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New been in central Texas



My name is Phil and I’m from the Texas Hill Country. My grandfather kept bees and I used to spend my summers on his ranch. I recently purchased two sets of flow frames and an Apimaye ergo hive at an estate sell. I’m currently building a second hive.

I know a lot has changed in beekeeping from the 1970’s when I worked my grandfather’s hives. I have been researching this topic and this forum has been helpful as has several books.

I have decided to follow Michael Bush’s approach to beekeeping. The packages I’ve ordered are from Bee Weaver and will arrive in the spring of 2018. I have a small orchard that is next to a lake which will be the new home for my bees.

I look forward to the discussions.



Hello Phil,
We too are Natural Beekeepers and follow Michael Bush’s advice for nurturing our bees.

Good luck and welcome! We can compare notes.


Phil - There is a very informative event that will be close to you in just a week, sponsored by the Austin Area Beekeepers Association:

A lot of the most knowledgeable bee people in Texas will be speaking. You may have a few challenges to a purely natural beekeeping approach surrounded by other colonies of bees that may be full of mites. My initial colony was a Weaver NUC that did not make it through the first year due to a mite induced colony collapse. Doesn’t take many $325 losses to consider all methods.

Much luck with your new bees!


I’m surrounded on three sides by a lake and the nearest hive is 7 miles away. I’m hoping the isolation will protect me. The feral bees here do not have mites. I just want the bees to be healthy and I’ll do whatever it takes.


Hi Phil,
I think that the main goal (at first) will be to make sure your bees have guides to draw straight comb in both the brood box and honey supers (MB gives details of this), along with staying on top of correcting any cross- comb early on. Once your bees have created their foundationless small cell comb, they should be able to deal with any random mite carrying bee that finds your hive, as the life cycle will be disrupted. It’s pretty cool to know that your bees can do this, and take care of the mites on their own if you don’t mess with them all the time :honeybee::ok_hand:t4:

We have at least three sets of neighbors on our hillside who keep bees and treat for mites, and our bees continue to stay healthy and vigorous (as well as mite-free). Bees have a wide range, but 7 miles is a nice buffer.

We also did not lose any hives to yellowjackets this year; they were strong enough, in spite of the extended warm weather/wasp season and we heard they wreaked havoc on hives throughout our neighborhood and Puget Sound.

Whenever you can, I’d suggest incorporating feral bees/capturing swarms to augment your bee yard. We have found them to be better for over wintering than purchased bees (in general).


You can’t go wrong by learning from @Michael_Bush

As he warns on many occasions though, you need to process what you get from him, and make sure it applies to your situation. He is in, ummm, Nebraska? So Texas is a very different place. Be sure and talk to local beekeepers there, and make sure you know how to adjust what Michael says to your local situation.


What is your climate like? I’m guessing pretty warm? Dry? Wet?


Last winter we were down to 22 degrees, ( -5.5C) for 3 days but we averaged 35, (1.5C) for our lows and we had 745 chill hours, (below 45 degress), for the fruit trees. Our USDA zone is 8b. Now it’s 55 degrees, (12C) at night and 75, (23C) in the day. Next month it will go into the 90’s. Last summer we had 95 days above 100 degrees, (37C) and 10 days above 105, (40.5 C). In July and August the streets literally melt.

We average 35 inches, (89cm) of rain but that is in the spring and fall. It is very humid, 60 - 80% in the July and August.

Basically we live in the outskirts of Hell.

We are 20 steps from a large lake and we have 1000’s of honey mesquite’s in bloom right now.


Winter will not be much of a problem for you compared to me. Most things about beekeeping, other than winter, though, are pretty much the same everywhere. Certainly judgement calls will be different, like how late can I split or how early etc.