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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This summer, I am scheduled to teach a class in 'Basic Beekeeping' (essentially an introduction to hobby beekeeping) at our school. It has been approved for the summer session, I have completed the syllabus, etc.

The basic plan is to walk students through not just the lecture and book learning portions of beekeeping, but to launch them as beekeepers. The students will purchase basic woodenware (a single deep hive) and build/paint it as part of the course. They will also install a package of bees into their equipment and manage the hive over the 8 week summer session. At the end, they will transport their hives to their homes/farms/etc.

I have had some serious interest in the course from the community, but now I find that I am having trouble scheduling package bees. The course doesn't start until 28 May (this is the first week of the summer session). This means that I would have to have bees shipped either the week of 4 June or 11 June. All of the suppliers I had lined up won't ship past 23 May - which is far too early (the course will not have started yet).

Does anyone know of any suppliers who might be able to handle this? I don't know what enrollment in the course is going to be yet, but the University won't let it happen if I don't get at least 3 and enrollment is capped at 10 - so that is the range on the number of packages we would be ordering.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mike
 

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you will likely need to find something outside the typical choices. by late May all the traditional southern states will likely be too hot for shipping.
 

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Mike,
I don't have an answer for the package delivery problem.

Maybe a different approach as Tec mentioned. Alamance County in North Carolina did something I thought was unique for a beginners class. We went to a beekeepers bee yard and picked a hive, found the queen and actually shook a package into a package box. They then took the package and installed it in a hive.

So maybe shake some packages or get some splits or nucs from some local beekeepers.

Just some thoughts.

Ski
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
tecumseh said:
you will likely need to find something outside the typical choices. by late May all the traditional southern states will likely be too hot for shipping.
tec -

That is exactly what I have been finding - even Ohio package suppliers are also not shipping past May.

Ski -

That solution probably won't work. Nearly every beekeeper around here is a commercial beekeeper. By early June, they have:
1. Only been back from almonds maybe 2-4 weeks
2. Have already made their splits

They aren't likely to be willing to further weaken their hives because they rely on them during the summer to make honey (most need to extract between 40,000 and 100,000lbs - depending on how many hives they run).

They split their hives as soon as they get back because they need every minute of June/July/August for the bees to build back up and pack in as much honey as possible. They aren't going to like taking a recent split, in mid-June and dumping more bees out of it!

Mike
 

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From my perspective, isn't June a bit late, there will be pollen and nectar, but will be towards the end of the major sources. The bees may well need extensive feeding ( first week of June not great but better then second week another week closer to no nectar source.) In many areas ther is a month or so stretch of the mid summer when little or no nectar sources are available or are exceedingly limited, in early fal depending on the weather you may get alot of nectar and pollen then, but till then you'll be feeding them to build them up. I would think that is the major reason most bee breeders won't ship after May---Just my thoughts
Barry
 

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Another idea: Would you be willing to get several of those May packages you mentioned, and move them into nucs on your own before class started? Then the students could proceed with installing nucs (which you deliver from your yard) as part of the course. Installing nucs will be a realistic experience for them, and you shouldn't have trouble maintaining 3-10 nucs for the few weeks that you're waiting for class to get rolling.

-Dan
 

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We're buying packs from Honey Bee Genetics this year and I'm pretty sure they stop selling packages at the end of April. They sell queens through June, not packages. Your class is simply past the package season. I would go with Dan's idea to have your students instal nucs made up from April packs.
 

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once 'we' get past April if you cannot find some source let me know and I will make some one a deal they cannot refuse... break a few knee caps... that kind of thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hello All -

thank you much for the feedback! I actually found a local commercial beekeeper who has decided that, after doing his May splits, he was going to make up maybe 2 dozen nucs for himself to replace those splits that go queenless or die for other reasons. He hadn't decided what he was going to do with the extras that he didn't need in June - so it worked out for both of us. I am going to take a few of the splits for the class and he will make a little money.

I did want to take some time though to reply to some of the posts:

1. I did contact Honeybee Genetics - their last package ship date is 23 May, so that didn't help

2. We don't have a summer nectar or pollen dearth up here. I can see how, if there is a mid-summer dearth in other parts of the country, package suppliers would prefer not to ship during it (or shake packages). However, most of the suppliers I spoke with indicated that after May, it was too hot to ship bees safely as packages. The flow here though, once started is pretty continuous right through the fall. We have at least five agricultural crops (that bees utilize - alfalfa, canola, safflower, sunflower and ....mustard (I think)) and the individual farmers generally get two or three of them into the fields during the year. Add these to the wildflower bloom and that is why ND is one of the top 3 honey producing states each year. The downside is that most years, we don't start beekeeping until June!

3. I considered buying the packages in advance myself and putting them in nucs. The problem was that I don't know what the class enrollment is going to be. It is likely to be between 3 and 10 students. How many do I buy? If I buy too many - I have bees and no hives plus I don't get reimbursed. If I buy too few, I don't have bees for students who paid for them.

4. tec- as always, thank you! BTW - have 3 buckfast queens on order, so thank you again!

Mike
 
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