My name is Tom. Like Mike (mmoomaw) who posted in the General section I have hives ordered from Bee Thinking and a package of bees reserved. Since I am starting out with the top-bar hives I thought I’d introduce myself here.
I live in rural southern Ohio. We have 10 acres across the highway from the Scioto River.
I am starting out with no experience with bees. I recall watching the bees in a permanent observation hive at one end of the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry as a boy. A few years back I was reading about Colony Collapse Disorder, and thought about starting a couple of hives, but then I found a job and the idea faded to the background. Then last month (mid-January) we had an unseasonably warm weekend and I was surprised to look out and see bees all around my bird feeders. A quick search online and I found references to bees doing this when they leave their hives before their usual sources of pollen have bloomed. Almost immediately following that incident a moderator on another forum that I belong to posted a link to an article about two other members success with Bee Thinking. A look at their web site and I started seriously considering following through with it this time. The capper was when Matt’s presentation to the Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club was put online. I showed it to my wife (who hadn’t been all that enthusiastic about the whole idea but as always was willing to go along with me) and she began to get excited about it, too. We decided that we’d start with top-bar hives and follow the tenets of natural beekeeping.
I next started looking for local information and found the Ohio State Beekeeper Association. They have a lot of information on their site (all of it geared towards Langstroth hives) and a calendar listing events, including beginning beekeeping classes being offered by local associations. I sent out e-mails to the point of contact for the association that was supposed to include the county I live in as well as one to the group giving the closest class. I never did hear from the first, but I received a fast and warm welcome from the Scioto Valley Beekeepers. It was the weekend before their monthly meeting, which happened to be on Valentine’s Day. My wife agreed to attend the meeting with me! We went and found a group of friendly people, all of whom are very involved in beekeeping. They maintain demonstration hives at a historical farm, get together for social events, and share information with each other. There was discussion about miticides, a talk was given on requeening or doing splits, and it lasted about two hours. We were immediately invited to their Post-Valentine’s Day social the following Saturday. We did attend and again were welcomed with open arms. I was a bit amused at the fact that Rhonda, apparently trying to contain this beekeeping thing from the start, went around telling everyone that we were just hobbyists and will just have a couple of hives. Everyone else smiled knowingly back at her.
I had been a bit curious as to how they would react when I said I intended to go with top-bar hives. I was told that two members had had them. The president told me he had two but wouldn’t have them past this year as he thought they were too much work. The other guy just said he didn’t have his anymore. Everyone told us that top-bar hives didn’t produce much honey. In general I’d say the response was that they were a bit dubious of the idea. When we were driving home I told Rhonda that, ignorant as I may be having no experience and having only read half of Top-Bar Beekeeping and various sites plus watching Matt’s presentation, I thought that part of the problem may have been that they were trying to work the top-bar hives in the same manner as they did their Langstroth hives and with the same expectations. I decided that we would become the club’s, well, not experts, but at least the most knowledgeable and successful with top-bar hives and show them that it could be done successfully.
So that’s my goal. We will be attending beekeeping school the first three Wednesdays in April and taking delivery of a package of bees a couple of days later from one of the members of the club. We will try to attract a swarm to our second hive—my wife’s suggestion and worth a shot, I think.
In the meantime I have finished reading Top-Bar Beekeeping and am moving on to other books as well as other web sites.
Today, as I was approaching our house, my wife sent me a text that we had bees again. Sure enough, there were bees on two feeders. We got out some crystalized local honey and put it onto a plate and I took it outside and held it next to the feeder. I had only one real taker, a single bee that landed on the honey and spent a long time feeding. Another couple landed on it then took off again and went back to the feeder. While I was standing there on bee flew directly to and landed on top of my left ear and stayed a while before flying off. I set the plate down in a platform feeder where other bees were but they weren’t interested; when I went back out a bit later all but two bees had gone and those two left one by one in the next few minutes. My wife was impressed that I hadn't flinched or reached up to brush away the bee when it landed, but I told her we may as well get used to it!
So that’s the story of how my wife and I came to the decision to become beekeepers and to order top-bar hives from Bee Thinking. I apologize if anyone found this post too long; I’ve decided that I want to keep a record of this new venture and so went into a bit more detail than most. Perhaps I’ll start my own blog about our beekeeping adventures as we learn and make mistakes and have triumphs along the way. I'm glad that Matt has provided us with this forum. I look forward to reading and learning from the posts of others and hope to be able to make valuable contributions of my own in the future.
Best of luck to everyone!