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Not sure if this is a beekeeping q or not, but I think it is...if not Admin feel free to move it.

I am a new bee-keeper. I am housebound after an operation went wrong, take strong opiates daily, had to retire in my early 40s from teaching - and was going slowly mad. I had always wanted to keep bees, and was given some hives - so contacted local BKA and explained, was assured it was quite possible.

That was in June, collected and hived the nuc. provided by assoc at v.reasonable cost at the end of the month. For three weeks, apart from minor problems I have managed OK - although I do find the lifting difficult. Then 3 weeks ago, my bees became v.v. agressive and I think I am Q-, but only realised this weekend.

However, because I couldn't do the beginners course - I feel totally out of my depth. I now have a MAJOR problem...to an experienced beek, it may be minor but I feel totally out of my depth. I had great advice from a forum member, and another will be in touch later in the week - which is great and I am thankful for that. BUT (I know, no sentence should start with but) it is making me wonder... can I carry on without ANY local support?

For a number of reasons my 'mentor' is not working out, and has not visited my bees yet. When I can find him he helps, by phone, but all I have is knowledge from books. Other verbal promises of help have not materialised.

So, do I quit now - not too much lost...except I LOVE my bees, they fascinate me totally, and they are saving my sanity or keep going while being totally lost and uncertain what to do next?

Advice from experienced beeks welcomed
 

taff.. 

Field Bee
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stick with it for now, we are nearly at the end of the year.

after sept/oct you'll tuck them up for the winter and then wont be busy again with them until march/april. that'll give you all winter to read, read, read, join in with your local assoc meetings, meet new people and learn from them.


I suspect you are feeling low because things are going a bit wrong and your colony is grumpy as hell, when the bees are calm and walking around the frames everything is much nicer :)



good luck
 

aberreef 

Field Bee
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I know I'll be shot down in a blaze of glory but have you considered a top bar hive. Not popular with many on this forum but could prove better for your circumstances. They are much lighter to manipulate and only a small part of the colony is exposed at any one time, making the bees that bit easier to handle.

Sorry to hear about your illness btm. I hope everything will work out for you

Huw
 

Black Comb 

Queen Bee
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All new beeks get this feeling.

You read the books and go on the courses, do what they have said and the bees go and do something different. You feel you are the world's worst beekkeeper. You are not. Keep going.

The local BKA should be giving you support. 'phone the education officer or secretary and explain - I'm sure there are many experienced members who would quickly pay you a visit and help. If the association supplied the nuc it is normal that they give follow-up help.
 

Lois 

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2 colonies now! and some spare parts.
I was also going to suggest a tbh for the ease of use, my hubby isgoing to build one for me over the winter, I hope ican run my national alongside it.
Sorry to hear you havnt been well, things will get better I promise. Bees are great aren't they? It sounds like you really need a kind mentor, you must have been really unlucky because I have found all beeks fab.
Some days the bees are grumpy, this can be for many reasons and I believe they can sense the mood or health of their keeper! I find I and the bees are a lot more confident if I have someone with me when inspecting, they don't even have to be a keeper. Keep going and we will carry on helping you.
 

thedeaddiplomat 

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sadly, no more!
I'm with Taff - another few weeks, and they will be largely tucked up for the winter. You can then spend some time studying. I too had a very aggressive hive a little while ago: there is little more dispiriting for a new beek. But it righted itself eventually, and I am enjoying things as much as ever again now.

Is there no one (friend or family) with a faint interest in beekeeping that you could inveigle into doing some of the donkey work in return for a share of the spoils?
 

Hebeegeebee 

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If your bees save your sanity, then keep going!
One of the joys and frustrations of beekeeping is that we cannot always predict what is going to happen in our hives. I still experience the joy of seeing a new queen start to lay and the sadness of having to sqush a 'dud' or the frustration of having a swarm. (Now I clip my queens I don't tend to lose them!). I can still recall the horror when the swarm from my only hive a few years ago set off down the road.
I would hope that your local association could help better. Now that the swarm season is largely over beeks will have more time. However it's a bit daft that the association can't support the bees it has given you!

Please explain why you think your colony is queenless and we can help where we can. Do you see eggs or larvae or just sealed brood? Are there queencells; if so what state ar they? (Unsealed, closed, open...) any further info you can give and you'll get a barrage of replies I am sure.
 

shonabee 

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Don't quit. My bees became queenless last summer (my first year with them too) and they were a nightmare - didn't help that the weather wasn't great either. It felt like a real endurance test to go into the hive, and not in any way a fun, enjoyable pastime! HOWEVER I know of few (actually, maybe none...) beeks who enjoy dealing with fiesty colonies - it isn't becuase it's "just you" or becuase you're a beginner, it's because dealing with grumpy bees is not nice, regardless of how many years experience you have. It isn't a permanent feature of the colony or of beekeeping though, it can be solved.

Out of your depth? I'm sure that every new beekeeper feels this way at some point - if they say otherwise, then either they're very fortunate or a bit odd! When something isn't exactly as it should be then it becomes a great way to drive your friends /OH mad hearing why you're worrying about them.

IMO, keep at it, as they are fascinating creatures and really you love keeping them (which won't change), but not the stress of grumpy bees not doing what you understand (which will change).
 

darrenperrett 

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Don`t give up yet,
Next time you look in there you could have a laying Q and it`s all ok.

Darren.
 

Silly Bee 

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Is there no kindly retired gent who could help you with the heavy lifting stuff?

I'm to far away unfortunatley.

Stick with it, something or somebody will turn up. ;)
 

Firegazer 

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Queens59,
you should definitely stick with it, despite the current issues.

You are at a very tricky stage in your learning, you started a little bit late, with a nuc that has had problems. Your mentor and BKA haven't been supportive enough. These factors have combined to give you a miserable first year - unless the bees sort themselves out pretty quickly.

All of these problems are fixable (including the lifting issue - you can have true TBHs or maybe a lower level Dartington/Beehaus which uses standard frames).

My first year was last year and I started very late, with a small colony, which I failed to nurture properly and died this Spring. My mentors (who are very good and supportive) kicked my arse, gave me another small colony, gave me more advice and told me to keep going. That's all you need too.

I suggest you:

1) be assertive at the BKA - "I am in real trouble here - I need urgent help/reassurance. You are my support network - come and help me now!"

2) get a mentor who can spend regular time with you and the bees, buddy up with someone and share inspections.

3) get another colony next year - 2 is much better than one (you can compare progress, get an instant test frame, balance strength, combine into Winter if they don't do well, etc)

I'm 2 hours away by car. If you want to visit me for some (currently) better mannered bee fun, you're very welcome. If you want me to visit you and keep you sane (and there's no-one closer) I'll drive down, rather than you throwing in the towel.

FG
 

biggles 

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I know you said "Advice from experienced beeks welcomed" Well I'm not experienced, so I hope you don't mind. I'm new to bee keeping. I have lost a queen in one hive, I've had my glove attacked and got over 30 stings, and yesterday they all seemed to want to be in my shed with me. I spent the evening getting them out.
Things go wrong and if you can smile and make the most of it then life's better.

I really hope you find someone who can help you.

ATB
Pete
 
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5...2 wooden National, 2 poly Nat & 1 poly nuc...bursting at the seams
If your bees save your sanity, then keep going!
One of the joys and frustrations of beekeeping is that we cannot always predict what is going to happen in our hives. I still experience the joy of seeing a new queen start to lay and the sadness of having to sqush a 'dud' or the frustration of having a swarm. (Now I clip my queens I don't tend to lose them!). I can still recall the horror when the swarm from my only hive a few years ago set off down the road.
I would hope that your local association could help better. Now that the swarm season is largely over beeks will have more time. However it's a bit daft that the association can't support the bees it has given you!

Please explain why you think your colony is queenless and we can help where we can. Do you see eggs or larvae or just sealed brood? Are there queencells; if so what state ar they? (Unsealed, closed, open...) any further info you can give and you'll get a barrage of replies I am sure.
I think I am Q- because:
a) Very calm gentle bees are now kamikaze
b) I can see sealed brood, but no larva/eggs but as they go berserk within seconds of lifting the lid...it is hard to get a good look
c) Haven't seen HM for 3 weeks - and she wasn't a hider, always slap bang in the middle of a frame.
BUT I haven't seen supercedure or Q cells.

Thanks for the comments - one thing I haven't got across too well is I CANNOT attend the winter sessions at the assoc. so am missing a great deal of info (I have sudden attacks of extreme pain, and as they cannot be predicted I'm stuffed basically). I have read 15 books so far - and they all say the same or similar, but when your bees are intent on stinging any piece of you they can it is hard to remember what the books say...
 

mark s 

Field Bee
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hi queens59
sorry to hear about your troubles,but if you suffer from severe attacks of extreme pain at anytime or place then maybe beekeeping is not the hobby that you should be taking up, the last thing you want is to have an attack while your in the middle of an inspection on a full size colony especially if there a bit tetchy ,you could find your self in a bit of bother,if these attacks stop you from attending meets then they are going to hamper you as a beekeeper imho
 
Joined
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hi queens59
sorry to hear about your troubles,but if you suffer from severe attacks of extreme pain at anytime or place then maybe beekeeping is not the hobby that you should be taking up, the last thing you want is to have an attack while your in the middle of an inspection on a full size colony especially if there a bit tetchy ,you could find your self in a bit of bother,if these attacks stop you from attending meets then they are going to hamper you as a beekeeper imho
Yep, I was aware of that - so my husband - who also has problems is my bee-buddy...he doesn't work the bees, but knows enough to pack the hive up quickly if an attack strikes while I'm with the girls. I have to do something...I can't just sit and do nothing, I go mad if I do. I didn't go into beekeeping in a naive manner - I got support and advice from my local BKA/Doctor etc...problem is as soon as I got the bees the support stopped.
 

mark s 

Field Bee
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sorted then keep going and dont quit,i got mine this time last year and they were pussycats now i find out that when i inspect two of my hives they are very aggressive,but ive learnt to just try and ignore them and work through it and leave as soon as you can,and slowlybut surely its getting better
good luck with your bees :)
 

PaleoPerson 

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Queen59,

Very sorry to hear of your plight, but I totally agree with Firegazer et al.

If you have a problem with weight, have a word with Tom Bick, he makes half size supers for nationals. Ask if he can make anything for WBC.

My bees all turned nasty a few weeks ago and I am putting it down to lack of forage/weather conditions and they have only just started to get their manners back again.

I think that the problems can be overcome and I can empathise with you regards promises made by local associations vs reality. A lot of the right noises, but not a lot of the right actions.

Good luck - Rick
 

freckledbeck 

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So sorry to hear of your troubles, as a new beek it makes worrying reading!
I think whether or not you continue keeping bees depends solely on whether or not you want to continue? It sounds like you have lost confidence and need ongoing support, (which should be forthcoming from your local BBKA branch) but if that isn't possible, how do you feel about continuing alone?
Perhaps as others have said, don't make your decision yet, wait until next year, as you may regret it if you throw in the towel now.
Good luck. :)
 

kazmcc 

Queen Bee
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I am very sorry to hear you are getting down hearted. You have been a great source of support for me, and I just wish there was something I could do in return :( Could you not write a letter to the education officer of your local assoc, and explain your predicament, your problem, and how you feel alone in this and are considering giving up? Sometimes if you write, you can explain something better than doing it in words, as when talking about your health can be a bit embarassing, especially for a proud, capable person, I know, I have been there. Fire gazer is a good bloke for offering to drive down to help you, I would take him up on his offer. If I could drive I would be there like a shot....but I'm not sure how much help i would be.

Please don't give up. I'd miss you.

Karen
 

MuswellMetro 

Queen Bee
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but when your bees are intent on stinging any piece of you they can it is hard to remember what the books say...
could be just loss of flow, but haver you tried a manipulation cloth? i do not use one and they have fallen out of favour but they can aid inspection of a grumpy colony

http://www.beekeepingforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5963

if all else fails, I am at Sidmouth folk festival next week, could shove my wellies and PPE in the car
 

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