Questions regarding local bee predators and required time investment

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Seb, Dec 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM.

  1. Seb

    Seb New Member

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    I live in the southeastern United States, and have been considering attempting beekeeping for a while. I have a few questions regarding the risks to any bees that I might try to... uh... keep.

    I am aware that hornets can be a threat to bees, and as European hornets have moved into the area in the last few years, I'm concerned that they might prove an obstacle if I want to keep bees. How likely are these hornets to attack a bee colony and is there anything that can be done to defend a bee colony from hornets?

    I'd also like know to about pests and parasites. I'm aware of wax moths, and I think two types of mites? Or maybe one type of mite and a virus/disease? How likely are pests like this to cause problems with my prospective colony/ies, and how much time+effort+cost should I expect to put in if I want to keep my colony/ies clean and healthy?

    I also just read that skunks, raccoons, and mice can be a problem. Skunks will eat bees, I'm not sure if raccoons are after the bees or the honey, and mice will try to nest in the hive/box.

    I've only occasionally seen skunks or raccoons, but they are around. I've seen opossums, armadillos, and foxes a lot more often, though. We have mice. We must have mice, because they get into the house sometimes; and they have to have come from somewhere. We also have a lot of squirrels. If mice will try to nest in the box, would squirrels try to do the same?

    Where I live, there's mostly smallish cowfields and some woods, with houses interspersed between. There aren't a whole lot of wildflowers but I could plant some. There's at least one nearby field that's usually planted with something; generally soybeans, wheat, or cotton. I've never seen it sprayed with pesticides; but I can't state for certain that it isn't.

    I'd like to spend on average no more than 30 minutes, 3 times a week, tending to bees, after they're established and excluding any time spent harvesting honey (but including any time spent preventing or fending off pests and other threats). So a total of an hour and a half per week. Is that a reasonable amount of time to expect to spend in order to keep bees and keep them healthy; or should I consider other hobbies?

    If I do start beekeeping, it probably won't be until the spring of 2019, as I've got other priorities until mid to late 2018, and I read that it's best to start a colony in the spring.

    btw, I know this is a lot to ask in one question. Sorry in advance.
  2. Paul Cottier

    Paul Cottier New Member

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    That is a mouthful. Most if not all of this can be researched with online and offline (books) sources. There many, many threats to honey bees and the type of threats depends greatly where you live. Just about anything carnivorous will eat bees and how much you want to deter these threats will determine how long you spend doing it. I want to protect my investment so i will spend a lot of time and money create whatever i need to do that. Wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc will try to get to them and the brood especially during dearth. To help with this you might want to browse the Pests and Diseases forum to get some ideas.
    There are two main types of mites that infest a bee colony: tracheal mites which are easy to treat for and varroa destructor. There is an abundance of info on both of these on youtube from different universities and online articles. Varroa destructor being the single largest threat to colonies today. The time and money it takes to keep your colonies healthy will depend what methods you use and how many colonies you have. Some only use medicated strips others use multiple methods. Wax moths usually infest a colony that is weak and there is too much comb for the bees to maintain.
    Dont want mice in your hives? Use a metal entrance reducer/mouse gaurd. You want to spend no more than 30 minutes 3 times a week tending to hives? Typically you dont want to bee in the hives too often, it will stress them out too much. You only want to bee in your hives when its necessary during inspections or necessary hive maintenance. Once every 10 days is typical. The time you spend tending your bees will depend how much maintenance is required and how many hives you have (see the pattern?) so use your judgement.
    I love beeing a beekeeper. All the money spent and time spent even if it isnt matched in full with honey sales is still worth it. I hope you find it is as well.