# Multiply My Hives

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• 10-03-2012, 06:33 PM
Mountain Bee
Multiply My Hives
Would like to expand my hives next year and have been spending some time thinking on the best way to go about it and what would be a realistic number I could possibly reach in one season.I am currently going into winter with 12 hives 5 of them are established hives in ten frame double deeps,1 is a ten frame single deep,3 of them are double stacked 5 frame deep nucs and 3 of them are in single 5 frame deep nucs. Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking) and lets say we will have a spring like this year. I plan to rear my own queens using Larry Connor method, I feel that I should be able to turn those 12 hives into 24 with little problem but could I possibly turn them into 36?. I am looking to increase my numbers as much as possible and I am not concerned with a surplus honey crop this year just building numbers. Any thoughts would be helpful.
• 10-03-2012, 11:27 PM
megakg9
Re: Multiply My Hives
I don't think it will happen in 2010 I had 39 with about 16 strong hives the rest were singles,and i came out of winter in 2011 with 18 colonies and only about 12 of my doubles, and before in 2009 I had 12 going into winter and came out with 6
• 10-04-2012, 12:17 AM
Moon
Re: Multiply My Hives
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mountain Bee
Would like to expand my hives next year and have been spending some time thinking on the best way to go about it and what would be a realistic number I could possibly reach in one season.I am currently going into winter with 12 hives 5 of them are established hives in ten frame double deeps,1 is a ten frame single deep,3 of them are double stacked 5 frame deep nucs and 3 of them are in single 5 frame deep nucs. Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking) and lets say we will have a spring like this year. I plan to rear my own queens using Larry Connor method, I feel that I should be able to turn those 12 hives into 24 with little problem but could I possibly turn them into 36?. I am looking to increase my numbers as much as possible and I am not concerned with a surplus honey crop this year just building numbers. Any thoughts would be helpful.

You could absolutely turn them into 36. I'll tell you right now you're going to encounter all kind of nay-sayers and people who will tell you how you can't do it, how it's not feasible, how you should pump the brakes and grow naturally (whatever that's suppose to mean) but I tell you that type of increase is not unfeasible. It depends on how you plan on doing that. Make sure you have the equipment for it. Turning those 12 hives (assuming they make it through the winter) into 24 is simply a matter of making walk away splits in the spring and BAM you have 24 hives. If you rear your own queens you'll be limited simply by the amount of nucs you can make up and get going. I think 36 is not only a reasonable goal but a good one to cut your teeth on as far as expansion goes. Best of luck to you and keep us informed on how it goes.
• 10-04-2012, 12:33 AM
RayMarler
Re: Multiply My Hives
Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking)...

That's the big IF isn't it? If they all make it to dandelion bloom in good healthy productive shape next spring, then yes, very feasible to increase to 36, I'd say.
• 10-04-2012, 04:27 AM
ralph3
Re: Multiply My Hives
If you have 3 packed 5 framers in April. Speculating queen mating goes flawless. Which it doesn't. Math says you could have right at 30 packed 5 framers by winter. I know that 4 frames of bees can fill a frame wood to wood in a week provided you feed them or they are getting nectar.

So if you figure taking a frame each from the original three donors every week and then compound that after six weeks for three more. My numbers show about 30ish by mid/end of August.

Whether we can winter nucs here in VA remains to be seen by me. I have 7 frame medium singles attempting it. So i'll either come out or lose them all. (:

Counting your chickens before the hen even starts laying is beyond wishful thinking though.
• 10-04-2012, 05:50 AM
ralittlefield
Re: Multiply My Hives
It is good to make plans, especially if you need to gear up for them. The bees are not the only thing in the equation. Do you have all the equipment that you need for 36 hives? If not, how quickly will you be able to get it?
• 10-04-2012, 06:11 AM
Eddie Honey
Re: Multiply My Hives
I think it is very possible especially if they all make it through winter.

All 3 of my hives came through winter just fine here in South Jersey and I now have 17 going into this winter; plus I sold a nuc.
They're all different strengths like yours but nontheless it'll be a fun experiment.
The bees raised all they're own queens.

Plan for success!
• 10-04-2012, 06:18 AM
Re: Multiply My Hives
I think part of the fun is planning. I second the suggestion to not overlook equipment; It is frustrating to have surplus bees and no boxes and frames to put them in. I do not know if the flows in Virginia will support this method as it was written with the Midwest in mind. http://www.mdasplitter.com/
If I were trying to increase my numbers I would use Mel's MDA splitter technique to multiply my hives, and then I would use Mike Palmer's nucleus method to grow them on. Bees like skinny nucs.
The joy of the MDA splitter method is that you do not need to learn how to graft. I have nothing against grafting in particular, but if you mess it up you have no queens to split with.
If you can afford not to make a honey crop your expansion plans are very feasible providing the weather is reasonable.
If you come out of winter with 6 strong hives I believe it is not unreasonable to expect to expand to 36 hives in a single season; If the dead-outs are not diseased you will have honey to give the splits, and drawn comb for them to expand on to, that is the only drawback I have seen with Mel's technique. You need a lot of boxes and frames.
Making splits, watching a new queen start laying, and then that colony take off is the most fun you can have. I prefer making bees to making honey.
• 10-04-2012, 06:22 AM
Keefis
Re: Multiply My Hives
You could make it happen with splits and nucs. I mean split them, then when the queen cells emerge then split those into nucs. One hive could easily become 3 or 4.
I would say to do this in the spring and then let the bees alone for the rest of the year. That should give them plenty of time to build back up.
You aren't far from me, and where I am, the spring flow is the largest resource. This should lessen some of the stress created by these manipulations.
BUT I would leave a few hives alone to have a safety net.
• 10-04-2012, 06:38 AM
GLOCK
Re: Multiply My Hives
I started out with 3 over wintered hives in may and now have 16 strong hives going in to winter and didn't realy try to hard to get them .
I learned how to make queens and splits and catch swarms all seemed pretty easy now how to deal with the mite .
I'm only 3 year beekeeper so i know little but i'm catching on.
I only want around 20 so come spring i need a better SPT thats for sure.
• 10-04-2012, 08:11 AM
PeteBridwell
Re: Multiply My Hives
It can certainly be done. I used the MDA splitter method this year to successfully turn 2 hives into 6. Had I 12 hives like you, I could have turned those 12 into 36. My 2 original hives also became super honey producers, each yielding just at 100 lbs of surplus honey. Best of luck to you.

Pete
• 10-04-2012, 08:58 PM
dtinberg
Re: Multiply My Hives
If you expand to rapidly you will severely hamper your honey production. Slow and steady wins the race...
• 10-04-2012, 09:21 PM
jim lyon
Re: Multiply My Hives
Can it be done? Sure it can, and without a doubt has been done by many in ideal conditions. The math is pretty straightforward. The reality, however, is often much different. As dtinberg says you will certainly hamper your honey production but perhaps you are willing to sacrifice that for a year. My advice is not to try to chase an arbitrary number but instead to let your bees tell you next spring how much (if any) increase you can make. Make up strong nucs that you know will grow quickly into producing hives and not to plunder your best hives excessively. My goals in the spring have always been to produce hives that make something this year.
• 10-04-2012, 09:30 PM
Oldtimer
Re: Multiply My Hives
Primary thing is to get them through the winter strong & in good shape.

You only have to get three things right to winter your bees. If they are healthy, properly housed, and have enough feed, they will survive. It's that easy.

Long as you are not treatment free or anything, deal with your mites now. Do whatever it takes to get rid of them. That done, focus on setting up the hives properly, and correct amount of feed. Treat each hive as an individual, ensure each one has what it takes to survive. Plan to lose none of them.

The biggest killer of hives in winter is mites. Nuc them now.

If you can get it all together you'll be well placed next spring. You want to make a lot of splits, start pumping them early with a bit of sugar syrup to encourage them to build population. Just, DON'T let them swarm. Split first.

If there are ethical issues with any of that, such as you don't agree with feeding, or whatever, then don't do it, I'm just saying how I would do it. But everybody has their own preferences.
• 10-04-2012, 09:52 PM
Northwest PA Beekeeper
Re: Multiply My Hives
Instead of expanding your hives, why not let your hives produce honey and expand by catching swarms? This year I advertised by contacting local pest control companies, police, fire department, and in a freebie magazine. I was able to collect over 12 swarms. I expect next year to be the same or even better with word of mouth. Not only are you getting a more diversified gene pool (many of those swarms are from wild colonies).

You will expand your hives while allowing some honey production for yourself.
• 10-05-2012, 03:52 AM
ralittlefield
Re: Multiply My Hives
Quote:

Originally Posted by Northwest PA Beekeeper
Instead of expanding your hives, why not let your hives produce honey and expand by catching swarms?

Do you have good winter survival rates with your swarms? I have read that a high percentage a swarms do not survive the first winter.
• 10-05-2012, 05:44 PM
My-smokepole
Re: Multiply My Hives
I havent had great luck with swarms or cut outs
David
• 10-05-2012, 06:13 PM
Ben Franklin
Re: Multiply My Hives
A well learned and respected beek in my area hates swarms. They mess up his breeding. But a few years back someone gave him a small late swarm. All his hive but the swarm died out during the winter.
• 10-05-2012, 06:14 PM
RudyT
Re: Multiply My Hives
Yes it can be done. Are you sure you want to work that hard?

The keys, most of which have been mentioned...
get the bees through winter in great shape with stores left
enough beeyard space & forage
equipment including some nucs
prevent swarming -- I recommend you study Michael Bush and WWW's checkerboarding.
there is also a great Michael palmer presentation link floating around -- he keeps productive hives & uses less productive hives to make splits (with new queens) -- that seems like a great idea.

good weather sure would help.

It can be done.
I lost one in Nov I think because I treated for varroa too late in fall, overwintered 2 which each had summer-raised hygenic queens
On jan 30 checkerboarded and resumed feeding
good queen cells used for splits
pleased to say that attentiveness & checkerboarding avoided swarms despite the early spring
my 2 hives turned into 4 moderate producers (well over 200 pounds) and 6 nucs
I bought 2 nucs not in this total -- mine outperformed the bought nucs.
along the way I bought 2 New World Carnolian queens (2 more I shared with neighbors)
and am requeening 5 hives this fallwith hygenic queens
In retrospect I might not have split quite as much -- I'm assessing combining 4 into 2 but I might try wintering nucs instead.
• 10-05-2012, 07:20 PM
psfred
Re: Multiply My Hives

Say you have ten good hives in the spring, just to be realistic. Number them 1 - 10 (to keep track).

Once things get going in the spring and you have drones, pull a frame of capped brood from hive #1, a frame of uncapped brood from hive #3, a frame of eggs from hive #5, a frame of pollen from hive #7 and a frame of honey from #9. This gives you a nice strong 5 frame nuc that will be ready to move up to a ten frame box in a few weeks.

Repeat this the next week, but use hives 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

Next week, use the first five hives again but pull the honey from #1, the capped brood from #3, and so forth.
Repeat until the spring flow is over. This will give you nice nucs that are essentially full strength right way, they will raise a queen from the eggs and if you get extra queen cells, you can always cut them out and use them instead of waiting for the bees to raise one.

I've not tried this, and it does require at least ten hives. You can also pull a full set of ten frames, one frame from each hive, and produce new single deep hives every two weeks all summer if you want. However, you should restrict what you pull from each hive to prevent loss of honey crop if you want honey.... A frame of bees or storesevery other week, with the bees on the frame, is about all you can take if you want a good honey crop as I see it, although I'm sure someone else has better information than I do.

Needless to say, you need LOTS of boxes, bases, and covers for this, be prepared if you want to expand.

Me, I'm gonna split a nuc off my two hives if all goes well, and plan on a swarm or two. I'm not sure I want more than six hives here, and my brother doesn't want more than four, this is a hobby, not a job for us.

Of course, you never know, I might really get bitten and go sideliner -- I keep finding spots I'd love to have a hive or two for the black locust or clover honey!

Peter
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