Here is a quick update of my bee project where I caught 4 bee swarms this spring and relocated them into 4 DIY scrap wood top bar bee hives. The hives are a bit junky and I'm still very new to beekeeping but so far the bees seem like they are doing well and growing!
I've made a LOT of mistakes as you'll see, but my main goal was to see if I could get into beekeeping on the cheap.. and I mean cheap! Currently, my only direct expense has been a smoker... I'm borrowing my suit from my wife uncle and the rest has been salvaged from supplies/materials I had on hand:) Thanks for watching and please let me know if you have any questions... or tips!
Intro music is by my brother in law, Trey Harris and the background music is from Youtube's free music library (Over Time by Vibe Tracks).
I am wondering why you do not use sugar syrup for catching those hanging swarms. I saw you take a swarm from under a mailbox. You know that as soon as you smoke them they will take flight to get away. If you would have drenched them and had the catch box already under them, you would have caught more bees. I really enjoy you videos. Do you not use Langstroth hives?
Love it! I'm a hard core DIYer with salvage and scraps and am happy to see that I don't have to be perfectionist to make a hive. Heck - if they naturally live in a hole in a tree then I guess they don't need a $200 hive - haha! Looking forward to watching how you catch a swarm, and marathon watch the rest of your videos next rainy day :)
Loved the video! Never thought about honeybee harvesting in the desert but it makes sense. Good for you to help out the honeybees! As most people know... they are rapidly being depleted. Glad to see that you are doing your part to help!
I really like your bee videos makes me feel like anyone can do it very inspirational. Please make some more with the updates. I have had a lot of bees set up shop on my property but I had to get rid of them they were very aggressive. You're lucky to catch those that weren't so bad.anyways good day keep up the good work.
I see that you have a lot of comments already. Please forgive me if someone else has already suggested this. With the warrior hive, have you thought about re-queening? Here in San Diego, it is suggested to re-queen once a year in order to prevent Africanization. I don't have a bee hive yet, but have been doing a lot of research on bees. Every time a someone talks about a hostile hive, it is suggested that it needs to be re-queened with a nice gentle queen. The new queen's off-spring (raised by the current hive bees) will replace the angry bees as they reach the end of their life. It took me a while to get why the queen would make a difference, but she would already be mated and only produce nice bees. With the old queen out of the picture, in a short time you'll have a whole hive of gentle honey bees and not the evil, angry ones.
Depends on what people call angry. I deal with "Mutt" bee's IE wild caught swarms mostly Russian hybrids. Getting stung while in a hive is part of the business, and if you ever go to a commercial bee yard...they're all angry. It's only slack jawed keepers who like to go suit less and then want to try to breed the sting out of the bee's.
So if I can't walk around the hive without a suit and not get attacked = angry bee's need a new queen maybe. Although generally I'll just start going into the hive more regularly and she'll get over herself, and accept the fact the man in the white jacket is going to harass her colony on a weekly basis.
My advice if they aren't that aggressive just wear a suit. People act like "real beekeepers" don't need a suit. Those guys are just used to getting stung and they talk a lot but I've never seen one do a full hive inspection and not get stung 7 times.
deezynar Yep, I agree with that. If one of the other hives becomes queen-less, at least two things may happen. The new virgin queen may mate with the drones from the angry hive. The fresh, new queen then may produce undesirable angry bees in a traditionally nice hive. Or if the angry bees swarm, the swarming queen may just sneak past the guard bees and set up shop. I learned that from one of the Africanized bee documentaries. I think that Africanized bees mature faster too so they will always outgrow the nice bees. If you have two queens and one is Africanized, the Africanized one will emerge first and kill the other virgin queens or her mother. As far as I can tell you want to buy a queen (or create one) that has already been mated with nice bees. I couldn't figure out why some of the beekeepers referred to drone comb as chicken food since one of the strategies against Africanization is to be heavy on the drones giving any virgin queen a large number of suitable mates. A local bee keeper here in San Diego suggested that a swarm or feral hive should be requeened as soon as possible. I hope that happens with this hive. He needs a mated queen from nice bees. The nasty old queen needs to go. Off with her head! :)
Love top bar hive much more healthier cause when harvesting honey thay are forced to make new comb and you get more wax for candles and other stuff. the one board that's got to much wait on it you could jest screw a board on top of it to help take the wait.
Not trying to out your location, but how close are you to Sonoita? My dad grew up north of the county line and we all lived there on the homestead for a few years in the late 80's when I was in high school, (went to Buena, BTW).
Just curious as the scenery looks familiar.
+Michael Stoddard Hi Michael... no prob:) If I was truly staying hidden I wouldn't show my face or views from around my house. And nope not Sonoita... we are west of Sahuarita near the mountains... but it's a bit similar to Sonoita as we are higher than Tucson in elevation.
Very nice setup. It is very important the bars/frames in a hive are the correct width which it looks like you have learned by now. I do not know much about top bar hives but I believe the only way to harvest honey from them is to crush and strain the combs. Unlike the Langstroth style hive where you can extract the honey and re-use the comb. Have you harvested any honey yet? How was it to harvest?
You have a nice channel. I subbed!
Jason Chrisman bar width is obviously important but it remains subjective - I've seen 1-1/4, 1-3/8. 1-1/2 - with and without the use of 1/4" spacers
It's difficult to know where to start so I applaud this gent for just putting something up and learning
+homesteadonomics I will keep an eye open for the new video. You have a nice channel, keep up the good work.
I would like to one day try a TB hive. Right now, I just don't have time to throw it in the mix. I like the Langstroth hives because once you get the equipment everything works together. It's easy to move stuff from one hive to another etc.. Of course that will require a honey extractor to harvest the honey. I have seen several homemade versions, Google it! You've done good for yourself starting your bee yard with next to nothing.
+Jason “Beeman” Chrisman Hey Jason! Thanks for the reply... actually just harvested a comb from 2 of my 4 hives this past month... I know very late but there were still flowers blooming and I figured one might be alright to do. The other hives didn't have as many combs developed so I wanted to leave them be for their first year. I got a pretty aggressive reaction from one and not too bad from the other during the harvest... I'm guessing my movements aren't slow enough and the late season entry... but overall, not too bad. I did get 4 stings on one hand thru my gloves (I wasn't lying about be really amatuer;).
I did the crush and strain method with two buckets then after a day and a half I took the remaining honey that didn't strain and set it back by the hive. I should have a video up in a couple days showing the process.... as well as some of the mistakes:)
If I can catch any more swarms next year I'm going to try the langstroth hives instead. Being that this was an accidental adventure, I had started with topbar hives as I only had scrap to build with. Not the best but I still have the 4 swarms I caught and the only investment has been a smoker and a bee jacket.
+Growing With God Hi GwG:) The coffee cans are for ant protection. When I put the first couple hives there I noticed some ants going up the legs. So I added the cans and put in a little water and it solved the problem. Currently the water is all dried up but I haven't seen ants for a while so perhaps it only was a temporary problem. Hope that answered your question :)
+Galen “coldwind” Nordland Thanks Galen… but I think I've had a fair bit of luck with this project for sure:) I've done so many things wrong and I just think I got lucky and had some real tough bees… so far so good… now to get some honey harvest:)
+Trevor Varney haha... no honey at the farmers market... it'll be for mead, family use... and friends ;) I probably won't take too much this year to let the bees have a good foundation for next year but I'm guessing we'll be able to get a few small jars worth:)
+Slowvannah Farms Thanks Sarah! I have heard moths can be a problem with bees.. but that's why you guys need to come out here and get some of these africanized bees... so aggressive even the moths are scared..lol JK.. they're actually great bees and very resilient! and in my case, free!
But seriously, maybe you guys could get some swarm traps together this winter them put em' out in the spring and see what you get:) Of course, then if you get something you'll have to build some makeshift hives on the quick!
+CG Louisiana So far so good...basically what I've read is that africanized bees are just like any other bee but just have a 'shorter fuse' than other, more docile bees. Any type of bee can and will defend its hive, but I think the african bees are just a bit more security oriented..lol!
+Darbin Orvar Thanks Linn! But I'm no pro at all....that's why I built ugly scrap wood hives, just in case the bees swarmed away...lol!
But they really aren't that hard to work with at all... you could keep them at your father-in-laws garden:)
Great bee update, Joe! I've been really really wanting to get a bee hive in my backyard. Living in vegas I have been concerned about the summer heat, but I can't imagine it would be much cooler there in AZ in the summer. Also, are those africanized bees?
+Braxton Wirthlin yes, the laws can get tricky... but, you could always check with a local rancher or someone with a decent amount of property and see if you could keep the bees there and offer to split the honey with them? Anyways, keep me updated!
I'm fairly Urban. Close to the edge of the desert, but in an older track home community. I've got a really good spot I could keep the bees in the corner of my yard. Lots of good afternoon shade. I'll definitely let you know what I decide to do. I think it would be good for my 3 year old son to see cool stuff like that. I remember growing up and my friends dad was a bee keeper. It always really interested me. There's not a lot of info I can find online about bee keeping in the Las Vegas valley. I didn't know if there was any laws against it hahaha. I need to look in to that first.
+Braxton Wirthlin Thanks Braxton! I'm a bit cooler than you but hot is hot... so I can't imagine you wouldn't be able to keep bees at your place as well:) Perhaps have the hive placed in an area where you get morning sun but lots of shade in the mid-day and afternoon? And from my research, nearly all of the feral swarms in the southwest are Africanized to some degree or another. So I'm guessing all of these hives are too. Anyways, let me know if you decide to give the bees a shot, as I'd love to see what you come up with! And if you're in an urban area it might be worth it to go for european/italian bees as they are supposed to be more docile... but if you're rural like me then I'd try to capture some swarms! Thanks for watching!
Great update! Those hives are looking quite happy and most people say you don't get much the first year, and you look to have probably about a gallon worth of honey between the four of them at this point. Later this year, maybe even more! Next year, you probably won't know what to do with it all (so send me some for mead making with (; ) Cheers!
+Canadian Sasquatch hahaha... you're gonna need to do a road trip out hear and trade me some of your homebrews;) But hey, I might consider doing a giveaway for a small jar of the harvested honey! ... and you're already entered:)
Have you thought about planting sunflowers (or other native flowering plants) near the beehives? Are the bees doing a good job servicing your garden and trees? Do you have a plan on how to extract the honey (tools/machines)?
Thanks for the update
+William Walter Hey Bill, I don't have any plans to plan anything near the bees but they do make it to my house for sure. I've seen more bees on my garden plants and fruit trees than any previous year!
The land that they are on is a ranchers grazing land and it is about a 1/5th of a mile from my house (walking) so I'd have to carry water out there to irrigate any planted plants.... but the desert always has something in bloom most all of the year!
For harvesting the honey, I'm planning just cutting the comb off a couple inches down and doing the crush and strain method to extract the honey. I've heard that the bees will just start the new comb directly off of the cut edge within the same day of cutting... I guess we'll see though;)
Great to see the hives flourishing. Most people see bees as a pest sadly. Have two hives on my property, but the african killer bee is not as docile as the ones you have there. Keep up the good work. When I harvest, I am certainly going to try to make mead.
+Charl Joubert Thanks Charl! Would love to see your set up sometime... and speaking of the african bee, not sure if you know but all of the feral bees in Arizona are considered 'Africanized'. I'm not sure how close they are to your african bees but they certainly are more aggressive than the European, Russian or Italian variants that are most commonly kept in the US. But that's okay with me... the aggressiveness just translates to more determined workers:)
And I'm hoping to be making some more prickly pear mead if my harvest is big enough. I plan on taking little being that this is there first year and I'm wanting them to stay:)
+my2cents0 Thanks M2C's... you might be better off with a Ware style hive... I've heard they are good for cold weather... but langstroth hives are everywhere so I'm sure those would work out too:) If you do get into bees I'd love to see what you come up with:)
+weetreebonsai that's what I think... if they take homes in garbage cans, attics/eves, car bumpers, etc,... I can't imagine they'd care about the aesthetics of their hive...lol! Thanks for watching and good to hear from you WTB!
+yack f zay Thanks YFZ! Yes, this is pretty much as minimal as you can go. It will take longer for them to build comb but I've heard new comb is less prone to disease, mites, etc,. like established combs can be. It isn't the way to go if your trying to do a commercial operation. But for the amount of money I've put into it, I think it's gonna be well worth it! Thanks for watching:)
+BrewDaddy1911 It's fun, and if you try to capture swarms it can be really cheap too! I cant wait to do the harvest in a month or so. Depending on how much I get, maybe I'll do a giveaway:) Thanks for watching BD!
+Permaculture Prepper But your hive looks sooo much nicer than these junkers! LOL I do plan on making a nicer one though... perhaps for next year! Maybe when I do a harvest I'll have to do a honey giveaway like yours!
+dcm7777777 I've thought of doing something like that but just haven't gotten around to it... lazy I know! But as cute as those little buggers are I'm thinking when I pull out the drill they'll be not as cute! haha... but i'll have to do something soon though!
+mcLuvineer Awesome! I'm sure your hive looks much prettier than these...lol.. but I do plan on making a nice one for next year:) Let me know how your first harvest goes (or went). I think I might do mine in a month or so.
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