Re: Sustaining Treatment Free - How Many Colonies Do You Need?
I am completely treatment free other than I do use screened bottom boards. I got back into beekeeping in March of 2009, purchasing 2 colonies, 1 of which I believe was Africanized [ahb]. I split and requeened the Ahb and later also the other colony. These purchased colonies were standard or large cell. I regressed all of my colonies and splits to small cell within a few months.
I went into winter last year with 9 colonies and this spring I had 9 although 1 was queenless but they were able to make a queen from eggs from another colony. I sold 1- 3 medium and 19 - 2 medium colonies this year. I currently have 4 left and plan to split again by this fall to enter winter with at least 8 and maybe 12-16 colonies.
I sold 5- 2 deep colonies during 2011, and during 2012 I sold 10 colonies, a mixture of deeps and mediums. All of those colonies have survived as far as I know except 1. Can't say about the 20 I sold this year since most of those went out of town.
I moved 16 colonies last year to cotton. When I brought them home first of September 2012, all were very weak with low populations and I had 3 or 4 that were dead. I was only able to nurse 9 to be ready for the winter, but all of those survived the 2012/2013 winter.
Hope this gives you a general idea of the question that you proposed.
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776