Nine frames of brood at what point in the season?
Nine frames of brood at what point in the season?
Sorry - didn't pick up on that.
MP, to asnwer your question on indicators, I would like to add the ability for the queen to live long. This seems to be one thing that has changed over the last few decades that can not be explained. It was generally observed 30 years ago that the queens would live to about the age of three, and then the bees would suppercede her in a manner that was only noted by the pressence of an unclipped queen the next spring. What changed? I realize we have many more pathogens today. Is that the cause? Or is it genetic? The reason I asked, is because people in this area have complained alot about queen failures. the last couple years. If you are on top of your game controlling pests, and your hives have a good location and weather, the life span of the queen becoems an important factor. We had record rainfall this summer, and most of the hives that lost their queen made significantly less honey than those that stayed queen right, despite attempts to equalize.
Summary (as I see it) of this thread to this point:
TRICKS FOR GETTING THE MOST HONEY FROM ONE HIVE
BUILD A STRONG HIVE
Lots of Healthy bees
Go into winter with a strong hive and strong young queen that has never been through an intense build up.
Never let the hive get too low on food or the queen may shut down.
Feed in early spring to help them get built up nectar and pollen subs.
Have at least 9 (deep 14.4 medium) frames of brood by beginning of dandelion bloom.
Give the hive more bees swarms, package bees, brood, nurse bees that will soon be foragers, combine hives.
Dump two 3 or 4 pound packages in a box of comb right before the flow hits but only one queen. They will have lots of foraging bees, and no brood to take care of.
Run small cell frames such as Mann Lake's PF - These have 8,000 cells per frame, whereas 5.4mm cell frames have 6,000 or so. This is another 25%-30% more brood which can be raised in any given cluster volume.
Small cell bees emerge about 5%-10% faster than 5.4 cell bees. A faster cycle time from egg lay to egg lay is like having a larger brood area.
Trim brood frames to 1 1/4 and run 11 frames. One of the limitations of spring buildup is how much brood a cluster can keep warm. Any given cluster can only maintain a certain volume. By running 11 frames, there is 10% more comb in a cluster than 10 frames, and 22% more comb than 9 frames.
Minimize drones by swapping out drone comb for worker comb. Drones eat honey, but dont produce any.
Two queen system
Never let the queen run out of room to lay.
Reverse hive bodies at Dandelion to help with swarming and super above to insure the queen feels she can easily move up onto empty comb, and the bees feel they have extra room above for nectar storage.
2-3 weeks before swarm season starts go thru the brood boxes, remove ALL honey and backfill with drawn comb - at least 2 deeps. Make sure there is not a layer of honey in the middle of the top brood box. Then 2-3 weeks later each hive gets 2-3 empty supers.
OTHER CULTURAL PRACTICES
Good Location with lots of forage throughout the honey season.
Never let the hive have less than 15 pounds of honey or the queen may shut down.
Take all the honey, and then feed the bees to prepare them for winter.
Harvest as soon as possible after the flow ends. The longer you wait the more honey the bees eat.
Correct sized brood nest single deep or slightly larger is enough a double deep system could hold 60 pounds of honey.
Always run an excluder if there are any supers on so that the bees dont learn to see it as an new barrier.
Dont add an excluder until about 3 weeks before you will be extracting then put it wherever you want as long as the queen is below it. By the time you extract, any brood above the excluder will hatch and the comb will be back filled with honey.
Install honey supers the moment you see dandelions.
Have 5-9 supers with fully drawn comb ready to go. Bees that are drawing foundation arent producing a maximum honey crop.
Keep more supers on the hive than the bees are working. Note: Excess empty comb may exacerbate SHB problems.
If the hive is bearding, provide shade and ventilation - Bearding bees are NOT working bees !
Once the bees have made significant progress on the topmost super slide 2 more supers on just above the excluder.
When the top two supers are capped off extract them and replace the stickies just above the excluder.
Use Large frames and brood chambers.
Remove the queen at some point during the flow so that there is no brood to feed for some period of time.
But I wonder...how much is due to annual requeening? Is there a way for the breeder to select for queen longevity if colonies are requeened every year?
MP, This is one of the reasons I run the way I do. Most the queen now at days are a throw away queen. I just when a little bit farther then throwing the queens away.
Well I think mites could be involved. Just to find out, I raised batch of cells in a hive with a high mite count, then opened some of them before hatching. And yes, some of them had mites in with them. I allowed the others to hatch and mate. Despite all the cells looking large & healthy some of the queens where suspiciously small and performed poorly, can't say for sure but my strong suspicion is they are the ones that were varroa infected as a larva.
Another thing I can't say for sure, but strongly suspect, is that chemical treatments affect queens. I can say for definate that FA will weaken a queen, but other treatments like for example apistan, i have grounds to suspect there is a negative effect.
I now run my mite treatments around trying to be as gentle on queens as possible plus keeping mite levels not just "acceptable", but as close to zero as possible. Nearly all my queens are now good egg layers for two years, just like the old days. But certainly if I'm lazy or make certain mistakes, I can have queens being superseded or dissapearing within a few months. And what is particularly annoying, I like to buy queens in from others just to try out new blood, a high proportion of these queens simply vanish in a few months, without much warning and seemingly not much that could have been done.
Thanks everyone for posting all the great information!
I think rather than try to get super production from one colony by using some trick, it is better to increase the colony average in the whole apiary.
Isn't total production more important than averages? Running a few more hives in a yard may be easier than trying to increase colony average by another 10 pounds. Isn't that the reason we run more hives in a yard, rather than trying to get hives that produce 1,000 pounds each?
You can learn a lot by examining the extreme case. Just like a lot of technology in a civic started out being developed in formula one.
Just look at the list. Almost all of it is just sound managment for honey production. Not really very many "tricks". I think its been a pretty constructive thread.
MP - I maybe have some clues. Half of our yards and equipment is 50 plus years old, with everyything that was used over the last 50 years. The other half is new within the last 4 years, with no chemical treatments for mites. We see little difference in queen survival between the two groups. That does not mean that chemicals are not harmfull, just that there is some other factor that is more powerfull. There was bad mating weather in the past, so that is a variable that has not changed. Yes, we get poorly mated queems. maybe more than before, but sooner or later there should be a queen in the hive that has been properly mated and should go the distance. The same should hold for nutritian, Some time in the year should be good.
Of your list, it sure looks like genetics is the leading culprit.
Oldtimer, Your theory fits the time line also. I will try to observe if there is a corelation between mite levels and queen longevity. But maybe it is not the mites, but the associated pathogens that are really causing the decrease in life span. It is just easier to observe the mites.
Countryboy - yes, but the title of the thread is about one hive.
I guess another thing that should have been mentioned is the effect of varroa on drone quality. For spring mating this can be quite important as we have hives coming through winter with an increasing mite population, and then when they are treated the treatment can affect drone fertility also, so there is a double whammy.
"Thinking Inside The Box"
If the queens in your colonies (packages) are so poor that they are superceded the first year, and the resulting queen is once again a poor performer, then I would say it is a case of: "Garbage in, garbage out".
MP, The whole deal with being tied to the package suppliers in coming into play now. Most the big ones have somuch business now they don't care about the guys that have made them. Somany of them are bring big problem into there operations and they don't care. There just for the here and now business and money. Maybe that is the way it sounds like I run my business. In this business you have to change with the times, and TIMES ARE A CHANGING and fast. 30+ years in the business and each year brings new chances to learn.
Really do the big supplier want to fix the problems. They are getting rich with the unfixed problems.
Package producers are just businessmen selling their product for whatever the market will bear. If you feel that it is getting too risky to trust your livelihood to them you may have to look at a different business plan. We quit buying packages about 20 years ago, figured it took the first medium of honey they made just to break even. The bees we hauled south and split and the good overwintered hives always outproduced the packages. Eventually we just quit wintering altogether and moved everything, took a while to get fully palletized and set up but it has payed off. I'm not saying that a migratory operation is for everyone just that it has worked well for us.
Jim, How right you are about them being businessmen. Yes but back in the days they were more then just that. They took pride in there product, and they knew that they had to have a quitily product for repeat business (staying in business). Now there is so much demand for bees, they shortcut (short shake), do as little as possible for the health of the bees. Why??? Because it cutting into the bottom line. Don't get me wrong not all the suppliers doing this. You would think if they do business like this for very long they wouldn't be in business. To many new customers in the business today, and they just blame them for inexpensive.
The money I send on packages each year, I might as well start my own package business. Why produce the best honey when you can produce 10K+ packages??? Why because Honey is what I do best!