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Scottsville Supply Company
Your local bee supply store!
Your local bee supply store!

Scottsville Supply Company's interests
Scottsville Supply Company's posts

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We have new Winter hours through the end of February! You can place your package bee or NUC orders in the store, over the phone, or online anytime for our April 10th bee pickup day. Stop in and see Heather to pick out your first beginner beekeeping kit today!

Not sure what to get the beekeeper in your life for Christmas? Picking out presents for a beekeeper can be challenging because you may not know exactly what size or style hive they are using, nor may you know what is tucked away in that honey house! Here are some ideas you can find anytime in our store or on our online store: Smoker Fuel, J-Hook Hive Tool, 100 Plants to Feed the Bees (book), a SSC gift card, or Winter Patties! Stop by or give us a call, and we'll help you figure it out!

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When a person walks through my store door wanting to get into beekeeping, a frequent question is, "How many hives should I start with?"

The easy answer from any beekeeper is, "TWO", if you can afford it. Two to four is a good range - more than four is a bit much for a beginner to manage.

Managing one hive is not necessarily easier than two hives. In fact, it can prove more challenging to start with only one as you will not be able to assess more than the fact that you have bees in some cases as a beginner beekeeper. With only one hive, you will not have access to resources needed resolve some of the typical beekeeping issues like becoming queen-less, not having enough stored honey for the upcoming winter, combining a weaker hive with a strong hive, or even knowing if you have a weak hive or strong one. Two hives provides you with the opportunity to compare and contrast. Two colonies tends to only add about 10 more minutes to an apiary visit and a bit more smoker fuel and sugar.

Then there is the problem of some colonies just do not make it an entire year. Several things can go wrong - to no fault of your own. Starting with one colony is an all or nothing game of chance. Then again, if you have kept bees for any period of time, you have likely mismanaged a colony here or there causing them to die out or abscond. There is no shame in it. Sometimes, it is simply a learning process.

At the Scottsville Supply Company, we work hard to ensure each new beekeeper starts with what they are comfortable with and with the right equipment to fit their needs and management approaches.


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Have you ever wondered, "How do I become a beekeeper?" Been pondering this question for years? You are not alone. In fact, most 'new-bees' that walk through our door at the Scottsville Supply Company say they have been thinking about becoming a beekeeper for years, but just didn't know where to start!

The first thing I would say is take a beginner beekeeping class with us, with your local extension office, or an area bee club. If you want to take a class with us, we run them throughout the winter and into early spring. Give us a call or sign up through our website anytime to get started.

The next thing you will need to do is order your bees! Bees orders tend to fill up prior to the pickup date, so don't wait until the last minute. Our pickup date in 2017 for both package bees and nucs (nucleus hives) is April 10, 2017. You can call, stop by the store, or place your order through our website (early bird pricing specials end November 30th!).

After you know you have your bees secured for the following season, you will need to get your beehive. This can be a daunting task, no doubt. A visit to our store to talk to Heather about different configurations, foundation types, and protective gear can help clear it up a bit so you can make a more informed decision. If you are starting with one package of bees or one nuc, then you should search for a beginner kit that fits your needs and budget. If you are getting two or more packages and/or nucs, then you only need one beginner kit and the appropriate number of additional hives.

We offer a range of beginner kits that fit every budget and each way of sourcing your bees (as nucs tend to need more space the first year than a bee package tends to need). The basics you should find in any beehive kit that can accommodate a growing colony is a bottom board, two brood chambers, an inner cover, and a top cover.

A Screened Bottom Board is quickly becoming the standard in today's beekeeping as they allow for better ventilation and air flow and serve as part of an integrated pest management system. Brood chambers is one of the many names for the boxes in which your queen is primarily laying eggs. They are also known as hive bodies and deep supers. An inner cover is also essential as it provides proper spacing above the uppermost box on the hive, assists with ventilation when notched, and allows you to remove the telescoping top cover when your bees begins to seal every possible crack with propolis. Finally, the telescoping cover protects your hive with the weather.

Of course, when you look through any catalog or online bee supply store, there is amazing amount of equipment beyond a basic hive kit. You can fall into a trap of over buying, so keep it simple when you start out. Having at least one honey super on hand is great for a growing colony. Feeders are a must for any new colony established in the spring and fall feeding for everyone. Anything outside of that, ask a fellow beekeeper first!
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One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “What's better for starting a colony of bees? A package of bees or a nuc?” Of course, we have to understand what each is exactly to better answer that question for you.

A package of bees is traditionally 3 lbs of mostly worker bees, some drones, and one caged queen. This equates to approximately 10,000 - 12,000 bees. They are essentially an artificial swarm and do not come with anything but the stripes on their backs, which means you will need to tend to them vigilantly and ensure they have plenty of sugar water to create wax in order to draw out the honeycomb on the foundation.

Packages are easy to install for a "new-bee" and start slowly, which gives you time to build your confidence conducting inspections and see the transition of the three brood phrases progressively. There are circumstances in which the package bees do not accept their caged queen though this is rare and can be prevented through introduction techniques. Another plus of a package of bees is they tend to carry with them less pests due to a lack of frames of drawn honeycomb.

A nuc is short for nucleus colony. A standard nuc is five (5) deep frames with drawn comb filled with a combination of honey, pollen, and brood in various stages of development. The frames should be covered in bees and the lone queen in the colony is cage-free actively laying to bring that small colony up to a full scale production colony that will contain upwards of 50,000 – 60,000 bees. If the weather cooperates and you managed the colony properly, you can have a full size colony in a few months, along with your first honey harvest sooner than you think.

The advantage of starting with a nuc is your bees have a head start. They have five frames of drawn comb, which means you will have to feed less. That being said, if you purchase a nuc you need to be prepared to take on the role of beekeeper because it is going to grow and grow fast! The con to nucs is they can possibly come with higher pests loads due to frames of drawn comb and capped brood. The other con is they tend to cost approximately $50 to $100 more than a package of bees, but the costs can be offset due to having to buy less sugar for sugar water and being able to sell honey sooner!

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Not sure what to do now that winter is here? What do your colonies really need for the winter? Do you wrap your hives, feed over the winter, or just let them bee? Heather's favorite answer, "Well, it depends..." Get your last minute winter questions in before it is too late, but be thinking about the spring as well. Swarm management, splitting your hives, or ready to grow through another package or nuc? Stop in and see us.

No brood in your hives right now?? Don't panic, that is what we what to happen. There needs to be a break in brood cycle where there are no eggs, larvae, or capped brood during our winters in central Virginia. The earlier your colony stops raising brood, the more time and focus they have on packing the honey away for the winter. Italian stock colonies tend to have robust numbers so it is not too likely that you don't have enough bees in late October and early November to make it through the winter. 

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Come celebrate our 1st anniversary of business with us on November 19th, and let us say thank you by offering 10% OFF* all day!! We will have local Charlottesville author Carolyn O'Neal in from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. with copies of her novel, Kingsley. We will also be conducting a honey tasting and just enjoying seeing everyone who has supported us in our first year!

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Do your bees have enough stored honey for the winter? You need at least 50 to 60 lbs. in our region! If your colony isn't there yet, consider supplemental feed to make up the difference. We offer Winter Patties in 10lb and 40lb increments at our store or through our online store:

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Our pollen/protein supplemental feeds are on sale! 10-25% OFF!!

10lb. & 40 lb. Ultra Bee Pollen Protein Patties 25% OFF!
1lb. & 10 lb. Ultra Bee Dry Bee Food canisters 10% OFF!

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