A Homestead in Southwest Michigan

Is this enough equipment?

Is this enough equipment?

What exactly is a beekeeper? The website, dictionary.com, states it is a person who raises honeybees; apiculturist. Apiculture is the care and breeding of bees. I have been trying to be a beekeeper for over ten years. I have been very succesful at being a bee-haver, but not a beekeeper. When I started having bees, I was very against (1) disturbing them, (2) using any synthetic chemicals on them, and (3) even rejected the Langstroth hive and started with a Top Bar Hive. As I was working shifts in a new city, at a new job, I was totally self taught. Mind you, I read a ton of books and magazines, and followed forums on the web, but I never had a mentor.

Over time I moved from the top bar hive to the recommended Langstroth configuration. Through all these seasons, I was only able to successfully overwinter a colony once and I relunctantly admitted something had to be done to manage the varroa mite problem. I tried “soft” treatments to no avail. I have learned about bees through the school of hard knocks.

Now I am in a position to start again. The first recommendation I am taking is to start with multiple colonies. This way I can compare colony health amongst them. I will be starting with three. I have ordered from three unique sources in case of problems overwintering (as in the suppliers have no bees to sell come spring). I also order the bees as nuclei, because it is a mini-hive. My suppliers are all here in the southern half of lower Michigan and the bees are local stock with genetics from hygenic bees. (Hygenic bees clean off the varroa mite from their body and out of the brood chamber.)

I have had up to two hives, with enough equipment for a third. This led to the question – Do I have enough equipment? I will need equipment for a “just in case” fourth hive. I want to convert from the conventional two deep brood boxes to the alternate three medium boxes. That will require 12 medium boxes, I have four so I need eight. Then there are the frames-at 10 per box that’s 80 frames. I need the top and bottom for the fourth hive, the little gadgets like beetle traps and robber screens. I will also order oxalic acid to treat for the varroa mite. Yowza! It adds up quick! Time to place the order and thank Brushy Mountain Bee Farm for their after Christmas sale!

Now I just have to put it all together.

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