View Full Version : Bees?

08-18-2015, 11:09 PM
Although I have no great affection for honey, bee keeping seems rather neat and I am wondering how much trouble it is to get started and maintain?

Watched some videos, the hardest part seemed to be building a box for them.

08-19-2015, 05:49 AM
I was a beekeeper's apprentice for nearly three years on two hundred hives of honey plus several fields of leaf cutter bees. The box is the easy part, I used to assemble a hundred or so every spring. Two supers (boxes) on the bottom for the queen to use for laying eggs, then start with one or two of empty frames on top. You don't touch the bottom two except for medicating, winter feeding or trying to squish a new queen that might be trying to take off with half your bees. Add more boxes as they fill them up, we'd have them stacked six or eight high by the time we pulled the yard. They'd be fifty to eighty pounds a piece at that point, replace them with a few empties and haul them away for extraction. Seems like there was plenty of backbreaking manual labour, but it was a fun job. My record was over forty stings in one day, though normally I only got it once or twice a week working full time. (Italian bees are extremely pissy we found out, Hawaiian and New Zealanders were much friendlier)

My parents actually keep a few hives these days, last year they pulled about six hundred pounds of honey, which seems about right for the area, a strong hive could do about two hundred pounds in a summer there with good alfalfa and canola crops within a couple miles. It's a rewarding hobby I think, but there's a bit of work and a little equipment to buy. You'll also need to learn about mites, foul brood disease, etc... and how to treat it properly, they need to be insulated and fed over the winter as well (since you'll be stealing all their food). And if you're going to have one hive you may as well keep several since you'll be out there anyways. Two is a good start, one for backup, expand to four or six as you get the hang of things. Oh, talk to any other beekeepers within a few miles of your proposed location. Close proximity isn't necessarily good as they can spread disease amongst each other and fun stuff like that. They'll travel up to two miles for nectar IIRC....

08-19-2015, 05:52 AM
Not only isn't an interesting hobby; it's a necessary one. I don't have the time or space to take it on, but I will in the couple few years. Good on you for looking into it.

08-19-2015, 08:53 AM
Not that hard on a small scale. I have one hive in the back yard as a hobby (started this year) and If you buy the boxes and a bee package in the spring it will set you back about $700 all in including suit and tools. I was told not to expect any honey this year as it was a new hive, but the girls were busy and 3 weeks ago after noticing how full the honey box (honey super) was getting I decided to do a harvest. To my surprise I ended up with almost a full pail of honey like 60 pounds !! Depending on market price a single established hive can generate well over $500 worth of honey a year . I think I need to get a gold chain and a pink Cadillac lol.
Seriously though, the wife (used to be a bee anti) and i have a lot of new respect for my girls.

08-19-2015, 10:39 AM
I never thought a hive could generate that much honey.
There shouldn't be anything but wild bees within a few miles of me.
Was watching this guy last night


08-19-2015, 11:03 AM
Bee keeping is a great not only hobby however necessary as well.

fruit trees, berries, etc require it.

you get the natural actions of the insects in pollination, honey as well, plus if you're rural enough, you can varmint or bear ambush when they sniff out the colonies / honey.

the most problematic issue in the honey for yourself or others if given away, pasteurized or not, is the type of flora in which the bees utilize for pollen.. honey production.
As it is a serous problem in poison, a simple common mistake or in some cases nefarious purposes.
azalea / rhododendron species of flowers is a common problem, amongst many many others natural or landscaping.
as the honey will include cyanide, ricin, abrin, nightshade, lysergic acid ( morning glory), scopolamine, etc, etc depending on region or landscaping exotic or domestic varieties of flora species.

*what are rosary beads/peas? - abrus precatorius, abrin more lethal than ricin.
* abracadbra... abrin-cadaver.

* years of experience in keeping bees.
orchardists, nursery, and horticulturalist's all know this very well, and hence the old rhymes, and simple simon buying pies going to the fair...

08-19-2015, 11:08 AM
Interesting. I had no idea about the potential poisonous byproducts.

08-19-2015, 11:16 AM
(Italian bees are extremely pissy we found out, Hawaiian and New Zealanders were much friendlier)
:) oh boy.

08-19-2015, 11:18 AM
I have no idea what wild plants are near by besides trees, but there's a field next door which normally has corn or soybeans in it.

08-19-2015, 11:39 AM
Interesting. I had no idea about the potential poisonous byproducts.

Oh yes. thousands of years problem/issue.

you see honey was basically the only sweetener for baking prior to sugarcane cultivation much much later.
( now there's artificial sweeteners, if you like genetically modified e coli bacteria feces- aspartame)

now just how do any of you think how that pope john paul I was poisoned and killed?
there was sugar, and honey on the table for those two and that meeting's.... tea...
of course no release of autopsy and findings made public, but bees made to do a job.

"a spoon full of sweetener / honey helps the medicine go down..."
-mary poppins

So... a very old farmers, nursery, orchardist's, horticulturalist.... knowledge / wisdom.

hence some hidden messages in old ... nursery rhymes.

honey, bee hives... enjoy bees barf and defecation,... yumm.
bee careful in smelling the flowers and sweetening with honey.

08-19-2015, 12:23 PM
bee careful

Probably an old joke, as well as a recent typo,
but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

08-19-2015, 01:06 PM
Some plants reportedly rely on using intoxicating chemicals to produce inebriated bees, and use this inebriation as part of their reproductive strategy. One plant that some claim uses this mechanism is the South American bucket orchid (Coryanthes sp.), an epiphyte. The bucket orchid attracts male euglossine bees with its scent, derived from a variety of aromatic compounds. The bees store these compounds in specialized spongy pouches inside their swollen hind legs, as they appear to use the scent (or derivatives thereof) in order to attract females.

However, the flower is constructed in such a way as to make the surface almost impossible to cling to, with smooth, downward-pointing hairs; the bees commonly slip and fall into the fluid in the bucket, and the only navigable route out is a narrow, constricting passage that either glues a "pollinium" (a pollen sack) on their body (if the flower has not yet been visited) or removes any pollinium that is there (if the flower has already been visited). The passageway constricts after a bee has entered, and holds it there for a few minutes, allowing the glue to dry and securing the pollinium. It has been suggested that this process involves "inebriation" of the bees,[24][25][26][27] but this effect has never been confirmed.

In this way, the bucket orchid passes its pollen from flower to flower. This mechanism is almost but not quite species specific, as it is possible for a few closely related bees to pollinate any given species of orchid, as long as the bees are similar in size and are attracted by the same compounds

interesting plant

I don't think there's any poison plants around here for honey

08-19-2015, 01:49 PM
I looked into it earlier this year but was put off by the registry requirements and the possibility that your investment could very likely die or fly away. If I could find an old codger to hang around and help and eventually maybe buy an established hive I think I would prefer that.

08-19-2015, 10:26 PM
I looked into it earlier this year but was put off by the registry requirements and the possibility that your investment could very likely die or fly away. If I could find an old codger to hang around and help and eventually maybe buy an established hive I think I would prefer that.

Registry?! I can't help it if some bees set up shop in my oddly built birdhouse.
I have no idea how much it'd cost for the bees themselves. I was hoping it wouldn't be too costly increase things go sideways.

Also find this site

Seen this on kijiji NB
"Selling beehives with 5 frames, queen and honey bees for $140 per hive. "

08-19-2015, 10:52 PM
I'd like to try making some mead.
Probably easier to just buy the honey though.

08-19-2015, 11:17 PM
I have a friend who has set up a dozen hives on some unused farmland. It was good the first season but the next year the weather was brutal and he suffered almost a 50% loss of bees. Depending on the area there are numerous agricultural sprays that will wipe out your little workers. It has also been suggested that genetically modified corn is causing mass killoffs of bees. Check out your google-fu for more information on colony collapse disorder.

08-20-2015, 12:10 AM
A commercial package of bees is about $200 ,includes a box of bees and a queen. The better way to go is a established split from a local hive, price would be the same but you would be starting with a mini hive, with a queen , workers, babies and eggs and all. The zero cost option is to set a swarm trap and try to catch a swarm. Free!!

Prairie Dog
08-20-2015, 12:12 AM
There is quite a bit to bee keeping, hive management can be tricky. However, with a bit of time spent and a possibly a good mentor, most people could do a decent job of keeping some hobby bees around. Looks like you are in Calgary, not all that far from olds college, which has an introductory bee keeping course over a weekend I believe (ie never gone myself).

To answer some of your questions:
1) bees make honey as long as the nectar is flowing (plants flowering). You an count on May/June to end of August as their production months.
2) if properly managed, a hive sticks around forever. There are some factors that make them more prone to swarming. They have relatively poor winter survival rates, I believe the provincial average is about 60%.
3) a fantastic hobby, interesting no doubt.

If you are interested in trying some hives, PM me. I've sold a few starter kits to people in the past., and I try to make sure people are set up with a hive that has potential. Unfortunately they aren't cheap.

Best of luck.


Could there be a similar course near you?

08-20-2015, 01:53 AM
Good call, turns out there was one earlier in the year. Actually last month. But there is a bee keepers association I can look up.

08-20-2015, 07:29 AM

08-20-2015, 07:36 PM
You have to have a strong stomach also as some people have trouble when they see all the worms and maggots you can get in the hive. Plus fighting the mites. You should take a course just to provide safety to other bee keepers around you. It is pretty easy to get a few things that spread easy. Few years ago a fellow close by managed to kill off everybody's bees close by. Then there is the people who set up on a Alfalfa field and wonder why they don't get much honey.We have acres of golden rod here and the bees pack away a lot of honey when it blooms.

08-20-2015, 09:07 PM
Another school for bee keeping.

08-21-2015, 02:42 PM
Registry?! I can't help it if some bees set up shop in my oddly built birdhouse.
I have no idea how much it'd cost for the bees themselves. I was hoping it wouldn't be too costly increase things go sideways.

Regulation respecting the registration of beekeepers

Animal Health Protection Act
(chapter P-42, s. 3.0.1)

The fees prescribed in the Regulation have been indexed as of 1 April 2015 pursuant to the notice published in Part 1 (French) of the Gazette officielle du Québec of 21 February 2015, page 201. (s. 3)

1. Every beekeeper who owns Apis mellifera bees must register with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

O.C. 450-2005, s. 1.

2. Every beekeeper must provide to the Minister, on the form furnished by the Minister, an application for registration stating,

(1) in the case of a natural person: the beekeeper's name, address of domicile or postal address, if different from the address of domicile, and telephone number;

(2) in the case of a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a legal person: its name, the address of its principal establishment in Québec or, if it has no establishment in Québec, the address of domicile, the business number assigned to it under the Act respecting the legal publicity of enterprises (chapter P-44.1), and telephone number;

(3) the number of hives occupied by bees owned by the beekeeper;

(4) the name of the municipality and the name of the regional county municipality or metropolitan community where each wintering site, production site and pollination site is located; and

(5) the type of activities carried on by the beekeeper, including the sale of bees and the movement of hives for pollination purposes.

Beekeepers must certify the accuracy of the information entered on the form and sign it.

Beekeepers must also notify the Minister, within 30 days, of any change in the information provided under subparagraphs 1 and 2 of the first paragraph.

O.C. 450-2005, s. 2.

3. Beekeepers must send with the form a cheque or postal money order in the amount of $17.50 made out to the Minister of Finance.

The registration is effective on the date on which the form is sent. A mailed form is presumed to be sent on the date of the postmark. The registration fee is not refundable.

The amount is adjusted on 1 April of each year based on the percentage change in the general Consumer Price Index for Canada for the period ending on 30 September of the preceding year, as determined by Statistics Canada.

The Minister is to inform the public of the adjustment under the third paragraph through the Gazette officielle du Québec or by such other means as the Minister considers appropriate.

O.C. 450-2005, s. 3.

4. Beekeepers must maintain and keep at their principal establishment in Québec or, if they have no establishment in Québec, at their domicile, a record containing the following information:

(1) for every purchase, rental or loan of bees: the date, quantity and place of origin of the bees and the name and address of the person from whom they were obtained;

(2) for every disposal, rental or loan of bees: the date, quantity, place of destination of the bees and the name and address of the recipient; and

(3) for every movement of occupied hives: the date, number of hives moved and a description making it possible to locate the places of departure and destination of the hives.

The owner must keep a copy of the form that was sent to the Minister with the record. The owner must also keep the record for at least 5 years from the date of the last entry and make it available to any person referred to in section 55.10 of the Animal Health Protection Act (chapter P-42).

O.C. 450-2005, s. 4.

5. Registration is renewed between 1 April and 1 June of each year in the manner prescribed by sections 2 and 3.

O.C. 450-2005, s. 5.

6. (Obsolete).

O.C. 450-2005, s. 6.

7. (Omitted).

O.C. 450-2005, s. 7; O.C. 685-2005.

Fun stuff, eh?

08-21-2015, 02:57 PM

08-22-2015, 02:16 PM
There are a number of meaderies in the area and apiaries. It's true that beekeeping is just as regulated as farming trout, but the permits are easy enough. I looked into it seriously a few years back and apprenticed at a meadery (discovered I dislike mead :D) and it wasn't for me. Like any other kind of farming, you have to be vigilant. If you don't empty your hives frequently enough, your bees will F off and go elsewhere once their hives are full. As well, lots of parasites and things to be aware of. I went with a mason bee hive for pollination and tapped a birch tree instead for sugar byproducts.

Front yard has azaleas, rhodos which are not edible but they are good for evergreens after the harvest is gone. In my backyard, we have morning glory and bittersweet nightshade, which are a battle to keep under control. Lovely climbers with beautiful flowers and drupes, but invasive and poisonous. (Morning glory seeds are psychedelic, bittersweet nightshade berries poison...same family as tomato/potato) I would not want to mess around with nightshade accidentally mixing in with my honey.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Yc9acViq4_sVjsdl-6OMmvRYZBNcIcceoYWGAHeX0cQ3VyJkfMjJp_2676c1lB8jkrQ PFhJhbGZrZyBTlND=s580