My name is Don and I'm from a place on the map that you have to zoom in real close for it to be a dot. Some time around 1977 I had to do a report for science class and I chose bees. I have been fascinated by them since. Married shortly after high school, military, and three children kept me pretty busy and moving for several years and broke for several years after that. I wanted to try beekeeping for years but it was never at the top of the list of important things to do with my money. It really still isn't but it is one of the things on my bucket list so last summer I decided to look into what was involved. Thanks to the internet, I was able to determine that I could build most of the stuff myself. I enjoy going to auctions where I can often pick up wood and tools pretty cheap. Armed with the knowledge that mid summer is not the right time to start a hive, I decided to use the time between then and the coming spring to learn all I could and build all I could so that when the time comes, I can jump in prepared. I joined my local club, The Columbiana/Mahoning County (Ohio) Beekeepers in September and having learned a little about what I'd need, started asking my friends to be on the lookout. At the beginning of deer season, a friend of mine discovered that the five gallon bucket he had bolted in his tree stand to use as a seat had provided a desirable home for a colony of bees. He knew bees were valuable and didn't want to kill them but was unwilling to share his tree stand. I told him that the bees weren't likely to bother him when it was cold but he wouldn't budge. I knew that trying to remove the hive from the bucket that late in the year would likely destroy any chance the bees had to survive and he responded that I was more than welcome to take the whole bucket. I built a screened base with a round cutout that the bucket sat down in and eye bolts to strap it down. One of the screws holding the bucket to the stand proved difficult to remove and when I used a pry bar to get it out I discovered that while bees don't like to come out and sting you when it's below 50 degrees, they will. That one sting was really advantageous because it reassured me that I wasn't likely to abandon the hobby the first time I got stung. Discovering that I was too much of a wimp to be a beekeeper would be very disappointing after investing 8 months getting ready to be a beekeeper. One of the ladies gave her life to protect her hive and 3 or 4 that ventured out as I moved the bucket from the tree stand to my transporting base didn't make it back in but fortunately the loss was minimal. So ahead of schedule, I now have a single colony of bees. I had already made 5 brood boxes, 2 bases, 2 telescoping covers, 2 inner covers, and 3 swarm traps. I laid a couple of strips of wood on the base laid a queen excluder on top of that and set the bucket on top of the queen excluder. I put two brood boxes on and then put two plastic garbage bags filled with sawdust around the bucket to offer a little insulation. This proved to be a really bad idea. I've since removed the sawdust and the queen excluder, made a temporary plywood base to hold the bucket above the bottom brood box and put enough boxes around the bucket to be able to put a lid on the whole thing. Since it's gotten cold we've had a few days where it's gotten warm enough that I've been able to see that as of last week, at least some of the bees are still alive. My theory is that when spring arrives, they'll move down into the box and start filling it out. Once I find that I have the queen in the bottom, I'll put the excluder on to keep her there and after enough time passes for any remaining brood in the bucket to have emerged, I'll remove the bucket. I wear a hat I got at the club which gets me into lots of discussions about bees. I also did a little bee lining last fall and determined that I have at least three hives within working distance of my house. While there is no guarantee they're wild hives yet, I spoke to an old friend in the club who said that to his knowledge, there are no other beekeepers with hives close enough to me to account for those bees. I read somewhere that seeing 3 or 4 bees in 15 minutes is pretty good. I stood behind my house in a field of goldenrod. At any given time I could generally count at least 10 bees within 5 feet of where I was standing. I'm hopeful that I'll get really lucky and all my traps will catch swarms this spring. (I'm also hopeful that the U.S. will get an affordable national healthcare plan, world hunger will end and nobody will ever want to go to war again.) It could happen. As I said, my hat gets me into a lot of discussions. So far I know of two places where there have been unwanted hives for several years that I should be able to attempt to get in the spring. One is an old abandoned building where brute force will work and the other is a 200 year old historic building where I can test out what I've learned about trap outs. Despite my repeated statements that I was still quite a ways off from selling honey, the owner of the health food store where I bought lemongrass oil to put in my swarm traps was eager to be my first customer. I explained that the two little girls that were so fascinated by the bees when I took them out of their woods get the first bottle. My friend who built the tree stand and gave me the bees gets the second and my wife, assuming she stays with me after spending so much time on this project, gets the third. I did keep the business card in case I do eventually have honey to sell. So that's my beekeeping history to date. If it was too boring you probably didn't get this far. This is actually my third post. I suppose it should have been my first but I found this site through Google while trying to find answers so those two posts came first. Thanks to all who've welcomed me. It's good to be here. I'm sure I'll soon be able to offer a load of good advice on what not to do.