It seems reddit has a thing for bees and I was requested to do an AMA after a comment I had posted so here I am.

I work over 2000 hives year round in SE Texas and have been a beekeeper my entire life (I'm 30).

Proof: Imgur

Edit: Honey Bee Haven - http://www.gofundme.com/2w81s8 This is one of the projects I am trying to get off the ground. If anyone would like to help let me know.

A quick setup of our centrifuge working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljSp2XahgDA

Verifying a few nucs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1jL17nZ3-w

Comments: 236 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

BzzBzzBzz54 karma

You called?

texasbees90 karma

Why are you on Reddit? GET BACK TO WORK!

MirandaRenee199112 karma

Be nice to your slaves, they could rebel and fuck you up.

texasbees39 karma

Occasionally, they do.

secretbuzz15 karma

Nobody knows about me.

texasbees18 karma

I do now. GET BACK TO WORK!

boner-33 karma

Do you ever whisper to the queen, "I'm your king"?

texasbees79 karma

Daily. She likes it.

videoj24 karma

What's your view on bee colony collpase. Have you seen it and is it a real problem?

texasbees37 karma

It is a real problem and I have seen it up close and personal. Whole yards have been wiped out for no apparent reason. Brood, Honey, Pollen all abandoned overnight by the bees. It's really hard to stomach when you have a colony healthy one week and gone the next. I have a few theories about why and I have read many others, but I think it may be a combination of many. Pesticides, viruses, hive beetles, you name it. It 's requiring a lot more attention and foresight by the beekeeper, along with trying to figure out new methods that will help the bees cope with the barrage of pest, diseases, viruses, etc.

Jlocke9810 karma

based on recent weather fluctuations, how close are we to having the bee problem be a major environmental concern?

texasbees18 karma

There are already shortages of bees to pollinate pecans in the U.S. and I've read articles about places in China where they are having people hand pollinate whole fruit orchards. So I would say its already a major concern.

POOPING_BUTT_FACE15 karma

In Super Mario Galaxy, Mario could turn into a bee. Do you feel that bees were represented well in that game?

texasbees29 karma

You know, it is the only Mario game I have never played and I'm a Mario fan. My favorite "Mario" game is Mario Kart: Double Dash and then Super Mario 3

POOPING_BUTT_FACE19 karma

Play it, become a bee, report back.

texasbees36 karma

My wife just ordered it for me. :)

PolskaPrincess13 karma

I currently live in Poland and the normal grocery stores have fresh honey and it's fantastic. They also sell honey here in various forms (liquid, a white solid, and various stages in between). What makes the honey white when it's solid because it freaks me out a little bit? Are there special uses for different forms of honey?

Since I'm moving home soon...What are some tips for finding local honey in the U.S.?

texasbees19 karma

The "solid" form of honey means it has just crystalized which is completely harmless. A little heat in the microwave or some boiling water will re liquefy it. I believe those various stages in between are things like creamed or whipped honey which makes it easier to spread on toast and such. There is also a dried honey which is good for baking.

When you get back to the U.S. check your local grocery stores and find the honey section. Make sure you look at the labels to see where they honey came from, they have to list it. The best places to find true local honey is feed stores in your area, the mom and pop shops, farmers markets, craigslist.

Keebix11 karma

[deleted]

texasbees24 karma

Haha I like this question. Give'em a new office and a new boss. Then you have double the output.

dancingwithlamas2 karma

for the people who have not seen it yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYtXuBN1Hvc

texasbees4 karma

Hahaha, total whoosh moment. Thanks for showing me that.

57311 karma

Why do vegans disapprove of honey?

texasbees17 karma

They don't believe in eating anything that is produced by an animal I believe. Though my son has a friend who's family is vegan. They have asked me lots of questions and seem genuinely interested in bees. I told her keeping bees was a lot like the pets she keeps in her home. You love and care for them. Make sure they are happy and healthy, the only difference it my pets can repay the favor in honey.

Edit: Misread your comment, fixed mine accordingly.

Ghoti-Umbrella10 karma

Here is a page on why vegans avoid honey. Do you follow any ofthese practices, such as 'replacing' the queen, or is this more of a commercial honey practice? I ask because I'm unsure of where I stand with honey as a vegan.

This ama is very interesting, thank you. :)

texasbees13 karma

We are a bit different in how we practice our beekeeping and are more stewards of the bees. We do not migrate across the country and we avoid killing a bees and queens at all costs. If a queen is failing it is not out practice to go in and actively seek her out to destroy her which is what many commercial and hobby beekeepers recommend. If she fails it was nature or a failing on our part somehow. Bees are not dumb animals, they are extremely intelligent and we treat them as such. The honey we take is the excess and we do our best to ensure they have enough to carry them over through the winter to remain healthy.

Ghoti-Umbrella6 karma

Awesome, thank you. You sound like you care for your bees. Sorry if my question sounded accusing, I didn't mean it to be, was just curious. :)

texasbees6 karma

Didn't sound accusing at all, no worries. I like those kinds of questions because I can show people there are those of us out there that look at bees as something more than a cash crop.

tkscheinost10 karma

Do you believe our bee population is decreasing and that this is a bad sign?

texasbees14 karma

From my own experience, the news articles, and talking to a few neighboring beekeepers, yes. Larger beekeepers can recover most their losses each year by a process called splitting. Which is basically taking one healthy hive with plenty of bees and brood and halving it into a new box called a nuc. Sometimes you can make 3 or 4 new hives from one if its strong enough.

Freesolo9 karma

Do bee's let off a smell if you kill them to tell other bees to come and attack you or is that a myth?

texasbees13 karma

They do release a pheromone when they sting or killed which other bees use to target their enemies. Many times when I get stung once, i will get a few more in the same area during the day. They particularly liked right under my shirt sleeves today. You can smell it when its released and smells oddly like the artificial banana flavoring.

handlerb10 karma

Isoamyl Acetate is the cause. This is also a byproduct of yeast fermentation in some styles of beer that lends a "banana" character.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoamyl_acetate

texasbees5 karma

Wow! I learned something new. Thanks!

fanatic2899 karma

texasbees8 karma

Just shot coffee out my nose laughing so hard. Thanks -.-

THECapedCaper9 karma

How many bee boxes do you tend to? Where do you keep them (farm, backyard, etc.)?

Any tips on newcomers to beekeeping?

texasbees13 karma

We have over 2000 hives and we keep them throughout our county. We "rent" space from farmers and land owners who we pay in honey each year. We have never had to request places for our bees, people usually find us and ask.

For a newcomer I would suggest going to your local beekeeping association meetings and picking the brains of some beekeepers around your area. See if they will tutor you a little bit on how to take care of them. There is really nothing like a little hands on training. Also one of the best books to get is ABC XYZ of Bee Culture by A.I. Root.

Edit: Also I would also recommend having more than just one hive. Have at least two so if something goes wrong with one you have brood, eggs, bees, honey to help out with the weaker one.

Financial_crisis6 karma

With 2 hives do you need to put them in separate places?

texasbees10 karma

Nope, setting them a foot or so apart is perfectly fine.

Worzel_G6 karma

Great AMA! Are there any statistics you can share in terms of the yield (weight) and revenue from your hives?

Some more questions, if you have time:

Would you say the yield from your hives is reliable and/or predictable from one year to the next, or is it volatile?

Do you have a subset of hives that performs particularly well? For example: Is there a notable difference in annual yield between, say, the top 5-10% of your hives and all 2000?

Lastly, how many hives do you think a person needs in order to derive a meaningful income from it (let's say $10k plus) as a sideline?

Thanks!

texasbees8 karma

The yearly yield per hive is usually 150 to 180lbs. Our current price we get for our honey is $1.75lb. So, multiplied by 2000 will give you a rough idea.

Its volatile in the sense that the beekeeper has to play a dance between weather, nectar flows and hive management. A knowledgeable beekeeper in his location can predictably manipulate his hives at the proper time by adding boxes and manipulating good hives to produce as much as possible. Its a delicate dance we play every year.

Some yards do much better due to their seclusion in reference to other hives in the area, how the plants bloom, soil conditions in certain areas and abundance of nectar sources, rainfall and many other factors. I could write a book on this stuff.

Edit: For a sideline business its hard to say how many hives would make it a lucrative endeavor. I would first check and see what the averages for honey per hive in you area should be. What your nectar sources are and how much you can get per pound if selling in bulk/wholesale. Different honeys garner more desire from buyers thus higher prices. Bottling and selling retail yourself can be more profitable, but requires more work and a whole other can of worms which I can say is worth it, but has its downfalls to think about.

Clamjobs9 karma

do you enjoy honey?

texasbees22 karma

After being covered in it head to toe regularly, I've kinda lost my taste for it. Though some of the flavors of honey you get from different flowers, different times of the year, I do like. Honey is somewhat like wine. You can taste the subtle differences in the times of year and what flower.

insane_moose8 karma

Have the bees ever turned on you?

texasbees21 karma

More than once. One day they are nice furry little honey makers and the next, BAM! You get lit up. Seriously though hives have their own personalities and you get to know them individually when you work them. Some are grumpy and others are docile. Its all up to their genetics, if they have been harassed recently, weather, many variables, but for the most part I can get away with only a few stings daily. The worst days I can get 100+

insane_moose6 karma

So it must be a massive labour of love to battle through that. Is the honey worth it? Also on those days when you get stung all over do you ever think of hanging up the suit? Are there different types of bees you own and do different varieties get along with one another?

texasbees19 karma

I don't wear a bee suit. T-Shirt, jeans, boots and a veil sometimes. The stings always hurt no matter how many times you get stung, but you learn to tune it out on those bad days. My grandfather was.....kinda a hard ass....and you were a wuss if you couldn't handle a few stings. I can understand people that do wear them don't get me wrong. The hardest part is the physical labor involved. My grandfather is 75 and has broken his body, but still comes out with me some days. Beekeeping is a strange love that keeps you coming back for more no matter what hardship. Most of our bees are of the Italian variety and yes they do get along with other types if you are talking about Apis Mellifera.

DomusCaligari8 karma

How close are you to developing a psychic connection with the bees so you can set them upon your enemies?

texasbees15 karma

How do you know my master plan?!

icnoevil7 karma

I'm a hobbyist beekeeper in North Carolina. What is your experience with Africanized bees?

texasbees12 karma

We run into some hives we are sure have been hybridized. They are slightly more aggressive, but nothing a little extra smoke won't cure. You learn to manage the meaner hives differently. If they are too bad and you can't get near them without getting lit up, we have gone in with a cloud of smoke, killed the queen and dismantled the hive. I have only done that twice in my life.

swifthawk5 karma

I must ask. How busy is a bee?

texasbees10 karma

As busy as can bee.

ViridisLeo5 karma

What made you decide to BEEcome a beekeeper?

texasbees8 karma

I was born into it. My grandfather was/is a beekeeper and my family wanted nothing to do with it other than me. I'm taking care of them for him now which eases his mind a bit and keeps the business going for now. I have another project I'm working on via gofundme and would post it here, but I don't know if its allowed. :-/

slcpasta5 karma

Have you ever made/tried mead?

texasbees14 karma

No I haven't. We have people who buy honey from us to make it, but they never bring us anything back to try. :(

Slambovian2 karma

I have homemade mead on tap right now. Usually for that matter. There's a glass for you if your ever in Tennessee

texasbees3 karma

I have family in Ashland City near Nashville that I visit once in awhile. I'll have to take you up on that offer.

thefoyfoy5 karma

So I have a cottage that has a bee infestation. There was a point they were becoming a problem, getting in through the windows... After one season they stopped showing up and I plugged up the eave they were accessing the void space from. Problem solved I thought. A year later I find they had just changed their entrance. There are hundreds visible midday near their entrance now. I can't imagine how big the hive is. Their is no attic access. Getting to them would mean cutting open the ceiling and exploring. After reading about the devastated bee population and pesticide issues I decided to let them bee (im so sorry). But then the attic bee hive and it's collapse made front page... I live in south Florida and summer has arrived. I can't have a be colony collapse on tenets... thoughts?

Sorry -phone typing

texasbees8 karma

I would call someone who is reputable that does bee removal. They may charge per hour, but its worth it to get in touch with someone who knows what they are doing. Call the pest control companies around your area. They should have a list of people who will do it and do everything to save the colony. Do not use craigslist to find one if you don't have to. I'm not saying they're all bad on craigslist, but around here we have some pieces of garbage with ads there that just kill them.

pedantic_dullard4 karma

How can this be reversed?

It seems like a really bad idea, and can't figure out who would have approved of it.

texasbees5 karma

Its is a bad idea and I applaud Europe for banning them. In the US I have a feeling its about who's being bought off and who has the money.

TL;DR Follow the money.

Juffin4 karma

My grandfather was professional beekeeper and he used to look after 100+ hives. Now he's old and he only has one hive in near country house. He teaches me how to keep bees, feed them and look after them and other things because he wants me to be a beekeeper (as hobby) when he will not be able to do it, and I'm kinda fond of bees now. Do you think it is worth it to keep a few hives near my country house?

Also, he told me that they used to collect poison from bees. Have you ever did that? How can you do it without killing bees?

texasbees5 karma

Your grandfather sounds like a good man and I have much respect for the old timers. They have seen bees go from relatively easy to keep to the introduction of trachea/varroa mites, american/european foul brood, and viruses. I've been told beekeepers are a dying breed and I will always tell someone to keep bees if they are interested, even if only a few hives.

I have never collected venom. I've looked into it and some of the new technologies can do it without killing the bees like the old days. Now they use a glass plate lined with small wires that deliver a harmless timed shock to the workers which cause them to sting the glass plate leaving behind the venom. It dries and is collected by scraping it into a container. It is a very valuable product. I believe they are using it in cancer research currently.

Ebil_shenanigans4 karma

I want your job. How do I go about doing this?

FeaturedDa_man5 karma

Kill him and steal his face, of course.

texasbees3 karma

Thats one way, though I would prefer to keep my face.

iownthesky224 karma

How concerned are you about the bee collapse? Do you feel, as someone that is more in the know about bees and how flighty (hehe) their hives/population can be, that there is a huge lack of interest in protecting bees?

Also, thank you for being respectful to Earth's best cultivators. Ups for looking to avoid HFCS.

texasbees8 karma

It concerns me greatly, not only for myself and the bees and their keepers, but the farmers, gardeners, the wild flora. I think there is an interest and its growing rapidly. Just look at the interest on reddit. I've read some amazing things from people here and their concern for honey bees in the last few months. Reddit really warmed my heart to see how much they care about them.

alvaroqueso3 karma

does it even hurt anymore when you get stung??

texasbees8 karma

Yep, every single time.

Eldhom3 karma

Is there any chance you've got a Honey moon?

texasbees5 karma

Sadly no, but I want one!

Mdcastle3 karma

Once I had a huge number of bees going after the flowers on my raspberry bushes. I'm kind of afraid of bees so I stayed away, but would they have minded if I went out to pick raspberries?

texasbees4 karma

If there were a few hundred on a large plant the will sometimes get defensive over it and will even fight one another, but if there were only a few dozen you probably been fine. They are to busy looking for nectar to worry about anything else.

Wateriswide3 karma

Bees have set up a hive under the playhouse in my backyard. I feel like I need to get rid of them for the safety of the kids, but I feel bad for killing honey bees. Any advice? Here's a picture of the bees in the yard: http://imgur.com/VUpb8ds

texasbees4 karma

Under a playhouse is definitely not a good place for them. Check with your local pest control businesses. They should have a list of beekeeper who would be glad to come remove them for you without killing them.

ViridisLeo3 karma

What is the process of starting up one of these bee hives? And what biggest amount of times that you have been stung at once?

texasbees10 karma

Well there are many ways to start one. The easiest and best would be to buy a hive or nucleolus colony from a reputable local beekeeper. You can also buy package bees from someone and have them shipped to your house and install them in a hive body yourself. It should include a few pounds of bees and a queen. I have never personally installed package bees, but it looks like a rough process. Not particularly for the beekeeper, but for the bees.

The most I've been stung at any one moment? On a particularly bad day I was removing some bees that happen to collect on our honey house window while we were bringing in boxes with honey and extracting them. I had been rainy that day so we had a lot of bees still in the boxes and they fly towards the light we keep just outside the window to to draw them there for easy collection. There were easily 10lbs of bees hanging off the window so I went to remove them. About the time I got close the weight of all the bees must've gotten a bit to heavy and they fell down the front of my shirt. They weren't happy. I probably got 150 plus that day. I picked stingers out for hours.

RedditRalf3 karma

In your opinion, what is the best honey for the money?

texasbees5 karma

I enjoy the clover types personally. We have some here from Persian clover in the spring that I really like. Light on the tounge and just sweet enough. Our main crop is from tallow trees which makes a dark very strong tasting honey. These. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triadica_sebifera

RedditRalf6 karma

Just ordered a jar, thanks for the tip :)

texasbees4 karma

You are welcome :-)

Financial_crisis3 karma

Would you recommend bee keeping in a suburban setting?

texasbees3 karma

My house is in a suburban area and I keep 2 hives in my back yard where no one can see them and their flight path keeps them out of trouble. So yes I do recommend it as long as your ordinances allow for it. If they don't, see if you can get it changed.

Totally_not_bob2 karma

What's the most painful place you've been stung?

texasbees5 karma

Most would think the answer would be obvious, for a guy any how, but thats not that bad. In the throat is possibly my least favorite. They like soda and when you are working around lots of bees and set down your coke for a second they find it quickly. Second worst is the armpits. For some reason that spot is very tender.

PropagandaSmiles2 karma

Are you a keeper?

texasbees5 karma

Yes, I am a Keeper, as opposed to a haver, which I am not.

Cactusy2 karma

Hello, do you know anything about bumblebees? I have a bumblebee colony in a birdhouse and I was wondering what kind of colonies they form. I can't seem to find terribly much about their nesting habits online.

texasbees4 karma

There are many types of bumble bees so I wouldn't know which ones you have, but from what I know they only nest in an area for one season and move on. We have carpenter bees and bumble bees around here that nest underground. If they aren't bothering you to terribly you can wait them out until winter comes along. Also, bumble bees make terrific pollinators, so if you have a garden they are very beneficial.

heebit_the_jeeb2 karma

What can I do to encourage bees in my suburban yard?

texasbees6 karma

Some plants are better sources for nectar/pollen bees than others. I would contact a local beekeeper who knows your area well and ask him what his bees make their honey from. If he is a decent beekeeper he should know his floral sources well and plant those.

SwampJieux2 karma

A few years ago I considered keeping bees. Seems like such a beautiful thing, keeping the keepers of the field. A little creature that works its whole life to make a 12th of tsp of honey. Do you enjoy it? How much maintenance is 2000 hives? How many employees do you have, and how long did it take to get to that size for your grampa?

texasbees4 karma

I enjoy it deeply. Bees are an amazing creature that I have spent all my life watching. My grandma loves to tell the story of my first sting when I was 1. He has fluctuated between 2 and 3 thousand hives for 20 years and has been keeping bees for 32 years. He said the first 2 were the worst because he knew absolutely nothing about bees. He is very hard headed and doesn't like to fail. I appreciate everything I have learn from him because it was hard won through all of the up and downs he has had to battle, now its my turn. We hire between 6 and 20 people depending on the time of year.

E_R_I_K2 karma

What would bee natural eat/use for energy?

What do you feed your bees? I read somewhere that Beekeeper were feeding High Fructose Corn syrup and not their traditional Honey causing problems to their Immune system.

texasbees5 karma

The bees use the honey they store and pollen for energy and yes HFCS is cheap substitute that I would venture to say most commercial honey producers and pollinators use to feed hives after they have taken the honey away from the bees. Bees can and do produce more honey than they could ever consume over the winter so taking the excess and leaving enough honey for them to "winter" on is the best way to manage a hive. I can only speak for what we do and I have to admit we use high fructose corn syrup to winter the bees in some cases when they have eaten through all of their stores or never managed to store enough to over-winter. It is something I would like to get away from honestly because I have read the same articles you have and have run a few small experiments with other sources of nourishment for the bees when their own honey isn't an option. So far its going well.

Lord_Osis_B_Havior1 karma

Do you have to put in as much HFCS as you take out honey?

texasbees4 karma

No, bees can produce 20 times the amount of honey they can eat throughout the non nectar producing months. If you are careful and leave enough honey for the colony they can over-overwinter without any HFCS and be better for it in the long run. Some hives though never seem to quite produce and must be fed during the lean months. I don't like HFCS and would love to find a way to get away from it.

basherrr1 karma

What would happen to all that excess honey if it weren't harvested? Would their honey production the next season be less?

texasbees4 karma

It depends on how well the hives did during the honey flow and their genetics. Bees have been bred to produce as much as possible for harvesting. If a hive has produced say 150lbs in a season and it was not harvested they would most likely swarm due to lack of space to house so many bees reducing the parent colony to a minimal skeleton crew. Going into the fall and winter months the parent colony would most likely fail because its just to overwhelming for them to protect so much honey along with the reduced population that are inevitable during fall and winter. Some hives produce only enough to get by and swarm quickly which I believe is their natural nature allowing the parent colony to fair a better chance, but not good for honey production. It's a convoluted answer I know.

canadabatman4202 karma

are there any rules or zoning laws that can keep someone from having bee's? and do you think we need to respect bee's more because if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have food?

texasbees3 karma

Some cities in the US allow so many hives in an urban yard. Some citys don't. Check with your local officials to see what ordinances they have in regards to bee hives.

SolidCree2 karma

Bee democracy Yay or Nay?

texasbees5 karma

Nay

Mr_Neckbeard2 karma

have you ever gone a day without getting stung?

texasbees3 karma

Yes. When they days are sunny and there are many flowers for the bees to work they are to busy to care about what you may be doing to them.

Darion12 karma

I'm horribly apiophobic. Bees scare the shit out of me. Got anything to change my mind?

texasbees6 karma

So is my wife. I can't seem to cure her either. I've only been able to get her to not run away screaming into the house. She just shoos them away while muttering things about me bringing them home on my clothes.

Darion12 karma

All I can think of is Nic Cage... "NOT THE BEES!!!"

texasbees5 karma

The Wicker Man creeped me out, and he was just so odd in that movie.

Shaeos2 karma

Hi, I live in Alaska and am a fan of the work bees do. I have friends who want to get into beekeeping on a small scale over here, do you have any advice for beginners and advice on how to winter over a hive in -30?

texasbees5 karma

I have kept bees in Montana which can also get extremely cold. I kept roughly 200 and would store them in a slightly heated barn for the winter and on a warm day 40F ish I would let them do their business while they had the chance. Some people would wrap the hives in a waterproof material such as tar paper and let them cover with snow to insulate. The bees must keep the brood at 94F so any cracks which will let in a draft at those temperatures will kill them. One of the problems you will face is not being able to check on them for months at a time due to the frigid temperatures. Nosema will be something you will want to treat for for sure along with mites, and foul brood. Treat them as late as you possibly can and make doubly sure they have enough honey/feed in the hive to last them awhile. Whatever you do do not open them up on the frigid days. I've looked at mine 20F days, but very quickly and I never pull frames when it's that cool.

roxanabannanna2 karma

My family just started a hive. Do you have any suggestions?

texasbees3 karma

Get a second and a third. Having more than one allows for more flexibility when something goes wrong. Find a knowledgeable beekeeper in your area who is willing to give you some hands on advice. That is the best way to learn.

PromiseMe2 karma

How can a layperson tell if honey has been embellished with sugar ?

texasbees4 karma

If you buy it in a supermarket the label is supposed to list ingredients and some will show a high fructose corn syrup/honey blend. As far as a local source, its very hard to tell. Buy from a local beekeeper in your area that you trust.

bloodfurn2 karma

How far will bees go not to sting? Even since I was stung as a child I've been deathly afraid of any insect that flys.

texasbees8 karma

Sounds exactly like my wife. If they are out and about going from flower to flower they really aren't interested in stinging anything. If they get close to you or even land on you its ok to shoo them away gently. Away from their hive a honey bee isn't normally aggressive.

Teddio2 karma

What's the most awkward/weird thing you've caught a bee doing?

texasbees6 karma

Mating

GoSharkDogsGo2 karma

I am absolutely terrified of bees. Anything I can do that will ultimately make them stay away from me, or make sure that I don't make them mad?

texasbees4 karma

A honey bee foraging away from its hive is usually not aggressive. Certain perfumes can attract them to you. If you do have a curious honey bee come buzzing around don't swat at it slowly brush it off or walk away. A lot of flailing around can make the. More prone to sting.

thecrowfly1 karma

I have a friend who has been searching for a beekeeper because he has a goal of one day being able to have a "beard of bees". Can you help him?

texasbees2 karma

I think I could accommodate that dream hahaha.

Avarra1 karma

Does the pain of bee stings begin to feel normal after awhile?

texasbees2 karma

They ways hurt. My body has just become desensitized to the venom. I don't swell anymore and I can probably handle more stings than usual.

greybear911 karma

How do you tell if bees are Africanized or not? I live in palo pinto county in Texas 50 miles west of ft worth and I have a bee hive in a tree about a 100-150 yards away from my house. Normally they're just fine and not too aggressive to be around but every now and then they're real assholes and territorial of whatever they're feeding on (ie coke can, hummingbird feeders).

EDIT: how does a bee become Africanized to begin with?

texasbees2 karma

Just by looking at a bee it's not possible to know if it's africanized. If the bees you have near your home are not normally aggressive they probably not africanized. If there are few nectar sources around they can get defensive over a single source of food. Especially in the fall/winter months when blooming plants are few and far between.

They become africanized when a non africanized queen mates with a african drone introducing the genetics into the hives so that they become a hybrid. The aggressiveness doesn't always present itself in the hybrid.

Freesolo1 karma

Bees must be fascinating creatures to work with, can you tell us some cool fact about them that the average person doesn't know?

texasbees5 karma

A worker bee will work from the time it emerges from its cell to the day it dies. Some how the old bees know its time is up and will take its last flight outside and die so as not to burden the hive with its body to clean up.

During the leaner months many of the male bees are starved to death by being kicked out of the and left to die since they are of no use to the colony for other than mating.

How can you tell an old bee from a young one? The old ones are usually the water carriers since their bodies and wings are so used up and tattered nectar is to heavy to carry for them.

Why do bees use water? To cool the hive down via evaporation. Kinda like a swamp cooler.

chrisdcco1 karma

Whats one of the worst experiences you've had with the bees?

texasbees2 karma

Have about 10lbs of bees fall down the front of my shirt. Stingers for days.

duncanbaseball1 karma

What got you into Beekeeping?

texasbees5 karma

Well I was born into it. Raised by bees and became their king. Just kidding.

My grandfather is/was a beekeeper and I grew up doing it.

dldillon1 karma

How do you go about getting the honey from the hive?

texasbees2 karma

It's an involved process, but the basics are get the bees out of the boxes, remove the box, take it to our extraction facility, removes frames, uncapp them, spin the honey out, and put it in a barrel Ill have to post a video.

bossbrew1 karma

Is Steve Vai an idol of yours? I know he is a fantastic guitarist so I expect he is also an amazing bee keeper. Would you say he is a "rockstar" within the industry?

texasbees1 karma

Wow! Had no idea he was also a beekeeper. I am now an even bigger fan.

oqiw21 karma

How do you know when to split the hives?

texasbees1 karma

The best way to know is to keep a close eye on your drone populations. When you start seeing an increase in drone brood in your hives as you get closer to spring, its a pretty good indication its time to split.

blindtranche1 karma

Do you think colony collapse is caused by nicotinamide pesticides?

texasbees1 karma

I think it is a large contributor to the problem, and it makes me so angry that our politicians would allow them to be used knowing its killing bees. Money makes the world go round and also runs it into the ground.

Weenie1 karma

What's your preferred treatment for stings?

I was helping my parents tend their hives a couple years ago in a borrowed suit that was too large. I ended up with many stings around my ankles and a couple on one knee. The joint pain that followed for the next week was unbelievable! As much as I enjoy the idea of beekeeping and would like to try it, the experience soured me pretty significantly.

texasbees1 karma

After being stung as many times as I have the pain is gone within minutes with no swelling. The best thing is benadryl and some tylenol if you aren't used to the venom. There are some products that are supposed to take the pain away, but I've never personally used them.

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

texasbees1 karma

It's probably a very good nectar source for them.

dancingonthehighway1 karma

How do you feel about wasps? The most evil creature on earth..

texasbees1 karma

They suck. Especially when you are removing a hive that has died and the wasps have moved in.

FourBeatsPerDerp1 karma

First of all: thanks very much for taking care of the precious bee population. Now to my question: bzz bzbzz, zzzt zzt BZZbzbzbzbzzz, zzt bzz BZZ?

texasbees4 karma

I think they more likely take care of me ;) . As far as your question. The flower are over there ----> [email protected]

Stryx_varia1 karma

Who do you sell your honey to? Do you package it yourself, or ship the raw honey to a processor?

texasbees2 karma

We process roughly a third of our own honey and sell the remainder to a packer.

ihateslowdrivers1 karma

What is the oddest place you've seen a colony form?

Last summer, i came home from work one day to a giant ball of brown on the soundwall in my backyard (there is an expressway). An eye hook had jarred loose and they had setup shop in the wall. I had a local beekeeper come out to try and save them but he couldn't get the queen out. I had to call pest control, i'm sorry!!!!

Now carpenter bees on the other hand...i slaughter those big, hovering, hole boring bastards at first sight.

texasbees4 karma

In a junction box for the telephone company. They had been there for at least 4 years which you could tell by the color of the comb. The crazy part was everything was working just fine until a poor tech came out and opened it up to check something. We found the panel on the ground and all of his equipment still laying there with a beehive sticking out of the junction box. Poor guy didn't see it coming.

texasbees2 karma

My favorite card in the game. My wife and I play CardsAgainst Humanity with our friends once in awhile. Outstanding game.

RAS3101 karma

Have you ever been stung by a wasp? Have you ever seen any get in the way of your bees? Are there any wild nests you know of that are close to your hives?

I have yellow jackets, paper wasps, and carpenter bees constantly flying around my house on warm days, making nests anywhere they can find. We get rid of what we can but they come back every year. We've never had any honeybee problems, though.

texasbees2 karma

I run into wasps nest that have moved into dead hives, and I've been stung by them more than I would like. Wasps in the US tend to be overwhelmed by a hive since they are out numbered 10000 to 1. In japan there is a wasp that can devastate a hive, but the bees can defend against those too.

This thing: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_giant_hornet

near_and_far1 karma

So, how does someone with 2000+ hives manage wax hygiene?

I recently saw some documentaries about professional beekeepers and how many bees they lost through Colony Collapse -- all that while showing their empty hives with completely black wax throughout. This always surprises me a lot because my mentor repeats about twice a day how important hive hygiene and wax exchange is to ward off infections and thus collapse. It's a pain in the ass when you have just a few hives, I just wondered how such a large company would go about it :)

texasbees2 karma

That's because many large beekeepers don't destroy or quarantine their suspected diseased wax. It's just to costly. That is a bit of a quandary between my grandfather and I. He is convinced using the equipment on a stronger hive will be ok. They will be able to clean it up themselves with the proper medication given to them. I have seen it work, but I'm very suspect of how well.

Edit: The black wax you saw wax probably from an infestation of hive beetles which is salvageable if put on a good strong hive. Foul brood on the other hand is a bit more touchy. A confirmed case is treatable with antibiotics and a dead hive should be disposed of properly. Also sterilize those hive tools that were used.