How old is too old to keep bees?

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I'm on the wrong side of 75.
Beekeeping is just one of my hobbies.

I spend a lot of time with family and visit a couple of even more elderly friends.

I keep a rather large garden and chooks and supply some veg to the village. (hint - it is a mugs game - don't expect a return)

WE also operate a modest Pecan Orchard ( more mug games) and some Angus Cattle.

Age does weary them! BS!
I had to adjust.
At my peak in the season  I build up to about 100 hives  and then sell off about 50% of them before the season ends as nuc's or singles .
We sell honey at markets.
I still do some teaching in Agriculture and mentor a few young beekeepers.
I now have an electric hoist which lifts my big buckets with ease.
I'm changing more and more of my hives to 1/2 supers.
The electric extractor does most of the extracting part of the job. I use an electric knife.
I like my independence but I wonder how long it will be ( BEE?) before I will need help?
Are there old beekeepers of a similar small scale who have found the means to run a few hives with no assistance?
How did they adjust? What changes did they have to make?

Many years ago I was told of an older beekeeper in my area. As I was new to the hobby, I decided to meet this fellow and talk to him about his experiences. He told me that he was in his eighty second year of beekeeping. He had his first hive when he was just six years of age. At the time that I met him, he was running about sixty hives (all in full depth x 10 frame boxes) The best bit of advice he gave me was to work smarter rather than harder as you get older. He showed me a simple trick that he used for artificially swarming a hive when he spotted queen cells. The method only took a couple of minutes and worked exceptionally well. He rarely lifted full boxes off a hive. He tended to work one frame at a time. He knew how to manipulate brood and honey frames to get the best production out of his bees. He kept his bees in one location and never moved them. This reduced his workload considerably. He always took two boxes of honey off in the late afternoon and returned the frames the following afternoon to reduce travelling and double handling. Honey was always extracted in the evening when it was cooler. It?s not a system that would suit everyone but it worked for him.

Ben Framed:
This is a good topic. No doubt several of our members are reaching an elder age. Max keep up the good work as long as you are able! Working smarter as Les commented is a key factor in my opinion.

Les what was 'his' simple trick the elder beekeeper taught you for artificially swarming a hive when he spotted queen cells?

"He showed me a simple trick that he used for artificially swarming a hive when he spotted queen cells."

Ben Framed:
This might be a good link for those who may physically unable to handle those heavy boxes. I posted the same link on another topic, but it might help someone here as well..

I have used this method quite a few times now. If capped queen cells are spotted, move the hive to a new location a few yards away. Do this is the middle of the day when the bees are flying. On the old site, set up a bottom board with an empty box. Add the frames with most of the queen cells. Shake the bees off these frames before moving them. Fill the remainder of the box with frames of capped brood and one empty frame. No bees are added. Put a lid on this box and also close up the main hive. Flying bees return to the new hive and start populating it. Many bees from the main hive also fly out and return to the old location. Within a couple of hours, there is a good population of adult bees in the new hive with no brood to tend. The queen will hatch within a few days as will some of the capped brood. This then creates all the requirements for a new hive to establish itself. The old hive has the queen, uncapped brood, young bees and perhaps a queen cell or two.  It also has the majority of the stores. The hive will most likely not swarm at this time due to the reduced congestion issue and a lack of flying bees. The hive will take care of swarm cells if the urge to leave the hive is lost. Leaving a swarm cell or two in the old hive is just a bit of an insurance policy.


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