I have a tonne of bee equipment (relatively) - enough to run about 150 hives. But am only up to about 40 hives. I have been trying to slowly build over the years, but have found that increases through splits coupled with winter losses is a very slow method. I hate looking at the empty equipment doing nothing. Who else has been in this situation - did you fork over the $ for packages or nucs? Did you forego honey production for a few years and split like mad? Unsure of what to do at the moment.
You don't say where you are or why you are losing large numbers of hives. We had a similar problem. We are as our subline says in the fingerlakes region of New York. Long, cold, bee killing winters. A couple of things to consider.
1) If you are in the north and want to not migrate you can split strong hives the end of June to 4 or 5 nucs. You will have to make the decision to sacrifice a honey season and concentrate on increase and getting bees in built up properly for winter.
2) If you're north and willing to migrate south, and have someone to give minimal inspection and care you cut your hive losses to around 10-15% and an early start in the spring get the same 4/5/6 splits from a hive and still get a honey flow in the north.
3) if neither of these apply and you are having high hive losses you may need to get a better managment plan to help you successfully winter your hives and come through with stronger colonies in the spring.
Expanding can be slow and difficult with all the problems in beekeeping but keep focused on your goals and you'll get there. Good Luck.
Possibly from the way you spelled tonne you may be south of the equator and will want to reverese these instructions ?
Actually, I'm in Canada. Part of the problem was it rained all of last year, so no honey and any splits did not make sufficient gains to make it through winter. I should have combined them, but gambled and lost. But up here typical losses are ~15%; but our honey flow ends early July unless you move the bees north. So if you have a late spring (as we did this year) the ability to make splits is limited due to poor time to build for winter. I could feed like mad.
Hi there. I think that what I would do in you situation would be to find a large commercial beekeeper in your area and do some work for nucs into your excess equipment. You will find that alot of larger operations don't have enough time to get everything done so there is always something to do. You could help make their splits, repair equipment, help super and so on. That and they might need to make splits anyway and not have enough extra equipment. Talk to you later.
Columbia City, Indiana
I seem to lately repeatedly forego surplus honey. But not accidentally. I had to start all over after a relocation found me in a new place wanting bees again. Then, I'm also wanting them on small cell, so that took a year, last year. Now I've made splits from both. Good splits, but I wasn't expecting to, so I didn't order queens. No matter, I did a cut-down split letting them make more honey this way...
No, wait a minute. I've also received 3 packages. So now my established hives are drawing comb which I then give to the packages to get them all on Small Cell.
Oh, yeah, and I also don't want to repeat this past winter-spring period when I DID want to use Nectar Management, but didn't have enough drawn comb. So even when my packages get off to running, I'll probably forego any surplus honey to continue making comb.
Well, those are my priorities. If I get some honey, which I always have, and expect to this time, then I feel like it is, well honey on the cake!!
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White bark sounds like he is in the Fraser Valley. You can feed to build them up. Feed in the late winter, early spring so you can split. You can make divides at the tail end of the flow. Make them strong, box splits only in mid July. Early july is better because there is usually 2 weeks of flow left. You can also dig in your pocket and shell out money for packages, although NZ and Austalian packages are expensive. You can purchase nucs. That or you carry on as is. The Fraser Valley is not noted for great honey flows.
I agree Jean-Marc, the FV is not very good for honey flow. As soon as the bees are strong enough to split, flow is over and getting ready for winter is a big issue. Also packages are very expensive, so unless you can get honey and pollination from a package in its first year, it is not a very attractive option.
That is all part of the joy of beekeeping. Hard to earn a dollar. I feed a lot in the spring so that today more than half the overwintered bees are 2 boxes and boiling over. The strongest ones 25 % have given 4-5 brood up for the weaker ones. The weaker ones are a full box going into the second. I had a tough winter and bought packages. I boosted some yesterday and need to fix another 100 then all will be good again.
Most beekeepers are not in it for the money. To quote Dave Hackenberg. Question: Is there a lot of money in bees?
Answer: Yeah, all mine.
jean-Marc how are those eight nucs coming along
will they be ready around June 1st.
Do you have my number
I do not have you number Antero. You've got mine I believe. Call again.
Do you over winter singles or doubles? That may be my problem, /i had luck with singles a few years back, but had poor success this spring.
I now overwinter anywhere from 6 frame nucs up tp doubles. Did not do well with the nucs this year, not sure why other than a late spring. I do well with singles because they are new queens. Usually to weak to split in the early part of spring but now thay need a third box. Doubles can ususally give a split before blueberry pollination. I run into troubles later because queens crap out or some swarming. I've been meaning to change those queens but this year it looks like we'll be doing it. The first queens are just starting to lay and the second round of grafting is underway.
I'm not sure luck has anything to do with beekeeping. One guy told me "take care of your bees and they'll take care of you". There is a certain amount of truth to this, honey prices aside. I feed very heavily. The extra bees from the spring feeding I can usually sell. The strong hives make honey on blueberries which I have a market for at good prices. The good strength in hives keeps growers happy, or at least I do not worry that I am not making pollination grade.