Sunday, April 22, 2007

One more step closer

Just a simple job but it's been waiting for a while - mulching the bee yard. The plan is to have an area where we don't have to mow right up against the bees, so I cleaned back the brush laid some weed barrier and this weekend dumped a half truck load of mulch down. It looks pretty good, but still have to get rid of the pile of brush that came out of there.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


I added this post because I had found an interesting book from the library while waiting for my bee package to arrive, The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum. The Chatham County course included Beekeeping For Dummies
by Howland Blackiston and my beginner kit from Brushy Mtn included First Lessons in Beekeeping by C.P. Dadent, both of which are good books although I would recommend the dummies book as a starting place. The reason I liked the backyard book was that the hive setup the author used through the text was the same Brushy Mtn 8 frame that I decided on and so it makes for an interesting read from that perspective.

In particular, for anyone else attracted to this set up it is worth noting that the usual configuration for brood chambers, or hive bodies, is a deep box with 10 frames, in the Brushy Mtn set up the boxes are actually standard medium frames and so not only do you lose 2 frames per box but each box is shallower. The book therefore suggests that for a good and healthy colony expect to use 3 of these boxes as opposed to the usual 2 for standard hive bodies - good to know ahead of time.

Oh, I also bought Teach Yourself Beekeeping book, which is nicely laid out but is an English book and therefore has some discussion that isn't so relevant to a US based new beekeeper. That isn't to say it isn't a nice book and am glad I purchased it, but am also glad it was the last of the books I purchased.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

My Hive Site

Here's the result of all the effort so far; this is the Brushy Mtn 8 frame English Garden Hive. The kids chose the nice light green paint - which looks really nice in the full sun. It's late afternoon so the sun is behind the row of trees to the west of the hive which is facing just a little East of South.

You can see the base has been set up for expansion, there's room for another hive on the same base and plenty of room cleared for more if it goes well. The pile of brush on the left of the picture is just a small part of the amount that was pulled out of there to put this all in.

So now have to clean up and finish cutting back the vines around the saplings behind the hive as a lot of our wind comes in from the North and they'll provide a nice wind break if they are healthy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Start-up costs

Some people will tell you that you can start bee keeping for under $100.00, and while this may be true it is generally not the case today. There are a number of companies that provide really good beginner kits ranging from 125 - 200 but while they have a nice setup they generally don't come with additional supers so if the honey flow is good you're going to need to go back for more (Betterbee is an exception here, their kit has two hive bodies and two medium supers).

Anyway I wanted the look of the English hive and also preferred the compact size of the 8-frame setup and so ended up with the Brushy Mountain Beginner Kit, though I added one additional super, queen excluder escape screen and top feeder for a total of $326.00. I went to Rossman for the package of Italian bees for about $60.00 (due to arrive in May).

Then there was the other cost - the work, I cleared out an area of scrub under a fallen dead tree to make a nice yard, lugged all the gear plus concrete blocks and 6x2 for the stand down there over a few weeks but now it looks really nice. So, while it certainly has cost more than I expected, and I would love to have put in two hives rather than just the one, it looks really nice and there's plenty of room to expand next year.


Monday, April 2, 2007

Why bother?

So, I never seem to have time to blog on my work site, so why bother to create an all new blog? Well I guess I've wanted to be involved with bees since I was a kid, I remember seeing those stands at the county fair and saw the observation hives, the jars of honey... There was a park close by home with a museum that had an observation hive and it was fun to look for the queen in there.

So, now with the impact of various diseases on the wild and commercial bee populations there is a real need for even backyard bee keepers to add to the number of bees. So North Carolina has started a number of bee keeping classes, and the local one here (Chatham County Beekeeping School with the Chatham County Beekeepers) was a really well run and interesting 8 weeks. My thanks to Debbie Roos, Jim Williams, Dr. David Tarpy, Bill Sheppard, Don Hopkins, and all those who attended for a really detailed introduction and yes I am now hooked.

So, having researched through various online sellers and the pile of catalogs Debbie made available for us the first week I ended up with equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, their English hive (of course). So I hope that I can keep up to date as the bees arrive and get installed. But for now that's all.