe.
I found that beekeeping was the most satisfying hobby I've ever had. And very educational for me and the whole family.
Bee hives in their first year will produce a minimum of 50 lbs of honey. Then in the second year on, they will produce 80-200 lbs of honey per hive. When I had 10 hives going, I had aprox 1500 lbs to harvest each fall. Note: Honey sells for about 4-5 dollars a pound.
Well I have all the equipment and will start 2 hives this next spring. I can't wait to get started again.
Here's afew pics from my early years as a beekeeper.
This is really cool!!! I had no idea 1 hive would produce that much honey let alone having 10 hives. How do you extract the honey from the comb? I have seen this done with the spinner that spins the honey out but it looked like a fairly expensive piece of machinery. Once the hive is set up is there much maintenance or do the bee's do their own thing until it's time to harvest the honey?
Thanks for sharing and very interesting! Would love to hear more on this.
Hmmmmmm........ Ginseng and Honey, now you have me thinking I need to diversify. Possibly another source of income to add to the mix. It looks fairly easy. Just set up some boxes and let the bees do all the work. But I am sure that is far from the truth or more people would be doing it. Kind of like growing ginseng I bet. lol
I suppose the bees do about 90-95 percent of the work.
For a first year hive started in April, it would need a weekly inspection until it is well established(maybe July). After that, you would need to inspect them about every two weeks. For two hives started with a 3 lb package of bees in each hive(that's about 10,000 bees per package), it would involve about 45-60 minutes to inspect those two hives. Making sure the Queen is laying well and whether it's time to add a second hive box on top of the first box. It is a learning experience!
As far as the extractor. The cheapest new ones cost about $210. I made one for about $50. I used a 20 gallon galanized trash can with two pulleys and a belt. It extracts one side of two frames at a time. Then you flip them over and extract the second side. You spin each side for about 30 seconds.
I will post some pics of my extractor. I built it from plans I found in a book. Easy to build with Hardware store supplies.
If you buy your hive equiptment and assemble it yourself, you could save alot of money on start up costs.
Mann Lake is where I buy most of my equip. Free shipping over $100
It will extract one side of two frames at a time. It takes about 30 seconds of spinning then you flip both frames over and spin the second side. This extractor will spin about 4-6 frames and then the honey settles at the bottom and prevents the extractor from spinning, so you have to drain off the honey and then you can continue extracting.
If I had to to build an extractor again, I would use a 32 gallon can and use a longer threaded rod in the center so that the spinning parts would be higher up from the bottom of the can. Then you could spin more frames before emptying the honey.
Bees are easy to manage, but there is times when a hive will fail. But if you start with new equipment, new foundation in your frames and a freshly mated queen, it's easy to make it through the first season. After the first and second season, you are faced with the fact that the queen is getting old and the possibility of a swarm increases. So I usually replace all queens in the third year. Then the colony is happy again with a young queen.
I've kept my bee hives right in the back yard of my house. They did'nt seem to be a bother to anything.
Can you believe that we have this much snow in January? Very Unusual!
Are you still interested in bees for spring? I have'nt heard from you on that lately.
Something that is becoming more popular, is using the medium 6 5/8\" super boxes for the brood boxes, inplace of the normal 9 5/8\" deep boxes. The biggest advantage is that they are lighter to lift. Which is important to this old man that has some shoulder issues. You would end up with three medium boxes for your brood area compared to the normal two deep boxes.
A deep box could weigh anywhere from 50-90 lbs.
The medium boxes are the size you would normally put on top to harvest your honey.
I plan to use only medium size boxes (for brood and honey supers)that would be easier to lift and save my back and shoulder.
Just something to consider if you were looking at equip to buy.
I have learned that the more I learn about Bee Keeping the less I know, like most things. Just as I suspected, it sounds simple on the surface but to do it right takes knowledge and experience. At this point I have neither of the two. However, I am studying up on it and will continue to do so. I am going to try it next year as I do not think I am prepared to jump into it just yet.
I have a buddy who's daughter tried it for a 4H project. He helped her with it and he is a smart fella. However, the hive did terrible and had all kinds of problems clear down to the bees getting some kind of fungus on them or something. I do not want this to happen to me and I fear it would if I am not up on what needs to be done to do it correctly.
I am not discouraged thou. I just realize I need to have my ducks in a row before I take this new venture on. I have been watching videos and going to the web pages you recommended as well as some others. I know a lot more about bees now than I did two weeks ago. But I have just uncovered the tip of the iceberg I suspect from what I have seen thus far.
Thanks for getting me interested in this with your post.