Beginning Beekeeping: Obtaining Your Bees

~by Tammy Taylor~

Last week we talked about the beekeeping preparation steps that were necessary before we ever obtained our first bees.  There was lots to do: Educate ourselves on best beekeeping practices, join a local beekeeper’s association, decide where our hives will be located, prepare the location for the hives, obtain the beekeeping protective clothing and the bee hive expansion boxes and frames.  RancherMan even built an elevated stand for the hives.  Then we used heavy-duty cattle panels to section off the hive pen from the cattle pen.  All of these details are listed on last week’s Preparation Post, so if you haven’t read it be sure to check it out.  But now that we’re all ready, let’s get those bees!

We're new to beekeeping and have learned much, with much yet to learn. See what we did when we brought our first hives of bees home! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Deciding On How Many Bees To Get

It’s strongly recommended by the beekeeper’s association that you start with two hives by  either purchasing a nuc (nucleus hive, or mini hive with a queen & some workers) or even two fully established hives.  Having two hives allows you a comparison point when you’re watching the health of the hive.  It also allows you to see when one hive is strongly outperforming the other.  Perhaps you need to inspect the under-performing hive more closely to see what’s up.   We could have purchased a nuc more inexpensively but we decided to purchase two established hives from a local beekeeper.

So mid-morning of the day we were to obtain our hives RancherMan met with the beekeeper and inspected the hives.  Each hive contained about 20,000 bees.  WOW!   He also brought her the bottom board and the top from the hives we’d already separately purchased.  She’ll place the hive boxes we’re purchasing from her atop our own bottom board and place the top we brought to her to cap off the hive box.  After the initial inspection of the hives that morning, we’ll return to her location in the evening to actually pick up our two hives.   She will prepare the hives for transport by screening off the entrance once the bees have all returned to the hive for the night to pen them in.  Once all that is done, the hives will be ready for us to pick up!

Picking Up Our 2 Established Hives

When we came back that evening to pick up the hives we brought along a couple of tie-down straps long enough to go around each hive.  We’d hate for the top to go flying off on the way home!   We strapped the three pieces together – our bottom board, her hive box with bees, and our hive top.  Then we loaded the two hive boxes into the back our our truck and drove home (about 30 miles away).  Once home RancherMan backed the truck to the location we’d prepared for the bees and put on his bee suit, veil and protective gloves.  He set the hive boxes on the raised stand he’d built for them, and removed the screen that had been holding the bees inside the hive. Even with the jostling of moving the hives to a new location there was very little activity when he removed the screen.

We're new to beekeeping and have learned much, with much yet to learn. See what we did when we brought our first hives of bees home! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Observing New-Hive Activity

When a hive is moved to a new location it’s recommended to move them 3 miles or more so they aren’t confused about which hive is theirs.  Moving them that far forces them to kind of reset their internal GPS system and start over in being able to hone into their own hive.  So when we set them up at our location (which was obviously over 3 miles away), for the first 24 hours or so the bees just  come out of the hive and fly around as they set their internal GPS to their new location.  But after a couple of days the activity of both hives increased with the bees coming and going in a buzzzz of activity as they sat about their work.

RancherMan visually checks the activity at the hives each day by standing outside the bee pen we’ve sectioned off for the hives.  He watches the bee’s activity at the hive.  But he doesn’t disturb the bees nor their hives during these daily visual inspections.  He’s using this time to compare activities of each hive.  Do they both look to be active?  Are many bees coming & going from both hives?  Any stark differences between the two hives’ activities?

So far, so good.  Stay tuned for the next installment of our “Beginning Beekeeping Series” when RancherMan actually inspects the inside of each hive!

~TMH~

BEGINNING BEEKEEPING SERIES:

(You can see ALL our posts about beekeeping HERE)

C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our ~TMH~ Facebook Page . It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea.  There are lots of good folks sharing!  And you can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or GooglePlus.

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11 thoughts on “Beginning Beekeeping: Obtaining Your Bees

  1. Jennifer A

    My daughter and I both want bees, but my husband is terribly allergic, and we haven’t figured out a good spot for them. I’m so excited for y’all though! Bees are such an asset to the homestead life. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop! I pinned!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      We are excited about this new endeavor Jennifer. I’m afraid of bees, so RancherMan’s the beekeeper in the family – but I am suiting up and accompanying him to the hives to take the photos for the posts so I’m hoping this out-of-my-comfort-zone experience helps me learn to be a beekeeper right alongside him! ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Angelina @ Peonies & Orange Blossoms

    Oh how interesting! We talk about keeping bees but never actually do it! Looking forward to the next post, thanks for sharing at Thursday favorite things!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I’ll be adding another beekeeping / hive maintenance update soon Angelina. ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Erin Vincent

    How exciting for you! We just added 5 more hives to our farm for a total of 12 hives and we harvested our honeymoon last week. So yummy! #thisishowweroll

    Reply
  4. Jessica

    I love to read other bloggers posts on beekeeping! We have been keeping bees for 2 years now and we love it! We started out buying nucs from a respected apiary and now we catch live swarms to bring back to our hives! I wrote about it here if you are interested in what we do–> http://faithfulfarmwife.com/catching-a-wild-bee-swarm/ Thanks for sharing!!!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      We’re just starting out Jessica, but we hope to be in the ‘catching swarms’ business some day. We’re hearing there’s lots of interest in that kind of thing out here. ~TMH~

      Reply
  5. Alicia Owen

    Cool! I’ll have to check out your previous post. Hubby keeps trying to talk me into getting bees, but I’m still iffy. 😉

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I was iffy too Alicia, it was RancherMan that wanted the bees so I told him it was his project, I wanted to only observe from the sidelines and enjoy the benefits. LOL BUT, since I’m the photographer for blog posts I’ve been forced to confront my fears & suit up to accompany him during the working of the hives. I won’t say I’m comfortable with it yet, but I’ve surprised myself at my progress. ~TMH~

      Reply
  6. tonia conner

    This is so interesting. We have thought of beekeeping but that would be maybe next year or two. We are trying to establish a raised garden we started last year. As I’m 68 yrs old, it one thing at a time. So I’m following this closely to see if I can do justice to the bees and myself. I’m only want to keep enough for pollination of our gardening and our use of honey. Hope your enjoying your holiday weekend.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      That’s what we’re doing as well Tonia -just enough for pollination & to supply the homestead with honey. I’m thinking it’s entirely possible (and even probable) that we’ll be expanding as the hives grow – when friends & neighbors found out we were raising bees they were tremendously interested in buying the local honey so it could very well turn into a revenue source for us as well. Win/win. ~TMH~

      Reply

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