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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Wayensboro, Virginia, USA
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    Default Multiply My Hives

    Would like to expand my hives next year and have been spending some time thinking on the best way to go about it and what would be a realistic number I could possibly reach in one season.I am currently going into winter with 12 hives 5 of them are established hives in ten frame double deeps,1 is a ten frame single deep,3 of them are double stacked 5 frame deep nucs and 3 of them are in single 5 frame deep nucs. Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking) and lets say we will have a spring like this year. I plan to rear my own queens using Larry Connor method, I feel that I should be able to turn those 12 hives into 24 with little problem but could I possibly turn them into 36?. I am looking to increase my numbers as much as possible and I am not concerned with a surplus honey crop this year just building numbers. Any thoughts would be helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    fresno county ca usa
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    17

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    I don't think it will happen in 2010 I had 39 with about 16 strong hives the rest were singles,and i came out of winter in 2011 with 18 colonies and only about 12 of my doubles, and before in 2009 I had 12 going into winter and came out with 6

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
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    438

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Bee View Post
    Would like to expand my hives next year and have been spending some time thinking on the best way to go about it and what would be a realistic number I could possibly reach in one season.I am currently going into winter with 12 hives 5 of them are established hives in ten frame double deeps,1 is a ten frame single deep,3 of them are double stacked 5 frame deep nucs and 3 of them are in single 5 frame deep nucs. Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking) and lets say we will have a spring like this year. I plan to rear my own queens using Larry Connor method, I feel that I should be able to turn those 12 hives into 24 with little problem but could I possibly turn them into 36?. I am looking to increase my numbers as much as possible and I am not concerned with a surplus honey crop this year just building numbers. Any thoughts would be helpful.
    You could absolutely turn them into 36. I'll tell you right now you're going to encounter all kind of nay-sayers and people who will tell you how you can't do it, how it's not feasible, how you should pump the brakes and grow naturally (whatever that's suppose to mean) but I tell you that type of increase is not unfeasible. It depends on how you plan on doing that. Make sure you have the equipment for it. Turning those 12 hives (assuming they make it through the winter) into 24 is simply a matter of making walk away splits in the spring and BAM you have 24 hives. If you rear your own queens you'll be limited simply by the amount of nucs you can make up and get going. I think 36 is not only a reasonable goal but a good one to cut your teeth on as far as expansion goes. Best of luck to you and keep us informed on how it goes.
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,872

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Now lets just say that all 12 make it through the winter (I know wishful thinking)...

    That's the big IF isn't it? If they all make it to dandelion bloom in good healthy productive shape next spring, then yes, very feasible to increase to 36, I'd say.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
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    95

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    If you have 3 packed 5 framers in April. Speculating queen mating goes flawless. Which it doesn't. Math says you could have right at 30 packed 5 framers by winter. I know that 4 frames of bees can fill a frame wood to wood in a week provided you feed them or they are getting nectar.

    So if you figure taking a frame each from the original three donors every week and then compound that after six weeks for three more. My numbers show about 30ish by mid/end of August.

    Whether we can winter nucs here in VA remains to be seen by me. I have 7 frame medium singles attempting it. So i'll either come out or lose them all. (:

    Counting your chickens before the hen even starts laying is beyond wishful thinking though.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Palermo, Maine, USA
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    731

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    It is good to make plans, especially if you need to gear up for them. The bees are not the only thing in the equation. Do you have all the equipment that you need for 36 hives? If not, how quickly will you be able to get it?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Gloucester County, New Jersey
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    216

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    I think it is very possible especially if they all make it through winter.

    All 3 of my hives came through winter just fine here in South Jersey and I now have 17 going into this winter; plus I sold a nuc.
    They're all different strengths like yours but nontheless it'll be a fun experiment.
    The bees raised all they're own queens.

    Plan for success!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,272

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    I think part of the fun is planning. I second the suggestion to not overlook equipment; It is frustrating to have surplus bees and no boxes and frames to put them in. I do not know if the flows in Virginia will support this method as it was written with the Midwest in mind. http://www.mdasplitter.com/
    If I were trying to increase my numbers I would use Mel's MDA splitter technique to multiply my hives, and then I would use Mike Palmer's nucleus method to grow them on. Bees like skinny nucs.
    The joy of the MDA splitter method is that you do not need to learn how to graft. I have nothing against grafting in particular, but if you mess it up you have no queens to split with.
    If you can afford not to make a honey crop your expansion plans are very feasible providing the weather is reasonable.
    If you come out of winter with 6 strong hives I believe it is not unreasonable to expect to expand to 36 hives in a single season; If the dead-outs are not diseased you will have honey to give the splits, and drawn comb for them to expand on to, that is the only drawback I have seen with Mel's technique. You need a lot of boxes and frames.
    Making splits, watching a new queen start laying, and then that colony take off is the most fun you can have. I prefer making bees to making honey.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Hardin County, IL USA
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    22

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    If you expand to rapidly you will severely hamper your honey production. Slow and steady wins the race...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,627

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Can it be done? Sure it can, and without a doubt has been done by many in ideal conditions. The math is pretty straightforward. The reality, however, is often much different. As dtinberg says you will certainly hamper your honey production but perhaps you are willing to sacrifice that for a year. My advice is not to try to chase an arbitrary number but instead to let your bees tell you next spring how much (if any) increase you can make. Make up strong nucs that you know will grow quickly into producing hives and not to plunder your best hives excessively. My goals in the spring have always been to produce hives that make something this year.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Primary thing is to get them through the winter strong & in good shape.

    You only have to get three things right to winter your bees. If they are healthy, properly housed, and have enough feed, they will survive. It's that easy.

    Long as you are not treatment free or anything, deal with your mites now. Do whatever it takes to get rid of them. That done, focus on setting up the hives properly, and correct amount of feed. Treat each hive as an individual, ensure each one has what it takes to survive. Plan to lose none of them.

    The biggest killer of hives in winter is mites. Nuc them now.

    If you can get it all together you'll be well placed next spring. You want to make a lot of splits, start pumping them early with a bit of sugar syrup to encourage them to build population. Just, DON'T let them swarm. Split first.

    If there are ethical issues with any of that, such as you don't agree with feeding, or whatever, then don't do it, I'm just saying how I would do it. But everybody has their own preferences.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Brookville, PA
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    206

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Instead of expanding your hives, why not let your hives produce honey and expand by catching swarms? This year I advertised by contacting local pest control companies, police, fire department, and in a freebie magazine. I was able to collect over 12 swarms. I expect next year to be the same or even better with word of mouth. Not only are you getting a more diversified gene pool (many of those swarms are from wild colonies).

    You will expand your hives while allowing some honey production for yourself.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Palermo, Maine, USA
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    731

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest PA Beekeeper View Post
    Instead of expanding your hives, why not let your hives produce honey and expand by catching swarms?
    Do you have good winter survival rates with your swarms? I have read that a high percentage a swarms do not survive the first winter.
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  14. #14

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    I havent had great luck with swarms or cut outs
    David

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
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    959

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    A well learned and respected beek in my area hates swarms. They mess up his breeding. But a few years back someone gave him a small late swarm. All his hive but the swarm died out during the winter.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
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    231

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Yes it can be done. Are you sure you want to work that hard?

    The keys, most of which have been mentioned...
    get the bees through winter in great shape with stores left
    enough beeyard space & forage
    equipment including some nucs
    prevent swarming -- I recommend you study Michael Bush and WWW's checkerboarding.
    there is also a great Michael palmer presentation link floating around -- he keeps productive hives & uses less productive hives to make splits (with new queens) -- that seems like a great idea.

    good weather sure would help.

    It can be done.
    I lost one in Nov I think because I treated for varroa too late in fall, overwintered 2 which each had summer-raised hygenic queens
    On jan 30 checkerboarded and resumed feeding
    good queen cells used for splits
    pleased to say that attentiveness & checkerboarding avoided swarms despite the early spring
    my 2 hives turned into 4 moderate producers (well over 200 pounds) and 6 nucs
    I bought 2 nucs not in this total -- mine outperformed the bought nucs.
    along the way I bought 2 New World Carnolian queens (2 more I shared with neighbors)
    and am requeening 5 hives this fallwith hygenic queens
    In retrospect I might not have split quite as much -- I'm assessing combining 4 into 2 but I might try wintering nucs instead.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,574

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    One things I've read may help you:

    Say you have ten good hives in the spring, just to be realistic. Number them 1 - 10 (to keep track).

    Once things get going in the spring and you have drones, pull a frame of capped brood from hive #1, a frame of uncapped brood from hive #3, a frame of eggs from hive #5, a frame of pollen from hive #7 and a frame of honey from #9. This gives you a nice strong 5 frame nuc that will be ready to move up to a ten frame box in a few weeks.

    Repeat this the next week, but use hives 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

    Next week, use the first five hives again but pull the honey from #1, the capped brood from #3, and so forth.
    Repeat until the spring flow is over. This will give you nice nucs that are essentially full strength right way, they will raise a queen from the eggs and if you get extra queen cells, you can always cut them out and use them instead of waiting for the bees to raise one.

    I've not tried this, and it does require at least ten hives. You can also pull a full set of ten frames, one frame from each hive, and produce new single deep hives every two weeks all summer if you want. However, you should restrict what you pull from each hive to prevent loss of honey crop if you want honey.... A frame of bees or storesevery other week, with the bees on the frame, is about all you can take if you want a good honey crop as I see it, although I'm sure someone else has better information than I do.

    Needless to say, you need LOTS of boxes, bases, and covers for this, be prepared if you want to expand.

    Me, I'm gonna split a nuc off my two hives if all goes well, and plan on a swarm or two. I'm not sure I want more than six hives here, and my brother doesn't want more than four, this is a hobby, not a job for us.

    Of course, you never know, I might really get bitten and go sideliner -- I keep finding spots I'd love to have a hive or two for the black locust or clover honey!

    Peter

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    1,876

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    Heres your dilemma: After you run your numbers for your new equipment needs, if say you have 10 hives make it well enough to make your splits from.

    You will need so many # of box's, tops, bottoms, and frames.
    Now, after you have spent all that money on materials, assembled it all over the winter while you had the time, (Don't forget to put a weather resistant finish on all of it-that takes more time than assembly) what if your winter losses are much higher than you hoped for? You have all this equipment and no bees to put in it?
    Or you wait and see how many hives make it, and now in the spring when you should be managing bees you are building equipment?
    That is exactly what I did last winter. I build some equipment planning on increases, but was cautious not to make too much. My bees did well + I had the unexpected opportunity to also buy some packages. I was working 14 hours a day working the bees, raising queens, building equipment and then doing all my other normal farm and household work.
    It's the unknown factor you cannot plan for that is the hardest. If you spend a few thousand on equipment and get it all assembled, are you willing to buy new bees if necessary to fill them if your bees don't overwinter well? Usually a person needs to order bees very early in the spring, before you really truly know what your winter losses will be.
    Or will you wait, then work long hours to make equipment just barley fast enough to stay ahead of the growing hives?
    LOL, I went from 7 hives in 2011 to 45 packages spring of 2012-to 120 booming hives, nucs and mating nucs by summer of 2012. An extreme example for sure, but I have been where you are right now.

    A crystal ball would be nice
    I guess what I am saying is: if you buy and build all that equipment, there is a chance you will have to spend more time or money to fill them if your bees don't over winter well enough to make your increases from them alone. Just be aware and plan for that possibility.
    Don't forget the cost of feeding spring and fall. If you want them to grow, you will need to feed well. They may do OK without feeding, but after all that cost and work why not be sure they thrive? That theory cost me another $2000. on sugar and pollen patties. I also spent over $1000. on black rite cell foundation, but after messing with foundationless last year it was a necessary purchase to assure consistantly useable deep frames for the future.
    All in all I spent about $12,500. this year on bees, feed and equipment. Way more than I planned. (That includes some honey extracting equipmant)
    I bought several 50# bags of Beepro and Brewers yeast to stock up for next year (with the drought in the midwest I expect the price of feed to go up.) My bees relish my homemade protein patties and take them up all year. That cost is minimal and makes me happy they are content and feeding well.


    I wanted a certain number of hives and had two choices: Make increases with my own small amount of stock or buy into it. I chose to buy into it for two reasons:
    I had sold a filly and had some money to buy the bees, and I am in my 50"s and did not want to wait years to get to where I wanted to be. I should have started beekeeping years ago. This was my next best option. I would have been content with 50 colonies, but as it turned out had some good opportunities to get more bees reasonably (Bee supplier had someone back out of 50 packages after he pick them up) So in my case, my increase plan was doubled suddenly because of opportunitys I did not forsee.
    I also wanted to buy my equipment while the dollar still had some value. But THAT is another thread probably not suitable for Beesource.

    To make my nucs: I broke up my some of my hives into divided deep four frame nucs..a interior one gallon mann lake feeder and three drawn frames of bees, brood and stores in each. After they took up a gallon of syrup, I replaced the feeder with another drawn frame. I learned to graft queens and used all the nucs as mating nucs. (Not walk away nucs, but giving them a ripe cell or virgin queen hot out of the incubator)

    I left some with the best and most prolific queens to grow into strong nucs then larger hives. I sold enough queens to pay for all my new bees and requeened all my older hives. I am going into the winter with about 80 strong, healthy colonies-all with locally mated Northern queens from my best select stock . I'd have more but people begged me for queens in late fall-so I combined a few hives and combined the frames from the mini mating nucs. I raised about 200 queens and by keeping the best queens in the mating nucs and letting them grow, I have more colonies than I planned.
    If you have any questions you can PM me for more details. LOL, I learned a LOT this summer..not complaining..I'm tired, but it is all good!
    I look forward to a nice rest this winter, but look forward to 2013's adventures and accomplishments.
    It will be a while before I have made enough money to make up for all my hard equipment costs, but covering the perishable expense (Bees) this year made me feel good. And my biggest asset: All those beautiful clean newly drawn frames full of stores.

    My husbands generosity with his additional financial contributions to my project and his patience with my long working hours was greatly appreciated..although he was a little dismayed at my exausted nature, sweaty disheveled stature and sticky kitchen floor at times.





    Heres my photo bucket page if you want to see more photos:
    http://s425.photobucket.com/albums/pp340/tweety4926/

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Miller...56954971040510
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-06-2012 at 08:19 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,178

    Default Re: Multiply My Hives

    I have a bit of a different track that I follow. I find it helps me achieve goals. And no it is nto perfect and neither am I.
    Basically my thinking is rooted in the basic thought. Am I doing what I say I am doing? Or am I making up a bunch of excuses that really amount to not doing it?

    So for me if I intended to have 36 hives at the end of next year. Making 36 hives would not even be a question. I would be absorbed with how to get it done but woudl never question if I needed the hardware. I find this an advantage in that I remain very focused on moving forward taking advantage of every opportunity. not spending time on what if's but dealing with what really is right in front of me. But lets say outside factors take their toll and you don't have enough colonies to fill 36 hives. Do you then not intend to ever have 36 hives? If you still plan to eventually get their don't you still need that woodenware? To make the woodenware now or over the winter is an act of doing what you need to do to make 36 hives by the end of next year. if you don't it is an act of not what you need to do to have 36 hives at the end of next year. and you need to ask yourself that question every day until you have 36 hives. Am I doing today what I need to do to have 36 hives next year?

    12 months 36 hives you can actually measure your progress in that you need to average one hive every 1.4 weeks. Now since you can't realistically expect to produce a new colony in the winter you can be preparing anything and everything else that has to do with them. And this will actually probably be very necessary starting right now. because as the number weeks shorten the number of colonies you need to make will increase in hives per week. you are going to be very busy at that time.

    Okay that is just a basic frame of mind I evaluate myself by.

    In addition splitting your existing hives s not your only avenue to make new colonies. keep that in mind. It woudl be nice if you can accomplish it without to many plans of attack. but at the very least be aware of your options so that if plan A is not getting it done you have plan B and C to fall back on. Hive trap outs, cut outs and swarm captures are other ways to get more colonies. So at least put some effort toward finding some of those. it might give you a much needed break from getting one more split in a week or less. The more slack you can make in this sort of plan the better off you will be.

    Finally of course be realistic. a strong mind set and determination does not make the impossible possible. I think you have taken on a very big task but not undoable. get your A game on and keep it there for the duration. and the race is on as of now. There is a lot you can be doing now rather than later when you really don't have time to spend on it.

    Mainly watch yourself carefully for anything that says you are in fact not doing it. making excuses is in fact not doing it. procrastinating is also not doing it. being trapped in confusion and indecision is also not doing it. Watch for it . recognize it and learn to pull yourself out of it as quickly as possible.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

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