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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Question

    It seems 'More-is-better'. More Honey, More Bees, More Swarms, More Hives.

    Is it possible to maintain just one or two hives? I may be divorced or expelled from the neighborhood with any more.

    My desire has always been, to have a FEW, intriguing, gentle PETS. I want to enjoy the hobby, not proliferate to the maximum.

    Please give me some encouraging advice.

    -------
    Dave

  2. #2

    Post

    hi Dave
    well you know bees naturaly store honey and reproduce=that the way it is.
    if you don't want anymore bees just let them do there thing. they been takeing of them selfs for long time.
    birth control for bees =never heard of it most people want there bees to expand more.
    good luck
    Don

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi,

    Is it possible to maintain just one or two hives? I may be divorced or expelled from the neighborhood with any more.

    reply:

    You certainly can try. The bees WILL reproduce eventually however. Funny thing about keepin 1 or 2 colonies. They tend to grow. Just let 'em swarm if you want. Or you could split the hives and sell the splits.

    ..........I'd find myself an out yard to keep them at.

    If you truly only want just one or two just sell your excess colonies. But if a colony of bees are bent on swarming, nothing other than destroying them will stop them. Bees can simply out pace the keeper.(please don't destroy them, give ,sell. ect.).

    In a nut shell. Let them swarm if they want and not capture them. Or split (capture swarms)and sell, or give away. Just keeping the few hive you want.

    Clay


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hi Dave,

    I have had some of the same thoughts. It seems all of the equipment today is geared around the idea of maximum production. One of the contributors to Bee Culture expressed the same thought and was working on a 'Garden Hive' thinking that maybe one size doesn't fit everyone. I haven't read any more about it though.

    I'm not sure whether a Top Bar Hive would work in your climate, but the emphasis is one of simplicity, both in keeping the bees and harvesting the crop.

    They can be worked with minimal disturbance and can give the beekeeper a better understanding of bee behavior as the bees are not manipulated as intensively as with the conventional hive. Production has been reported to be less also, a benefit to those whose interest is the bees or pollination and not tons of honey.


    The long hive, coffin hive, or trough hive are like the top bar hive but use standard frames.

    Beesource has a couple of forums on these types of hives under Hardware/Equipment.

    Another resource is at http://www.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/main.htm

    I am building one or two next spring.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Richmond, VA USA
    Posts
    34

    Post

    One way to reduce your bee population would be to remove a few frames of brood every two weeks or so. This, of course, is extremely labor intensive. You could remove the adult bees from the frames, wrap the frames in plastic, put them in the freezer, and return them to the hive the next day. You'll need to be careful not to remove too much brood. And I wouldn't expect much honey.

    If the issue is having too many hives because you split to prevent swarming, you might look into increasing the brood area size. You could go to 2 or 3 deeps and still keep the original hive intact.

    HTH

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Post

    Here is (was) my plan:

    * Start with a package in 1 deep
    * Build up to 3 deeps (Unlimited Brood Nest System)
    * Super up w/ shallows (for Comb)
    * Remove crop and allow bees to return to 1 or 2 deeps for winter.
    * Repeat process w/ no additional hive(s)

    My 'production' goal:
    Honey = approx 1 or 2 gallons
    Comb = 5 to 10 shallow frames

    Is this feasible?

    ------
    Dave

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    It's probably possible, but it would take a fair bit of work to keep the hive to such an unnaturally small size, and I wonder whether it's worth it. One problem with keeping bees in such a small space, given the prolific strains kept in the US, is that they would be likely to swarm at the drop of a hat. It would be much better to let a colony expand to its natural size, use standard methods of swarm control, and, as others have suggested, sell the surplus bees.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,861

    Post

    I keep my hive count in line by hiving swarms and placing them on top of, or next too, an existing hive. I later merge them together. Sometimes I use a division screen, other times an extra top and bottom. One can squish the swarm queen, the oldest, and merge with the queen in the original hive, the young former virgin queen. Or just merge them together with newspaper and may the best queen win !

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Smile

    Mr Brenchley,

    I thought I was begining to understand some of the basic principals of beekeeping. Your comments (Posted 9/18/02 4:47PM) have made me unsure. Please allow me to address your statement, as follows:

    "A fair bit of work to keep the hive" - I thought at the end of the season (year), the quantity of bees regressed to a small cluster (approx the size of a 'package').

    "Unaturally small size" - Is a colony in three deeps considered 'Small'?

    "One problem . . . likely to swarm" - My impression was, based upon statements from other posts (Question to Pepper1079, Reply by Clayton, 9/16/02 12:07PM) that "If managed using unlimited broodnest methods swarming is cut to about 2%". Does the ULBN method also entail the production of more hives?

    "Natural Size" - Please define

    As I ponder what I am going to do with so many bees, I shall anxiously await your interesting reply.

    Thank you,

    ------
    Dave

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Bluff City, TN USA
    Posts
    80

    Post

    Hi Dave, Only if you want to. Your bees will start into winter pretty strong. They will lose many bees over the winter. The idea or the third brood nest is to insure that they have plenty of food to carry them through the winter and still have ample room for new brood in the spring. Carnies will explode in the spring, which is what you need to get ready for the honey flow. Good luck

    ------------------
    Jim

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    Sorry, I misread your post. I was looking at your goal for comb production. 3 deeps would be a fair size in the States as I understand beekeeping over there. You'd get more than a gallon or two of honey off a hive unless you were unlucky.

    If you can keep swarming to 2% that's probably as good as you can hope to manage. It will depend on the strain of bees as much as anything. I suspect there's a basic difference here between American and British approaches to beekeeping; you tend to emphasise management more, but I don't hear much about breeding for less swarmy bees on your side of the Atlantic. The bees I have are annual swarmers - they raise swarm cells every year no matter what I do - and I suspect they's do the same even if they had three deeps. I've tried them with two and all they've done is lay down stores in the top box.

    The 'natural size' of a colony depends very much on the race and strain of bee involved. Your Italians seem to need a couple of Langstroth deeps, while a lot of our A.m.m. strains live happily in a single much smaller British National broodbox. Mine are in the middle, as you might expect of hybrids. The reason is environmental; our hill areas are obviously much harsher than the Mediterranean, and the bees native to those areas have smaller colonies.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Dave,

    Unaturally small size" - Is a colony in three deeps considered 'Small'?

    reply:

    No. The principle behing unlimited broodnest Man. is to give the queen unlimited brooding area while at the same time maintaining lots of stores so little to no feeding is needed.

    "If managed using unlimited broodnest methods swarming is cut to about 2%". Does the ULBN method also entail the production of more hives?

    reply:

    For the most part it should cut swarming down to a minimum. ULBN "can" produce more colonies if desired. But one doesn't need too.

    Here is (was) my plan:
    * Start with a package in 1 deep
    * Build up to 3 deeps (Unlimited Brood Nest System)
    * Super up w/ shallows (for Comb)
    * Remove crop and allow bees to return to 1 or 2 deeps for winter.
    * Repeat process w/ no additional hive(s)

    My 'production' goal:
    Honey = approx 1 or 2 gallons
    Comb = 5 to 10 shallow frames

    reply:

    Dave, I don't want to mislead you. The first year you should usually build up to 3 deeps with little to no harvest. The bees are not to be returned to 1 or two deep for winter. They need to be in all three deep to benifit from this management. Any thing above this is yours. The following season these colonies motor along. You say 1 or 2 gallons thats 24 pounds. More like 80 to 150 pounds depending on location, season, race of bee, skill, ect. This method is a good one for commercial production using black races of honeybees (not A.m.m.).

    You also state you would like to make some comb honey. The management changes for comb and section production. The colonies are cut down. This year I averaged 5 ross round supers per colony. Thats 160 sections per colony. I just want you to be aware that unlimited broodnest colonies will produce about 4 x's as much as your goal. But you should have few swarms. Would you like me to explain section and comb production for ULBN management?

    Clay


  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Bluff City, TN USA
    Posts
    80

    Post

    Hi Clay, I would.

    ------------------
    Jim

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jim,

    >>Hi Clay, I would.
    >>

    With ULBN there is too much room for reliable section or comb production. The bees will procede to fill the second and third deep w/ honey before working the supers wether for comb or sections. The best production is off a single deep colony. Well I use the Killion method. You will need an extra bottom board and lid. The method:

    Allow the colony to build up strong into all 3 deeps as normal adding no supers yet. You want the hive to be busting if possible. Just before the main flow. Cut the colony down to a single deep. This is shaking most of bees out of the other two into the one. Making sure the one has the queen. The other two are stacked behind the parent with some bees and a cell or queen added on a new stand. In essence you take all the bees in the three deep and cram them into one box. Leaving just enough in the other to allow them to keep going (few frames worth). To the parent at the same time as the cut down add two section supers or one cut comb. The cut comb should get an excluder a day or 2 later. Work the section colony as normal, I like to bottom super. The daughter colony is allowed to build up and plug up with honey. They are recombined in the fall w/ the young queen surviving. Using the honey from the daughter to feed. Arrange the stores as natural for the bees. Harvest any honey off the daughter as the often can have surplus too. You could use that honey to give to other light colonies or nucs. That is the quick version of the Killion method. For a detailed description you should purchase the book, honey in the comb (a must have book).

    Clay

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Bluff City, TN USA
    Posts
    80

    Post

    Thanks Clay, I plan on doing some sections next year.

    ------------------
    Jim

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Post

    If I was trying to minimize work, and minimize how prolific the bees are I wouldn't go with deeps for the brood chamber. They're too heavy. Either go with the "coffin" hive (trough hive?) or just use mediums or shallows. Make them all the same and your life will be easier. Brushy Mountain Bee Farm has eight frame "garden" hives that are all mediums, with the idea that you are trying to not work too hard and have a few bees around and bit of honey, but not maximum production. I think I'd be more likely to go for the trough with deeps or 10 frame shallows stacked up, that way it's still standard bottom boards etc.

    You can let them swarm. You can harvest the wax and the honey so they have to work harder to get crowded enough to swarm.

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