My first month

Whoever said raising bees was easy obviously didn’t know what they were talking about.  Maybe nobody said it, maybe it was the interpretation I put on what they said.  Regardless, it isn’t easy.

Since my bees were given to me, I didn’t have to worry about selecting one of the different breeds.  Italian, Russian, Carniolan, Buckfast, Caucasion, etc.  If you want low productivity and low swarm potential get these, if you want nice bees get these, if you want high productivity but need to check for swarming, get these.  If you are a newbie get these, unless you live here, then get these, unless you don’t want those, then get these.  Like I said, I just received bee with the label “free”.  Seemed like the best type to start.

Once I started, I needed to decide on a hive type.  Generally, there is one major accepted type of hive used by 90% of the beekeepers out there….so that decision was easy.  But wait, I had to decide what type of “foundation” to insert in the hive for the bees to build their home.  Again I was faced with a multitude of choices; with every person I talked to having a totally different reason why x is better than y.  I found out my local shop carries only one type…another problem easily solved.

After 3 weeks I opened the hive back up to take a look at all the wonderful activity (with my new fancy suit on I might add).  They all looked back up at me like I had just interrupted a viewing session of American Idol.  Nothing…no new honey, no new babies, no new pollen.  After a frantic few hours searching the internet and posting pleas for help on every bee forum, the news came back the same….they are hungry.  No one told me I had to keep feeding my bees…aren’t they the ones supposed to be feeding me honey?  I thought after the first application of syrup I was done.  :-)  Another trip to the local bee supply store yielded a new feeder, a jar of pollen, and recipe for sugar syrup.  Feeding commences.  Now they seem happy.  Ok, not sure about happy, but at least busy.

My wife took pictures yesterday since they are now coming and going like Grand Central Station.  She takes great pictures, and is able to zoom in nice and close to see all the details you miss as they are flying past you.  What is that on the bee?  Turns out it is a mite.  A mite?  Another lesson in beekeeping is these little creatures can get mites, kind of like a tick we all hate so much.  Now it’s time to go back to the store and buy a special treatment to get rid of the mites.  In my research I have found there are about 12 different things the bees can “catch” which I need to watch for and be ready to treat.  My dogs get one shot a year and sprayed with flea and tick spray once…but bees obviously take much more treatment.

I am one month into my new hobby, and so far I have realized keeping bees is far more complicated than raising some carrots in the garden.  Am I discouraged?  Not yet.  As a matter of fact, I think next spring I will get my second hive.  I figure two hives will help me learn (aka make mistakes) twice as fast.

Until next time….

John Grounds

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Why bee suits are white!

Let me start off by explaining even though I have read a multitude of books and web forums on beekeeping, I somehow missed the whole point of why bee suits are typically white.  I now know why.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was amazed at exactly how gentle these bees are.  I had always been inspecting on nice sunny days, with just a long sleeve white shirt on since it seemed to be a thicker fabric than some of my other clothing.  I also wore a tan ball cap with a mosquito face net over it.  Never had a problem.

So yesterday I was going through my closet, and found one of my “tactical” outfits.  This consists of a nice pair of dark brown cargo pants, and a nice long sleeve dark brown shirt with a high collar that has velcro to hold the collar shut around my neck.  I immediately thought “perfect!!  my new bee suit!”.  Not wanting to miss the chance to sport my new outfit, I put it on, and found the matching dark brown boonie hat (it is the ones that have the brim all the way around the hat.)

As I headed toward the hive, I saw my wife over by our barn, and cheerfully waived knowing how great I looked and knowing she would be impressed with my new found use for these clothes.

I popped the top off the hive, and looked down inside.  One of the bees looked up at me, flew right for my face and started buzzing like crazy.  About two second later I had what seemed like 500 bees swarming me.

They say it is impossible for a human to outrun bees.  I would like to dispute that theory.  When I stopped running and screaming, I had covered 100 yards faster than Usain Bolt.  For some reason, my wife found this display highly entertaining.

So….after re-reading some of my books, I came upon a very interesting bit of wisdom.  One of the bees natural predators is the bear.  Whatever you do, do not open up your hive wearing dark brown clothing.  Hmm…wish I would have seen that sooner.

Anyway, now I know why bee suits are white.  Also, I now have a very nice white bee suit with a spiffy mesh hood.

Until my next adventure in beekeeping…..

John Grounds

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Bees and the new hive

First, I apologize for the late post.  I was tied up with some travel and just now sat back down to update my blog.

On August 1st, I finally moved my nuc of bees into their permanent home.  While I was busy with some work, my wife picked up the hive at the local dealer.  Little did I know instead of picking up a complete hive, she had to pick up about 150 pieces of wood, wax, etc.  Being the ever diligent wife she is, I arrived home to find a fully assembled and painted hive.

Even though I had worked with the bees without any protective clothing, my fear got the better of me for the move.  I just wasn’t too certain I wanted to be moving frames full of bees into a new hive without a little bit of cloth between me and the little stingers.  Problem was, I never purchased any beekeeping clothing.  A look through the closet turned up a pair of long cuff shooting gloves, a bug head net out of my camping equipment, and a couple elastic bands for securing around my wrists and ankles.  I also put on a pair of heavy thermal underwear under my pants and dress shirt.  Too bad my wife didn’t get any full pictures of me, because I am sure I looked very stylish in this makeshift beekeeper suit.  On a 95 degree day I quickly had doubts about wearing long underwear under full pants and a long sleeve shirt, but at least I didn’t get stung. 🙂

Moving the frames over was very easy, thanks in part to the books I read and the Youtube videos I watched.  I made certain I found the queen, looked for new eggs, and inspected each frame.  Everything appeared in order, although at this stage in my beekeeping experience I have no real idea how it was supposed to look.

The bees have been in their new home for about 2 weeks now, and when I go sit at the entrance I see a large amount of activity.  We have also noticed a huge upswing in activity around the garden and the flowers near the hive.  Soon I will buy the next “super” and install it.

Until then, thanks for reading!!

John Grounds


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Bees have arrived!!!

My friend dropped of the “Nuc” hive yesterday.  Opened it up to show me some of the frames, got it situated and put some corn syrup in for them to eat.  The drought around here is making it impossible for them to find flowers, so we have to give them a little boost.  I was actually surprised how “tame” they are.  We worked with them in a T-shirt and no protective gear at all.  Other than being curious, they didn’t bother us.  Once we put the syrup in, they were so busy eating they didn’t even fly around.

I have to wait until Monday to get my actual hive.  The store owner’s are out of town helping with an Indian reservation in South Dakota.  Once I get the hive Monday I can move the nuc frames over and put a larger feeder on for them.  I am still a little apprehensive, just because I don’t really want to get stung, but I am feeling a little more comfortable now.  I always tell my kids to face their fears, and there is nothing like opening up a hive of 15,000 bees to get past any apprehension. 🙂

Once I figure out exactly how to post pictures on this blog, I will let you see what we have so far.


John Grounds

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New Beekeeper

So I have decided to finally take the plunge into beecoming a beekeeper.  I have always find it interesting, but wasn’t sure where to start.  Luckily I met a new friend who has been a beekeeper for a while, and is willing to help me out.  This next weekend he is delivering a “nuc” to me so I can start my first hive.

I have been reading up, cruising through the Internet forums, and talking to our local bee supply company (I also found out we live 15 minutes from a very nice bee supply shop).  Today we are doing some scouting of exactly where to put it on the property.  My neighbor has fruit trees and decent sized garden, so he is happy with my new endeavor.

Hopefully this works out.  It will be nice to gain a new hobby, and perhaps this is one which will make a couple bucks.  In today’s economic environment I think more people would benefit from growing some of their own food.  Hopefully in a couple months I am still as excited.


John Grounds

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Hello world!

Hello everyone, I am John Grounds , and I am new to blogging.  I have people tell me this is great for business, great for personal stress relief, great for prosperity.  Time will tell.

More to follow!


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