Bees!

I ordered my bees today. I put the $70 order in at Betterbee.com, which is up in Greenwich, NY. This is very late to order bees. Usually they tell you to order by February 1st. I hope that Betterbee is not sold out. I have not yet received my order confirmation.

Greenwich (pronounced green-witch) is up above Albany over on the Vermont border. Back in the 1990s I road up many times to see my Aunt Jean, who lived in Greenwich after Uncle Eddie died. Her house was two blocks from Betterbee and I remember seeing the signs. It’s about 10 minutes to the Vermont border and several times I bought a Christmas tree at a Vermont tree farm owned by one of Aunt Jean’s friends.

I have to ride up and pick up the bees on May 9th. That will take 3 hours each way and cost me about $50 in gas and tolls.

If you have bees, you need a hive.

I ordered the hive at the cheapest place I could find online. I got an unpainted 10 frame beginner’s set with all the little things that they charge you extra for when you start out. I paid $140 for the less expensive kit where you have to assemble and paint it yourself. The assembled eBay kits cost up to $250 and Betterbee charges over $200. I should get the kit in about 10 days. I can decide then if I need to spend more money.

I hope that someone finds this by searching for Rockland County or Nyack and beekeeping. I would like to be able have a bee buddy to call in case of emergencies. This will be my first time. I went through the very good bee tutorials at http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/. This blog has lots of good lessons in starting in raising bees. It doesn’t seem that hard. The bees raise themselves. There is very little that you have to do to keep them happy.

I will get Larry to come over and video me for each of the milestones so you can see me making the hive and then getting stung. Hopefully he’ll be able to video me harvesting honey eventually.

If you are reading this and Betterbee is still selling bees you may consider starting a hive of your own. All you need is a yard. Bees are very gentle and don’t sting. They are not like wasps or yellow jackets. They don’t attack and you can generally touch them and have them land on you without danger. Your neighbors probably will never know that you have bees unless you tell them.

I will be going up on the 9th, leaving Nyack around 6:30am. It is a three hour ride each way. If you live around here and order bees, I’ll pick them up for you if you donate something towards gas and tolls. You’ll be able to pick them up in West Nyack on Saturday afternoon on May 9th.

***UPDATE****

Betterbee has confirmed my order. Bees are coming!

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    When you collect the honey, how do you get rid of the bees? Is that what the smoke is used for? Did you buy a gizmo to generate smoke so the bees get off the screens when you remove the honey? Did you buy a mask and gloves, or a protective suit?

    I think you are going to get stung a lot!

    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  2. Keith wrote:

    If the hive thrives I can start collecting some honey in the summer. The smoker burns leaves or pine needles and it keeps the bees quiet if you need to do anything major (like steal their honey). You can use a “bee tool” or some compressed air to get the bees off the screens.

    I bought a mask and gloves, too. I don’t think I’ll need much. Most beekeepers stop using all the protective gear after a while. The bee sting is not much worse than a mosquito bite and you don’t get stung that often.

    Bee stings are proven to prevent arthritis. In any case I am not worried about it.

    I have to name the hive in May. It should be a female name as the bees are almost all girls. Something to think about. I may make it a contest. First jar of honey to the winner?

    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  3. June Dafgard wrote:

    I have a question: do you ever kill any of the bees?
    (over winter? I think)

    This has been my dilemma (as a vegan) when buying honey – I’ve heard that most (not all) beekeepers kill a certain number of their bees; I forget why, but it is a common practice.

    The honey I bought this past winter (I had very bad bronchitis) was raw and organic (via Amazon) but there isn’t any way to tell if there are any bees killed.

    I’m not judging; I’m just curious if you know why this is done. :)

    Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  4. Keith wrote:

    Beekeepers don’t usually kill bees unless the hive is infected with “foul brood” – a terrible disease which spreads from hive to hive and kills all the bees. They would burn the hive. The treatment is Tetracycline, but most beekeepers burn the hive to prevent the disease from spreading. I don’t treat my hives with antibiotics because it gets into the honey, even in other untreated hives. I have never had to kill a hive, but I would in order to save my other hives.

    Beekeepers prefer to combine weak hives rather than kill them.

    In the fall I treat the hives with Thymol, which is oil of Thyme, the spice. It smells wonderful and drives out the mites that are the main reason for hive failure. Treating the hives with natural essential oils is the best way to save the hives. Most of what is called Colony Collapse Disorder is caused because the hive is weakened by mites.

    The hive is the organism. Individual bees die when they sting me, an occasionally one manages to get squished when I am putting the top of the box back on, even when I am careful. This is like you losing skin cells when you scrape your knee. The true life form is the hive and it grows and reproduces. The individual bees are like cells in the organism. Hives reproduce by splitting themselves. They will make a new queen and the old queen will leave with half the bees to find a new home, and the new queen will start rebuilding the population. A beehive is like an amoeba, that reproduces by fission.

    The bees are important to me, and I try to keep the individuals alive as best I can, but the true “being” is the hive.

    Keith

    Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  5. June Dafgard wrote:

    Hmmm .. okay, I understand about killing diseased bees.

    I wish I could remember where I read that some beekeepers
    “cull” their bees, possibly over winter.

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of bees – good luck with your beekeeping! :)

    Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Keith wrote:

    Weak hives will not make it through the winter and I’ve heard that some beekeepers will just kill them since they will die anyway. I would rather combine two or even three hives to make a hive that at least has a chance.

    Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

 

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