NFR beekeeping as a hobby

Sparse Grey Hackle

Active Member
If I had any pasture land my hobby would be running a small farm with Joel Salatin's "chicken tractors" style of pasturing chickens. This concept blew my friggin' mind when I started learning about it during the first lockdown. Some guy in CA runs little pigs out in front of the chicken tractor enclosures to get the grass to a height that the chickens can forage best. I am just touching on the tip of it, as It's more detailed, but it's all common sense regenerative farming that allows you to feed yourself and sell a highly desirable nutrient dense chicken in a clean environment.

Check it out!

- Sparse
 

wetswinger

Active Member
You can successfully keep bees in a suburban lot if you have 1/4 acre lot and an isolated area in the backyard. West of the Mtns. It's necessary to have an East or So. facing spot out of the shade.. I'd be hesitant to do backyard bees if you have children or grandkids running around on a small plot. You can put up barriers to force their flight paths away from your play areas and garden. I learned this after my wife got nailed in the face while in the veg. garden. I loved beekeeping but had to give it up after I downsized to small rambler. There is a lot to learn if you're going to be successful. Successful means keeping them alive year after year..PS. flow beehives are a gimmick and a joke. No serious beekeeper would be seen near one...
 

nwbobber

Active Member
Everything other than a Langstroth hive has serious limitations regarding working with the honey. If you're going to press your honey or serve it up in the comb, that doesn't matter so much.
As for bees stinging people minding their own business, that usually requires a queen replacement. The commercial bee suppliers get most of their queens from California, and the africanized bees are there. We had a couple colonies that would chase people 100 yards away, requeened, and they calmed right down. With a normal colony you can set a lawn chair 3' away from the colony and drink a beer with them. They might land on you but no stinging.
 

Gyrfalcon21

Active Member
I live out in the sticks and have natural hives on the property. 3 best I can see. One is over 20 years (BIG in a side of barn), one over 10 and a newer one is a couple perhaps in a tree cavity shown below. Every year I see swarms so things must be going ok and seeding more hives elsewhere.

Many times I have pondered getting boxes going and all but would be afraid to introduce a recipe for disaster for what seems to be going well naturally. I'd also have to bear proof, maybe.

If there came a time when all the nests died off then I would jump on for sure.

Really enjoy having bees around!

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Driftless Dan

Driftless Dan
WFF Premium
I receive a weekly newsletter from my former Beekeeping teacher, here attached. I don't say he is doing things right or wrong, just putting it out there to show what I receive:
Greetings Beekeepers –

Fall has arrived. I would like to think my bees are set for winter. I will visit them occasionally for the next month or so as weather allows, but I will do little that requires digging deep into the hive. I try to bother the bees little until the winter weather breaks as the new season begins. They have organized the food and brood area as mother nature trained them over a million years. The hive has been sealed strategically with propolis. At this point would my interference improve the situation? Hummmm….

There are those beekeepers that would like to “manage” their bees through the winter. Some go into the hive to move frames placing them where it seems the bees might best use them. That is not my style. If I and the bees have done well in preparing for the coming cold, I will let them take charge.

Some of my colonies will receive the Mountain Home treatment – basically five pounds of sugar on top of newspaper placed on top of the frames in the top box. A shim will give me the extra space I need. Inner cover and telescoping cover will go on top.

The sugar provides a bit of insulation above the cluster, food if needed, and will absorb some of the moisture created by the bees. Later a quick peak will tell me if additional sugar is needed. I prefer to disturb the winter cluster as little as possible.

I was pleased with the lack of robbing early in the “post season.” It seems that forage was available longer because of the warm weather we have had giving the bees blooms to work on. That has changed in the last few weeks. Now opening a hive needs to be done expeditiously. Neighboring bees are interested in an open hive, but the yellow jackets and their cousins make life miserable for a beekeeper at these times. It seems more critical this year.

I have mouse guards on all the colonies and have reduced the entrances severely.

I had an interesting observation recently. I was sitting and watching the reduced entrance on the landing board on one of my colonies. The mouse guard has 3/8 inch holes. Apparently a yellow jacket had entered the colony and the bees had killed it. There was a team effort to remove the bright yellow dead body through the mouse guard. It was challenging. After a number of minutes they moved the deceased to the front porch. A single worker proceeded to fly off with the body depositing it at a distance from the colony. Job well done.

A question came in about screened bottom boards. Thirty years ago screened bottom boards (SBB) became popular as we attempted to remove varroa from our hives. It was hoped that the bees would groom their sisters and drop the mites through the screen to the ground. Nice thought. It does happen, but not sufficiently to solve the varroa problem.

We learned to use the slide below the screen to monitor the mite level in the colony. This still can be used to provide limited insight into the mite situation, but it only provides a trend when inspected over time. It is not a mite count. We realized that we needed to count with alcohol or powdered sugar.

I now use both SBB and solid bottom boards. I see no difference between the two in winter survival. I do leave the slide in the SBB over winter, but do not feel a need to switch to solid bottom boards in the winter. Heat is not lost through the bottom but through the sides and top. With the slide in place, it controls the winter wind.

NIBA had a great meeting in October with a presentation by the beekeepers from the Buckfast Abby in England. Ain’t Zoom great! NIBA has earned its place as the largest bee association in Illinois. Whether you attend meetings online or in person, NIBA is a valuable resource.
 

Philonius

WFF Premium
My wife kept bees when I first met her, and we continued doing so together for some years after getting together. Our main bee yard was at her parent's property in the foothills N of Enumclaw, and they did very well producing fireweed honey out there. We eventually started wintering the hive boxes in our smallish backyard in W. Seattle, so it can be done if the layout is conducive. Things got exciting when we had a swarm congregate in our neighbor's Plum tree, but they were quite understanding.
They don't really take up a tremendous amount of time (we had 2-3 hives from year to year), but yes, you'll need space to store extra supers, etc., and a truck if moving hives. We did actually transport hives in my smallish station wagon, but that was a major PITA. We eventually stopped after having one too many die-offs. Around here (anywhere?) bees are pretty susceptible to parasites and disease, and it became rather disheartening loosing our hives.
They are fascinating though. I had a major bee phobia after having had several run-ins with yellow jackets as a youth, and I didn't really expect to like beekeeping. The sound and smell of a happy hive on a warm summer day is a lovely, idyllic sensory experience.
 

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