If this is the year you plan on getting bees than order your bees now! My son and I have been attending bee school. See how my son was awarded a bee keeping scholarship from the Trinity Valley Bee Keeping Association;here. If you live in the Dallas area then come join us on the second Tuesday of every month. Link to TVBKA here. Bees must attract good people because we are meeting some of the most wonderful souls we have ever encountered. We have found bees so fascinating! A few of the things we learned about bees that we found amazing are:
They have, not two, but five eyes. That’s right two on the sides of their heads and three in the center of their foreheads. These fore eyes are used to see in the darkness when they enter the hive. I know! Bees have see in the dark eyes they can switch to!
In the bee hive the girls rule, literally! The queen bee lays worker bees that are all girls. She does lay some drone, or male bees, that are pampered fed and then go out to continue the bee population. Get this, these drones (male bees) have a “drone hang out”, meaning that somewhere in the Dallas area all these young males meet. A drone bar if you will. This conjures up images of the movie “Top Gun” where Tom Cruise and all his wing men meet and try to seduce the ladies with good looks, cheap drinks and bad karaoke. The story gets better; back in the hive the new queen cell opens and the new young queen has to literally run for her life, because there can only be ONE queen bee in the hive. This young virgin queen somehow knows where the drone hang out is and flies there to mate with up to 20 drone bees in that, hopefully, sunny spring day. Get ready for more excitement; she mates in flight. Let me just give you a moment to imagine what a wild ride late would be! Kind of makes you wish you could be a bee for a day, huh. Come on back down to earth with me now. Sorry, back to bees.
In bee life, this day is VERY important. Why? Because this seed from the male bee will last this queen for her whole life, up to 3 years! The miracle of this will become clear to you when I tell you that she can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. So to sum it up; from this one day, she stores enough seed to last her for 3 years laying up to 2,000 eggs a day! No wonder bees are a fragile thing. There is so much that could go wrong here. This Spring it rained almost every day. Not very many mating flights going on there, I bet. I have questions; How do the drones know where the “hang out” is? How do the new virgin queens know where the drones are? Maybe I will ask God when I see him. I can just see me finally encountering the creator of the universe and saying, “If you don’t mind, I would like to talk bees for just a moment.”
If you are ready to start your bee adventure you need to know the two type of hives you can choose from. The Langstroth hive is what most bee keepers use. It is basically file cabinet of bees.
Your other choice is the Top Bar Hive, which is like a manger with a lid and legs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I started to list the good and bad points to both ,but then decided I would just tell you what I would do. If I had some money tucked away for a fun, educational, fascinating hobby I would order a basic starter kit from Dadant Bee Suppliers. A big shout out to Dadant for donating the hives for this years scholarship students! Thank you! Here is a list of the things you will need to get started. Dadant has a bee keeping supplier in Paris Texas so you can avoid shipment charges if you are willing to drive a bit. link to Dadant here.
Bee Keeping Equipment List- for one hive(Langstroth Hive)
- 1 deep super with 10 frames with foundation
- 2 medium honey supers with 10 frames with foundation
- 1 hive cover
- 1 bottom board: solid or screened
- 1 feeder
- 1 queen excluder(optional)
- 1 smoker
- bee suit or if you are really brave, calm and dare I say foolish? Just get the hat and veil.
- 1 pair of beekeeping gloves
- 1 hive tool(special bee crow bar)
- 1 bee brush(optional) Not to brush the bees, but to brush off the bees.
As you can tell all this is going to cost you and we haven’t figured in the bees yet. Brace yourself, bees are expensive. You will need to order a Nuc for this type of hive. A Nuc is short for a box of bees, with a queen, that have already started building a hive complete with brood or bee babies. Conveniently putting the frames full of bees (and baby bees)into your hive will help it get off to a good start. A Nuc will cost you between $ 200. – $300. I know! I guess we have to remember that there is a shortage of these amazing insects, that can have a tendency to drive the price up a bit. Thankfully this is what my son is getting to start his bee adventure with.
If on the other hand you don’t have money tucked away, because you have many teenage mouths to feed like I do, you have another option. Scrounge, glean and gather scrap lumber and build a top bar hive or in my case beg your brother to build it with you. Thank you Don for getting excited about this new adventure! I am no building expert,couldn’t even read the plans, but my brother says it will be a fun and easy project. You will still need to order some things.
Bee Keeping Equipment list- Top Bar Hive
- 1 jar type feeder to put down in the hive(I am using an old chicken waterer)
- 1 smoker
- a full bee suit or hat and veil and make do with old clothes for the suit
- bee keeping gloves
- 1 hive tool
- 1 bee brush(optional)
Now you will need bees. You will need to order a package of bees for this type of hive. A package of bees will cost you $130.-$150. Basically the name says it all. You will get a box of bees with the queen. I was told you shake the bees into the top bar hive. Now I don’t know about you, but the word shake and bees just makes me cringe, but more about how to start the hive later. What if you don’t have money for a package of bees? Well, as you might have noticed I am a believer in never letting lack of funds stop you from your dream. Two options come to mind. You could ask someone to purchase the bees for you in return for that years harvest of honey? Or you could be a bit riskier and pray for a swarm. Bees swarm in early Spring, meaning that they leave their home for various reasons and clump up somewhere with the queen sheltered in the middle, while scouts search for a better place to live. I myself would be inclined to look for a new place before I left the old, but maybe bees have something to teach us about trusting our Father. There are lessons everywhere if we open our eyes to see them. So I am going to take a page from the bee book and trust in God for a swarm and someone to help me safely get it in a box. I had a rule for myself that I never pray about wants, only about needs. I am going to have to change that rule because when I went to my Father the other night, He wanted to hear about the bees! He let me know that, while he wants to hear all about what is troubling me, my needs and the needs of others, He also wants to hear the desires of my heart. He is thrilled to know, what in His creation I am excited about! So cool. If you don’t know God or His Son Jesus, email me personally. I would love to introduce the 4 of you. Who else can you depend on to be waiting at the end of every night to lovingly listen to the good, bad and ugly of your life?
My mother-in-law is going to read this and call tomorrow to offer to buy me some bees, just so I won’t go after a swarm. She loves me. While the thought of chasing bees or more likely bees chasing me, does seem a bit daunting, I REALLY want to capture a swarm! Maybe this is an urban farmer’s idea of living on the edge! I hope I have you thinking about getting bees, but don’t think too long. Live on the edge with me and build your hive or order your bees!
Local bee suppliers: Hurry many are selling out!
R. Weaver : Navasota, TX http://www.rweaver.com/index.php
Christi Baughman :(best teacher ever!) http://beegirl.biz/ nucs only Limited number available
While these are local to Dallas there are others that will ship from around the country. This one day mail will add to the cost though.