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  1. #1

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    Marine Corps Virginia

    Default My next adventure...

    Hey, it may not sound exciting to you guys, but in March I attend a 2 day weekend Beekeeping course and will start my first 2 backyard hives in mid-April. If the mead I've got brewed turns out to be amazing stuff, I'll have the raw ingredients for years to come. Always wanted to keep bees and I've already ordered two 'nucs' (basically, a queen and bees in multiple stages of development that have already been living and working together in a hive) for the Spring.

    This is what passes for excitement when you are about to turn 52

    Anyone else tried keeping bees?
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  2. #2
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    Florida State

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    Yes.....keeping them away from me.

    That's wild. I'm looking forward to updates.
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  3. #3
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    My aunt Fran kept bees. It is where I learned not to fear them and had the opportunity to taste that sweet honey straight from the combs. She never wore a head net either.

    I was just thinking about this the other day. I swear I am almost ready to pack it all in, buy just enough land to tend to sustain my family.
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  4. #4
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    Nice!

    I've never raised them, but the guy who owns the farm that I hunt on does. We've helped him move the hives around and stuff like that. He gives us jars of honey, with the honeycomb in it, and it's excellent.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Anyone else tried keeping bees?
    No, but I have stirred up a few hornet's nests.
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  6. #6

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    Haven't had Mead in quite some time....last Mid evil Fair I attended. I'm not a bee person, but honey bees don't have the effect on me a wasp or hornet stings do. Worked with a guy who's family have been in the honey business for decades. We would often stop on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere so he could check his hives. People actually rob them. They only supply hives to orange groves, and the honey takes on a bit of a different/ richer flavor from the orange blossoms, ergo their company name, Orange Blossom Honey. There in LaBelle Fl, about an hour from here. Best honey I've ever had.

    I'm a bit freaked over bees now, being we're having more instances of the Africanized honey bees.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    No, but I have stirred up a few hornet's nests.
    We have some experts on this website!
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  8. #8

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    I'm trying to convince the girlfriend to let me get two or three chickens when we buy a house. I'm not sure we'd have the space for bees, but that could be really cool as well! You'd definitely have way fewer allergy problems if you ate some honeycomb honey every day!
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    That sounds absolutely awesome. I've always wanted to do something like that, but do not have the land to do so.

    Make sure you look into all the tax credits associated with that. You may be able to drastically reduce property taxes and such depending on how many bees you keep
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    Awesome! Its always held a fascination for me. Best of luck!
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    Maybe I will start ordering honey from you for my Two Penny Honey Pale Ale. It's my house brew.

    Congrats, Boone! Hope it provides hours of enjoyment.
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  12. #12

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    Gonna talk to my neighbors this week and see if they have any concerns about a couple of hives in my backyard. I'm not sure they could really tell me I can't do it, but they do have young kids, so if they are really worried (whether I think they are being irrational or not), I'd probably respect that and not pull the trigger. Hopefully, they don't blink an eye, especially if I offer them lots of honey
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    My grandfather was a beekeeper for decades. He did it all - raised the bees, built the boxes, canned the honey, made his own labels, and got it into big stores here locally. At one point the stuff he was canning from his backyard was outselling all the big brands here. It was crazy good, and to this day I have never tasted honey that tasted so pure. It was a completely different taste than commercial honey. His had almost an orange pekoe tea taste.
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  14. #14

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    I'm a little nervous - they are nice people, but we do live right up next to them. Honestly, unless their kids were to venture all the way to the back of my yard and start beating on the hives, shouldn't be an issue. They're more likely to get the stung by the countless yellow jackets who nest in the ground out here. We'll see...
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    Yellowjackets suck. I've been stung by all sorts of wasps, bees, etc. Everything but a hornet. And honestly, it seems to me like the sting of a honey bee is by far the most mild I've had. Not that it's a picnic, but it isn't brutal like a wasp sting is.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Gonna talk to my neighbors this week and see if they have any concerns about a couple of hives in my backyard. I'm not sure they could really tell me I can't do it, but they do have young kids, so if they are really worried (whether I think they are being irrational or not), I'd probably respect that and not pull the trigger. Hopefully, they don't blink an eye, especially if I offer them lots of honey
    dang! was gonna ask "how the neighbors feel about this?!"
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  17. #17

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    Generally, if they are out of the hive, they're looking for food. So they have no reason or need to sting. It's only the bees that guard the hive that you would need to worry about. So as long as you aren't being real aggressive near the hive or messing with it, unlikely you'd get stung.
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  18. #18

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    Right there with you. I saw your pic on facebook. It should be fun to share here. I had planned to start last spring. I'll elaborate on that story in a long rambling post soon. I haven't taken classes. I'm relying on a couple of books, some websites and lots of youtube videos.
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  19. #19

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    Would love to hear about your experience....
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  20. #20

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    How I spent last summer's weekends and evenings ...

    My decision to start beekeeping last year led into way more work than I had originally planned, but since I didn't end up with any bees, I had the time.

    I bought my equipment for two hives last winter and built a hive stand with 2 x 4's. A friend of mine has been beekeeping for a couple of years and has "rescued" quite a few people from swarms in their yards. I had planned to go with him and take one or two swarms to keep in my yard, but last year was apparently slow for swarms, so I didn't end up with any bees at all. I've got two packages on order this spring.

    While preparing for the swarms that didn't materialize, I checked the regulations regarding Fairfax County. I have a six foot privacy fence around my entire backyard, so I was covered there. The fence, or obstruction, is required to alter the early flight path of the bees so they won't bother the neighbors. They generally fly quite a distance and won't drop down lower once they get over the fence into the neighbors'yards.

    The next requirement is a water source for the bees, and this is where I found ways to spend the time I had planned to spend figuring out the bees. My friend uses a 5 gallon bucket with some wood floating in it so the bees can land and drink without drowning. My wife had always talked about having a small pond in the backyard, so somewhere along the line I talked myself into creating a backyard pond.

    While planning the pond, I decided I wanted to make sure we weren't also breeding mosquitos. I looked at various ways to reduce the mosquito larvae population in the pond, and a waterfall to keep the surface moving sounded nice for the future, but I don't have the money or confidence level to run electricity out to where I wanted the pond. I then came across something called mosquito fish. They're very much like minnows, but are supposed to be voracious larvae eaters. They're also extremely hearty and will live through extreme temperatures and conditions. I didn't see anywhere locally to buy them, but found a couple of ebay sellers with plenty in stock. This was probably late winter or early spring and unfortunately I was interested in these fish I'd never heard of, and bored, so I bought some. Still very cold outside and no pond even started, so I found a used 33 gallon aquarium on Craigslist for cheap.

    I did some research on aquariums and set it up just in time for my mosquito fish arrival. Of course during my research I found out that you should start with two or three hearty fish and let the water naturally cycle for three weeks or more until its healthy and can support more fish. I added my 20 new hearty mosquito fish since they had no where else to go, and bought the test kits and chemicals to hopefully get the water cycled faster. I monitored the levels of various toxins through the cycling process and in about a week and a half had a healthy aquarium with no loss of fish.

    Pleasant surprise, my wife really liked the aquarium. Unfortunately mosquito fish are very plain and boring, and 20 mosquito fish plus a few cory catfish were as much as that tank would hold, so I found a 30 gallon tank on Craigslist for cheap.

    This time I set it up the correct way and I checked online to find what tropical fish were compatible with mosquito fish. We got some colorful fish when they went on sale for $1 each, added them to both tanks and I moved half of the mosquito fish to the new tank as well.

    As it got a bit warmer, I started working out the pond details, size, depth, location, what materials I'd need. As I said, mosquito fish apparently survive all kinds of extreme conditions, so I didn't really need to worry about filtration or aeration, just a big deep hole with a liner. Three feet deep is the apparently the magic number for making sure the fish have some liquid to live in, even in the most extreme cold we could have here.

    Once the weather was warm enough I built my pond, let the water cycle, and moved most of the mosquito fish out there. My wife and I went out and found various plants that would work in the pond and added them as well. It was nice going out and sitting next to the pond, trying to watch the mosquito fish, very quiet and relaxing.

    We had three old park benches with slats that had rotted out years ago. I bought cedar planks, cut them into slats, sanded and finished the wood and we had benches for the pond.

    With more reading about ponds, I found that the trapdoor snail is a great snail to have in a pond to take care of the algae, and they're cool looking. I found those on ebay also and added a few to the pond. They stayed near the surface, which meant they needed more oxygen in the water, so I got an aerator and, short term, ran an outdoor extension cord out to the pond.

    The bubbles made the pond even more relaxing. Very easy to just veg out staring at the never ending bubbles. We just had a hard time seeing the mosquito fish. They're gray and average around two inches long and the pond liner is black.

    I checked online and found that my pond could support some goldfish also, and goldfish should be able to survive winters in a 3' deep pond, so we got a few 10 cent feeder goldfish for the pond. They were much more visible and made our visits to the pond more enjoyable.

    Of course goldfish really do better with filtration. I already had the extension cord running out there now, so I gave in. I also figured that if I was going to set up a filter, I may as well make it a waterfall/filter, since my wife wanted a waterfall anyway. We are talking small scale here by the way, the pond is just six feet by seven feet, and the waterfall isn't much more than a five gallon bucket with a flat edge that the water comes out of.

    So we spent the summer watching the tropical fish inside and watching the goldfish triple in size in the pond outside, while the hives sat empty over by the fence.
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