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waxymud 

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Hi all,
Recently I have been looking into getting a hive or two and starting down the path of keepin bees.
I have looked around at a few sites such as wiki and google search results as well as here.
I live between Boulogne and Calais on the French northern coast. About 10km in land from the coast on a large dairy farm, with a dairy herd and quite a few acres of grazing land and fields with crops.

As a complete beginner;
1) What would be a good book for a beginner to buy and have most things covered in?

2) What hive is it best to start out with, how many, and best to buy one (assembled or flat pack) or make my own from downloadable plans?

3) Where would it be best to postion the hive(s). I have two locations picked out but require some clearing an access. One is south facing and in a sparcly treed wood ( trees are large and well spaced but have a good canopy). the other is also south facing but in an over grown corner against a barn with a thick overgrown hedge line running away from it due south, frming a sheltered right angle. No tree cover.

4) Any stockest recommended as the place to go to get good beginners gear, reasonably priced and helpfull? Can be UK or France.

Thanks,
 
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Might be worth looking first at how you are going to get your bees as the frames they come on may indicate what sort of hive to get. The Dadant Blatt is popular in France but you won't buy any bits for it in the UK. If your French is up to it make contact with local beekeepers but there are contributors on this forum based in France as well so one of them will I am sure be along soon to give good advice.
 

Heather 

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As a complete beginner;
1) What would be a good book for a beginner to buy and have most things covered in?
'Keeping healthy honey bees' is a good book for beginners. Amazon web site

2) What hive is it best to start out with, how many, and best to buy one (assembled or flat pack) or make my own from downloadable plans?
2 nationals flat pack- cheaper and you have time to make. Need two so if a problem with one you have a second hive to aid recovery (all in book!)

3) Where would it be best to postion the hive(s). I have two locations picked out but require some clearing an access. One is south facing and in a sparcly treed wood ( trees are large and well spaced but have a good canopy). the other is also south facing but in an over grown corner against a barn with a thick overgrown hedge line running away from it due south, frming a sheltered right angle. No tree cover.
Dont need much tree cover- just ensure not facing any walkway where public will pass. South easterly is good to get morning sun, -but as long as sheltered from any winds

4) Any stockist recommended as the place to go to get good beginners gear, reasonably priced and helpfull? Can be UK or France.
Google and compare - Paynes, Thornes, Maisemore- all post out
 
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Welcome Waxymud - enjoy the forum - the experts can be a helpful bunch!! Whatever you buy remember you'll need double...bees have a habit of wanting the bit of kit you haven't got or the only one that you have no spare for...so be prepared!!
 

kathrynat 

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Welcome Waxymud, I am new to beekeeping so am not qualified to offer sound bee advice. One thing I can tell you from experience, our dairy cows find the hive fascinating, and the bull sees it as some sort of threat. He loves snorting and shaking his head at it. Its well fenced off so they can't get to it, but it causes all sorts of congestion when trying to get the cows in for milking.
 

drex 

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Just coming to the end of my first year.

I agree with Ted Hooper for a book. Do not know the setup in France, but strongly advise hooking up with a more experienced keeper. I went on theory and practical course with local Beekeepers association and the tutor has provided on going support.

The year has been great fun, some sleepless nights, done some stupid things, but the bees sort it all out, despite me.

Have 2 strong colonies, and 1 less so going into winter. Will bed them down finally in a couple of weeks.

Beekeeps on the whole are very helpful and generous with their time. Cannot recommend real live contact with another keeper(s) enough. This forum has been very good too and got me out of several tight corners.

Enjoy
 

blackbrood 

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Maisemore are having a sale at the mo, if you are looking for cheaper stuff. click here for site.

T.h.o.r.n.e.s will be having a sale later on in November I think. I assume it will be online to.

here is a map of lots of UK suppliers. click here. I dont know how many will post to France.

I am new to beekeeping this year. I have "getting started in beekeeping" by clare waring and found it a good read.
 

oliver90owner 

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2) What hive is it best to start out with, how many, and best to buy one (assembled or flat pack) or make my own from downloadable plans?

As rooftops says, local format is best. Being totally 'out of kelter' with the locals is not good in more than one way!

How many? I would say two as a minimum. I always recommend starting with two as they are so much easier to manage than one, where any slip-up from a new beek can seem disastrous and can quickly esalate into greater trouble which is not good for a newbee. One winter loss would represent 50% with two hives but 100% with only one.

Expansion after that first year is not a difficult task if one has confidence and strong healthy bees.

Even a TBH format might be a good start. Don't know why, or how, or what you expect from your bees, your future plans, etc.

I have guessed here (above), that you are really wanting an extracted honey crop from a normal framed hive format and are not particularly bothered about aethsetics?

Even poly hives might be acceptable or even common in France. Your level of ability with wood might determine your initial starting point with hives (flat-pack, planks or ready-built!), but the rest of it is fairly universal. Find a reliable, friendly, co-operative supplier and you will get lots of local advice if that supplier is relevant to the region.

Regards, and good luck, RAB
 

waxymud 

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Thanks For the replies.

I know the most part are in the UK but does anyone have any contacts for suppliers in the north of France?

I found a few but most seem hours away, very few seem to sell brood as nucs with brood and queen on. And its collect only, which is 4 hours each way to the nearest I have found.

Searching still but thought I'd ask on the off chance someone had something helpfull!
 

Poly Hive 

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I think that the classic advice applies which is to join the local Association, and in your case here possibly asking the Mayor as I believe those people in France to be the fount of local knowledge?

PH
 

gavin 

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You asked about two possible locations. Of the two I might choose the sheltered one against the barn rather than one under a canopy. Some things to think about:

- even if your bees are mostly gentle and well-behaved, there will be times when they harrass people nearby. Queenless periods in particular. Don't site them where people will regularly be in the line of sight.

- you may need to move them at short notice. Vehicular or at least wheel-barrow access close by is important as full colonies are very heavy.

- colonies under a tree canopy are usually more tetchy than those in the open.

- keep them out of sight of passers by, as bee colonies are at risk of theft.

- make sure that there is space to get all around the hives as you would normally work them from behind.

- avoid damp ground.

There may be more tips, and I'm sure others can add to this.

all the best

Gavin
 
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Read widely and every thing you can lay your eyes on

Think seriously gefore commiting youself into the responsibility for thousands of little girls!!

And most of all link up with someone who keeps bees locally who can lend a hand, for to be sure, you will never take a holiday otherwise!!

Lazerts!
 

hedgerow pete 

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as for hive types if you are building them your self you can have any hive you want as it does not matter ,

what will bite you is the local supply of frames. its no good building a national when the only frames are dadants,

so find a supply and have a look to see what is best advertised in his catalogue as this will be the most popular bee hive in your area. It will bee normaly a lang or a dadant in europe both of which are well supplied.

it does not matter if you are just out for honey as you can always get a supply of frames and wax from blighty what will be difficult to deal with is the fact that if you try to sell bees on frames as nucs you will have to supply on frames people want so its no good selling frames of nationals when people only want dadant or langs

there is a thread about someone going to belgium soon as they were saying that they were calling into a big suppliers store , cant rember who or where but the delivery is easily posible
 

Skyhook 

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Definitely ted hooper.

Don't underestimate how much stuff you will need- I got a hive of bees for £125- bargain. I've got as little as I can possibly manage with, as cheap as I can, and have made whatever I could. Currently up to about £650 spend.
 

oliver90owner 

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Skyhook,

Plesae,tell them all of the other things that have added up to the £650. Presumably you have set up with at least a second hive, extra supers and the like? Extractor?

The total spend certainly doesn't go down, although offsetting against 'products of the hive' helps to defray costs.

Regards, RAB
 

MJBee 

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Hi Waxymud,
I'm down in the Dordogne and stayed with National and Commercial hives and frames as I brought them over when we moved here. 95% of French beeks use Dadant and our local Co-op has a good selection of Hive bits, frames and foundation all Dadant. Any Nucleus you buy in France is almost certain to be on Dadant frames.

If you decide to go with National or Commercial Th**nes deliver using a courier and do not charge the earth and it is not too difficult to change from Dadant frames to UK sizes.

Regards Mike
 

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