Newby question - How much time does beekeeping require?

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JoeSmith 

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Hi All

I've wanted to keep bees for a few years now and have finally moved to a house where it's possible. We're now in Normandy in France and at last have a decent sized garden with loads of flowers surrounded by countryside.

The only downside to my beekeeping plan is that my work requires me to be away in the UK for 2 or even three weeks at a time. As I would plan to start with two, possibly three hives, is that too long to be away from them during the summer months? If it is, I'll have to wait but I'd love to get going with a new hobby.

All the best

Joe
 

Poly Hive 

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Welcome Joe.

Nothing to stop you but I would suggest a partner to pair up with so that inspections can be done whilst you are away.

PH
 

Chris Luck 

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Some bee keepers round here don't visit their hives for a month or two in summer apart from perhaps a passing glance, so it's all possible depending on how you wish to approach it. I almost never "go inside" most of my colonies and have some that have never had frames removed at all ... strangely enough they are the really robust ones.

It's all a matter of personal choice.

Chris
 

Queens59 

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I inspect every 7-10 days (weather permitting) if you can't get a partner or local keeper to do so...then No. Unless you are willing to try Top Bar/Warre/ Rose type hives which don't need constant checking and supervision.
 

Chris Luck 

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Sorry, i should have said, that they are Dadant hives that I don't or rarely open, one for 5 years without so much as a peek, queen excluder left on all the time as well.

All ways are possible, it is as I said a matter of choice.

Chris
 

viridens 

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It seems to me that being away for a maximum of 3 weeks at a time, you only have 3 real risks.
1. Hunger in winter. Make sure that you leave (or give) your bees enough to eat.
2. Swarming (early summer). The worst case is that a proportion of your bees abscond.
3.Theft of hives. (On the increase here in the UK)

These risks are manageable, but also remember that as much time as you like will be required to manage the little buzzers whilst you are there.

Don't be put off. Good luck Joe. Go for it!
 
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RoseCottage 

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Chris,
Do I understand correctly that you haven't been in your dadant hive for 5 years?
Without any hint of cynicism...what do you get from that? Do you take any honey? I am genuinely intrigued as to why you would do this?
All the best,
Sam
 

oliver90owner 

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Only point two (a couple posts above) is pertinent. The other two are irrelevant really - anyone who cannot leave the bees alone for more than three weeks in the winter doesn't understand bees. They can be nicked overnight; the only difference is when you find out - next day, next week, next month.
 

GingerNut 

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Chris,
Do I understand correctly that you haven't been in your dadant hive for 5 years?
Without any hint of cynicism...what do you get from that? Do you take any honey? I am genuinely intrigued as to why you would do this?
All the best,
Sam
In my seven hives I had last year, I never went through any of their brood boxes.

This leaves them alone as you will damage the brood by inspection.

The only problem you may have is swarming, if you are sure they are not going to swarm, leave them alone.

Yours Roy
 

justme 

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Sorry, i should have said, that they are Dadant hives that I don't or rarely open, one for 5 years without so much as a peek, queen excluder left on all the time as well.

All ways are possible, it is as I said a matter of choice.

Chris
Hi Chris,
Any AFB/EFB in your area?
 

Chris Luck 

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Any AFB/EFB in your area?
No, but then that isn't so surprising, neither are common place, AFB is very rare and EFB will often sort itself out in a decent colony.

It really is a matter of choice, that's all.

Chris
 

psafloyd 

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In my seven hives I had last year, I never went through any of their brood boxes.

This leaves them alone as you will damage the brood by inspection.

The only problem you may have is swarming, if you are sure they are not going to swarm, leave them alone.

Yours Roy
I suppose there is less chance of swarming from congestion in a Dadant, as HM wold have to be going at a fair old lick to be able to fill that one?
 

Chris Luck 

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Sorry, only just seen the other posts.:eek:

Yes Sam, you understand perfectly. I have some hives that I haven't "been inside for 5 years". I leave the excluder on all the time and simply put a super on in Spring, (mid March temperature permitting). Normally when this is full I exchange the frames for empty wets without removing the super, bees carefully brushed back, time consuming but works well. One or more supers added when bees pick up after swarming, summer honey removed at the end of August - beginning of September. In a good year with good follow on flows can be as much as 40kg+ per hive in total which is good enough for me.

I suppose there is less chance of swarming from congestion in a Dadant
Believe me Dadants swarm, swarming is part of the natural cycle and should always occur unless the colony is very poor.

It's a complete fallacy to assume that a generally hands off non interference, non treatment approach means no yield or diseased bees. On occasion I will move a frame or two from another hive if I have a new colony that is clearly Queen-less, perhaps even split a colony immediately after swarming if it's good and there are several frames with Queen cells.

Chris
 

djg 

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JoeSmith,

My advice to you would be to re-consider your starting point.

In my view, bee-keeping is a knowledge-intensive, energy-light activity. The plan is to spend minimal time "in the bees", while extracting the maximum information and then reacting to that input.

To do that, you have to acquire a base of understanding, then work your way into the craft through experience. I would recommend a course involving practical manipulation as well as theory as your starting point - you may very well find the answer to your question (and a possible local bee-buddy) on the course , as well as the answers to some questions which you haven't thought of yet !

Bon courage !
 

tonybloke 

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JoeSmith,

My advice to you would be to re-consider your starting point.

In my view, bee-keeping is a knowledge-intensive, energy-light activity. The plan is to spend minimal time "in the bees", while extracting the maximum information and then reacting to that input.

To do that, you have to acquire a base of understanding, then work your way into the craft through experience. I would recommend a course involving practical manipulation as well as theory as your starting point - you may very well find the answer to your question (and a possible local bee-buddy) on the course , as well as the answers to some questions which you haven't thought of yet !

Bon courage !

:iagree:
 

goodbobby 

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frequency of inspections

Only point two (a couple posts above) is pertinent. The other two are irrelevant really - anyone who cannot leave the bees alone for more than three weeks in the winter doesn't understand bees. They can be nicked overnight; the only difference is when you find out - next day, next week, next month.
I tend to agree with the sentiments here. Building a sound knowledge of how bee colonies work and how to spot, plus what to do, when problems arise should probably the beekeeper's code and to be equipped,organised and prepared accordingly.(I am still learning after 3+ years and will be still learning until I drop). This,to my mind, does not mean religiously tearing brood boxes apart every 7 days throughout spring and summer, which must be counter productive. Obviously, every time you smoke or open a hive, honey production is lost, the bees mood can be affected and you run the risk of damage to the Queen.

My gut feeling is that new beeks tend to fiddle with their charges far too much (I certainly was guilty). I have an away apiary which precludes me from doing this now, so I feel that inspecting once a week during the swarming season and being less regimented otherwise is likely the answer. So if you are able to make any pals at your local association or on any beekeeping courses you attend you could make reciprocal arrangements with them to cover your absences and you should be fine.
 

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