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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    I'm sure this varies depending on available storage space, but I'm wondering how much gear you like to have ready in advance, and how you decide how much to maintain.

    How many extra boxes with frames do you like to have ready?
    How many for brood, how many for honey?
    If you use wax foundation, how far in advance do you put it into frames?
    Is there a ratio of gear-in-use to gear-on-hand that works?

    Last year, I found that I was caught at times without gear ready, and it really screwed me up. I was busy with work, and then I needed gear, and I had to find time to build it and get it in place. I hated that feeling, and I want to avoid it in the future.

    So I'm interested in your thoughts on the subject.

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    My first season keeping bees was last year. I had enough equipment on hand for the two hives that I was planning on keeping. Then I started getting swarm calls and was building boxes and frames through most of the summer. I'm building 4 mediums this winter and half a dozen more bottom boards. If I use up the bottom boards I'm going to be donating swarms to other beeks.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,092

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    I like to keep at least 6 complete hives (6 mediums tall) going into spring as a minimum. Typically I also like 6 additional inner covers, top covers and bottom boards.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    With 30 hives all in double deep configuation (some with super of honey still on) I usually have 15-20 complete deep hives ready to go. I generally have usually 30-40 nuc boxes for splits, mating boxes, and swarm traps. I generally try to have 3 mediums boxes for each overwintered hives so I have about 80-90 mediums all with drawn comb.

    I have a freezers full of deep honey and pollen frames for spring splits and still have 10 mediums supers of capped honey in the freezer.

    You can never have to much equipment. I buy frames by the 100's. Usually have a hundred or so sheets of every size foundation.

    Yeah. when you get bigger than backyard beekeeping it gets nuts without going into legit business.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael B View Post
    ...I usually have 15-20 complete deep hives ready to go...
    I have a freezers full of deep honey and pollen frames for spring splits and still have 10 mediums supers of capped honey in the freezer...
    Michael B:

    "deep hives" - Do you mean deep supers with frames? Or 15 - 20 of your complete double deep hive set up, meaning 30 - 40 deeps with frames?

    "freezers full" - How many freezers? What size do you find works well for that purpose?

    Thanks again,

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    15-20 single deeps for spring expansion with bottom boards, inner covers, and outer covers. I build all my own equipment so I can make boxes in a day or so as needed.

    I have two maytag 20cf chest freezers. I can stack boxes with frames an all right on top of each other.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,229

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    I want three more hives with year, plus I've promised a swarm to someone else, and my brother want's a few more too. Therefore, I'm planning on having three complete hives (a deep and two mediums) with foundation installed by the end of March, five nuc sized hives, and whatever my brother wants as close to ready to use as possible.

    At a minimum, I think all the hives you intend to start plus some extra boxes ready to grab swarms with should keep you in good shape. I'm going to do some splits this year (three, one from each hive) and move them into hives as soon as they fill up the nuc, plus intend to have some nucs available for swarms, not necessarily in that order (swarms wont' stay in a nuc long in my experience -- doesn't take them long to build up and a couple last year were so large they needed the full sized deep in a few days).

    Make extras -- you won't regret it when you need a box to catch another swarm! Once in a while you will need a full sized box for a swarm, they sometimes are too large for a nuc box.

    Peter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Plainfield, NJ
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Wow...I thought that I was prepared with enough equipment to complete the 4 hives that I have and no more. I never thought about having enough equine by for emergency Splits, swarms and raising NUCs.

    Thanks for a very enlightening thread

    Chris in NJ

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Getting caught without gear is really frustrating, and I want to avoid it in the future. At the same time, it's hard to store a huge amount of gear that you're not using.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Adam, the answer to your question must reflect your plans for expansion, and the type of expansion you wish to pursue. I have about 40 hives counting a dozen nucs that I am over-wintering. I preassemble and paint as many deep boxes as I have nucs, since I expect to need them fairly early in the season.

    The issue you are dealing with (I think) is being prepared for the unexpected. My answer for that is to precut extra boxes and stack them, ready to assemble. My frames and foundation are ready to assemble as well. I could throw a box and frames together in less than a half-hour, and put it into use without painting it if I was in a real hurry. Counting assembled and unassembled, I have 100% boxes in reserve as I currently have in use. It is amazing how many boxes you will use if you have them available.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
    Posts
    453

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    with 2 -3 existing hives, and with the possiblity of catching 2 swarms plus splits.

    I like to have enough frames built for 2-3 deeps. at least 10 frames of drawn comb that i can work in with starter strip frames in 5 frame nucs or 10 frame boxes if I do a cut out.

    I like to have 3-5 honey supers with half drawn frames, other half starter strips or foundation set.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    hendersonville nc usa
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    all i can aford

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    687

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Adam,

    I think the question is can you have too much? I have thought I had enough and was surprised at how quickly boxes and frames disappear. Unless you are reducing number it is hard to have too much.

    Tom

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    If you have limited storage space, yes, you can certainly have too much.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,134

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    As I recall you plan to expand: I suggest two empty hives (whole thing) for every overwintered hive you have; For honey 2-3 supers for every hive you have in production - at least with the supers they can be emptied and refilled.
    The real loss is when you are not prepared for the spring expansion and a-swarmin-they-do-go.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    I'm presently building enough gear for about 3 times what I've got overwintering.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,487

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    A little bit more than you need.

    I try to have at least 3 supers for each overwintered hive. And then I try to have a complete hive for half as many colonies as I have. So if I have 20 hives I try to have 10 hives ready to go for splits and swarms. I normally don't split every hive so this has worked out good the past couple years. Even if you only have one hive you have at least one extra hive ready to go for the unexpected swarm. It is very aggravating trying to throw a hive together while a prime swarm is sitting in a tree.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Grey County, ON, Canada
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    I run double deep brood chambers and deep supers. I think it's pretty well a minimum to have three supers per hive if you're trying to maximize honey production. In addition to that I make 5 deep supers for each split(Two brood chambers and three Honey supers). As others have said though depending on how fast you can extract more is always better, 3.5 to 4 deeps per hive is nicer... Guess it depends on what the average honey flow in your area is like too, up here it can come in pretty fast and crazy (occasionally 10 lbs in a day) and then end just as quickly so you have to be ready for it or miss the boat.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,570

    Default Re: How Much Gear Ready in Advance?

    Always keep in mind that all the bee supply places are backed up when you will need equipment the most, because everyone else needs it then too... assume you'll have to get by without it for a while and plan accordingly. Always have a spare bottom and top, no matter how few hives you have and a few extra boxes (one per hive at least and that's cutting things close). As soon as you fall below that, order more. Be prepared. Sometimes you get a bumper crop and you can't seem to find enough supers...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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