So I have never seen a swarm in my life in Minnesota. In my three years keeping bees I have never caught my own swarms nor have I ever seen them swarm. So I figure that real expansion comes from splits. I have a plan to keep my hive count to a certain number, but first a little info about my current situation.
I have two langs and one warre currently alive. Hopefully they all make it through. I have four italian packages coming in the spring. That brings me to 7. I plan on using one package for another warre and the other three for langs. I have enough comb to give each package an 8 frame deep of comb (two boxes filled with comb for my warre). So they should take off nicely!
I usually try to use carnis due to my cold weather, but my packages are Italian. So I will eventually like to replace them. Queen rearing seems to be the next obvious step in my plan. Not only do I get to direct my own stock, but I believe it's truly an important part of expansion. You need queens to have hives! So I plan on using a cloake board two rear two batches of queens this year.
So the next question is what are my goals? Well I would like to keep 10ish hives. I would like to keep close to flourish hives for honey production and the rest for splitting, queen rearing, or whatever else.
So how do I do that? Aggressive nuc creation. Firstly what I plan on doing is rearing a batch of queens. Once ready to harvest I will split my warre into as many individual boxes as humanly possible. I also plan on making a nuc or two out of one of my overwintered langs. That will bring my hive count to at least four warres and seven langs. Hopefully I can bring them all up to a decent strength. Once my packages have built up to at least two deeps, maybe three I will rear more queens. Once ready to harvest I will make up a few more nucs by taking a comb of brood out of each hive. Each individual hive won't miss a single comb with adhering bees.
I then plan on wintering nucs. I will do this in two different fashions. One setup is an eight frame deep split in half. I have two boxes like this and plan on wintering two nucs in these two boxes. The other setup is a five over five nuc setup. I will bunch these together and make an insulatd box around them. I will create an eke of sorts to put under them all and run a string of Christmas lights under them. Trying to average 14 watts of lights under each hive. I haven't fully decided what to do with the my potential heater at this point, but there are Christmas lights that average 7 watts per bulb. So sounds easy enough. I will also try out some candy boards to be safe.
After this it's all a matter of repeating the process enough to keep stable numbers. Thoughts?