Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
There are different ways to attain bees here ,so it depends on rather you are buying them
from a dealer which could mean march or april, rather you wait to catch a swarm, or if you know of a gentle
hive you could save from being exterminated in someones wall,tree or home?
Thank you, Ron. I plan to get a package of bees. I am too new at this to catch a swarm or take apart a natural hive. Maybe next year when I have some experience and the situation presents itself.
ok but prepare to get hooked....good luck ! you can talk to me anytime..sometimes I have some answers even though
im still asking questions at times.
Thanks again. It is nice to have you and other abqbeeks as a resource.
Hi Nicholas, There are several beekeepers who bring in package bees to sell or who divide their hives and sell off a portion (called a nuc or a single). This is all done in the spring, summer and fall, but it is best if done early for a good buildup of stores so the bees can overwinter with out starvation. We sell 500-600 packages, nucs and hives each year. Craig Noorlander of Papa Bear Honey brings in a load of 400-500 from CA and distributes them at Ken Hays place in Bosque Farms. They have teamed up so Craig can sell you the bees and Ken can sell you the equipment and classes. There are others who are trying their hand at it too. Zia Queen does some, but since they are in the mountains in Truchas they usually cannot get them to their customers until June unless they have changed the location of where they are overwintering them.
In regards to buying local...educate yourself to the biology of bees. Read some of the works of Doolittle and CC Miller. If you do not have copies of these books send me an email and I will send you a copy of them.
First off: local bees (if they are truly local) are the offspring of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation queens. Unless a person has a controlled breeding program where they can take the eggs from a first generation queen of known parentage and have them mate with drones of known parentage their resultant queens will be a combination of all the drones they have mated with (12-18 drones). We are getting more and more aggressive bees in the area so the mating pool is not very desirable. The further south from Albuquerque you go the worse it gets. I have work my bees with Ken Hays (runs his bees from Bosque farms to south of T or C) for a number of years and have stopped because his bees were just too mean. Unless he has re-queened all his hives in the last few years I do not want my bees even close to him (for breeding purposes). Those doing walk-a-way splits are in the same category. The offspring from the queens raised from the mother hive is unknown. This is the reason why we are hearing about so many hives turning aggressive after a few months to a year. This can happen after your hive swarms and in the process raises a replacement queen (now a 3rd generation or more). After 4-6 weeks you have a hot hive.
Second: There is very little varroa (organic or chemical) treatment being done by those selling splits from their hives. The results we are hearing about is a collapse of the hive by late summer to early fall. The varroa population grows rapidly and the hive succumbs to disease (deformed wing virus). Even packages coming in from certain breeders around the country have been tested and shown to have as high as a 5% infestation rate which is high when you consider a 3 # package will have about 12-14,000 bees.
Third: There are those who are promoting Russian or Russian/Cross (usually with Carniolian or Italian) because they are hygienic in nature and will groom each other to remove varroa from the hive. The Russian queen is moderately aggressive and not pleasurable to work with and should not be used in close proximity to homes and livestock. The fact is that all aggressive bees (and the more aggressive the better) are hygienic and survive losses attributed to varroa. I recommend all new beekeepers to start with Italian (or Carniolian) queens heading their packages, hives or nucs. They are very gentle and build up quick in the spring.
Call us anytime if you have questions on beekeeping. I have been keeping bees since 1966. We have classes, conferences, conventions, videos and many other beekeeping related topics listed on our website at www.nmhoney.com
Now ,that's some very useful and good information ,thanks for sharing.
Ed - I find this very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing. I see that there are a number of online references to the works of Doolittle and Miller. Many at the Mann library. Are there any particular readings you recommend to start with or should I just start browsing?
Here is the link from our website (www.nmhoney.com):
Out of Print Beekeeping Books Cornell University E.F. Phillips Beekeeping Library
I click the browse button and it brings up a listing of authors and books. I like the book by CC Miller the best: Miller, C. C. Fifty years among the bees Medina, Ohio : A. I. Root Co., 1911.
I also found the back issues of the American Bee Journal from 1861 fun to scan:
American bee journal . [Hamilton, Ill., etc. : Dadant & Sons] (1861 - 1900)
Alley, Henry. The beekeeper's handy book, or, Twenty-two years' experience in queen-rearing, containing the only scientific and practical method of rearing queen bees, and the latest and best methods for the general management of the apiary Wenham, Mass. : Henry Alley, 1883.
Alley, Henry. Thirty years among the bees: the result of a quarter-century experience in rearing queen-bees, giving the practical, every-day work of the apiary Salem, Mass. : Salem Press, 1891.
Doolittle, Gilbert M.. Scientific queen-rearing as practically applied: being a method by which the best of queen-bees are reared in perfect accord with nature's ways : for the amateur and veteran in bee-keeping Chicago : T. G. Newman, 1889.
Learn to use the table of contents in conjunction with the drop down box in the page number section for quick movement around the pdf file. I will take a pencil and paper and write down a list of page numbers from the contents and index pages then move from page to page with the page numbers.
Have fun. You will be very surprised what the beekeepers knew back then and you will recognize many modern day methods that have been taken from the old timers.
Thanks for the help. I note that there are 33,476 pages and 48 journals in the Cornell library. I'll start looking through some of the publications. Do you have any favorite modern references? So far, other than YouTube videos my main reference has been Beekeeping for Dummies.