Would expanding by 40 hives be a bit to much for a second year part-time beekeeper? Or should I scale back and expand by 20 or so hives?
If i were you i would no more than double each year, untill you are comfortable with the bizz.This is just from what i have found out in 4 years.It is up and down in the bee bizz so just make sure that is where you want to put your money.It is like any other busness make sure you know what you are getting into.How many hive do you have now.JUst when i thought i had it right i got bit in the butt.40 hives is alot of work and one better know his stuff.
Your time, financial resources, experience/confidence, abilty to move honey, family commitments, all come into play. Only you can answer that question.
I will add that the majority of hive problems are from a lack of hive inspections. Its when I don't open them up often enough, thats when I say to myself I wish I looked earlier. A failing queen can go unnoticed, turns into a weak robbed hive, turning into a wax moth problem, turning into a big problem that costs money. Can you commit the time for 40? You need to answer that. And even if money is no object, do what is right for the bees.
I agree with Mitch. You would be better off practicing and learning from the 4 or 5 (is that correct?) hives you have. If you want to expand then just go to 10 hives. Another thing to consider is what in the world would you do with all that honey? It takes time and dedication to build up a market for it.
Well, I'm trying to imagine by putting myself in your position. What would I consider in my position and if I had plenty of money......
I'm finishing up my second summer of beekeeping with no prior experience.
I am so far wintering four hives.
Most of my problems this year came from inexperience, not knowing what I was doing. For example, I had colonies in full sun, and its was too hot and dry for too long. Bees became stressed. I didn't place supers on early enough. I didn't know how to recognize this and that. Still don't.
You haven't given many details, but something comes to mind. Where will they sit? Can your area support that many hives in one place? Forage wise.....
If not, you'll have about three and maybe four beeyards to attend to, it it's fourty hives your thinking about.
If you have four beeyards with new packages on undrawn comb, the potential for losses are great. I'm of the opinion that newly establishing colonies need to be fed for about four months. All the way through summer because they have to build their comb which takes alot of energy. That's a lot of sugar, and containers and manhours.
Fourty hives will be all consuming for you.
I couldn't do it. If I have the resources, I would like to have about 20 hives. I would have to set bees in a beeyard at another location. Twenty hives will become a job for me.
So for me, I'll probably have 10 hives next year, and take those to twenty the following year. Then I have to learn how to keep them from swarming??? Unless family wants more involvement and can commit to caring for some of the little girls.
There's a whole lot to know. I don't think you realize what's involved.
Any more than double each year is quite a jump. You could also do splits if you go more gradual and you not only will get more bees cheaper, but you will learn a lot more about bees in the process.
I went from four to twentyfive this year, that was definatly too much at once. If I had been planning on this happening I would have been better prepaired.
I had four, and bought four nucs, that was the plan for the year. Then I started getting swarm calls from the extension service, then I started to get hive removals too. Then to top it all off I got some swarms of my own.
I was making boxes and buying PC as fast as I could and faster than I could afford. Luckily the hive removals offset most of my expenses.
My advise is to plan on no more than doubling, but build more equipment than you think you will need. Start now, spring will be here before you know it.
Smack dab in the middle of the country.
Your infrastructure has to grow with your hive count also.Extracting equipment,a honey house,truck,etc.It is easy to have more hives than the equipment to support them.
--Mike (thinking I could really really use a fork lift and bigger building!)
Looking after 20, compared to 40, you will see a huge difference in work load and equipment needed. Looking after 100, might as well look after 200 or 300. Equipment, buildings, yards, and efficiencies and allocated time are already there