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Author Topic: Keeping only a few hives  (Read 454 times)

Offline Bluetamon

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Keeping only a few hives
« on: July 14, 2015, 05:14:23 PM »
Ok, first post.   :happy:

I am going to be starting my first hives next spring at my new house (Northwest FL). I will be getting 2 to start with. I have read a lot of books and forum posts on the different ways to expand the number of hives but have found very little on ways to keep my hive numbers down. I've always had a fascination with bees and have wanted to get a few hives ever since I was young.  I'm not really interested in mass collection of honey or making any sort of profit, I just want bees.

What are the best ways to prevent this from getting out of hand (for me) and just keeping my 2, maybe 3 hives over the years? 

Do I just let swarms leave? How would I keep them from swarming to the house.

Do I destroy swarm queen cells?

Any advice would be better than what I have been finding (not finding).

Thanks.
Mike

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 06:15:18 PM »
Welcome to Beemaster.
If you do not want more hives, don't buy or make them.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Online cao

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 07:15:08 PM »
First, Welcome to the forum.  Second, your question is usually the opposite of what people ask here.  That being said, If you only want 2 hives you can just let them be bees and let them swarm when they see fit.  If you don't want them to swarm and you have the flexibility of having one or two more hives during the summer, you could do splits then recombine them in the fall.  Also, you could sell or give away your splits.  If you join a bee club or place an ad on craigslist, I'm sure you could find a home for any excess bees that you might have.

As far as destroying swarm cells, I don't know that there would be any good that would come from doing that.  Usually that does more harm than good.  Unfortunately, even with the most attentive beekeeper there is no way to completely prevent swarming.  It's natural for the bees to reproduce(swarm) so if I only wanted a couple of hives, I would do some splits occasionally to help prevent them from swarming and sell them to help offset the original cost of the bees and equipment.

Hope this helps a little.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 09:08:40 PM »
If you remove all of the swarm cells, there is a good chance that the bees will swarm any way leaving your hive queenless. Then the only chance your hive has is to make a new queen from a young larvae. I had this happen to my observation hive. It swarmed and none of the swarm cells survived.   They were able to makes a new queen from young larvae. The problem with this is that by the time the queen is ready to start laying eggs, the hive is very weak and the queen will only lay as many eggs as the bees can cover. It was a long slow recovery.
They don't always survive this.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline mikecva

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2015, 02:11:17 PM »
I started out many years ago with only 2 hives, now my smallest yard has 8 hives in it. I never intended to get so involved but as I grew in knowledge and enjoyment of the bees my hive numbers grew. I started with all mediums  and glad I did as I am getting older and the full size supers would just kill my back.
If you have relatives they will be looking for honey but once you start using fresh honey from your own bees you will not want to buy other honey except to taste it because it is different.
Try to find a local bee club as many have mentoring programs and will help you with your extraction.  -Mike
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2015, 02:24:09 PM »
>What are the best ways to prevent this from getting out of hand (for me) and just keeping my 2, maybe 3 hives over the years? 

Don't get bees.  Bees are addictive.  Besides limiting the numbers is usually not the problem.  There are plenty of people who want to buy bees.  Keeping them alive is the challenge...

>Do I just let swarms leave?

It's not a very effective or predictable way to manage bees.

>How would I keep them from swarming to the house.

Chalk all the cracks...

>Do I destroy swarm queen cells?

Never.
http://bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
http://bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#queencellsbad
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen

Online Eric Bosworth

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2015, 09:29:44 PM »
Never destroy swarm cells. If you don't want to continue growing your bee yard then sell nucs.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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Offline little john

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2015, 02:37:21 AM »
I would advise keeping two and a half beehives: with the 'half' being a nuc, kept as a means of holding a third queen in reserve, in case of failure or accidental loss 'out of season'.

As others have said, you can't stop bees from multiplying - it's in their nature - just sell or give away what you don't want to keep.

Intentionally allowing bees to swarm is not such a good idea, despite many 'natural beekeepers' promoting this philosophy. Beekeeping has never been 'natural'.

LJ

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2015, 12:46:56 PM »
I think it makes more sense to think in terms of 2 and a half as the minimum goal (although you may dip below it at times) and seven as the upward goal (well, if we are counting a nuc as half, maybe 4 and 3 halves?...).   There is a natural cycle to the bee expansion and contraction and it's much easier to go with the flow.  You can always combine hives right at the flow or just before winter if you really have too many and can't sell them.  Just don't do it in prime swarm season...
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2015, 01:00:39 PM »
"You can always combine hives right at the flow or just before winter if you really have too many and can't sell them.  Just don't do it in prime swarm season..."
Mike,
I'm confused
I always considered just before a flow to be swarm season. Isn't that when we make our splits in the spring?
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2015, 03:06:17 PM »
>I always considered just before a flow to be swarm season.

Maybe I should say at the start of the flow.  If you do it while adding some space in the brood nest it should get them out of swarm mode and into nectar gathering mode.
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2015, 03:33:38 PM »
Thanks
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Bluetamon

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2015, 03:35:53 PM »
Thanks for the responses. Sorry I didn't chime in earlier, the last to weeks we have been packing and moving so I didn't have the time.

The reason for only a few beehives is that FL allows 3 hives before you have to register and all that. Plus I'm in a neighborhood and want to keep a lower profile. Fortunately our house is surrounded by wooded lots and we are the only ones at the end of a cul-de-sac so it should work out nicely.

It is making more sense to me now. I have been to a few bee-group meetings and have talked more with some of the local beekeepers. I hope to have my 2 hives starting next spring. Wish me luck and I'm sure you'll see more of me on the forums soaking up the knowledge and asking more stupid questions.   :tongue:

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2015, 07:09:47 PM »
Mike,
Where in FL are you? Up date your profile. FL law requires all hives to be registered. All you do is let your inspector know you have a hive and about a year later they will come and inspect it and then he will give you the paperwork for registering the hive.
Use this inspection to ask all of the questions you want answered. Write down your questions before hand. If you are in the NE area, Rob will inspect your hives. He is very good and very gentle with your bees.
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Bluetamon

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2015, 05:08:41 PM »
I'm in the Pensacola/Milton area.

I guess register was the wrong word to use. I was under the impression that I could only have 3 hives in my yard but I did a bit of digging and according to the Florida Department of Ag, since I have more than half but less than a full acre, I can actually have 10 hives.   :shocked:  That is still probably more than I want. I do like the 2 hives and a Nuc idea. Maybe I would get a few more after I get the hang of it.

Mr. Bush, I do want to thank you for all the information you provide. You have influenced me greatly on how I want to manage my bees. I am actually watching one of your club talks that are posted on Youtube as I type this.  :happy:

Offline Joe D

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Re: Keeping only a few hives
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2015, 12:24:06 AM »
I'll have to stop end when I am down there, if is OK.  I go to Milton 4 or 5 times a year, sometimes more.  I think half the streets there are cul-de-sacs.  I was down there the 23 and 24 of July.  Daughter is about two blocks off Berry hill. 
You will sooner or latter loose a hive, absconding, robbing or whatever so you may want a few more.  I started with 3 hives, have had as many as seven, this year four.  I also don't want to get a lot.  They are very addictive, and you have never tasted  honey as good as your first, then second crop.  You can just stand or sit out close to your hives and watch them for hours, days off and on.



Good luck to you

Joe D