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FidoDido

New Bee
Joined
Feb 1, 2024
Messages
67
Reaction score
25
Location
Suffolk
Number of Hives
0
Hello everyone!

I posted a while ago about wanting to start keeping bees. I was roundly scolded for not taking it seriously enough but assured everyone that although I may have an irreverent conversation/posting style I take the welfare of any living thing I’m responsible for extremely seriously.

Anyhow - I have bought two hives! Very nice new cedar ones. A friendly handyman I know is making up the hive bodies, possibly as we speak. I am doing my bit by putting the frames together which was fun to start with but my fingers now resemble throbbing red sausages. Twenty down - forty to go.

Now - the fellow who sold me the hives has suggested I might be able to catch a colony because it’s the time of year when bees are looking for new premises. What are the chances of that, do people think?

On a side note, I found a drenched and cold bumblebee the other day. I scooped her into my hand and she seemed to appreciate the warmth. We walked for a while and she kept trying her wings from time to time. I really wanted to take her home and give her some sugar water but we were about to pick my granddaughter up from school and I don’t think she’d have appreciated a loose bee in the car.

So I found a tree with some flowers in it but would she leave my hand?! I probably looked as if I was doing t’ai chi as I contorted myself trying to get her into the flower. I managed it eventually but I swear she was leaning towards me trying to get back to me. I found it quite upsetting actually. Perhaps she would have had some nectar and revived enough to get back to her home?
 
Yes I did. To both questions! I’ve also got a nice lady near-ishly nearby who is very kind and is aways happy to answer questions.

I’ve usually got my nose in either Bees At the bottom of the garden or another slightly drier book that I can’t remember the name of.

YouTube videos are useful too although there are so many different points of view.
 
You come across as a little unprepared for looking after hives of bees, but that may be a false impression.
Best of luck, do lots of reading, get a mentor if you can.
A bit early for swarms yet, and never guaranteed to choose you!
 
I really wanted to take her home and give her some sugar water
the worse thing you can do - you are removing her from the area she has oriented to, by taking her away, if she has started to build her nest (and you just found her when she was resting after foraging) she would then be unable to find her way back and the nest would be doomed.
 
Here is a facebook post from KazMcC, a member of the forum who no longer posts on here, I know she won't mind me sharing it.:
After a recent post I thought it might be useful to give a bit of info on bumblebee behaviour at this time of year and cover some of the most common questions I’m asked on the subject as a UK wild bee (wasps and ants) specialist.

At this time of year in my part of the world bumblebee queens are beginning to emerge after their long winter sleep and are looking to replenish body fats and begin to look for a spot to start a nest. Many people associate bumbles with summer and become concerned that our wet and cold spring weather will impact them negatively. This is not the case. They are native insects that have evolved to be perfectly adapted to our inclement weather so there is no cause for concern, even if we experience a freeze.

Many queens will not have found a suitable site yet. Many are nectaring still and will only be collecting pollen once they have found the perfect spot and start to lay their first clutch of precious workers. Until she does so she has to do the work of creating her small nest, keeping herself strong, collecting the food those larvae will need to grow and keep them warm herself. A precarious time for our queen bumble. Once her first brood emerge into adults she will become nestbound and her workers will take over the foraging and nest expansion duties while she concentrates on laying her eggs.

As they don’t have a nest to go back to they will often spend periods of resting between feeding, often sat on the ground. To the casual observer they can appear ailing as they tend to be a bit slow and dopey during these rests. Unless in danger of being stepped on the best thing to do is to leave them alone but if she has stopped in a high traffic area then popping her somewhere out of danger nearby is the only course of action necessary. She will waken and be on her way once the sun comes out and she’s rested.

Feeding bees. It’s really not necessary. Flowers are always best and you won’t go far wrong introducing her to a dandelion, which are abundant around now, even in a city. Please never give them honey. Not even honey direct from a bee keeper. Honey can carry the kind of honeybee diseases that are presenting in our bumblebees such as deformed wing virus and nosema, as sort of dysentery. I know some places are selling ‘bee revival kits’, even some of the big hitters such as the RSPB. This is disappointing. If you feel you must feed a bee then a mix of plain white sugar with a little water only. Brown sugars are difficult to digest. Please never give honey to any bee other than those from the hive it came from. This includes other honeybees. Shop bought or direct from the beekeeper.

Bringing bees indoors for the night (or for any period of time). Please don’t do this. If your queen has begun to rear those first precious workers then any enforced time away from this early nest is extremely damaging and may result in the loss of that brood. Bumblebees are a hardy insect built to cope with the cooler weather at this time of year.

Mites. I’ve included an image of a queen bumblebee [last image] with her entourage. Many folks know about the varroa mite in honeybees and often assume these sort of mites are as harmful, but they are not. These bumblebee mites are merely holding onto her and will have often spent the winter with her. They will stay nestled in her hairs until she founds her own nest where they will disembark and feed on the detritus created by the nest once it begins to build.

Lastly, I’ve added a couple of photos of some bumbles that were caught out in my garden during a 3 day spell of torrential rain a couple of years back. They do look rather sorry for themselves but are perfectly fine. They will often hunker down and wait for the rains to pass and dry off remarkably quickly. Once the sun returns they will climb back up the flower, have a bit of a groom and continue feeding.

I hope this answers a few questions but if anyone has any more then I’m more than happy to help. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has been posting lots of timely info posts on bumblebee behaviour at this time of year so do check those out. Lots of people on hand to help steer any questions. Lastly, if you do find a bee that you think may need help, please ask for advice before taking any action.



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You come across as a little unprepared for looking after hives of bees, but that may be a false impression.
Best of luck, do lots of reading, get a mentor if you can.
A bit early for swarms yet, and never guaranteed to choose you!
Yes. As I’ve said - numerous times - I’m a complete beginner. However I’m doing my best to learn as much as possible. I am indeed doing lots of reading and have my name down for the next local beekeeping course.

Anyway thank you all for the input and useful posts.
 
At some point you will likely lose a colony. Given your feelings regarding the bumblebee you'll need to make sure you can grit your teeth, learn from it and keep going.
I will add that it’s quite common to crush the odd bee or two (or even more) during an inspection of a hive. If you can’t deal with that maybe beekeeping is not for you.
 
I will add that it’s quite common to crush the odd bee or two (or even more) during an inspection of a hive. If you can’t deal with that maybe beekeeping is not for you.
I have no doubt that beekeeping will be for me. However I’m almost sure that by and large, beekeepers are not for me. What an unfriendly bunch.
 
I have no doubt that beekeeping will be for me. However I’m almost sure that by and large, beekeepers are not for me. What an unfriendly bunch.
Most of the beeks on here are friendly, one or two can be a bit sharp at times.
Like all text media, sometimes the "feel" of a post can come across wrong.
Don't be put off I'm sure you will find the forum welcoming and helpful!
 
I have no doubt that beekeeping will be for me. However I’m almost sure that by and large, beekeepers are not for me. What an unfriendly bunch.
Not unfriendly, people who have been on here a few years recognise that we all start somewhere - and offer advice that is appropriate to what they read in your posts. There's a wealth of experience and knowledge on here that you will never find in a beekeeping course or in the beekeeping books. We don't like to see beginners fail and so many do...because it looks simple - get a box, chuck a few bees and a queen in there and you are a beekeeper - bit like keeping a goldfish in a bowl isn't it ?

But it's not really like that ... there is more to keeping basically 'wild' insects in a managed situation. If you get it wrong or don't realise what needs to be done at an appropriate time then one of three things will happen - your bees will die, they will swarm until you have no bees left or you will get lucky and the bees do exactly what it says in the books ... the reality is that the the last option is the least likely. The first two result in feelings of despair and desperation that almost inevitably lead to the new beekeeper giving up within a couple of seasons... the last lulls you into a sense of falsehood that comes before the bees really put one over on you !

You are a dog trainer - how often do you find that 'problem dogs' are not problem dogs but are problem owners .. who don't understand how dogs need to be trained and managed ... ? Well, with 40,000 bees in a box that you cannot actually train to do what you want the problem is nearly always the beekeeper who does not understand the bees ...and what to do. The instant advice available on here, when it all goes South and you have not a clue about what to do, has saved so many new beekeepers (and more experienced ones as well) from disaster. It's a very broad church and opinions vary - but that's good because it makes you THINK .. having a mentor is useful but with only one opinion to rely on ? Better to have a few and consider your chosen course in the light of a broader base of ideas ...

Rather than suggesting that we are unfriendly, you should be thankful that people are prepared to offer you constructive comments and advice - OK - the bedside manner of some on here is a little terse at times, but I've lost count of the beginners who come and go very quickly when they realise that keeping bees is a huge commitment of time and energy, if you are going to do it properly. The drop out rate of new beekeepers is over 90% in the first three years ... get through those unscathed and you might be on the road to being a beekeeper.

My advice ? Take all the advice you can get and think a lot about what you are doing and intend doing ...take the tough love in the way it is given .. not as discouragement but as a reality check of the steep learning curve you will face - because anyone who has kept bees for a few years has been there before you and knows !
 
Not unfriendly, people who have been on here a few years recognise that we all start somewhere - and offer advice that is appropriate to what they read in your posts. There's a wealth of experience and knowledge on here that you will never find in a beekeeping course or in the beekeeping books. We don't like to see beginners fail and so many do...because it looks simple - get a box, chuck a few bees and a queen in there and you are a beekeeper - bit like keeping a goldfish in a bowl isn't it ?

But it's not really like that ... there is more to keeping basically 'wild' insects in a managed situation. If you get it wrong or don't realise what needs to be done at an appropriate time then one of three things will happen - your bees will die, they will swarm until you have no bees left or you will get lucky and the bees do exactly what it says in the books ... the reality is that the the last option is the least likely. The first two result in feelings of despair and desperation that almost inevitably lead to the new beekeeper giving up within a couple of seasons... the last lulls you into a sense of falsehood that comes before the bees really put one over on you !

You are a dog trainer - how often do you find that 'problem dogs' are not problem dogs but are problem owners .. who don't understand how dogs need to be trained and managed ... ? Well, with 40,000 bees in a box that you cannot actually train to do what you want the problem is nearly always the beekeeper who does not understand the bees ...and what to do. The instant advice available on here, when it all goes South and you have not a clue about what to do, has saved so many new beekeepers (and more experienced ones as well) from disaster. It's a very broad church and opinions vary - but that's good because it makes you THINK .. having a mentor is useful but with only one opinion to rely on ? Better to have a few and consider your chosen course in the light of a broader base of ideas ...

Rather than suggesting that we are unfriendly, you should be thankful that people are prepared to offer you constructive comments and advice - OK - the bedside manner of some on here is a little terse at times, but I've lost count of the beginners who come and go very quickly when they realise that keeping bees is a huge commitment of time and energy, if you are going to do it properly. The drop out rate of new beekeepers is over 90% in the first three years ... get through those unscathed and you might be on the road to being a beekeeper.

My advice ? Take all the advice you can get and think a lot about what you are doing and intend doing ...take the tough love in the way it is given .. not as discouragement but as a reality check of the steep learning curve you will face - because anyone who has kept bees for a few years has been there before you and knows !
I don’t think I’ve ever suggested getting bees and chucking them in a box. How patronising. I seem to remember making it very clear I’m keen to get/do it right.

In your dog training analogy, what has happened on here is the equivalent of someone posting on a dog forum “I’m looking to get a puppy. I’m a complete beginner but I’m going to learn as much as I can before I get my puppy and will need lots of advice!” and people saying “You seem very unprepared” and “Well if you’re not going to like it when a puppy piddles on the floor I don’t think dog ownership is for you”.

Helpful.

I’m not surprised the drop out rate is so high.

Anyway, again, thank you to those who have been helpful.
 
I have no doubt that beekeeping will be for me. However I’m almost sure that by and large, beekeepers are not for me. What an unfriendly bunch.
What an unfriendly bunch. - This what you get with this forum. Moderators [some of whom are equally guilty] like to pretend its a 'broad church' and 'everyone's free to express their opinion', yet woe betide a newcomer asking a perhaps naive question and the usual suspects will wade in. Keep in contact with your mentor and local Association, I I tell my new starters to avoid this forum
 
What an unfriendly bunch. - This what you get with this forum. Moderators [some of whom are equally guilty] like to pretend its a 'broad church' and 'everyone's free to express their opinion', yet woe betide a newcomer asking a perhaps naive question and the usual suspects will wade in. Keep in contact with your mentor and local Association, I I tell my new starters to avoid this forum
Glad it’s not just me. As I said in a previous post I’m impossible to offend but being looked down on for being ignorant is another thing entirely and I can’t abide pomposity. Any recommendations for friendlier places to ask questions?
 
On one occasion when I mentioned swarming, having read that swarming is a natural behaviour that will almost invariably happen at some point, I got shouted at and asked if I was winding everyone up 😏

You’ve got to laugh 😂
 
Keep in contact with your mentor and local Association
Those two sources can take a beginner down a fast road to Hell as easily as any (your location tells me that that you have already arrived :) ) and there is no single source of advice, delivered with night-nurse tenderness, that will do the job. Far more useful to take all advice on board, ignore the casual denigration, distil all you hear and carve your own methods.

I may have an irreverent conversation/posting style
It's up to us to decode your style and some do not have the patience to do so, but if we were in a pub conversation other cues would help, and what comes across as casual online derision would be read differently. We're not in a pub, so plain speaking and careful use of words (by all of us) works best.

I’m impossible to offend
Good, so stick around.
 
Lurk, learning from the advice given to others, until you've also learnt the ways of our members. I realised long ago that those with the sharpest tongues are often those whose advice can be the best. Unfortunately one or two of them frequently snipe rather than explain.
 

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