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Thread: More Hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boonville, Indiana,USA
    Posts
    101

    Default More Hives

    I am wanting to increase the number of hives I have and I need advise from an experienced keeper. I now have seven hives and I would like to get up to around 30-40 hives. Of the seven I only have 2 that are very strong hives that I feel safe dividing. The others are ok but I will let them build up for honey production. I hope to catch a few swarms but cant count on that. So if I divide two hives twice I am only up to eleven. Obviously I can buy packages but I have never had great luck with them, they just seem to struggle the first season and I have to feed them a bunch the first winter. Any suggestions on how I could get more hives quicker without buying established hives? Can I divide more of my hives after, or at least towards the end of the main honey flow? Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: More Hives

    If you have 2 hives that are doing pretty well, you should be able to split each 4-ways this early in the year (of course, making sure to give each split as much brood as possible), and still have them build up sufficiently before fall, IMO (that'd get you up to 13 hives this year...a bit better than 11). Weaker hives, this early in the year, can usually (so long as they're not "struggling") safely still be split into 2 (raising your possible total to 18), but any time you push this hard to increase your numbers, you're kissing any potential honey crop goodbye, and *quickly* increasing the amount of work from you that your bees will demand. Increase that quickly only with EXTREME caution, as (which i found out last year) you may quickly find out that you weren't as ready as you thought you were, and get a bit overwhealmed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: More Hives

    I plan on making some nucs after the main flow this year for overwintering. For me this will be in the July timeframe. I think it is fine as long as you are not averse to feeding through the dearth if needed.

    I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not but I think if the parent hive(s) are strong then, with a little supplemental feed, it will work. May keep some frames of honey from the harvest for them too. I also have granulated honey from last year I might dilute and feed back. Planning on one nuc from each hive.

    Curious as to others thoughts on the probability of success here. For me, it is to replace any winter losses so I don't have to scramble for packages and for introducing some different genetics like a buckfast queen or something.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: More Hives

    Trippling your number of hives will require a sacrifice. either money or honey. You can try aggreasive splits, but if you fail you have nothing. Packages will do fine, swarms might be a great year.. hard to say. Nucs can be done... Were it me its a easy decision. Kepp the ones you have, borrow some drawn comb and add packages. some will do great, others slow... but either way you should end up with 20-30 hives of comb at teh end of the season, and the older 10 hives made honey.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bourbon, Missouri
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: More Hives

    This year I decided to increase my bees and not make a harvest able honey crop. I started with 5 overwintered mother hives. Each colony had at least 8 frames of brood in them when I started. In early April I made a nuc with the queen and 2 frames of brood from each hive.. Seven days later I went into the hives again and broke them all down into 5 frame nucs. I used 2 frames of brood and frames of stores in each nuc. The bees had made queen cells on all the frames during the week between removing the queen and making the next set of nucs. So that left me with 5 nucs with the queen mothers and 15 nucs starting with queen cells. Total 20 colonies. I plan to split these nucs again after the flow in early July, when they should have at least 6 frames of brood to get another 20 nucs. Theoretically I hope to end up with 40 colonies ! I anticipate feeding a bunch through the summer dearth to get everyone up to weight for over wintering.. I know the first half of this plan will work because I have already done it. We will see if the second half will work too in July...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boonville, Indiana,USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: More Hives

    That sounds very agggressive. I hope it works out for you. Keep me posted if you can.
    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,151

    Default Re: More Hives

    I think if you aggressively split you should not plan on 100% survival.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bourbon, Missouri
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: More Hives

    Hoping for 80% success. This method has another factor of giving everyone a brood break to help
    with varroa control..

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