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  1. #1
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    Default Whatcha do today?

    Well, not today, but yesterday we took 24 five frame nucs off of 7 overwintered two story 5 framers that had previously been raised above excluders. We then took them to another yard and will put queen cells in them today.

    Then we drove to another yard to drop off equipment that we will use today to raise brood above excluders to make more three frame nucs.

    After that drop we went to help a friend install 250 three lb packages. This was only my second time installing packages, but the weather seemed to be just about ideal. It was cool and a little showery. It had rained earlier. Too bad we didn't start an hour earlier 'cause it was too dark to finish the last yard. So we quit before someone got hurt.

    The packages came from GA. The beekeeper went and got them himself, the day before.

    The hives were set up on 4way pallets. A single deep w/ a feeder to the inside, filled w/ corn syrup, then 2 frames, then three frames left out and two more frames. Once all of the feeders were full we started shaking bees into the hives, putting in two frames and nailing on the cover. The entrances were blocked w/ paper.

    All in all, it went well w/ a 5 person crew. It made me want to go get packages and fill up some of my own equipment. Too bad that the equipment is 1,000 miles north and the packages are a couple of hundred miles south. Well, maybe next year.

    More tomorrow, if you're interested.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  2. #2
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    thank for the update mark...

    yesterday I saw some of my early minnesota hygenic queens (from cells) struting about and laying a nice pattern. it seems like (well almost) you are holding your breath from the time you install the cells until the new queen begins to lay.

    today it looks like bad weather and shop time...

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I hold my breath by doing something else. But I still wake up at 3AM wondering if those queen cells worked and what percentage.

    I'm going to check on the first cells installed two weeks ago to see how many took. Fortunatley I can get 25 cells to take w/ me. Then if some of the first ones didn't take I can doctor them up w/ a new one. And if some of the other colonies have gone queenless I can try to fix them.

    So far, I have about 400 colonies and about 32 nucs. I used 100 cells to make up some of my loss of about 140. The rest were built to raise their own queens. We will see what we will see.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  4. #4
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    Default

    mark writes:
    The rest were built to raise their own queens.

    tecumseh replies:
    wouldn't cells be quicker, faster and cheaper?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    mark writes:
    The rest were built to raise their own queens.

    tecumseh replies:
    wouldn't cells be quicker, faster and cheaper?
    Sure, you got any I can use on credit. Availability is part of the "problem". Cost, not so much.

    But, under my circumstances letting them raise their own is cheaper, IMO. Not faster for sure but more economical. IOWs, I have more time than money.

    If I could afford to, I would order queens a year ahead (and maybe I should put them on the credit card) to arrive in SC on April 1st. Previously, beginning about March 15th I'd make splits or nucs w/ cells.

    Over the years I've had reasonably good success splitting my colonies w/out looking for the queen, letting queen cells emerge, making nucs w/ them and using the queens that my fellow NY beekeepers in SC couldn't use right away. But w/ haevier losses I need to be more agressive w/ the work and smarter w/ the money. What's left after I fill the tank w/ diesel. Ya know what i mean?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  6. #6
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    Default

    Today's a shop day here, too. Supposed to rain, then snow a couple inches, and rain again some more tomorrow morning. Ahh spring.

    It was yesterday. Really our first warm day. Temps in the 50s. Full flight day for the bees...both production colonies and nucs. Birds singing...man what a nice day.

    I checked bees for feed yesterday. Added substitute. Got 3 yards done. Very few deadouts. Many with big clusters and a couple frames of brood. Only 2 production colonies needed feeding. Most of nucs did. Mating nucs getting quite light. Should be ok until I unwrap in a couple weeks.

    The four frame nucs are amazing. Very small losses this winter. Saw one yesterday that was shockingly strong. Pulled off the bag, and they erupted bees. There must have been 5 pounds of bees in that nuc. So far more than 300 survivor nucs, plus just over 100 mating nucs. Even those are packed with bees. I think I'm going to have too much brood in my mating nucs this spring. Probably have to super them, until I'm ready to start cell rearing.

    You know Mark...I so much prefer this wintering of my new stock to taking them all to SC. I get to do the serious bee work at the height of the season, when the conditions are best. I was thinking yesterday...I set up cell builders the third week of May last year. First mated queens were ready about June 15. From then to the beginning of August, I raised around 800 queens, and stocked 400 nucs. It was some work to get the nucs fed and moved for winter...but...I find it way more exciting than dragging my bees to the south.

    I get to sleep in my own bed. Goin' skiing in the morning for the last time this season...they're supposed to get some new snow today and tonight.

    Just my opinion on things.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2006
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    Sparta, Tennessee
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    Default

    Today is my first full day off in about 4 months. It was wonderful getting up with my mind at ease....making coffee, got my son out and then been puttering around since getting back from driving over to the post office.
    I've been glueing and stapling NUC bottom boards and covers that I previously cut out on my table saw.

    I only wish the weather would break...as there was slush on the windshield again this morning...


  8. #8
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    Yes, Mike Palmer I have envyed your ability to stay home and I've wanted to do the same. Perhaps I need to get a plan going and slowly change over to your way of doing things. Especially w/ the price of deisel fuel being so high.

    Any suggestions? I don't think I can afford to gamble by keeping all of my colonies in NY over winter. I do have about 400 colonies "promised" to orchards for pollination. I can make up heavy winterlosses here in time for pollination, which I know you gave up years ago.

    I haven't had an ABJ subscription for a while, but recently I have seen an article by Kirk Webster that encourages me toward your and his style of beekeeping.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  9. #9
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    Mike, I know what you are saying and I agree that it would be nicer to be at home. We need to spend some time together this season so I can get to know you and your system better. If I could make a living on honey production, maybe I'd even give up the pollination. Even at $50.00 per colony I'm not making enough. My orchards are going to have to come up w/ more or I'll have to find someone who will, ie. MN or CA or both.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  10. #10
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    We moved Queencell frames from Cell Starter cols top Cell Finisher cols. Installed grafted bars to cell starter cols.

    Worked a couple of Double 5 frame nucs. Changed them into three 5 frame nucs which two of them will be moved and a queencell added.

    We went out to an outyard and raised brood above an excluder on 100 colonies.

    Ate barbecue in Hemingway w/ Dave and Janice.

    Mike, how many nucs and mating nucs did you go into the winter w/? What are you feeding them w/?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Yes, Mike Palmer I have envyed your ability to stay home and I've wanted to do the same. Perhaps I need to get a plan going and slowly change over to your way of doing things. Especially w/ the price of deisel fuel being so high.

    Any suggestions? I don't think I can afford to gamble by keeping all of my colonies in NY over winter. I do have about 400 colonies "promised" to orchards for pollination. I can make up heavy winterlosses here in time for pollination, which I know you gave up years ago.

    I haven't had an ABJ subscription for a while, but recently I have seen an article by Kirk Webster that encourages me toward your and his style of beekeeping.
    Yeah, I think you need to start slowly, and build on your success. The biggest change would be to start wintering nucleus colonies. Maybe start with a good yard, that winters well. Make enough nuce in July to place a double nuc box on each colony in the yard. Leave the yard in NY to winter. Grow your queens from survivors. When you feel comfortable with that yard, expand the plan to others. As far as your 400 colonies for pollination goes, once you can winter nucs, and you've changed your bees over to a strain that can winter successfully, then sayonara South Carolina. If some of your bees aren't strong enough to pollinate...requeen them with a nuc in late April. They'll be in good shape by apple bloom.

    I did give up apple pollination. Besides learning how to winter nucs, it was the best decision in my career. My gosh, how much money I used to spend on Buster's nucs. Often my whole pollination check...really the reason for pollinating at all.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Mike, I know what you are saying and I agree that it would be nicer to be at home. We need to spend some time together this season so I can get to know you and your system better. If I could make a living on honey production, maybe I'd even give up the pollination. Even at $50.00 per colony I'm not making enough. My orchards are going to have to come up w/ more or I'll have to find someone who will, ie. MN or CA or both.
    Boy, that's the truth. $50 isn't enough. I figure I lost at least a medium of honey with my pollinators. How much is 40 pounds of honey worth? More than $50? I always marked my hives before pollination...how many frames of brood they had. That way, I could make splits in the orchard of the strongest colonies...when they were all right there. Too many times, I would open the hive to split, and...where's the bees?? The brood was still there, but the strength of the colony was gone.

    So, not only did I lose the honey, I lost a nuc. How much is that worth? Now it's up to $150 in lost income...so you can get paid $50 for busting your but, wreaking havoc on your bees, and beating up your equipment...not to mention yourself.

  13. #13
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    mark writes:
    Especially w/ the price of deisel fuel being so high.

    tecumseh replies:
    I would think that this alone would $encourage a lot of folks to stay home.

    then michael palmer writes:
    My gosh, how much money I used to spend on Buster's nucs.

    tecumseh thinks out loud:
    now mark gets to send his check to exxon/halliburton... but if mark did stay at home look at all the good bar-b-que he would never eat, plus he just might live another decade from lack of clogged arteries.

  14. #14
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    Mike, do you wrap your two story 5 frame nucs? I forget if you covered that at ESHPA. I mentioned Chuck's insulation quilts in another thread. Do you do something like that too?

    "Buster's nucs"? I know that he liked selling them. You must be the reason he stopped pollinating and afterwards said that he could make just as much selling nucs w/ lots less work. Most of my pollination money goes to paying for the previous years extracting and SC.

    Raining and cool here today. We'll try to get some nucs off between the showers.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  15. #15
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    michael palmer writes:
    Boy, that's the truth. $50 isn't enough.

    tecumseh replies:
    the remainder of your comment touches on a subject in business school that is often tagged as opportunity cost.

    perhaps it would be a good idea to discuss (this thread or it own?) about how much the new reality of $4/diesel should influence the price of honey or pollination. I know it appears to effect the price of everything else I buy and often times almost as quickly as the pump price rises.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    tecumseh thinks out loud:
    now mark gets to send his check to exxon/halliburton... but if mark did stay at home look at all the good bar-b-que he would never eat, plus he just might live another decade from lack of clogged arteries.
    "clogged arteries" are overrated. Besides, w/ my eating habits I don't have to go south to get them.

    There are plenty of drawbacks but there is good company and experiences that can't be had in NY, especially at this time of year.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    We moved Queencell frames from Cell Starter cols top Cell Finisher cols. Installed grafted bars to cell starter cols.

    Worked a couple of Double 5 frame nucs. Changed them into three 5 frame nucs which two of them will be moved and a queencell added.

    We went out to an outyard and raised brood above an excluder on 100 colonies.

    Ate barbecue in Hemingway w/ Dave and Janice.

    Mike, how many nucs and mating nucs did you go into the winter w/? What are you feeding them w/?
    Last summer, I had 70 4 way mating nucs. Each has 4 mini-frames. I expand them to 8 frames by catching one of the queens, and moving the feeder over to the sidewall. So each 4 way becomes a two way. Sa,e cubic volume as a 4 frame nuc, but frames are going the other way. So that made 140 queens going into winter in the mating nucs.

    In JUly, I made up 400 four frame nucs, and went into winter with 350-375. Some never really built up for a variety of reasons. Those got dumped or united. Last count, I had 310-320 alive and either medium of strong in strength.

    For years I have fed HFCS to my production colonies and my nucs. In the last few years, I started having trouble wintering the nucs. The clusters would be tiny things, often dead with marked queen on top. Many sticky sickly looking bees. Lots of bee poop in the hive. I went back to square one. Examined everything. Queen stock, over feeding, amount of brood rearing space left in the nuc box after they began storing Loosetrife and Goldenrod. Nothing seemed to matter. I was losing more than 50%, where I never had problems getting more than 75% to winter before in previous years. This past fall, I fed only Sucrose syrup. Seems at this point that the feed was the problem. Nucs wintered beautifully. No nasty looking poopy bees. Strong clusters. Some must have every bee that went into winter, plus all the bees that have hatched since.

    Has anybody else given it any thought. Has HFCS changed in some way??

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Mike, do you wrap your two story 5 frame nucs? I forget if you covered that at ESHPA. I mentioned Chuck's insulation quilts in another thread. Do you do something like that too?

    "Buster's nucs"? I know that he liked selling them. You must be the reason he stopped pollinating and afterwards said that he could make just as much selling nucs w/ lots less work. Most of my pollination money goes to paying for the previous years extracting and SC.

    Raining and cool here today. We'll try to get some nucs off between the showers.
    I do wrap them. They winter on the inner cover of production hives. I wrap the entire stack with 15 pound felt. 2" insulation foam on the nuc inner cover. No quilts, etc. They don't need anything extra for wintering around here. Just the black for solar gain.

    Maybe if you stopped migrating, you could save enough $$ to build a small extracting plant, and save even more $$ when you don't have to pay Johnny Mac to do your work.

    And, once you get the nuc business learned, you'll see...there's way more money in selling bees than there is in pollination...in my humble opinion. I'm in a rebuilding year this year, but how much are those 300 nucs worth. Equity made up in mid summer. Without moving your bees anywhere. And...by using the nucs to requeen weak colonies in spring, and replacing deadouts, and since I didn't have to split up the strong colonies, I made a 98 pound average in a year when July was a bust.

  19. #19
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    Mike, would you have a Northern raised "survivor" queen that I could buy from you, in a nuc, so I can raise queens that might have a better chance of making it through the winter in NY?

    How was the SABA meeting? Maybe this was answered somewhere else.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  20. #20
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    Even on a mostly rainy day we got in 4 hours of splitting double 5 frame nucs. Including the queen right box we made about 50 or so. We took alot of breaks so we wouldn't get soaked by the rain. We had time to watch JZ's BZ's video. Good family entertainment.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



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