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Complete newbie question


Hello folks, I’ve been fascinated by bees for years, but only just half an hour ago ordered my first hive. It’s a top bar, and it’s coming unpainted (I thought I’d match it to the house) but I wanted to know if there was a good treatment for the inside? I live over here in Tigard (I am NOT telling my b**** of a neighbor that I’m going to get bees) and we all know how damp it can get. I’ve seen where some folks have suggested linseed oil, and many just leave the inside untreated - but again, this area can and will stay wet for a long time…



I highly recommend leaving the inside untreated. The bees will propolize the inside of the hive to their own specifications. :) The outside you can certainly paint or treat with oil. I recommend tung oil, as it is natural and it will do a good job at sealing the wood. However, it won’t do much to protect the wood from sun damage. If you are looking to avoid sun damage AND keep the hive dry, paint is a good way to go.

Good luck with your hive and please let me know if you need any help! (We’re just over here in Milwaukie/Oak Grove).




Coolness. Ok, so more newb stuff: after doing a bunch of comparison of different bees I’ve tentatively decided on carniolans, for their itallian-like temperments and slightly better damp tolerance. Are there any better choices?



I think buying local, hygienic bees is more important than the breed themselves. It is quite likely that even in the first year of installing the bees they may swarm, and as soon as this happens the breed of your bees has been diluted. I recommend you get a swarm of bees locally, as I have had FAR greater success with feral swarms than I have with any packages of bees I’ve installed. Swarms are eager to build comb, and they are totally natural. Packages are brutally poured into a box from multiple hives and a foreign queen is dropped amongst them – they seem less inclined to build up initially.

I do catch swarms for customers and install them in miniature top bar hives (nucs) prior to pick up. Let me know if you’re interested.

When I did buy packages I had similar success with Carniolans as I did Italians. My best packages were Minnesota Hygienics and Buckfasts, however, they are difficult to come by.




I would definately be interested. I was just thinking that with the packaged bees you know what you’re getting and can make predictions on tempermant that you can’t with the ferals.



Occasionally the swarms I catch are weak or have issues, but overall the success rate has been higher.

With some of the packages I’ve purchased in the past I had almost 100% loss, while ferals in the same hive configurations at the same site were successful.




Do you think it would be crazy to start with a wild swarm the first year and then maybe re-queen the year after?



Personally I run only wild swarms at this point and allow them to re-queen themselves by swarming. I think this is the most natural, least costly method. The bees create and select the new queen that they want without assistance from me.

You could certainly start with a swarm and requeen if you’d like. The only time I’ve requeened is because I’ve had some queens available and had some very hot (mean package) colonies that were being moved to a residential area. Now if I have a hot colony or a weak colony I either combine it with a different colony, or kill the queen and allow them to raise their own.



Ok, so maybe I’ll go with local ferals and see what happens.