Re: Early spring build up
There are way too many gotchas to say which might affect you the most. Here are some suggestions.
1. Set aside 8 large colonies that will NOT be split. You will use them by setting your nucs on top to overwinter. This will double your chances that the nucs make it and if they don't, you will still have the 8 large colonies.
2. From your post, you seem to have some established colonies. Plan on pulling one or two frames of brood from each colony to add to the packages. This will boost the packages to strong colonies 3 weeks sooner than they would achieve on their own. It will also help control swarming in your established colonies.
3. Work on getting the apiaries in optimum locations. The difference a good wind break can make is dramatic when snowfall is measured in feet instead of inches. With the number of colonies you are suggesting, at least 2 locations are needed and 3 would make more sense because you would have room to grow the number of colonies.
4. Don't give your new packages too much room at one time. They can occupy one deep brood chamber at the beginning, then may need a second deep within 6 weeks. Watch the bees and let them tell you how much room they need. Your objective should be to get double deep brood chambers of drawn comb on every package and if they can make any surplus, then add more deeps and you will have some more drawn frames when the honey is extracted.
5. Plan on ordering or raising queens about 8 weeks after your first packages arrive. These will be used to convert the 2 month old package bees into nucs. You may want to play with the timing a bit, 2 months might not fit very well with your main honeyflow. In my climate, I would just raise a round of queens, but your season is much shorter so buying may make more sense.
6. Split the package colonies giving each nuc 3 frames of brood, 2 frames of honey, 5 frames of drawn comb (or foundation if you don't have drawn comb), and a queen or queen cell. They can either be in a single brood chamber at this point or else in double brood chambers divided so 2 nucs are in the same boxes. Since you will be feeding and caring for this number of colonies, I would suggest some type of internal feeder. Please note that you should be able to make around 80 to 90 nucs depending on how many frames of brood you have available. It is important to equalize the nucs as they are made up. Make up a dozen or so more nucs than you plan on overwintering. That will allow for a few of the inevitable losses in the process.
7. From that point it is a matter of feeding them enough to get them ready for winter. If timed correctly, the bees will raise 3 cycles of brood after they are split before winter weather sets in. This means back up from October 15th by about 70 days to find the correct date to make the splits. I get sometime around August 1st.
8. Prepare the nucs for winter by checking them and equalizing as needed and by breaking down or combining any that are not up to par. If you follow through and add the details you should wind up with some full size colonies going into winter and sixty to seventy 10 frame nucs sitting on top of the established colonies.
The next year should be interesting. Are you prepared to tend nearly 100 colonies of bees?
From your statement re coating the foundation with extra wax, I presume you are using some form of plasticell. You might ask about ways to do the coating, there are a few tricks that are very effective and don't take too much time.
Last edited by Fusion_power; 12-27-2011 at 07:11 PM.
DarJones - The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, its stranger than we can imagine - JBS Haldane