Pre-Bee Planning and Decision-Making

Jan-March 2013

Before the bees arrived, we had some key decisions to make.

The Hives

Its recommended that new beekeepers start with at least 2 hives. That way, if one swarms or dies for some reason, you have a backup.

So, the next decision was what types of hive bodies to use? A bit of research confirmed my original thought. I chose 8 frame mediums simply because they be easier to handle. Brood and honey-filled frames can weigh about 5-7 pounds each. Multiply that by 8, then consider that up to 6 of these boxes will be piled upwards… oh yeah, my back will thank me.

It’s also a good idea to pick one size and stick with it. That way all of my hive bodies will be interchangeable.

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Picking Out Colors

I knew I wanted bright and fun. They also had to be different so the bees could differentiate their own hives. I chose golden yellow and lime green to add a splash of the warm tropics to our backyard. It worked! I love our bright colorful hives, and the bees seem to like them too.

The Apiary Site

I selected a site facing east so it gets the morning sun, is not too close to the neighbors, is adjacent to the garden, is out of dog range, and is shielded between the greenhouse and some tall shrubs.

We prepped the ground with landscaping fabric, lined the perimeter with railroad ties, and filled the space in with small landscaping pebbles. The hives – painted bright green (Hive 1) and yellow (Hive 2) – set about 2 feet up on cinder blocks.

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Packages or Nucs

This was a no brainer. We chose nucs simply because we were starting from scratch. Now that we have filled in frames, I’ll probably purchase packages in the future.

Feeders

Bucket feeders are simple to use, inexpensive, safer for the bees, and closed off to ants, pests and robbers. The only downfall is that an extra box is needed for cover.

I have yet to hear any good words about boardman feeders, and the open feeders just seem too….well…open.

Water Source

For our water source, we purchased a bird bath that automatically fills from a 2 liter soda bottle that screws into the center. As the water level lowers, more water is released from the bottle. So we just refill the bottle as needed. The water source went out before the bees arrived so that it would be the first source of water they saw. It worked. They drink from it regularly. Fun to watch their little bodies pump up and down when they drink.

To provide resting spots for the bees, I filled the bottom of the bird bath with colorful glass nuggets, like you find in flower vases and aquariums. I love the way glass looks outdoors, especially in the water, and it works quite well for the bees.

Equipment

I took the easy route when it comes to equipment. I ordered a kit that included my first complete hive, hive tool, brush, smoker, boardman feeder (which I’ll be happy to give away if anybody wants one), a beekeeping book, and a great Brushy Mountain Intro to Beekeeping video. Definitely the way to go!

So far our upfront decisions are working out well. But everyone is different, and depending on your bee situation, you may have made different choices. I’d love to hear what choices you made for your bees.

Leave a comment and share how and why you may have done things differently (or the same) and how those choices are working out for you!

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