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Question: how big does an apiary have to be to be self sustaining
1-3 - 4 (22.2%)
3-6 - 7 (38.9%)
over 10 - 3 (16.7%)
over 11 - 4 (22.2%)
Total Voters: 18


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Author Topic: Opinions on keeping a small apiary  (Read 682 times)
Brother Dave
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« on: January 04, 2014, 01:06:04 PM »

I want to start a topic thread to gather ideas and experiences you all have on keeping less than three hives.
What defines success of a small operation.    I cant grow bigger. but can I learn to raise Queens? How many of us small scale keepers are there
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edward
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 01:29:23 PM »

can I learn to raise Queens?

To sell or for your own use?

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iddee
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 01:52:00 PM »

""    how big does an apiary have to be to be self sustaining ""

Minimum is zero.

You can join a local club, begin charging for removals, ask the newbees in the club to assist, give them the bees for helping, keep the money.

That said, the true answer is, you can do with bees as you want. You can do the above, or have thousands of hives, or anywhere in between.

Start with 2 or more. One hive is not sustainable. 2 is, but will multiply, so a third box in needed. After that, it's all up to you.
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Brother Dave
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 02:14:32 PM »

can I learn to raise Queens?

To sell or for your own use?


for me It would be queens for my self. extras could be shared or sold but that would not be the goal.
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Brother Dave
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 02:20:07 PM »

""    how big does an apiary have to be to be self sustaining ""

Minimum is zero.

You can join a local club, begin charging for removals, ask the newbees in the club to assist, give them the bees for helping, keep the money.

That said, the true answer is, you can do with bees as you want. You can do the above, or have thousands of hives, or anywhere in between.

Start with 2 or more. One hive is not sustainable. 2 is, but will multiply, so a third box in needed. After that, it's all up to you.
  I like the way  you think on this. beekeeping publications seem to push for Big is where l beekeepers  wind up if they are successful. A former beekeeper told me that he got out because it got to big.
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edward
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 03:03:59 PM »

for me It would be queens for my self. extras could be shared or sold but that would not be the goal.

Do a walk away split is the easyest
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 03:45:28 PM »

I have been keeping anywhere from three to ten hives. Some years the forage here just does not support large populations. other years the population booms and requires splitting or they swarm.
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rober
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 05:16:57 PM »

I'm with idee. find a local bee club/org. always a good source for information & resources. having at least 2 hives is a must. if 1 hive falters you can borrow resources from the other. keep a 3rd hive or nuc boxes in reserve for splits if you need to control swarming. you can sell off surplus bees & queens, another good reason to be active in local bee clubs. selling spring nucs can help offset your beekeeping cost.  I'm trying to get to an average of 15-20 hives but due to losses so far have I've fallen short of that goal. last spring I was down to 1 hive. after building backup to 8 I started this winter with 6. a recent check showed that all 6 hives so far are surviving.
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SilverApiaries
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 09:08:47 PM »

Since May 2010 I've had as many as 7 hives and as few as 1 hive.  I've caught swarms, made splits, removed bees from trees, given away colonies, and requeened hives.  I've only lost one hive through winter.  I currently have 2 strong hives, and winter just started.  I've made small honey crops the last 2 years, one of which was during an "Exceptional Drought".  My bees have survived, and at times, thrived.  For a newbie, I consider my beekeeping successful.

If you're accomplishing what YOU want to accomplish, and the bees are doing well, I'd say you're successful. 
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Joe D
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 10:14:34 PM »

I started with 3 hives and run 3 to max of 7.  I think I like the 3 to 5 personally.  My first year I started wit the 3, caught some swarms, gave most away.  Got some honey from 5 hives that first year after the cost of labels and jars and giving some to family and freinds not exactly sure how much I made.  I think I sold about $400 of honey, I got my orginal 3 hives for that.
I love messing with the bees, I wouldn't mind making some money, if I lose a little thats OK too.  I have made enough boxs now to have 10 or more hives, also like working with the wood.  I am way out in the country, have 82 acreas there is plenty to keep a person busy.  OK got to rambling again.
If you are able to take care of more than that, all you have to do is find someone that will let you keep bees on their land.  Its mainly up the the beek.


Joe
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MikeTheBeekeeper
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 11:41:57 AM »

From my experience you need well over 10 or 11 hives for an apiary to be self-sustaining, if you consider material costs, feed, time, gas, etc.

I'll be renting 40 for almond pollination, and will just barely cover all the costs.
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T Beek
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 12:02:40 PM »

Personally I like the idea of 2 and a half colonies, the half being a small NUC for raising queens, although I try to get up to 10 or so before winter.  Much has been written about this approach in recent past issues of Bee Culture and possibly ABJ.  With a minimum of 2 1/2 hives a Beek can reasonably expect some amount of sustainability. 

I love those years when I buy bees and find I didn't have to because the majority overwintered.  Then my packages generally will wind up being added to weaker survivors and introducing new genetics to my yard.
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D Coates
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2014, 05:51:09 PM »

Self sustaining?  Are you speaking financially or population (quantity of hives)? 

If number of hives, the minimum is 2 and it's great to have a nuc or 2 as back up as well. 

If financially, there are a lot of huge variables you've got to answer.  Who's your market, how are they going to find out about you, how are you going to market, what $ are you selling for, what's your time worth, what are you willing to invest initially, when do you require a return on said investment, etc.?
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Brother Dave
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 05:51:39 AM »

Self sustaining?  Are you speaking financially or population (quantity of hives)? 

If number of hives, the minimum is 2 and it's great to have a nuc or 2 as back up as well. 

If financially, there are a lot of huge variables you've got to answer.  Who's your market, how are they going to find out about you, how are you going to market, what $ are you selling for, what's your time worth, what are you willing to invest initially, when do you require a return on said investment, etc.?
I would hope to have the bees sustain population.
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BeeDog
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 08:09:22 AM »

A self sustaining colony is one strong colony with lots of bees and a good laying queen.  grin
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It is highly recommend that split be done with only strong healthy hives that have at least two Brood Chambers with Brood in all stages of development. Frames with capped Brood should be split evenly between the two hives.
10framer
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2014, 09:25:57 AM »

i like tbeek's 2-1/2 plan but i'd approach it differently.  2 hives with 4 or even 6 queen rearing nucs would be my approach.  i'd have queens that i could observe and choose between that way and at the end of the season i could select the best and combine the nucs and go into winter with 3 or 4 strong hives.  in the spring i'd break 1 or 2 into nucs again and repeat the process.  the extra queens in the fall could be culled or traded.  if you have the only bees within several miles you'd want to trade out a queen every now and then for a little genetic diversity anyway.
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