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Author Topic: What is the smallest number of hives needed to raise a few queens  (Read 1803 times)
Tigerfansga
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« on: May 02, 2011, 01:09:53 AM »

I'm a hobbiest, with 4 hive currently. What is the smallest number of hives needed to raise a few queens. Just enough to have a few extra and maybe sell a few. Basically, what size apiary do you need to get started?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2011, 05:57:42 AM »

It depends on what "a few" means.  You can raise a few with one hive but probably not get much if any honey.  If you want to raise a lot of queens you will need a lot of hives.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesafewgoodqueens.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenrearing.htm
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Broodhead
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2011, 04:00:05 AM »

Raising queens from a small number of hives is no problem. You can raise all the queens that you need from a small setup. Mating those queens is a different problem and therefore you should consider the drone requirements for proper mating. For a period of time I have been using a five frame Cloake arrangement for raising my queens, it works extremely well and is manageable. I personally prefer to stay away from the starter finisher system simply because for me it is more difficult to manage.
I use some of my best hives to produce ample drones for mating. I have a couple of Cordovan hives that I promote drone populations by placing partial frames that are foundation less that increase drone cells that in turn provide drones for mating. The key to successful queen production is only as good as the quality of the mating drone.
The 5 frame hive for queen production is a great resource for the hobby or sideline beekeeper. I run about one hundred hives most of the time and I can produce most if not all the queens that I need with this system. Yes, I do buy a few queens at times for the purpose of adding new gene lines to my yard, and I do not requeen as often as some suggest. I simply manage my hives and replace queens as needed. Some of my better queens are going into their third season, and are still going like gangbusters!
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specialkayme
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2011, 08:44:09 AM »

The short and easy answer, at least for the SMALLEST number of hives needed, would probably be one hive. If the hive is big enough, you can graft from it (or use whatever method you prefer), take nurse bees from it to make a starter, then shake them back into the hive above a queen excluder to make a finisher. At the end you will get a number of queen cells.

You can then take some nurse bees and brood from the hive to make up your mating nucs. This is where you will be limited though, as your one hive can only supply a limited number of mating nucs. Or, you could take the q-cells and re-queen full hives with those, therefore not needing mating nucs.

But from there, the more hives you have the better queens you can produce (as well as more queens). A drone hive should be maintained (with genetically diverse stock) to ensure proper mating. A second colony helps to provide extra nurse bees for the starter/finisher. Even more colonies can help to supply the mating nucs. If you are planning on going in cycles, even more colonies would be needed to keep the nucs properly stocked.

So it gets more complicated the more queens (and the better mated they are) that you produce. But it can be done with one (very healthy and very populated) hive.
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tefer2
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2011, 09:10:24 AM »

Hey Broodhead, how about showing us your nuc setup ?
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