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Going Overseas for an extended period of time. Where to leave my bees until I come back?

Hi, Juan here. I’ve been living in Sydney, Australia, for the last 6 years.

A couple of years ago, my wife surprised me with a package of bees which she bought from the local Beekeeper Supplier. At the time, I was soo annoyed that she made that decision without even tell me. I thought ‘I do not want bees, what are we going to do with them’.

I could not see the picture at the time. Veronica knows me very well. Two years later, I can joyfully say that I absolutely LOVE my bees. That first package of bees transforms into 3 strong beehives nowadays. We even bought this year a Flow Hive, which is a game-changer.

But sometimes life gets in the way. For family reason, I’m in need of travel overseas for a few months. I’m looking for some advice or recommendation of the best way to proceed with my beehives. Maybe someone could take care of them while I’m gone?

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Hi Juan, I’m pleased to read that you now love the bees. The only suggestion I could think of would be to see if someone from your local bee club could check on them from time to time for you. You could probably allow him/her to harvest & keep the honey if they feel the colonies need more room.

It would be a good idea to give your neighbors a phone number of such a person, in case of swarms etc.

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Well, if you don’t have to move out the house, why not to leave them as they are? Bees are quite capable to look after themselves :slight_smile:

Hi, thanks for your reply. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the house. I’m going overseas for 3 to 6 months so I need someone to look after them. It seems like a long time to leave them by themself.

I ask the local beekeeping club but they haven’t been very helpful. They are telling me to sell them and buy new ones when I’m back.

Cheers

Find one of your bee keeper friends and move all the hives at night and once your back haul them back. It would bee easier to enable your friend to watch over them there.

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Ditto. Wife and I spent 4 months travelling through Europe a couple of years back. It was Winter here and the bees just looked after themselves. My first inspection after coming home was indeed very much like the inspection I did before we left.

will you be back before next spring? If so- it may be possible to simply add an extra super to all the hives to ensure they have more then enough room for the next months. You may come back to a large amount of honey. However I would be concerned about leaving hives alone through the beginning of spring- when they are likely to swarm if they are not attended to.

If you are willing to pay- I know a professional beekeeper with 20+ years of experience in Sydney who may be willing to manage your hives- but she charges for her time and expertise.

“charges for her time & expertise”. Most people get that, however there are some people out there that just don’t get it.

I heard a good saying last night while watching an episode of “The Cook & The Chef”. The chef said he was sharing one of his well earned tricks. There’s something in that statement. The “well earned” being the operative words.

Sometimes we spends decades learning a new trick, then we blurt it out in a matter of seconds. Then in some cases, it’s not appreciated.

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so true Jeff- my father is an architect- and long ago he said to me, ‘never give away your secrets’. He can draw up a plan in days- but it took decades of experience for him to master the skills. The old guilds in Europe were designed to protect intellectual property and trade secrets- think of the Freemasons…

this beekeping lady literally has 25 years of experience- and makes a living solely from beekeeping- in Sydney. Just think for a second how hard that might be. Think rent alone- and you will understand her fees are actually quite reasonable.

I’m amazed that some people seem to think because I am a beekeeper it is my duty to pop over to their house the day before Xmas in 40C heat to remove a swarm from their yard because it bothers them… for free. As if somehow all bees are my responsibility… Nuh, uh. these same folks probably charge clients $500 an hour for their time.

What is harder work- financial advice- or beekeeping?

In the one I am on my arse in a chair in an aircon office with coffee on tap… in the other I am 6 meters up a tree- heavily clothed- in 38C heat- full sun- dealing with 10,000 stinging insects.

sorry to go off topic- end of rant.

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Hi Jack, just as well it was Christmas eve. However I wouldn’t put it past some people to phone a beekeeper on Christmas day.

About a week before Christmas, a lady texted us to find out how much I’d charge to go into their hive to get some honey out for her to crush & strain to use for Christmas presents. Wilma said $50.00. She agreed, so I went & did it. I felt guilty because I was only away from home for 35 minutes. Anyway the ladies husband has been working 12 hour days, 7 days a week & unable to attend the bees. With that in mind, I stopped feeling guilty.

They have 2 hives. The honey supers were chock-a-block full of honey in plastic frames bar one. One reasonably deep lid was full of comb plus the other lid had some comb plus a lot of bees doing nothing. She got enough honey from the two lids, plus I cut the comb from the one wooden frame to meet her requirements.

Upon departing I told her that the honey supers were full of honey & one of the colonies is ready to swarm. I haven’t heard any more since.

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jeepers. People are sitting on 70KG’s or more of honey and too lazy/disorganized to harvest it.

yesterday I was at a boxing day lunch when I got a call from a girl- she had dropped a super, gotten stung through her suit, used an epi pen and panicked leaving her hive of three boxes open in the sun. Luckily I was close enough I went around and fixed it all up. The super was 100% full of capped honey- on it’s side- all frames pancaked with bees trapped and dying everywhere. A total mess. I had to do some real emergency beekeeping and luckily I got there just before the combs fully melted down. I put it all back together and told her to leave well enough alone till this heatwave passes. Also told her to get properly diagnosed if she is allergic. She’s very keen but actually too keen and has bitten off more than she can chew. She also started teaching others who know even less than she does. I told her NO- stop that. Get on top of one hive first. I made my way back to the lunch and had a dip in a pool to cool off.

oh- and BTW- $50 is an absolute bargain and no call at all to feel bad :wink: I had a mechanic tighten 3 bolts the other day- I had to tell him which ones- and he slugged me $50.

She DID get a bargain, for sure Jack.

I can get 50 kilos out of 2 supers, maybe 54 max. I’m pretty sure the colony with the heap of bees in the lid doing nothing was getting ready to swarm. The other one had no more room for honey or bees, however there was no beard, so maybe it wasn’t ready to swarm, but still full of bees just the same. They’re talking about selling the hives because it was her that wanted bees in the first place. It’s his idea to sell them because he hasn’t got time to work the bees.

I talked about them maybe just under 2 years ago. They had bees in their wall. They got me to help them remove the bees to put into the first fake flow hive I’d ever seen. I don’t know what happened to the fake flow frames.

I agree with you Jack about the brood box being slightly too long for the frames. The frames barely sit on the ledges. I remember that part of it well.

I’m starting to think that the best way will be to sell my hives. I can start all over again once a come back. Any ideas about the best way to sell them in Sydney area? Cheers

Put them on Gumtree for a fair price and they will sell very quickly. Cheers

What is a fair price? Rough estimation?

I have seen Flow Hives complete as a working hive for sale for $700 and sold the same day but I would regard that as too cheap. Price allowing for you available time frame. You can always reduce the asking price if you need to. When you place the ad remember to mention if it is an 8 or 10 frame brood hive.
Cheers

What about the other 2 langstroth bee hives. Any idea about the asking price for a 10 frame box? Cheers

Google “beehives for sale Sydney area” to see what they are selling for.

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Have a look on Gumtree for what hives are selling for in Sydney, You will find Langstroth hives are considerably cheaper than Flow Hives.