I have been talking with people on the "Brother Adam" thread, and I realized it had wandered too far from the hypothetical, to my specific interests. So I thought I'd begin anew here.
I have 13 colonies of bees. I would like to be treatment free, but fully understand that goal to be a difficult challenge and I am certainly aware of the great controversy that surrounds how to get there.
I would like to maintain a sustainable population of bees; raise my own queens and not have to buy new bees every year. In another thread on a similar subject a while back, Mike Palmer suggested that one would really need around 100 colonies to be sustainable, saying that you'd need those numbers to select from and to handle the ups and downs without collapsing, and to be able to maintain your genetic program (he did not use these words - I'm summarizing my understanding of his post).
Anyway, I have 100 colonies as my goal. I am planning to a lot of nucs; probably 3/4 of my total in the future.
Right now, I have:
• 4 Queens from three different local beekeepers - all from within 1 hour of my home. Each has been raising queens here for at least a decade.
• 3 Queens from walk away splits from those queens
• 5 Buckfast Queens from Bill Ferguson in Ontario
• 1 Queen which I got with a swarm in early June. I'm assuming by the timing that this queen has overwintered at least once here.
Right now, 6 of my colonies are overwintering nucs.
There are several beekeepers in within a few miles of me, but I do not believe any of them has more than a couple of hives. Many of them would have queens from the same local beekeepers as the ones I have came from. The rest would be some of the annual import from Hawaii. Some of those come from Kona, and I think they brought some in from Big Island as well.
How would you recommend that I proceed in reaching my goals? Should I attempt to bring in a particular stock? Should I 'deepen the pool' and add the bees of other breeders? Or should I just work with what I have?
What are some of your thoughts?