Basic Equipment Questions

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by PhoenixRose, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. PhoenixRose

    PhoenixRose New Member

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    Okay, so this is going to be a topic full of questions. I'm 16 and my family has recently started a farm that we're hoping to turn into a family business. Its still in the beginning phases, and we're all trying to put our interestes into this. So I thought why not beekeeping. It serves a multitude of purposes from pollinating the garden and fruit trees, to supplying honey to supplying soap and candle making supplies. Not only that, I love anything fresh and natural so I'm hell bent to know exactly were all my products and supplies come from and to make sure they're the best, the most natural and pure they can possibly be. So, I plan to start my apiary in the spring, at the moment I'm trying to get some prices and see how much money I'll have to get saved up.

    So, now to the questions. Most of these are probably preferences, but I would like to know the pros and cons and experiences people have had with different types of equipment. Lets start with the hive. Should it be wood or plastic? 8 frames or 10? Which would be easier to maintain and relativley easy to move? Which would be heavy enough to keep any escaped critters (ie goats, pigs, dogs, deer ect) from knocking them over but still light enough for me to move on my own? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I'm also looking for something that will give me the most for my money. I want to get a good deal but also products I know I can rely on. :confused:
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I'm sure you will get many helpful replies to your questions, but I want to suggest you start a conversation with forum member Wallys Baby Beek. She is a 17 year old beekeeper in her fourth year and working toward Journeyman beekeeper with the state of NC. I'm sure you would enjoy working one on one with her while getting started in beekeeping.

    PS... Welcome to the forum...
     

  3. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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    Hi PheonixRose, welcome to the forum!
    I am 17 and me and family have had bees for going on 4 years now. We've never used anything but 10 frame langstroth hives so I can't answer very many of your questions. However, we live in a suburban area polluted with dogs and deer and they have never bothered our hives. I am able to move the wooden 10 frame boxes full of brood and honey on my own.(and I'm not in the greatest physical condition)

    As far as wood or plastic goes, it's matter of opinion. Wood does require a little maintenance,i.e. painting or staining, occasional cleaning when you are reusing boxes, and repainting or staining every couple years. Sometimes you'll have to knock the nails back in if you are using really old boxes. The wood boxes are sturdy, last several years and will be reusable for several more if they are well maintained. Cons are... they are a little costly, especially if you can't assemble them yourself. They can become difficult to store if you have to store alot of them, and that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

    The cheapest way to get into beekeeping would be to search through all your local classified ads for beekeeping equipment. Look into Craigslist and get into your local beekeeping club if you can. Sometimes there will be folks retiring from beekeeping or just quiting for whatever reason and selling their used equipment for less than what it would cost you to buy new equipment. However, if you choose to buy used wooden ware make sure it is in good condition and the bees that lived in it previously didn't die of any disease or else your bees could get the disease from the wooden box.

    Another tip I have is...purchase your future bees from a local distributor with a good reputation. Your more likely to get healthy bees and a queen that will handle the stress of a move better and already be adjusted to your area.

    Also, find someone with lots of experience and a good reputation to be your mentor! This is especially helpful! I still call my mentor when I have a question and he is still willing to answer them, thankfully.

    p.s. idee is my mentor :D
     
  4. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    good solid advise young lady. You sure iddee taught you all that :D
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I only taught her the little I knew. She learned the rest on her own.
     
  6. WVaBees

    WVaBees New Member

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    I am new too and this is what I have been told about 8 vs. 10 frame...first of all the obvious....8's weigh less. But the one thing that I was told by several beeks is that with 10 frame boxes the bees are less likely to use the outside frames then they would in an 8 frame box. The theory is that the bee's natural instinct it to build up...not out. It makes some sense to me so for those reasons I went with 8 frame boxes. Whether that is true or not I cannot confirm...like I said I am new and actually don't have bees yet either...not until spring. Also 8 frame stuff is just a little bit cheaper...not much but if you get enough stuff it could add up.

    As far as wood vs. plastic...seems Wallys Baby Beek gave some great info on wood...also keep in mind that wood is much more common so it will be easier to find places that sell wood boxes and if you are in a pinch it is very easy to run to the lumber store or grab some reclaimed wood and slap a box or two together. Speaking of building your own boxes...if you have even a little bit of carpentry abilities and a couple tools like a table saw and dado blade...or even just a table saw or circular saw...you can build your own boxes using a simple rabbit joint, some wood glue, and nails or drywall screws. I built my first boxes like that...2 deeps and 3 mediums...before I found a place semi-local that I can buy boxes for less then I can build them. But it's nice to know that if something happens and I need a box in a hurry I can build one in about 30 minutes.

    Check around to see if there is a local bee club and check them out. There could be a wealth of info in a club and you will make lots of new contacts in case you need something in the future.

    Here is a list of clubs in VA:

    http://www.virginiabeekeepers.org//Grou ... 20list.pdf
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would also like to suggest you locate a bee club not only as a source of information but also because they are a good source of good solid 'bee furniture' and on occasions extraction equipment.

    also check out the thread (on this site) something like 'X number of things you need to know to become a beekeeper'. there is some pretty good discussion in regards to equipment there.

    my take... 8 frame equipment use to be heavily utilized for pollination but was more difficult to sell. I run pretty standard 10 frame stuff, but if I was starting up again from scratch I would likely run 10 frames equipment in all standard depth boxes (sometimes call Illinois depth supers).
     
  8. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    At our January bee club school for beginers, the question always comes up about the cost for a first time beekeeper.For getting started with new equipment, we came up with a ball park figure of $500.00 thats for a complete hive with bees and supers, bee suit, smoker, hive tool, ect, if you can find a mentor or join a bee club you can get by cheaper. Myself i prefer 10 frame wood over plastic, the plastic i've had tends to warp and i believe is colder in the winter (that ought to open a can of worms :mrgreen: ). I agree with the others on farm animals except for hogs, they are a miniture bull dozer and cows will rub on them so i would put them in a protected area (what about bears in your area?) One other thing,it"s an addiction,once you start it"s hard to stop :lol: . Welcome to the fourm. Jack
     
  9. PhoenixRose

    PhoenixRose New Member

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    Thanks everyone! :yahoo: This all helps a lot. I think I would prefer the wooden boxes, 1 I can paint and clean them easier, 2, they don't absorb as much outside nastiness as plastic seems to, 3 if they get stained it easy to paint over it and 4, if they do get to the point they're too old to use, they can be thrown straight onto my compost to rot away :D

    Thanks for the link!

    Bears, I'm not sure about...I've heard of some a few counties over, but here, nothing would surprise me.

    Next question is, what is a ball park figure for the actual bees? I've been doing some looking around on different sites, and there is plenty of equpiment to be found, but as for the lil buggies themselves.....its like finding a needle in a haystack.
     
  10. Bsweet

    Bsweet Member

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    Package bees sell out fast early in the spring and you have to order in DEC. or FEB. The best bet is a NUC. from a local keeper, the queen is already laying and the bees are happy and start off faster. If you have a local mentor they may show you how to catch a swarm in the spring, they take off fast and are free. Jim
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the three choices are..
    1) hives generally from an existing beekeeper... approximate price for a single deep in adequate equipment should be somewhere around $150. Price highly subject to variation for any number of reasons including seasonality.
    2) packages... generally two or three pounds of bees (that about 3500 workers per pound) plus a very new queen. This is kind of the traditional way of starting up and allows you to start up on all new equipment. Prices somewhere between $65 and $110 per package largely depending on the reputation of the supplier. Cheap in this case is not always better. The demand for packages over the past few years has been significant so if you want to go this way you need to order very early (early January). Packages are the most fragile (biologically) of the three choices and feeding for some period of time until they are established is essential.
    3) nucs (the term is derived from the word nucleus) generally somewhere between 4 to 5 frames of brood and feed covered with worker bees and a new queen. somewhat less traditional except amongst the commercial beekeepers but an increasingly popular form of obtaining bees by new beekeepers. Priced somewhere between $75 to $120 dollars and like package the price is somewhat defined by the reputation of the supplier. Also like packages cheap is not always better.

    I think Omie obtained a nuc from one person on this board who is capable of shipping nucs. You might wish to have a conversation with her to get her input on her experience in this regards. If you can locate a club often time they obtain packages in some number which may give you some price advantage as well as assistance on how to properly install a package.

    no matter what the source the first question I believe a new beekeeper should ask is the suppliers treatment of pest and most specifically the varroa mite. this basic question should somewhat impact price and your own direction for caring for the bees.
     
  12. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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    You might be able to find a local bee farm in the phone book.
    They could tell you when they would have bees for sale and what the price would be.
     
  13. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    Prices vary widely depending on location, supplier, etc, but packages tend to run around $70-$85, and nucs anywhere between $90-$120.

    Get involved with a local bee club. Check out the link posted above. Clubs are great places to find mentors and get connected with nearby beekeepers. Plus, the members can recommend local suppliers of bees & equipment.
     
  14. PhoenixRose

    PhoenixRose New Member

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    Thanks again!

    I've actually found someone who I hope will become my mentor. The doctor my gma works for has an uncle that was a beekeeper. Last winter (one of the worse in VA in recent memory), his bees froze and died out. So I'm hoping he's either going to be getting rid of some equipment or starting a new hive that I'll be able to learn from.

    Now for location, we have 15 acres so I have many options. We have a average sized beaver pond towards the back, the only problem would be accessibility. We have a small fruit orchard, three large grape vines, and hopefully a better garden. I was thinking of keeping them near the house next to some bushes in the middle of the garden. My only concern with this would be the closeness of the neighboars. She's a very nice lady and I wouldn't want my bees harrasing her or her pets.
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    humm.... as long as people and creatures are not passing directly across the flight line of the hive there is generally no problem. since movin' stuff to and from the hive before or after inspection is heavy and/or bulky I would not recommend you place it somewhere that accessibility was a question.
     
  16. jonnybee

    jonnybee New Member

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    Don't any of you guys use 9 frames???
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    hello jonnybee:
    although I use standard 10 frame equipment all the boxes I run use 9 frames from the top to the bottom of the stack.... with the exception of when I am having the girls draw new foundation and then I have 10 frames in the box. since I like to have the flexibility of putting 10 or 9 or 8 frames in a box I do not use notched/self spacing frame rest. my skinny little fingers does a pretty good job of spacing the frames without them anyway.
     
  18. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    tecumseh forgot my favorite source of bees: Free swarms! For this it would be best if you had a local beekeeper who you could go with, because capturing a swarm (and getting the queen) isn't always as easy as one would think. Plus you need a way to transport them back home.

    As far as location, you want to face them generally between east and south, facing the morning sun. I get a lot of wind here, so I put one hive near a windbreak hedge. Leave yourself room to move around it carrying a full box of bees!

    Bees also poop all over things, so the neighbor would appreciate it if you kept their flight path away from her clothes line, and perhaps her car. If you put them near the pond, make sure the ground is firm (hives get really heavy and can settle and tip over) and well away from any possible flood level.
     
  19. Kate

    Kate New Member

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    Hopefully this is the right place to post this question.

    I was given a hand crank extractor, that was last used about 20 years ago and has been in storage. It has a bunch of rust on it, which I've managed to get most of it off, (using vinegar on some, baking soda paste on other spots, and just scrubbing with aluminum foil) but because of all the nooks and crannies on the cages that hold the frames, there still is rust visible, but unreachable. Is it okay to use? Will the honey be effected in anyway? Is there anyway to keep it from rusting further?

    Any advise appreciated.
     
  20. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    Kate, I don't think I'd want to extract with some rust present.

    I was loaned an old extractor that had been in a shed for several years. I found that naval jelly did a good job of removing the "hard to get to" rust.

    I also coated everything (basket, galvanized tub, crank assembly) with a food grade epoxy. The epoxy I used is marketed as "Camcote". Brushy Mountain sells it at $13 a quart. A quart is all you'll need.

    Walt