How much spare equipment do you keep on hand? Is there a ratio of hives to spare hive bodies, bottom boards and covers?
When I purchased my first set up last year I optimistically included a spare and with my planned increases this year I've done the same for each new hive to accomodate unplanned swarms and other contingencies.
It's not really my intention to get much past five hives total (I'm increasing from one to three the first week of May) and all that stuff does start to take up space after a while.
So what's your comfort zone?
If I had a goal of five hives I'd have enough equipment for six at the peak of the season. That way you have a spare top and bottom some spare supers, some boxes to hive swarms, etc. That buys you enough time to buy extra if you need it, and still get it there and assemble it.
Of course you go down to maybe a 10% extra in a larger operation. But you still need extra of everything. You never know when you'll have a bumper crop or honey or swarms.
I dare you to stay at just five.
Five hives (+/- one) is what I've come to discover is my "comfort zone" with working a full time job and trying to keep this an "enjoyable" hobby. Anything more than that, and it becomes "work" rather than a hobby for me. Of course, I'm sure this number varies by individual.
The reality of the situation is a little different. I generally have the storeage space available, so keeping extra equipment is not that big of deal with me. The trouble is, in the Spring, I'm taking swarm calls and this usually entails needing several extra nuc boxes. And then swarms can outgrow nucs and before you know it, I have more "full sized" hives than I really care to be working.
Back to your basic question; if you want a maximum of five hives, I'd almost say have one extra set of everything to make a brood hive with (i.e., bottom board, hive body, inner cover and top) - and you'll need thoes extra honey supers for five hives (which will probably take up the most storeage space). Probably even more important than, "how much?" is the question of, "what kind?". By this, I mean, having uniform woodenware sizes will allow for more flexibility (mixing and matching) between hives. Maybe you want to consider NOT buying any nuc boxes but rather use medium supers. Maybe you'd want to consider NOT buying any "deeps" but using all mediums [I think we have some folks on this board, doing just that]. If you have enough equipment to have one or two "reserve" hives going (i.e., nucs) then you should always be able to maintain five "honey production" hives without any problem.
Thanks guys. I think I'm right on track. Kind of wish now I'd ordered 4 instead of 2 nuc set ups, but there's always time to do that after I receive the ones already on order.
Bees are my diversion. I homestead and raise poultry - chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, have all kinds of vegetables and fruit trees (some of which have been recently planted with the bees in mind) and have what is probably going to be a five year remodeling project to keep me busy. So I suspect it'll be easy to hold it to five hives for at least a couple of years.
Hi Kathy I like Michael think if you plan on 5 you will have more than 5 fast.I myself order thingings like super in 5s as they are a bit cheeper that way if you have the spair funds to do it that way.Not only will you bee rady to catch that swarm in the tree but you will not spend as much the next season, if the stuff goes unused.
Last year i had 3 hives to start went to 10.Then combine a few and ended with 6 in the fall.Now i have only 3 this spring.i plan on doing 3 or 4 splits if the hives are strong enough.My plan 4 years a go was not more than 3. So much for the plan.A nice swarm in the tree or a buliding is had to resist.CAUTION BEEKEEPING IS CATCHING.
>It's not really my intention to get much past five hives total
Good luck! When I was raising bees with my Dad we started out with the intention of having 1 hive as a hobby 2 at the most! We ended up with 15 and probably would have ended up with more had we not lost them all due to crop dusting nearby. We never seemed to have enough equipment on hand. Best wishes on staying with 5. It's just too much fun to hold yourself back!