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New Bee Keepers

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This is a must read for NEW BEE KEEPERS an experienced as well... 

I've noticed a number of recurring questions from those who are entering the world of beekeeping. I have kept bees for over 30 years, so I'm still new at this, but I'm learning and thought I could address a few of the questions that repeat by an analogy that may build some confidence. If you learned to drive and have bought a car you have the skills to answer most of these questions yourself, but here goes.

What type of bees should I get? When you bought your first car it didn't matter much whether it was a Buick or Camry. It got you where you needed to go. Sure you asked advice, but it didn't matter that much. Locally, suppliers say, "Buy the breed of queen you want," and then quietly add, "Carniolans work well here." The point is that it doesn't make that much difference. Read up and make your choice.

Top bar hive or Lang? Was your first car a stick or automatic? Most people opt for what is easiest and what has the broadest experience among their friends. Langs have been around for a hundred years and most people know a lot about them. They are easy to use. Go with a TBH if you like, but if you do, I bet you drive a stick too.

How many hives should I get? You went to the car lot to buy your first car. Why? So you could compare. First you read, then you asked your friends for advice, but finally you needed your own experience in a test drive. How many? You decide. In keeping you will gain good knowledge in reading books or Internet (maybe gets you 40% there). You will ask other keepers or club members (another 40%). The last 20% will come from your experience. Having two hives facilitates that. But you didn't drive 18 cars from that lot. Think of how many hives will make you tired of your new hobby. Just get two. You can always add to your fleet, I mean, apiary.

What kind of frames should I get? Wood or plastic? Wax foundation or plastic? Well, what color was that first car? Doesn't matter all that much now, does it? The bees will use all kinds. Some keepers will swear by one or the other, much as a salesman on the car lot about the glories of the luxo-cruisers he sells. Remember that bees are animals and they don't always do this year what they did last year. Will the local constabulary stop a red car more often than a white? Maybe, maybe not. 
Should I buy new or used? Your first car was used and it did OK, right? OK, don't buy used frames. Used boxes don't save you a lot of money, so until you know the signs of disease, put some change down on new ones. But equipment? I kept for 30 years before I bought a new smoker. People kept giving them to me. You should see the patina on my hive tool. Used can be just fine.

Mediums or deeps? My brother-in-law just bought a small SUV, although he drove the smallest, fuel-efficient car he could before. Why? He is now retired and doesn't bend as well as he used to. You will hear a lot of sore back passion for all mediums. You choose. Are you hale enough to use deeps in the brood chamber and save some bucks? You'll find more people with experience using brood deeps.

Treatment free or not? The day you got your driver's permit at age 15, did you practice parallel parking with a stick shift car? You learned the basics first. The application of this KISS principle to keeping incites great passion. Your Uncle Wally really wanted you to learn to park with his Hummer, but you knew better. 

My hives died...what happened? You asked the same thing when your first car stopped dead. Had you even lifted the hood to check the oil, or whether that squeal was coming from a bad belt? Don't be offended if someone asks if you checked for mites.

Should I raise my own queens? Can I do rapid increase? Can I do a two queen hive? You learned to change the oil before you learned to do a ring job on that jalopy, didn't you? 

The simple point is this. Many of our questions are answered by good sense and the principles we learned from life's lessons. If you learned to drive and bought a car, you can apply your learning experience to beekeeping. You won't have all the answers, but by and large, you know how to get them.

Reprinted from a post in Bee Source.



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