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bluegrass
09-09-2006, 05:50 AM
I like to add hives and when ever I get the chance to devide a hive or capture a swarm, I do. I am just wondering how many hives one person can handle befor help is needed? I am hoping to be up around 100 plus in two or three years. Part of my problem is that I am in an urban area and as I set up new hives I have to find new areas to place them. We have plenty of farm land within a few miles of here, but I want my bees to take advantage of all the flowering trees and plants within the city limits.

Sundance
09-09-2006, 06:35 AM
The number tossed out there is one experienced
beekeeper can handle 1000 colonies. With help
on extraction of course. This number makes me
shake and quiver...... 110 have me hopping at
times.... but I am a rookie to be sure.

[ September 09, 2006, 08:36 AM: Message edited by: Sundance ]

magnet-man
09-09-2006, 07:04 AM
In an urban setting it depends upon how many hives you can have in one yard. In Tulsa the standard yard is limited to four hives. Twenty-five yards would be needed for one hundred hives. That is just too much travel time between yards. At least in Tulsa the honey is not of very good quality but is great for spring build up.

How many hives you can handle depends upon your age and health. There would be no way for me to manage one hundred hives without help.

[ September 09, 2006, 09:15 AM: Message edited by: magnet-man ]

Michael Bush
09-09-2006, 07:23 AM
A lot of it depends on your equipment, the distance to the yards, your management style and how much free time you have.

I work a lot less now with about 50 hives than I did with about 7.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm

You also adjust some of the detail work you do with less hives. You take more approaches that are one time sure things and don't require a lot of babysitting over methods that are more time intensive.

For instance, you don't try to baby a laying worker hive; you just shake them out on the spot, put the equipment on the other hives and walk away. If you THINK a hive is queenless, you might just give them a frame of open brood and forget it, or combine it with the one next door with a sheet of newspaper and walk away, even though there MIGHT be a queen.

Unless you're raising queens, you hardly ever look for one, just look for eggs and open brood and call it good. You just look for them when they are failing so you can get rid of them and replace them.

You need to get an organized system. If you went to the hives today to feed, you feed. If you see something wrong you mark the hive for followup and keep feeding. Come back on the next trip and worry about the problem hives or do it after you're done. Interruptions are the enemy of efficiency.

Jeffrey Todd
09-09-2006, 09:08 AM
>Interruptions are the enemy of efficiency.
Absolutely. I always find myself sidetracked when working my bees at home and it always ends up taking me at least 3 times as long as it does in the outyards.

Edward G
09-09-2006, 10:31 AM
I think this is an excellent topic, mainly because it is something that I'm trying to figure out myself. I do a lot of babysitting with my bees and spend way too much time out there.

This is where it would be good to have an apprentice system. A beginner like me could work side by side with an old pro and learn.

Learning the hard way is the hard way.

bluegrass
09-09-2006, 07:18 PM
I have high hopes! I may even consider quitting my job and going at it full time within a few years. In this area there is no limit to the number of hives you can have, but considering the wellbeing of my neighbors I am trying to limit my own yard to around 4 or 5. I am hoping to get a few yards outside city limits that can handle 35 or more. I also read about keepers who have kept bees on barges on the ohio and mississippi rivers back in the 1870s and thought it is an interesting concept.

lazybeestudio.com
09-09-2006, 07:39 PM
BG:

Where did you read about bee barges? I'd like to find some more info on this topic.

-J

http://www.lazybeestudio.com

bluegrass
09-09-2006, 08:44 PM
The University of kentucky press put out a book in 2005 called Bees in America: how the honey bee shaped a nation. It is a great book on the history of bees. There is a little about bee barges in there. They mostly said that the barges failed because the tug captins would not leave the barge in an area long enough and there was problems with hives getting knocked overboard.

tecumseh
09-10-2006, 04:43 AM
age and health are definitely major factors. the rule from some years back was tha one person (with seasonal help) could manage 600 hives.

the above numbers would be a bit ambitious for my interest.

Jim Fischer
09-10-2006, 04:56 AM
I found that the process looks like this:

1 to 12 hives, and nothing matters, as you do whatever
comes to mind, and get work done when you can.

Over about 12 hives, and you start to "get serious",
planning your moves, and thinking about being
efficient.

Over about 60 hives, you realize that time is your
most expensive asset, and you start investing in
things that do nothing but save time.

Anything larger than 60 becomes a matter of your
physical endurance - how many hours a day can
you work bees without stopping, and how many
days a week can you get up before dawn to do it?

Heat takes a toll, sweat takes a toll, your ability to
do heaving lifting starts to limit your efficiency,
and so on.

Some folks hire helpers, some folks get in shape,
or were in shape before, some invest in EZ-Loaders,
but the bottom line here is that you are working
with heavy objects in the hot sun all day, and the
longer you can keep at it, the more hives you can
manage. Sure, switching to 100% mediums was
the best decision I ever made, but that did not mean
that I would want to lift them all day, every day
without staying in shape (not just upper body, but
the whole set of muscles). One must lift heavy
objects year-round to "keep in shape" for lifting
even mediums "all day long" in the spring and
summer.

But I don't agree with Mike's "Lazy Beekeeping" on a few
points, as follows:

"Foundationless Frames" - No freakin' way, not if you want
to toss them into an extractor. Plastic foundation has meant
"no more comb blowouts" in the extractor, and I love it.

"No chemicals/No 'Artificial' Feed" - Well, the bees don't care
where their sucrose, glucose, and fructose comes from, so
I don't impose any dogma upon them, and feed hives in
early spring to get them pumped up big time. The most
important beekeeping I do is done in a parka rather than
a bee veil, and if you can get your head around that
concept, your harvests will be much larger, as your hives
will be larger. I also have no problem with treating my
hives when and if they need it, with the best science has
to offer in the way of a treatment.

"Top Bar Hives" - No thanks, I like stacking boxes to the
sky on those monster hives that look like they can take
over the entire county. Once again, modular components,
using standard parts. Mediums, wooden frames, plastic
foundation, metal frame rests.

"Leave The Burr Comb" - No freakin' way again. Nothing
slows you down more than a hive where things are glued
and gooed into a mess that takes time and effort to
pry apart. Nothing makes bees testy more than attempts
to pry these boxes apart. If I get burr comb, I have a
tolerance problem in the woodenware, and I need to look
at the problem closely before it gets completely out of
hand. Propolis seals should be the only thing I need to
break apart, and not too much of even that anywhere
except between box edges, or I have a different tolerance
problem, for which I have very little emotional tolerance.

"Stop Scraping Propolis" - See above. No reason to remove
what the bees will certainly replace, as it will only take away
bees from more productive efforts, like making me honey,
but if there is a mess, I clean it up so that it will not slow
me down next time.

"Stop Painting" - Only rich beekeepers can afford to not paint
all the exposed surfaces on everything. They can afford new
boxes after a few years, and I can't make my numbers work
if I have to do that. I paint with wild abandon and a sprayer.
If someone moves too slow, they get painted too, as I paint
everything that moves more slowly than I do.

tecumseh
09-10-2006, 05:07 AM
in regards to JIm Fischer comments and this being sunday, just let me say....ALLMEN.

George Fergusson
09-10-2006, 06:21 AM
>just let me say....ALLMEN.

In deed tecumseh. Let us spray.

JohnK and Sheri
09-10-2006, 09:12 AM
Jim, you crack me up, I can tell you been there, done that! John is the same way with the paint gun. Look out if you are downwind of him. People who drive by are lucky their cars don't have a mist of silver, lol.
As to how many hives, John ran about 600 basically by himself, with just extracting help but he was also pretty well run ragged by the time they were buttoned up for winter. That was also without some of the time saving equipment we have now, like pallets, forklifts and a mass feeding system.
No wonder his back is bad!
Sheri

Michael Bush
09-10-2006, 09:17 AM
>But I don't agree with Mike's "Lazy Beekeeping" on a few
points, as follows:

>"Foundationless Frames" - No freakin' way, not if you want
to toss them into an extractor. Plastic foundation has meant
"no more comb blowouts" in the extractor, and I love it.

But how much time and money do you spend on buying and installing plastic foundation? Even more if you use wax and wire. I spend no time on it. I haven't had a blowout in the extractor in years.

>"No chemicals/No 'Artificial' Feed" - Well, the bees don't care
where their sucrose, glucose, and fructose comes from

Exactly. They will take it and they will put it anywhere. Then they will even move it around after they have. I would think that should worry you that you'll have some syrup in your honey. In order have completely interchangeable comb, you need to know what’s in it. If there are no chemicals in it and no sugar syrup in it, then all of it is either honey, pollen or brood. I can put it anywhere, harvest it anytime and use it anyway that helps my current goal.

>"Top Bar Hives" - No thanks, I like stacking boxes to the
sky on those monster hives that look like they can take
over the entire county. Once again, modular components,
using standard parts. Mediums, wooden frames, plastic
foundation, metal frame rests.

In an outyard, Top Bar Hives may not be the best choice. If your hives are in your back yard and you have back problems, they are wonderful.

>"Leave The Burr Comb" - No freakin' way again. Nothing
slows you down more than a hive where things are glued
and gooed into a mess that takes time and effort to
pry apart.

I’ve never seen a problem with time and effort. You pry the box up and if it’s got frames attached you go down the line and pop them off. It takes far less time than scraping the top bars off takes and it doesn't upset the bees as long as you don't go pulling a frame out of the box below, and if you do that's your own fault for not paying attention. There's not much except with the PermaComb, but I do love the PermaComb. For a guy who loves drawn comb as much as you, Jim, I'm surprised you haven't figured out a way to use it. Anyway about it the bees will almost always simply replace whatever you scrape off, wasting their time and yours.

>Nothing makes bees testy more than attempts
to pry these boxes apart.

I don’t TRY to pry them apart. I have a system and they come apart quite quickly and without any upset on the part of the bees. Ask John Seets or Bullseye Bill. Popping the propolis on the cover is the most likely thing to set them off. Frankly with the PermaComb they are quite quickly occupied with sucking up the honey between the boxes.

>"Stop Scraping Propolis" - See above. No reason to remove
what the bees will certainly replace, as it will only take away
bees from more productive efforts, like making me honey,
but if there is a mess, I clean it up so that it will not slow
me down next time.

Sounds like exactly what I said. "The bees will just replace it, so unless it's directly in your way, why bother?"

>"Stop Painting" - Only rich beekeepers can afford to not paint
all the exposed surfaces on everything.

Funny, I never thought of Richard Taylor as a wealthy beekeeper.

"The hives need no painting, although there is no harm in doing it if their owner wants to please his own eye. The bees find their way to their own hives more easily if the hives do not all look alike. I rarely paint mine, and as a result no two are quite alike. Most have the appearance of many years of use and many seasons of exposure to the elements." --Richard Taylor, The Joys of Beekeeping

Hillside
09-10-2006, 09:51 AM
I wonder if the painting dilema isn't partly due to location. Michael is in a reletivly dry western prairie and Jim is in the always humid east.

For me, pine that is in contact with the ground and is unpainted is shot in about a year.

Non-ground contact, but near the ground, two to maybe three years.

Well away from ground contact with good ventilation, about 4 to 6 years.

I can about double those times if I keep a decent coat of paint on things.

I paint boxes when they are new and may give them another coat if they are out of use for some reason. I also keep all boxes on 6" landscape timbers so there isn't any ground contact, but as the grass grows up around the boxes in summer, there can be quite a bit of dampness there. I only keep the grass well trimmed around the entrances.

If you have a heated indoor area, painting can be done in winter when other things are less pressing.

tecumseh
09-10-2006, 08:04 PM
sheri adds about JohnK:
John is the same way with the paint gun. Look out if you are downwind of him. People who drive by are lucky their cars don't have a mist of silver, lol.

tecumseh replies:
well it does appear as if some of us old bee keepers got more in common than we might like to admit.

you know I was just thinkin'.... I do not believe I have a pair of work pants without a bit of paint sploshed on them somewhere.

and yes I do think you have it hillside. exactly right.

Jim Fischer
09-11-2006, 05:18 AM
> I would think that should worry you that you'll have some syrup in your honey.

Oh get real, Michael. You've blustered on this point enough, to no avail.
Yes, there is a risk to the spring crop, if the beekeeper is a complete moron,
but I assure you that colonies fed in late January and early February are going
to use that read-to-eat pseudo-nectar, simply because it is ready to eat
and ready to use for brood feed. Yes, I agree that a cognitively challenged
beekeeper could over-feed, feed to late in spring, or whatever. So what?
The same beekeeper could feed during the flow.

> In order have completely interchangeable comb, you need to know what’s in it.
> If there are no chemicals in it and no sugar syrup in it, then all of it is either
> honey, pollen or brood. I can put it anywhere, harvest it anytime and use it
> anyway that helps my current goal.

Ewwwww! Yuck! Gag! You can't possibly even think of reusing brood comb in
honey supers, can you? With all those impossible-to-remove cocoon remnants?

I don't need to limit myself with such general rules, as every frame has a colored
thumbtack in it to tell me when to "retire it" to the melter, and every box has a
stenciled code number on it, so that it can be tracked and deployed in a managed
manner. One thing that NEVER happens is brood comb being
redeployed as honey super
comb. Honey super comb certainly can be re-tasked as brood comb, but never
the other way 'round, fer sure.

> do love the PermaComb. For a guy who loves drawn comb as much as you, Jim,
> I'm surprised you haven't figured out a way to use it.

I'm waiting for the vendor to tell me how to cut down a standard medium to utilize
it in a professional (burr-comb free) environment. From my point of view, it needs to be redesigned
to standard dimensions, or the boxes must be cut down to fit it, so that the burr
comb can be eliminated.

> Anyway about it the bees will almost always simply replace whatever you scrape
> off, wasting their time and yours.

No, what happens is that excessive burr comb (at least when using well-made
wooden frames) is a clue that the box is out-of-spec, so out comes a replacement
box, swap go the frames, and the old box is taken back to the shop for rework or
recycling as fire-starters. (For those saying "amen" out there, please understand
that even a perfect box is going to degrade over time, as one prys and slams and
juggles and bangs boxes around the way we do, so it is no sin to have a box that
is suddenly "out of spec".)

> Funny, I never thought of Richard Taylor as a wealthy beekeeper.

He had more money than you may have realized. He wrote several books
used as "standard texts" in psychology courses for years, he also wrote
a few general-interest books. In addition he had a very nicely-paid gig
as a tenured professor, with all the perks and retirement advantages
inherent in the deal. So, yeah - he WAS a wealthy beekeeper.
His hand-painted "Honey" signs? Marketing genius!
His affectation of a near Amish appearance? More marketing!
His kludgy Rube Goldberg honey-house set-up? Well, he was a psych
professor, not an engineering professor.

Hobie
09-11-2006, 09:22 AM
>"I don’t TRY to pry them apart. I have a system
> and they come apart quite quickly and without
> any upset on the part of the bees. Ask John
> Seets or Bullseye Bill. Popping the propolis on
> the cover is the most likely thing to set them off."

Okay, I'm asking... what's the system to pry supers apart without doing something like poping the propolis on the lid (which I do every time)?

RonS
09-11-2006, 11:16 AM
Popping the propolis and scraping it are two different things. Based on the thread, I will now cease scraping it. I only have one hive, so I piddle doing unnecessary things anyway. I really appreciate the insight provided above. I thought that I had to locate the queen every time that I looked, or I was a failure. I thought that I had to scrape everything out of place completely clean or I was a bad manager. Well, now I know better. Thanks to you all.

Ron

Parke County Queen
09-11-2006, 01:03 PM
When I started beekeeping, I took a class and the teacher emphasized that we have to inspect every frame in every box at a two week interval. Well, I have a full time job, plus make wedding cakes on the side. I only have four hives, but doing this takes a lot of time. I would like to expand, but if I do, I can't possibly inspect all of them as I should. What kind of schedule do others use?

George Fergusson
09-11-2006, 04:44 PM
>What kind of schedule do others use?

When I first took up beekeeping, I used to tear my hives down to the bottom board on a regular basis. I don't know that it did any good and it certainly annoyed the bees, but as a new beekeeper, every time I opened I hive there was something new to see. In some cases I'm sure I discovered and dealt with a lot of problems that would have resolved themselves without my attention, but hey, that's learning. New beekeepers need to paw through their hives, it's part of learning. Go into your hives whenever you want to see what's going on inside them.

Now, aside from seasonal manipulations, I don't do much of anything on a set schedule except random mite counts about monthly. Everything else is on an as-needed basis where the need is determined by the outward appearance of the hive. If they look, sound, and smell healthy, happy, and industrious, then they probably are and I don't worry about them. I might heft the back of the hive to get a sense for what they're putting up for stores. A moment observing the activity at the entrance can tell you a lot about what the conditions are inside.

In the spring, at some point, I'm inclined to go through the hives more thoroughly, frame by frame, but sometimes, if things look OK, if I see eggs and healthy brood of all ages and sufficient stores, I don't bother looking at every frame. Sometimes I see the queen. I try to either find the queen, or evidence of her recent activities- eggs and young larvae. I look for signs of disease and pests. I assess their strength and general condition. If they're strong and healthy, I'm happy.

During the summer, hives with problems get more attention but unless I have a good reason to go digging, I leave them alone. Sometimes I'll lift off the top deep and peer into the bottom box just to see how the bees are filling the hive. I might pull a frame or two, or I might not.

Sometime around late summer I'll repeat the spring inspection process but again, if everything looks good, I don't go digging too deeply. I'm looking for evidence of a laying queen, I'm looking for brood problems, but I'm mainly looking at stores to assess their progress towards completing their winter preparations.

My general approach to beekeeping management manipulations and inspections is "less is better". I do what needs to be done to accomplish what I've got in mind but otherwise, I try to leave my bees alone. They appreciate it I'm sure.

tecumseh
09-11-2006, 04:57 PM
parke county queen ask:
I can't possibly inspect all of them as I should. What kind of schedule do others use?

tecumseh replies:
well the trick is certainly not too often, but not too seldom either. I kind of set a loose intermediate term goal that I like to take a serious peak in each hive about once a month. My short term goal is to accomplish some fairly specific task a yard at a pop.

hobie ask:
Okay, I'm asking... what's the system to pry supers apart

tecumseh replies:
with a lot of burr and proposlis between boxs (which suggest a misfit in the equipment's bee space) the only thing that works for me is to use the hive tool to first force a working crack between the boxs and then running the sharp end of the hive tool in at the rappited end of the box and popping the connection between the bottom bars of the top box and the top bars of the bottom box. without a lot of smoke the girls I must admit have never been amused at this heavy handed tactic.

Patrick Scannell
09-11-2006, 06:33 PM
>Okay, I'm asking... what's the system to pry supers apart

Hobie, I think what MB was referring to was what to do when you lift a super and the ten frames from the box below try to come up too because they are burr-combed on. I think the system is that you just stick in your hive tool and pry them down one by one.
It is mostly a part of living with permacomb.

Michael Bush
09-11-2006, 06:51 PM
The lid always pops on a cool day. The only time it doesn't is on a hot day when it slowly comes loose.

The system to get burred combs apart (between the boxes) is just go down the line and catch the ends of the top bars with the hive tool and pry the ones in the box below, down. It takes about ten seconds to do ten frames.

dnichols
06-04-2013, 08:29 PM
I decided to resurrect this old thread because it was of interest to me. I hope I didn't break any forum protocols of resurrecting the dead. Some good banter between MB and JF. :)

Anything new to add to the wisdom already set forth?

Michael Bush
06-05-2013, 08:36 AM
I'm up to 200 hives most years with the same techniques... and working full time.

Kirk has been making a living by himself for a while now. "I'm keeping 300 colonies of bees now for honey production, and try to have 100-300 nucleus colonies available for sale each spring. "--Kirk Webster, Healthy Beekeeping Now and in the Future, Part 2 of 6 Parts, ABJ 2006, pg 419

VolunteerK9
06-05-2013, 03:30 PM
I found that the process looks like this:



This will probably go down as being in my Beesource Top 5 responses ever. :thumbsup:

(Even though its a 7 year old post LoL)

Vance G
06-05-2013, 03:41 PM
I topped out at 300 hive with a full time job but I lived with little sleep for half the year.

mathesonequip
06-05-2013, 04:37 PM
Last year I talked to a beekeeper from the Ukraine, he has been in the US something like 20 years. he told me that in the old soviet days it was a crime [trip to Siberia] not to have a job. to register as a full time beekeeper you needed about 30 hives if you got over something like 35 then it was over one man's quota, they might force you to get a part time helper and pay him or be forced to be come part of a state co-op farm, the state owned the bees then. he told me that in the us 300 hives would barely pay the bills and would not leave too much time for family if you did a real good job of it.... I thought this was real interesting.

dnichols
06-05-2013, 09:20 PM
I topped out at 300 hive with a full time job but I lived with little sleep for half the year.

Hey Vance what are you running now? What did you do in the real world? Was it worth it?