Bees are all over the Butterfly weed. Hope it makes good honey.
I was a complete beginner with bees when I got a starter set from Kelly Bee Company. We got the bees last year in April in a package with a queen and some 10 thousand bees. Dumping them in the hive went well and I only got 3 stings. The stings are the biggest problem with bee keeping by a long shot. Many successfull sting targets would blow up like a ballon and pop from one sting, beekeeping career over. Some claim that repeated stings result in lesser symptoms in some homeopathic tolerance but I’ve yet to see an improvement. I get decent swelling but the pain is much less than a red devil wasp sting. Yes, one could don a space suit (a bee hat is required to keep them from stinging the eyeballs) but with all the attendant loss of mobility and air conditioning. All considering a mass of 50 thousand bees at peak, european honey bees are pretty calm. If you minimize roughly knocking the frames and box, judiciously use smoke and put it back together as quickly as possible, you shouldn’t get but a sting or two for your trouble.
The first year will be unlikely to yield any honey. The bees have to use most of their energy to make bees and draw out comb for the lower hive boxes. Commercial beekeepers use frames with plastic molded comb which is an option. Last year was a bad year for anything agricultural. The drought was near the top three in history, maybe number two depending on how you ananlize it. We had to feed the bees until fall and watered them until the rains came again.
In fall, the bees have a last run at Astor Flowers. At first, I thought the bees were diseased because the hive had a strong odor but it turns out it was Astor Honey. The honey itself is so called strong but tasty and sweet. The Astor Honey is usually left for the bees as their winter store.
The year 2008 honey run was fairly good. The black locust blooms were fantastic this year. In late May, the bees decided to swarm. This is when the old queen decides to look for another home taking a part of the hive with her. A new queen usually replaces her in the old hive. I was not prepared with a new hive but still captured them in some supers (the smaller hive boxes put on top to gather extra honey). It took a week to get the new hive when I went to transfer the swarm, they were gone. I think they were nearby because later that day I saw the swarm flying high and away from the farm. Oh well, maybe I will be prepared next time.
The swarming and queens are more in the advanced catagory. You can, apparently, breed queens and divide your own hives by going in and getting queen cells or something like that. Not yet that in to it and not sure if I will be.