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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    16

    Default How did you start and expand?

    Hello all,

    Last year I started with 4 hives, total 560 pounds. Beginers Luck for sure!
    I would like to know how many you started with, and how you grew in hive numbers to where you are at now.
    Any do's and dont's. Best way to expand- keep buying new hives in spring or splits or other....?
    Also, any pitfalls and or recommendations to someone wanting to expand.

    I appreciate your stories,
    Jason

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Hello Jason,

    I'm in the same boat as you. I split 1 colony and 2 packages into 8 hives and 2 nucs last summer. This aggressive splitting really hurt my honey production, got about 500lbs total. I have ordered 25 Nucs for May from a beek in Brandon, and I hope to exit next summer with >50 hives, but hopefully make a better honey crop per hive. My struggle is when to purchase the extracting equipment and where to place it/build a honey house. The hives basically pay for themselves in one year, but how and when do you make the jump to commercial style honey recovery?

    You may want to also post this in the commercial section.

    Luke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,954

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Both of you need to study the material at frenchbeefarm.com and pedersonapiaries.ca for information on wintering and a source for Canada produced queens and maybe bees. I long time ago I started beekeeping 160 miles from Winnepeg but right south of the border. I went from 12 to 30 to 100 to 175 to 300 in seven years and at the end it was all paid for and my wife left me. That is what can be done if you keep your day job and spend every penny in the house on bees and equipment. I found the cost pretty high. I did it by having low overhead. An antique truck and I was the forklift. I traded work with commercial beekeepers for extracting and bought equipment in pooled orders with them. You will be better off paying someone to extract for you until you have the money to build a proper plant. Beekeepers always need good help in the extracting operation and you can work off your extracting bill. They charge you so much a pound and keep the wax. You are lucky that you live north of wax moths and small hive beetles and can store supers and equipment in ridiculous little old buildings rented for next to nothing. It will make you older faster, but that is the way it can be done.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Thanks Vance. I hope to do much the same as you have, but I want to keep my wife. I have one split box double nuc wintering now, and will winter many more next year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,173

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Jason, started with two hives that my brother dump on me when he whent off to college, I was 14 years old at the time. When he came back from college I gave him his two back and kepted mine. Times were tough,worked couple of jobs to make extra money to put back in the bees. Didn't spend much either, can remember taking bathes in the ditch next to the bees in Nevada because I didn't have enough money for a motel. Never barrowed in any money for the bees, just expanded with what I had in my pocket.
    Now fast foward to today, I'm in my forties run 3,000 hives and produce NUTRA BEE everything is paided for, life is good.
    Jason, follow your dreams.
    Good luck, anything I can do just give me a PM, Keith
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,364

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    A picture of Keith taking a bath in a ditch by a beeyard would be priceless.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Stuart, VA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Started with 2 packaged hives and splt to 4 the next year. Third year I added 4 more (mostly swarms from neighbor friend) then I went to 12 hives in same year. It was way too much to handle. Started another neigbor by giving 4 and sold 2. 6 hives were ideal for me until a ruptured disk. Foolishly sold everyting for half it's value, including extractor. Now, about 3 years later and a successful fusion, I am starting again with 4 hives and will get 4 packaged Itallian with VSH traits. By next year end I'll be happy again with 6 good producing hives, hopefully.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Started because I couldn't get the squash to grow! Extension Office said I should go out early in the morning, pick the male flowers and sprinkle them over the female flowers! I decided I have better things to do and besides, that's a bee's job! So I read up, got myself two hives of buckfast bees and here I am. I've learned I don't want to own more than 7 hives because after that it becomes work. Get a nice harvest every year and my honey's gone within 2 days of bottling it!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,841

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    Squash is tricky Tia because the pollen can be gone by 10am, either all collected, thrips eat it all, or it's done shedding in the typical heat of the morning in summer. That being said, its pretty easy to pollinate, just remember there's male and female flowers, most people don't get past that and wonder why all their little squash are dying but they pollinate all the flowers that hadn't developed one yet.... The flowers w/o the little squash attached would be your males... tough to get fruit from those.

    Take growing in steps. Set a goal or draw up a plan and see if it's realistic. Working a number of hives becomes time consuming if you don't have the time to put into it unless you adopt production philosophies.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    I don't want to derail the thread, but I had to chime in on the squash. Afterall, it's what convinced me that my husbands idea of keeping bee wasn't so crazy. Anyhow, it's easy to pollinate a backyard patch using a q-tip or small paint brush. Alternatively, strip the petals from the male flower and rub it on the female. I know it sounds kinky, but works well if your timing is good. Hopefully, the bees will do the work for me this summer. /end threadjack

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    I started with a cut out 2 years ago, split it a month later w/ 2 queens (I killed the original queen in the cut-out and the one they reared I think I messed up checking so much), did another cut out for my third to overwinter last year. They all came through, one swarmed that I caught, another swarmed and got away only to have queen issues, I requeened / frame of eggs, they got robbed, queen hatched then they absconded. I reared some queens this past summer to get up to 9 hives, sold one (majorly regret that now) and 2 have died. Now I have 5 still going last check through this winter. One more seemed small a few weeks ago, but we'll see how it goes.
    This year I hope to buy a couple queens from the north areas, I hope to do a couple cut outs and rear some more queens. I would like to overwinter 15 next year. My goal this year was 10 and I'm currently at 5 so we'll see what next year will bring.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    JRG13 and urbanoutlaw, yes, I know how to pollinate squash myself. Point is, I don't want to! That's the bees' job!

    Encouraging note to urbanoutlaw: Since I've gotten my bees, I've gotten plenty of squash without lifting a finger (the girls love squash blossoms and mine are early starters)! The few times the squash hasn't grown as I'd like, I've checked the plants and found I have very few females and too many males!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,841

    Default Re: How did you start and expand?

    I think in Queen of the Sun they go to a province in China and all the fruits are hand pollinated... They killed off all their bees with pesticides. It doesn't say why they don't just bring in more bees though, but it was a lot of work for people to do. I always enjoy it but it can get tedious.

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