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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,316

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    I find it interesting when beekeepers discuss productivity. It seems to me you could define it in several different ways.

    1) Maximum amount of honey per physical hive.

    2) Maximum amoumt of honey per hour of beekeeper's labor.

    3) Maximum amount of honey for the amount of exhaustion experienced by the beekeeper.

    4) Maximum amount of honey for the amount of money spent on equipment.

    Let's examine each.

    1) For maximum amount of honey per hive a vertical hive is certainly superiror to a horizontal one. A two queen hive is certainly superior to a one queen hive. A hive in the sun is certainly (in my climate) superior to one in the shade. However I'm not sure a vertical two queen hive in the sun is worth all the work.

    2) For maximum amount of honey per hour of beekeepers time it because more dificult to distinguish a vertical hive from a horizontal one. You can run two horizontal ones in the same expended time you spend on one vertical one because of less lifting of boxes etc., and two horizontal ones, in my experience will outproduce one vertical one.

    3) You might get more bees on a brood frame and a better brood nest with Deeps or Dadant deeps than with mediums but you can manage a hive with all mediums with less labor and time. Also less backbreaking work (and resulting exhaustion) with the horizontal hive instead of the vertical.

    4) If the cost of equipment is the point and you're buying it all, then all Dadant deeps sound promising. If the cost of equipment is the point and you make your own then a TBH seems the most effecient.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    kookaburra Guest

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    Does productivity discussions include increase in number of hives?

    I guess I'd have to because I didn't get any honey, but I did get 2 extra hives.

  3. #3
    dtwilliamson Guest

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    I'm sticking with my hives in the shade! They get very early morning sun but spend most of the day in the shade. Just way too hot to stand in the sun with the full body armor I wear! I'd rather not be miserable and have a little less honey!

    Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,316

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    I admit, I enjoy my hives in the shade more. It's nice to work in the shade.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

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    Productivity numbers (rough off top of head)3 top bar hives v. 3 langs:

    3 Top Bar Hives:

    Cost of 3 hives total about $50.
    Time to build, about 4 hours.
    Cost of 3 packages of bees (I forget - but it was the same for both)
    Learning value of watching - high
    Honey produced - about 12 pounds, all consumed by keeper and his family... Probably could have taken more, not really sure.

    3 Lang hives - all mediums

    Cost of 5 Medium supers and frames: est. $200 - not sure I should look it up.
    Time to build: 20 hours (maybe higher, I can do about 8 frames in an hour v. 40 top bars in 30 minutes)
    Cost of 3 packages of bees (I forget - but it was the same for both)
    Learning value of watching - high
    Honey produced - about 75 pounds, probably could have taken more, not really sure.

    Bottom line:
    BOth types of hives are interesting and enjoyable. It will continue to be interesting to watch them and compare. Both excel in productivity in different ways.

    Interesting question Michael...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Leonardtown, Md, USA
    Posts
    235

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    Thats a cool question..

    Its pretty straight forward to tally up hardware and other tangile costs, however, the intangible costs are harder to define.

    If you are a big commercial beekeeper with thousands of hives, I would assume time definetly equals money. Also less time improves personal quality of life.

    If you have smaller family type business like the ones I often read about in magazines, I could see time valued differently. I have noticed that most people consider beekeeping a labor of love.
    I would assume that the time involved would not be as important an issue compared to the personal satisfaction.

    In a cold business world, time=money. In beekeeping time could = low stress, personal satisfaction, freedom...

    Thats how I kind of see it from my limited city boy popint of view. I have lived in southern MD only a short time. I was caught by surprise how the rural farming life has intrigued me. By meeting and talking with these wonderful people called farmers, I really got insight to their way of life. How hard it is, how many things are just out of their control (weather), the anxiety about their crops, and how much they love it.

    Tough question to sum up...

    Mike

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

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    I think that the definition of productivity depends on your objectives and reasons for keeping bees.

    If you're a hobby beekeeper with a few hives and just looking for the enjoyment of keeping bees with some honey as a bonus. I think as a hobby keeper the times invested is less of an issue and maybe the quantity of honey is also less important. It is hard to justify the expenses associated with beekeeping and honey extraction with only a few hives based solely on honey sales.

    Or a sideliner with 20, 30, 40 or more hives. The enjoyment and relaxation does play a roll in what you see as productivity, but the extra money from honey sales does play a major role in what you do. As a sideliner, your honey sales pay for your equipment and associated expenses, as well as puts some money into your pockets. I would put myself in this group. I have been expanding over the last several years using the money I have made selling honey. I use some of the money I made to buy bees, equipment, etc. Some of the money goes into the family budget and keeps the wife happy.

    Or a commercial beekeeper with bees as a full time business and your livelihood.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

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    I like looking at it from 2 points of view. The first is price over gain, but this first one is broken down into 2 parts. What gains are you looking for? Is it the pure enjoyment. Is it a money venture. I am a sideliner(or plan to be after next years expansions). I enjoy sitting under the oak tree watching the bees fly all around me. And this time is priceless to me like spending time with my children. So this is a large gain no matter the price which is where a hobbiest should be. The second is that I do have plans of making money at this. So my time spend making boxes and such should be counted as a cost. Boxes so far are cost effective to make using the free scrap lumber I get. I know they are made of advantech, OSB sheeting, and what little 1X8s or greater I get. The OSB being the worse material I have used, I only use it for the long sides of the box and only for supers which are not left in the weather year round. My paint is either mismatched colors($5 or less a gallon) or free from the homebuilders(my cousin and a couple others). But frames take way to much time to make. If I could I would buy frames, and maybe perma comb(have to try it first). I have made a TBH but failed to get a split started in it and did not get a swarm placed in it. If they work like several have said they have for them then cost is nearly nothing. They are quick to make. If you are making splits off of your own hives or catching swarms they do not cost you much production so there for not much money. So with more hives costing less per hive you can make up the loss in production of a standard type hive.

    The second is truely production. How much does the hive make in either pounds or gallons of honey? Or for queen and package producers how many queens and packages can you produce from the hives? Since I am still more worried about number of hives than honey this years production was measured in how many hives I now have after starting with 2 this spring. My production this year is 9 hives and I sold 5 nucs this spring. Some of my gains were from catching swarms and removals. 4 of the 5 nucs were from removals. And I still have 4 hives from the removals and the swarms being caught. So my 2 hives became 7 in one year. Not a bad gain as I see it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

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    It seems to me that there isn't that much difference on MOST issues between a commercial and a sideliner in the sense that labor costs money either way and for a hobbiest labor is literally hard work, so either way saving labor is a good thing.

    From the point of view of costs, it's true the costs add up more when you put something on every hive and you have thousands as opposed to putting it on every hive and you have three.

    Both the hobbiest and the commercial beekeeper want to save labor and money.

    I think productivity is still a matter of getting the most return for the least investment of money and work.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

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    honey production, i measure only two things----total barrels and yield per super.

  11. #11
    dtwilliamson Guest

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    I started with two 4-frame nucs this year. I now have 3 hives with each having 2 deeps and 1 med drawn. They are full of honey pollen and bees. I sacrificed my excess honey to build the 3rd hive. My original goal was just to get my 2 nucs very strong and with plenty of stores for winter so I had healthy strong hives for next year. Now I have 3 strong healthy hives although without any honey for me. I consider it to be a very productive year even without the excess honey. I think I will reap the rewards next year!

    Dan

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