Live and Let Die...
Last year Michael bought me this book. I was beginning to think about keeping bees, and because Michael is as sweet as he is, he listened and surprised me with The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses, by Richard Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch. This book got rave reviews and I thought, "yeah, I can do this by reading a book"... but I will say that I was more confused after reading sections of this book than I was before I started!! So I decided I needed to find the answers to the questions I had by going on YouTube and watching some videos. Still confused. Finally, I thought I had a good handle on the work and supplies I needed to keep bees but I still didn't understand how to even get them! Should I buy a Nuc? A NUC? What in the world is a nuc?
Then I read that Colorado required beekeepers to become certified to purchase bees.
That did it. I knew I needed to take a class. I found To Bee or Not To Bee online and registered for the Introduction to Beekeeping Class (as I mentioned in the last blog).
Gregg McMahan was a great instructor! His passion for beekeeping was shared with the class in a very entertaining, no-nonsense, and animated way.
We learned about three hive types: Langstroth, Warre, and Top Bar. Here is a cheat sheet on info for these three.
Hive Type Pluses Minuses
Langstroth Standard Sizes Bees like to move down, not
Can harvest honey without up so bees may not have
damaging the comb enough honey for the
Easy honey extraction winter if it is all in the top
8 or 10 frame, S, M, L sizes supers.
Top Bar No supers so lighter to inspect Require more frequent
An inexpensive option inspections*
No standardization of sizes
Less Honey harvest
Warre Low maintenance Expensive
Self regulating Difficult to add supers to
Can't use an entrance feeder
The biggest topic of conversation in this class revolved around the "James Bond style of beekeeping"... that would be "Live and Let Die". This discussion was based on people who get bees and just leave them alone (and one of the main reasons for the certification process). These bees generally don't make it here. It is not prudent to follow this bee philosophy while living at altitude. It was very important to Gregg that we all understood the three major things you MUST do to support a healthy hive.
1. Feed your bees!
2. Read your brood!
3. Treat for Varroa Mites
Varroa mites? Guess that's a sign it's time for me to sign up for the Beginning Beekeeping Class. I have NO idea what reading your brood actually looks like, I think I need more help.
So I am left thinking "5 beekeepers, 6 opinions?"... I guess I'm going to find out for myself!
Can't wait to take the next class!
Thanks for reading and I'll post again soon!
* "more frequent (at least twice a week) inspections during honey flow/comb building season in order to intervene if they start to attach their comb onto more than one bar." Mother Earth News