Top Bar Beekeeping: It’s official, we’re “beekeepers”!

I got a call this afternoon from the post office, “your bees are here, please come pick them up!” Andrew and I have been planning and anticipating this day for a full year and a half!

HOW WE GOT STARTED

We’re first time beekeepers, with no experience, zero, zip, none, nada, nil. We have a lot to learn and got where we are today from reading lots of bee books, my favorites are The Practical Beekeeper, Beekeeping Naturally by Michael Bush and The Barefoot Beekeeper by P.J Chandler. We took a two day bee class with the folks at Homestead Heritage, Waco TX. Our instructor, Jake, wrote a good blog posts on their website about the difference on keeping bees in Top Bar hives vs. Langstroth and another on starting your top bar hive. You can read about Homestead Heritage classes and sign up for them here.

The most difficult part about getting started with bees is deciding how you want to do it! Everyone has an opinion and they are all different. Our tipping point was the Weston A. Price Conference this year in Dallas. One of the speakers was Christy Hemingway with Gold Star Honey Bees. She gave a presentation called, Biodynamic and Practical Beekeeping. Even if you don’t want to keep bees, you would find this session interesting. It’s recorded and you can order it from Fleatwood Recordings.

CHOOSING OUR HIVE AND BEES

We choose two of the Gold Star Top Bee kits in her Arizona model with a white roof. White, because it reflects heat and Texas summers are HOT. The next step was to get our bee order in place. Also, we liked the Goldstar system, because it’s made from solid wood and the top cover paint is done with non toxic paint.

Ordering our bees took some preparation and advanced planning. Natural swarms usually happen the end of March and April, so that’s when we want to be getting our new hives started. To ensure we get a bee package, we had to get our order just after the first of the year.  Otherwise, all the bees might be sold out and we would have missed the window. There’s four ways you can get bees: a swarm, someone starts the hive for you from their own bees, a nuc, or a bee package. We choose a bee packages, which is about 3 lbs of bees about 10,000 bees and one queen. We ordered from R. Wever Apiaries in Navasata Texas. Our bee variety is All-American, also known as the Italian. We ordered a marked queen, wings intact (not cliped) and her attendants.

Yesterday, April 19 2012 our bees arrived at the postoffice and we hived them that evening. We are official “beekeepers” after hiving in our Gold Star Top Bar hives! Hopefully, our bees like their new homes and stay put!

We took a video of our experience, you can watch it below.

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Comments

  1. When will you start selling?!?!? I stumbled on your site because you left a comment at Trimble Farms. We recently moved and I’ve found good sources for raw milk, yard eggs, and herbs. But I still need honey!

  2. Lee Kane says:

    Hey, you guys! Thanks for making this terrific video; takes me back fondly to my own “first day” last May, after taking Christy’s two day beginning beekeepers’ class in Maine. This year, I’ll have two Gold Star top bar hives going, and can’t wait for my bees to arrive, 2nd week in May (things happen later in New England!) Good luck, and keep us posted. You’;re going to love being top bar beekeepers

    • Lee,
      Thanks! We’re looking forward to learning how to do it all. We feel pretty green! 🙂 glad to know it worked with someone else! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Rashel & Andrew, Very interesting. One of my fathers favorite things to do was “hunt bees”. He would go to a stream of water, observe the bees watering and after they loaded up with water they would fly in a circle before flying off toward their bee tree where they had their hive.
    Retreaving the bees were done not with a bee proof suit as you wore but with smoke from the fire on the end of a rolled up piece of quilt that he waved around his face and body to keep the angry bees away. He used a ruber band around his shirt sleeves to keep the bees out and raked the bees around with his bare hands.
    Thanks for this demonstration. I am sure others can profit by what you two are doing.
    Granddad A. H.

  4. Greg Parke says:

    Congrats! Felt like I was surrounded by bees! Can’t wait for your first honey.

  5. Great post! Loved the video!!

  6. Pam Denson says:

    Congratulations! Very Cool! I am jealous. I have thought about bee keeping, but just have not taken the leap. If you need a local bee keeper with lots of experience, Ronnie Elliott goes to my church and has been a bee keeper for many years. Go You!

    Pam

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