Give me the birds & the BEES please :)

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by helenlee, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Do bees belong in this section?

    I've been thinking about getting a few bee hives for a while now, but have been unsure about how, or if, to proceed. I've had a native bee hive for years, but they're mostly for cuteness value, although obviously I recognise their very important role in my garden.
    I've been thinking about getting honey bees, but I remember a guy I knew at Nimbin who was doing them - he was too big for a hobby & too small to be commercial. I think the essence of what he said was that they're a huge amount of stuffing around if your objective is to get honey on less than a commercial scale. Well, I wouldn't mind eating my own honey, but I think my primary aim would be to have bees that I knew were healthy for the purpose of pollination. My question is: is there any point? I have both native bees (my own & wild) & wild commercial honey bees out here. I don't know the correct name for the introduced ones I'm sorry, but they look like the ones you see in commercial hives - I don't know if there is more than one variety?

    So - is there any point in me getting hold of a hive of wild introduced bees & putting them in a box, or am I just making work for myself that nature is already taking care of just fine thank you? They would be interesting ... I've been reading about natural bee keeping & it sounds like something I'd be keen to have a go at - but not if there's no point. About the only excuse I can think of for doing it is that I could possibly provide the odd healthy hive as a gift for someone who lived in town & was unable to get "clean" bees.
    My brother has bees & has offered to give me some hives, but he lives in town & has been plagued with the beetle born disease, & I don't want that, or any other bee aliments out here.

    Thoughts anyone?
    Am I just hankering to fix something that isn't broken?
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    If you are wanting pollinators with a bit of occasional honey on the side with not much work then you want native stingless bees. Take a look at Milkwood permacultures website. There was a post recently about splitting a native hive.
     
  3. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Thoughts anyone?
    Am I just hankering to fix something that isn't broken?[/QUOTE]

    I think so Helen you have a brother with bees play with his for awhile trade something for his honey (you probably already are ) . My sister and myself had them when we were younger and they were good fun , half the fun was the thrill off getting stung . My sister got all the gear out again and ran a hive last year she did courses ect however they are packed away again . However new interests are good for us gets the brain workin .
    Rob
     
  4. lukemurphy

    lukemurphy Junior Member

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    Hi Helen,

    I have had honeybees for just over a year now, and they are a joy to have. I also just got a native beehive - though where I am I most likely will never be able to harvest their honey, I think its important to encourage and provide forage and habitat for a variety of pollinators to increase resilience in the face of things like the varroa mite, which will have a huge impact on honeybees if/when it arrives in Aus.

    Tim Malfroy, who I did a course with, said something along the lines of "If you want to save the bees, it makes no sense to flood an area with honeybees, you need balance with other species". It sounds like you're already doing this by housing native bees, which is great, so a few honeybee hives would be a bit of fun and an extra yield.

    In terms of effort, expenditure and maintenance, if you follow a more 'natural' way of beekeeping then its not a whole heap of effort, and the main expenditure comes in the cost of the hive and protective gear. (though you can build it yourself, my dad and I built a top bar hive with $30 of recycled timber, which worked fine).

    If you use a top bar hive then you don't need an expensive extractor to harvest, I just use a brush to get the bees off and a knife to cut off the honeycomb. You can just eat the comb straight, or strain the honey out of it.

    One major aim of natural beekeeping is to disturb the bees as little as possible, so you won't be opening the hive all that much (maybe 4 or 5 times per year). You should spend some time observing the behaviour of the bees at the entrance, and try to build an observation window into the hive so you can see in there without disturbing them.

    Pests and disease is where it gets interesting - a lot of people say that a lot of the problems bees have with pests and disease is caused by the way they are treated and the 'industrial' beekeeping methods - ie packing huge amounts of bees into areas where there is only one type of forage, replacing honey with high fructose corn syrup, moving bees on trucks, opening hives too often, etc. If you do natural beekeeping on a small scale you avoid most of these problems, though your bees may still be affected by pests and disease. Then you must decide if you want to let the bees try to overcome it themselves, or intervene and give some sort of treatment. There are biological treatments, for example having a small grate on the bottom of the hive with a tray of oil underneath it to trap small hive beetle.

    I am not nearly experienced enough to tell you to treat or not. I just try and use my best judgement - if the hive still looks healthy, there is a laying queen and lots of foraging bees then things can't be too bad. I think if we want resilient bees then treating as little as possible is the way to go.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, there is quite a lot to it. Some resources I found useful:
    - Milkwood permaculture's natural beekeeping course with Tim Malfroy - extremely useful + informative, and even 18 months after doing the course I am still able to email him with the occasional question and he will help.
    - biobees.com
    - 'The Barefoot Beekeeper' by Phil Chandler
    - 'Beekeeping for All' by Emile Warre

    Good luck!
     
  5. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    I've got native bees. I've had them for years. I don't rob them - they're just pets :)
     
  6. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    I think so Helen you have a brother with bees play with his for awhile trade something for his honey (you probably already are ) . My sister and myself had them when we were younger and they were good fun , half the fun was the thrill off getting stung . My sister got all the gear out again and ran a hive last year she did courses ect however they are packed away again . However new interests are good for us gets the brain workin .
    Rob[/QUOTE]


    My brother lives maybe 8 hours drive from me so that's not going to happen.
    Mum had bees when we were kids. I used to hang around & watch what she did with them & I used to go with her to the guy up the roads place who kept them commercially & was also a very knowledgable enthusiast & listen to him too. I used to stay with a girlfriend when I was in high school - & her father was a professional bee keeper, & I remember a lot of what I did there. So it's not all new - I just have never gotten around to keeping them myself.
    And I have NO interest in getting stung! Growing up barefoot in Queensland I have many unhappy memories of very swollen feet, covered in Laundry Blue, every summer :(
     
  7. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hi Luke,
    I just came inside for a drink & had a quick sneaky check of the computer - so I'll have to wait till after I finish chores to read your longer response :)
    Be back soon :)
     
  8. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hm. I've been thinking more about why I want to but some bees in a box ... because I already have plenty of wild honey bees & native bees out here. I think the most sensible reason would be so I have some to give to someone else or to keep some to take with me if I move from here.
    I have read a bit about the various theories on why honeybees are in so much trouble & though I can't remember exactly what it was I read, I do remember thinking "Oh wow. That means the wild bees out here would be a valuable resource to have." I think one reason was that most bees are related ... in that there are only a certain number of people who breed & ship queens, & therefore almost all bees come from only a couple of different strains, a recipe for disaster if ever I heard one.
    I live in a remote-ish area & am surrounded by huge areas of National Park & State Forrest, so I also don't have to worry about the bees here being weakened by agricultural chemicals.
    If I do end up putting some in a box I will try the "natural" bee-keeping methods for sure. I also read not to use a smoker with them yes? That it stirs them up. One guy said he sprays them with sugar & water - which he says calms them down :)
    I'll check out the links you suggested tonight :) Thank you :)
     
  9. lukemurphy

    lukemurphy Junior Member

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    Ah I see. I've always thought if I didn't live in an urban area with neighbours close by that I'd like to just put a box up like a bait hive, then just leave it and not manage it. Let them throw out swarms, let them raise drones and raise their own queens that have genetic diversity.(I do this with mine anyway apart from trying to minimise swarming). Let them overcome/learn to live with pests/diseases on their own.

    Maybe you could try that?
     
  10. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    I guess I could. It would probably be the preferred method actually. Apparently when they swarm they aren't angry - having no babies & no honey to guard. But I've never seen a swarm around here :(
    The other alternative is to grab one from a tree that has been felled - which does happen occasionally & I know someone who would give me the tip off when there was one on the ground, but my brother reassures me they'd be pretty p.o'd.
    A bait box would be the preferable, but possibly painfully slow method I guess :(
     
  11. lukemurphy

    lukemurphy Junior Member

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    Getting a log hive would be great, but yes, I imagine they wouldn't be the happiest of bees. Maybe you could borrow a suit off your brother to get the log onto a ute to transport it to your place. Or you could leave the log section on the ground, wait till night time when all the bees are back in the log, then find the entrance/s and tape them up, then transport it to your place.
     
  12. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    That's what I've done with the native hives I've rescued, but I've never done it with introduced bees.
    I've given my brother a couple of native hives & he always puts them into a box because they're easier to manage I think.
    He made a traditional bee hive shaped thingy - like from Whinny the Pooh - & put a native hive in it for our mother for Christ one year :)
     
  13. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    An amusing short video and link to the open source beehives project (sure makes me wish for a cnc router!).

    https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/presenting-the-open-source-beehives-project/2013/11/27
     
  14. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hmmm ... that should read Christmas, not Christ, above. I don't think Jesus needs any bees ... :think:

    Just watching the video now thank you Bill :)
     
  15. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Wow. Kinda dumbfounded ... :)
    I'd be flat out nailing 4 bits of ply into a simple box for my bees! That bee house looks like a space ship to me!
    :)
     
  16. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Bee keeping is a little more advanced than a few bees in a box. You need a good docile queen for a start. Picking up a swarm is not a good start if you don't re queen soon after. It is a brave person who enters a bee hive without a smoker on hand unless you are suited up so well that the bees cant possibly sting you. Then with those big heavy gloves you are more likely to squash many bees thus stirring up the hive further. You can buy a good queen for around $25 but then you have to make sure you kill the old queen and remove any queen cells before you put the new queen in the hive. She will remain in her queen cage till released by the bees and then there is no guarantee they will accept her.

    It is a great hobby if you follow basic rules and are prepared to get stung. If you pull the hive apart then start getting stung you can't just run away but you have to stay and put it back together. Never open the hive when the weather is not good and if there is no honey coming in don't leave the hive open too long as it could start getting robbed by other bees. Just learn as much as you can and work with an apiarist if you can to get some basic handling experience.

    There are new bottom boards now being trialled to control small hive beetle. They improve ventilation in the hive and reduce high humidity which is said to be favoured by the beetle. I will let you know how they go.
     
  17. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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  18. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Those traps have limited success. A mate of mine uses them but they really don't control the beetle. That is why he is trialing the new bottom boards.
     
  19. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Buying a commercial queen is one of the things I was wanting to avoid Brian. I was reading some stuff ... can't remember where ... I think it was some hippy sh!t eco put me onto ;) ... that said commercial bees have a very limited gene pool & that is one of the reasons they're so susceptible to disease ... & also that because queens are bred & sold by a very limited number of commercial operators worldwide they almost certainly all have or are carriers for some disease ... can't remember what it was ...
    Sorry, that's not very scientific & terribly vague. I'll contact eco & try & track down what I was reading & attempt to reconstruct my thought train ... could be scary, wish me luck ;) :)
     
  20. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    It was me and it was probably from Milkwood. If you went to the Milkwood website and searched on beekeeping you'd find it.
     

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