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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Avon, IN.
    Posts
    2

    Default How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    This is my 3rd spring and I had 5 hives last year, one had a laying worker and so now I have 4 strong hives being overwintered.

    My question is: How do I plan for spring bees? Do I assume they will all make it and count them in my total number of planned hives? or assume they will all die and purchase as many packages/nucs as I intend on keeping the next year? Or a combination of that and buy a few or half and hope they all make it or no less then half die? Make sense???? Hope someone can answer or at least get me closer to an answer. Thanks for your time and appreciate any positive input.

    Sweet Maggie's Honey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,913

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    In agriculture you can be right and still be wrong. Get what you are comfortable spending, working, imagine the possibilities!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    ABK is on the mark with agriculture being a gamble, just look back to the last two winters at how your bees have done and decide from there, only you know what you and your bees are capable of.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    If you order 4 - 5 packages or nucs, but all of your overwintered colonies survive, what would you do with them? Do you have enough equipment on hand, are you prepared to double your number of colonies this coming spring? If not, maybe you could talk to some local beekeepers and see if any would be interested in taking a few extra packages from you if all of your existing colonies winter alright.

    It really is just a roll of the dice. Some years all of my bees overwinter, sometimes only 20%. Some of the best beekeepers around have lost everything over one winter. Rare, but it happens. If you have a good customer base and it's imperative you produce a honey crop then it may make sense to order them just as insurance and deal with it in the spring.
    To everything there is a season....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Greenville, Maine
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    Of course you left off one option. Split one or more of your hives to fill the fifth hive.

    Assumeing your other four hives make it through the winter. Pull a frame or two from each of your other hives with young lavi and let the bees make your own queen. Or if you have an extra bottom and top make two splits and keep the one that makes the best queen. Kill the queen you don't want and do a newspaper combine.

    Last summer I bought two packages. In June I pulled a couple of frames out of each to start a couple of nucs. One queen was laying by the begining of July. I gave the other nuc another frame of young brood at the begining of July. They made a queen the second time around.

    I am trying to winter them over using Michael Palmer's methods. Using multi-story 5 frame nuc bodies. The first nuc should have enough stores to nearly make it through the winter (I think). I put some sugar on top of the hive. The second hive had very few stores. They may not make it. I put sugar directly on top of the box the cluster was in.

    If I have good luck this winter I am planning on starting 4 or 5 nucs this spring.

    Have a good day.

    William

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Avon, IN.
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    Thanks for the great responses. I'll probably end up just ordering 6 nucs because that's how many I would like and can afford and be prepared for extra hives by getting some equipment ready if the others make it. I'll just be expanding if the hives make it. Ill let the bees tell me how big Im gonna get and how fast. Thanks again....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Boxford, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    221

    Default Re: How do I know how many bees to buy in the spring??

    Athough... even if you did but too many packages, I doubt you would have a hard time finding a home for them.
    I went to an indoor farmers market a couple weeks ago, and there were at least a dozen people selling honey. In years past you would be lucky to find one.

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