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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    If packages are working for you, you are not on the treadmill. If they are not working for you then you are.
    I need a bee that can stand up to certain amount of neglect. Sometimes health means I am not going to do what I know I should. Sometimes it is just choosing to replace those windows instead of the bees. My bad.

    A package bee is like a Holstein when I need a Longhorn. I do not blame the Holstein or the supplier. I am trying to make due with the not quite a good fit for me. The package industry does not need me, the local guy who buys bulk packages and sells singles probably earns his money in questions asked and answered. Not trying to take his spot for certain or disparage him at all.

    My take on the start of this posts was simply to encourage those who, like many, have kept bees for years and never tried a split or nuc. By no means are all of them on a package treadmill either. There was no claim of new insights, just a call to give it a try.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    If packages are working for you, you are not on the treadmill. If they are not working for you then you are.
    I need a bee that can stand up to certain amount of neglect. Sometimes health means I am not going to do what I know I should. Sometimes it is just choosing to replace those windows instead of the bees. My bad.

    A package bee is like a Holstein when I need a Longhorn. I do not blame the Holstein or the supplier. I am trying to make due with the not quite a good fit for me. The package industry does not need me, the local guy who buys bulk packages and sells singles probably earns his money in questions asked and answered. Not trying to take his spot for certain or disparage him at all.

    My take on the start of this posts was simply to encourage those who, like many, have kept bees for years and never tried a split or nuc. By no means are all of them on a package treadmill either. There was no claim of new insights, just a call to give it a try.
    BINGO you got it!! Salty I hope most people took it this way in the first place!
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,225

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Everyone who keeps bees should be able to make splits and overwinter nucs. I'm going to learn to do this next year (provided my bees survive the winter this time), and want to try to over-winter a couple nucs next year. I believe this is basic beekeeping. This is not to say one must do lots of splits every year and overwinter a pile of nucs, but one should know how at least, and plan to have a couple replacments available to keep hive numbers up to whatever one wants.

    It gets expensive for a hobby beek to buy packages for things like trying a top bar hive -- it's not a buisiness expense, it's a hobby, and a couple hundred bucks can be a lot. With a bit of planning, one can get the bees from a split or shaken swarm from one's own hives, much cheaper. Besides, I think a cut-down split might be a great way to reduce swarming and increase honey production at the same time around here.

    It may indeed be necessary for commercial beeks to buy large numbers of packages, I don't know I don't plan to have more than 5 or six hives for the forseeable future (although that may change). However, the commercial beekeeper up the road doesn't buy queens or packages -- he feels that the typical Southern queen is poorly adapted to this area, where we need queens that shut down quickly in a dearth. We almost always have a month or two in the summer where it's hot and dry with little or no nectar available, but often good fall flow. He gets his bees from splits and collecting swarms locally, and so far I'm of the same opinion. The two hives I started this spring from swarms did quite well in spite of a terrible heat wave most of the summer, and look pretty good going into winter.

    Peter

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,485

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    >>A package bee is like a Holstein when I need a Longhorn. I do not blame the Holstein or the supplier.

    The package is as good as the queen that comes with it. Five weeks and those bees are dead, the new hive rises from the queen
    bingo, you have a new hive
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,122

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Package beekeeping is all about economics, managing work load and filling in losses.
    Supply and demand, thats the basics of business,
    Would you not say the same thing about these small and intermediate beekeepers needing packages for for treatment free, and top bar hives ?
    Package beekeeping is as very important tool for commercial beekeepers and the package industry has build around the commercial beekeeping industry.

    Ian, have you read Vickery's book? He taught beekeeping for many years and was professor emeritus in entomology at McGill. He passed away in 2011.

    He wintered nucleus colonies and wrote the bit below, probably in response to the border closure for package bees from the US.


    *****************

    Vickery, V.R., The Honey Bee, 1991, Particle Press

    Nucleus Colonies

    Starting with nucleus colonies is a relatively new practice in eastern Canada but the future for beekeepers who supply nucleus colonies looks bright. I produced nucleus colonies in Quebec from 1974 to 1977 to prove that they are a reasonable alternative to importing package bees. p. 89

    Wintering Nucleus Colonies

    Nucleus colonies can be wintered very well and can provide the entire answer to the dis appearing supply of “package bees”. Nucleus colonies will invariably build up more quickly and produce more honey than colonies started from “package bees”. Inside wintering of nucleus colonies is recommended for prairie beekeepers. (Gruszka, 1985)If the nucs are made up early enough (July) they can be wintered successfully in single brood chambers outside, even in the severe winters experienced in Saskatchewan. Nucs made up in August with two combs of brood can be built up, fed and wintered as four-frame nucs outside on the top of a multiple colony pack (fig.13.12). Two four-frame nucleus hives are set in the place of one single brood chamber hive. The two hives are slightly narrower than the full sized super and I routinely use a slab of one inch (2.5 cm) Styrofoam to fill in the space on the exposed side or sides. To date this method has worked very well (Vickery and Willis, 1985). p. 204

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,122

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Chicken or Egg...

    Which came first, the package colony or the wintered nucleus colony.

    Packages:

    Pellett, Frank C., History of American Beekeeping, 1938. The Collegiate Press, Inc., p. 167

    In the May, 1879, issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, A. I. Root proposed a revolutionary idea-the sale of live bees by the pound. He had lost many of his bees, and had nearly a ton of honey in sealed combs just right for building up new colonies. He thought that if he could buy live bees by the quart, it would be a practical means of re-establishing his apiary. By counting and weighing a hundred bees, he came to the conclusion that a quart of bees would weigh approximately a pound, and proposed to pay a dollar a pound for live bees delivered to him at shipper's risk.
    He even went so far as to devise a cage in which they might be shipped...

    Wintered Nucleus Colonies:

    The dates of publication post date the actual management...

    This from Miller, but referenced in the 1891 edition of ABC of Bee Culture...I have wintered many colonies, two in a hive, with a 3/8-inch division between, and I have always found the two colonies practically in one cluster. p. 385

    Miller, Dr. C. C., Fifty Years Among the Bees, 1911, The A. I. Root Company

    The frames for nuclei are the regular full sized frames, and a full hive may be used for each nucleus, but it is economy to have the hive divided up into two or three compartments for as many nuclei. P. 247

    Now, if during the time I have mentioned, we can have two colonies in one hive, we shall, I think, find in advantageous in more than one direction. It is a common thing for bee-keepers to unite two weak colonies in the fall. Suppose a bee-keeper has two weak colonies in the fall, each occupying two combs. He unites them so they will winter better. If they would not quarrel and would stay wherever they were put, he could place the two frames of the one hive beside the two frames in the other hive, and the thing would be done. Now, suppose that a thin division-board were placed between the two sets of combs, would that not see the same result? Not quite, I think, but nearly so. They would hardly be so warm as without the division-board, but nearly so; and both queens would be saved. In the spring it is desirable to keep the bees warm. If two colonies are in one hive, with a thin division board between them, they will be much warmer than if in separate hives. The same thing is true in winter. I have had weak nuclei with two combs come through in good condition during a winter in which I lost heavily; these nuclei having no extra care or protection other than being in a double hive. You would understand the reason of all this easily if in winter you would look into one of these double hives in the cellar. On each side the bees are clustered up against the division-board, and it looks exactly as if the bees had all been in one single cluster, and then the division-board pushed down, through the center of the cluster. P. 300

    And this from Root in the 1891 ABC, but same report in the first edition in 1879...

    Root, A. I., ABC of Bee Culture, 1891, A. I. Root Co.

    Nucleus, This word, applied to bee culture, signifies a small swarm of bees, perhaps from one-fourth to one-tenth of a full colony. p. 204

    If we are to have this [a] quart of bees work to the best advantage, something depends upon the sort of hive they are domiciled in. A single comb, long and narrow, so as to string the bees out in one thin cluster, is very bad economy. Two combs would do very much better, but three would be a great deal better still. It is like scattering the firebrands widely apart; one alone will soon go out; two placed side by side will burn quite well; and three will make quite a fire. It is on this account that I would have a nucleus of three, instead of one or two frames. The bees seem to seek naturally a space between two combs; and the queen seldom goes to the outside comb of a hive, unless she is obliged to for want of room. p. 205

    If desired, two nuclei can be put in one hive, by using a tight division-board, and making the entrances at either end. Of course, when we use hives with a division-board between two colonies, great care should be used in making the division-board tight. I do not know how many failures have resulted from having the board shrink or warp, and thus let the bees through. p. 206

    A sheet of enameled cloth, hemmed at the side and ends, is made to lie over the frames, as in the large hives, but the cover is made to shut over the hive. p. 206

    If you will examine the bees at the approach of frosty weather, you will see, from the way in which they draw up and condense, how their combs need to be proportioned. To have them stand the rigors of severe winter weather, they should fill their hives as nearly as possible, and there should be no cold, unfilled spaces, either at the ends or underneath the cluster. If their hive is so full that bees are standing in the doorway, even during severe cold weather, we need have little fear of their suffering. p. 204-205

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,122

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    It seems to me that the North American beekeepers were spoiled by the package bee industry. When Canada closed their border to US packages, wintering nucleus colonies became an important supply of spring bees...yes, Australian packages too.

    Now that the demand for package bees is far greater than the industry can make available...in a timely fashion, nucleus colonies are becoming a good option. Yes, of course, spring splits are an option, but if you keep bees in the north, splitting a strong colony can mean major loss of honey crop...unless the season is perfect. Both the split colony and the split have a hard time building up in cold, dam weather, or in drought.

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,610

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    I may have just gotten lucky. But I saw several presentations on nucs via video right along with my research on hives in general. For me it resulted in a nuc not being a strange idea but just another way to keep bees.
    It is nothing to see people favor 8 frame med over 10 frame deeps.so whats the issue if you go to 5 frame deep or even 4 frame shallow? I don't have the time to figure it right now but it would be interesting to see the progression in terms of frame area.
    To me it makes since to pick a box that your bees fit in to some degree. a weak colony in a 10 frame deep may do just fine in a 5 frame deep. It is just another dimension for a hive. so keep it.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,485

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    It seems to me that the North American beekeepers were spoiled by the package bee industry. When Canada closed their border to US packages, wintering nucleus colonies became an important supply of spring bees...yes, Australian packages too.

    Now that the demand for package bees is far greater than the industry can make available...in a timely fashion, nucleus colonies are becoming a good option. Yes, of course, spring splits are an option, but if you keep bees in the north, splitting a strong colony can mean major loss of honey crop...unless the season is perfect. Both the split colony and the split have a hard time building up in cold, dam weather, or in drought.
    Michael, Im well aware of the boarder situation, that deal is well out of my hands. Thats a whole different topic on its own. I would not say we were spoiled with packages. Package honey production was a very efficient method of managing a northern honey op. And I still believe that fact to this day. We will spend endless energy and money trying to manage our hives to make winter. Feed, time, treatments, facilities . . . .
    There is a good place for package ops, especially today,

    But the boarder is closed, and my options are limited. Packages from over seas are very expensive. So my op uses both nuc colonies and packages to manage wintering losses.
    Most years, where as I can manage a 10% or a 15% winter loss, my bees are in good shape, so I am able to make up splits to replace those losses. Those years I am also able to shave down my larger hives to make up nucs for replacement stock the year ahead.

    But thats when Im able to keep my losses manageable and thats when my hives are robust.

    I have kept bees during years of 35% losses, and I have had trouble building colonies to strength let alone makeing up nucs. Those years I have empty brood boxes, and i buy in packages to fill them. Its not like I have a choice in the matter, its buying packages or having empty boxes.

    Making up nucs is a luxury of plentiful bees. And we gear ourselves so that when we see any possibility of directing some strength into nucs we get busy. But years where we see high losses year after year, where we fight the weather and battle disease to get our hives up to strength, packages fall right into place.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,359

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Package bees will always have their place as NUC colonies will always have their place as well.

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    I would like to broaden the thread request; To all who do their own replacements. My son's neighbor wintered 3 hives and combined back to the two maximum she wanted if all made it. Her bees were at least 3 years local . I tried to get a nuc, frame or just the old doomed queen. No. Now her bees did not survive the divorce. I would have given her stock back to reload after things settled down again.
    If you carry over a few more than the max you desire, consider passing them on. If you do not want to be known as a source please use someone as a strawman.
    No I am not passing out new wisdom, just repeating the thought.

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    BUMP Get off the treadmill this year and do some splits! (Not the kind that will put you in traction...)
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Green,Wisconsin,USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    I dunno. We've gone to making splits from our strongest colonies each spring. We let them raise their own queens. It hasn't really cut back the production of the mother colonies, and we haven't experienced any swarming in over 5 years. We manage the splits to be at a minimum two large brood boxes, one full of honey, by fall. In some cases we may even get 1or 2 supers off them as well. If a colony goes queenless, we combine one of the splits in. It's just nice having young colonies in reserve and not having to order packages or nucs of dubious quality.

  14. #54
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Herriman, UT, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Unfortunately, I had 100% loss this winter (both hives) and I am forced to replenish with package bees. (Coming on Friday, YAY!!) However, depending on how this season goes, I would love to investigate splitting and/or wintering Nucs. I am a very new beek (going into my second year); anyone have some links to the how, why, when on splits.

    Plus, I live in Urban Utah, I don't think I have ever heard of swarms (dang it!).

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,225

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    I plan to do splits next weekend from two or three hives (have to check to make sure the third hive isn't superseding the queen at the moment). I think this is a great way to reduce swarming and to do increases, particularly since you can take them from hive you like rather than gambling that a queen and a couple shakes of bees will make a good hive. Usually works, but not always.

    I'm also going to try to pull a couple summer splits to make over-wintering nucs. I want a few more hives and I'm sure with four or five I'll have at least one fail to get through to spring.

    I don't know how I would feel if I had several thousand hives to manage though.

    Peter

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Getting off the "package treadmill"

    Good11s, here is basically all you need to know about splits/nucs.

    Michael Palmer "The Sustainable Apiary"

    I recommend you switch off the HD feed, as many people have trouble watching it in HD.

    http://vimeo.com/23135184
    http://vimeo.com/23234196

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