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Author Topic: Advice on growing the hive count  (Read 855 times)
WOB419
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Location: Huntersville, NC


« on: May 31, 2009, 10:18:31 PM »

Ideally I would like to grow to at least 4 hives next year.  5 or 6 would be great.  Primarily I want to have enough hives to be self-sufficient in terms of being able to raise queens.  I usually keep two hives but this year I am down to one.  It swarmed so its population is ok, but not great.  I requeened from a local producer.  She was released last week-end and is laying well; from the size of the brood it looks like she started laying right away. 

My plan to grow the hive count is:

1) Split this hive in August after the population has grown and while there is still enough of the year for them to prepare for winter.  I will have to buy another queen for this split.  Of course I will feed them going into winter.
2) In the spring (early April) split the two hives, again, having to buy these queens but hopefully that will be the last of the queen buying
3) I am trying to trap a swarm, which would provide the 5th hive.  If I can trap a second swarm then I would be at 6 hives Which is as much as I am looking for right now. 
4) If the swarm trap does not workout then I would make two more splits next year after the 4 hives have good strong populations.
5) I am considering catching swarms but right now I am not that into it, but that could change.

I would like to avoid buying nukes or packages but if that is the smart thing to do then I am open minded.  My goal in this is as I said above, I want to grow my hive count and learn/experience growing it through splits.  If I get to take honey that is a bonus.  After next year I will be more into honey production and creating queens/nucs etc.

I am interested in your thoughts about my plan and if there are ways to improve it, particularly if there is a way to take more advantage of this year.  All comments and advice will be appreciated.
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RayMarler
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2009, 02:27:51 AM »

You might want to download and read thru this short PDF on making mid summer splits. It tells how to make increase of hives in a way that should give you what you are looking for.

http://mdasplitter.com/articles/article053008.pdf

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Sitting in the shade, drinking lemon aid.
Enjoying the breeze while counting the bees.
charles
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2009, 07:22:38 AM »

I don't have much experience, but your goal is a lot like my own. It's all about the bees. The honey is just icing.

I would suggest that you could split your hive more than once this year if it is strong. Taking 3 or 4 frames (one honey, one brood, and one mixed with some pollen) with the queen and plenty of workers and starting a new hive might be doable multiple times in a year. Each time, the old hive would need to have egg frames ready to raise a new queen. If you find frames with queen cups premade (not uncommon) be sure to leave them in the queenless hive. If you found that successful here by the end of June, you might try it again in August. Since honey is not your goal, you won't mind being behind in your production. If it works right, you hit the winter with three hives. You could easily make that 6 the following year, even if you never catch a swarm.

Having multiple hives really helps in splitting. It would be much better to take a frame each from 5 hives for a new hive, than try to split one hive to make a new one. That's a trick I'm sure you could do more than once a year, which would really boost your numbers.
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4 hives
Bee-Bop
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Location: Southern Missouri


« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2009, 07:53:48 AM »

You sound very optomistic !
Remember Bee keeping is a form of Agriculture, many, many varitables !!

Many farmers feel if they can break even farming in a year, they are doing OK.

That's why 90+% of the farmers work second JOBS.

Good Luck
Bee-Bop
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" If Your not part of the genetic solution of breeding mite-free bees, then You're part of the problem "
Eshu
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2009, 11:43:15 AM »

That's a lot of splits.  It could work if they build and maintain strength. 

I had similar plans last year to expand from two to four.  After I lost a fall swarm then had a harsh winter, I had to rethink the plan.  Trapping and/or collecting swarms may be the key to expanding to 5 or 6.
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WOB419
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Location: Huntersville, NC


« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2009, 08:31:45 AM »

Thanks for your comments.  Ray that paper looks very helpful, I can't wait to read it thoroughly tonight.  I saw something on checker boarding in it which might help to grow the population more quickly.

I'm still interested in other insights if anyone has them.
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