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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    I have access to an area that I would like to put a couple of hives on next year in a very remote region. I'm going to basically let the bees fend for themselves as it is 1.5 hours away, then use these hives to make splits from when possible assuming things go well. I'm looking at maybe checking on them 4 times next year. I don't mind swarming so much, as it is not going to have impact on neighbors and could actually benefit my future plans. My question is, what size hive would work well in this scenario? I'm not looking to harvest honey, this is more of an experiment. Something not too large that SHB or moths take over, but not too small as to give the bees some overwintering opportunity. I have 8 frame medium equipment, and was thinking two mediums might be about right. Thoughts?
    Treatment free. Still learning and hope to never stop.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    2,188

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    At least 3 eight frame mediums, 4 will give more storage space for winter stores. Much will depend on the queen your colony will have.
    38 years - 25 colonies, 32 Nucs - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    626

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    At least 3 eight frame mediums, 4 will give more storage space for winter stores. Much will depend on the queen your colony will have.
    Good point regarding the queen. 3 would probably be a better fit for the queens I'm raising given what I've witnessed thus far. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    3,339

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    I don't recommend it.

    Too many things to go wrong. Mites? Swarming to death because of over crowding.

    A feral hive in a tree is an excellent source for swarms, they are mite resistant. You may get swarms from it most years. The also do die and get replaced. These are also space naturally a few per square mile, crowding them may not be natural.

    But to bring a good hive far away and abandon it, in hopes of getting a spit here and there, might no be a good idea. Unmanaged apiary dwindle just ask MB, and his were mite resistant.

    Better to set up a small apiary close to where you can manage it and control some/most of the swarms and make splits from. Give them room when they need it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    626

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    I appreciate the concern, FlowerPlanter. These are mite resistant bees that have their roots from feral populations, by all appearances. As I said, I'm not going whole hog here and will be out to check on them a minimum of 4 times a year. If it's a loss, I can stand it at this point because as of right now population control is something I'm going to have to practice. If it's a success, then I have an outyard with few restraints or restrictions other than distance. This experiment will give me an idea of how it will work out. I'll be ok either way as far as my numbers go.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    clifton hill mo usa
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    30

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    I appreciate the concern, FlowerPlanter. These are mite resistant bees that have their roots from feral populations, by all appearances. As I said, I'm not going whole hog here and will be out to check on them a minimum of 4 times a year. If it's a loss, I can stand it at this point because as of right now population control is something I'm going to have to practice. If it's a success, then I have an outyard with few restraints or restrictions other than distance. This experiment will give me an idea of how it will work out. I'll be ok either way as far as my numbers go.
    if I was going to leave them for weeks and months , personally I have had great luck with 4 deeps or you could figure out how many mediums that would be. but it gives her plenty of room and they will run her down with the honey flow.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by dennis crutchfield View Post
    if I was going to leave them for weeks and months , personally I have had great luck with 4 deeps or you could figure out how many mediums that would be. but it gives her plenty of room and they will run her down with the honey flow.
    Thanks Dennis. Do you have many SHB problems where you're at? I'm honestly more concerned with that aspect of this situation than mites. My worry is if given too much space and the hive did go queenless for a spell, SHB could overtake the comb. Here in my yard I'm diligent in keeping them dense and consolidated when needed to combat the SHB. They are pretty bad in my area.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2016
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    United States
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    70

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    SHB can take over a weak multi box nuc (i.e. 2 5-frame deeps), so given your plan I'm not sure that will be something you can plan for.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    626

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodyFarms View Post
    SHB can take over a weak multi box nuc (i.e. 2 5-frame deeps), so given your plan I'm not sure that will be something you can plan for.
    Good point. I think the plan for now is 3 mediums and give them room when I can get back to check on them. It's a gamble no matter how you measure it, but one I'd like to try to see if it's do-able.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    1,751

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    I have 8 frame medium equipment, and was thinking two mediums might be about right. Thoughts?
    Four boxes once they are established.
    David
    What do you have that you did not receive?

  11. #11
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    626

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    Four boxes once they are established.
    Thanks David. That's what I'll plan on.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2016
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    clifton hill mo usa
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    30

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    Thanks David. That's what I'll plan on.
    when it comes to beetles. If the weather is good and a flow is on, if your hives are strong. you could get away with leaving extra boxes of drawn foundation on top. but if the beetles worry you. just leave on top some foundation to draw out. less likely for the beetles to mess up. And your queen will move up on the new foundation and make more brood to keep up with the beetles. if you are not worrying about swarming. ok.. then they will need less room, with a less boxes to keep beetles at bay. but your new queen may not make it back and then the beetles with get you anyway. a lot depends on you and how long you are willing to gamble on them.. thanks dennis

  13. #13
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by dennis crutchfield View Post
    when it comes to beetles. If the weather is good and a flow is on, if your hives are strong. you could get away with leaving extra boxes of drawn foundation on top. but if the beetles worry you. just leave on top some foundation to draw out. less likely for the beetles to mess up. And your queen will move up on the new foundation and make more brood to keep up with the beetles. if you are not worrying about swarming. ok.. then they will need less room, with a less boxes to keep beetles at bay. but your new queen may not make it back and then the beetles with get you anyway. a lot depends on you and how long you are willing to gamble on them.. thanks dennis
    Good points, Dennis. I think I'll be ok with 3 to start and getting back to them soon enough to judge their needs. Part of this will be gauging what the flow will be like in the new location. It did occur to me that leaving them to swarm on their own could be the very thing that would do them in given the time and distance away. I think 3 will give them room enough, but not too much room, then decide from there when I get back to them. Appreciate your advice. I think this could turn out to be a good deal for me if I can make it work. I can adjust plans as needed after I get a better idea after trying it out on a couple of hives. Thanks again.

  14. #14
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    Aug 2016
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    Waynesburg, Pennsylvania
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    85

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    If you have frames of drawn comb, I'd give them 4-6 boxes.

  15. #15
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    They'll be drawing a lot of their own comb, so that should offset some of the rapid spring build up. I think I've got a plan, will adjust when needed. Thanks.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    2,451

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    They'll be drawing a lot of their own comb, so that should offset some of the rapid spring build up. I think I've got a plan, will adjust when needed. Thanks.
    our spring flow starts well before optimum wax building conditions, so boxes of foundation are ignored and the brood nest is backfilled causing swarming before new foundation is worked to make it useful. be careful if your conditions are similar with undrawn boxes in the spring.

  17. #17
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    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    our spring flow starts well before optimum wax building conditions, so boxes of foundation are ignored and the brood nest is backfilled causing swarming before new foundation is worked to make it useful. be careful if your conditions are similar with undrawn boxes in the spring.
    Thanks Clyde, makes sense. I may have to time it a bit later to compensate for the swarming issue. Maybe late Spring would be best, make them splits that fit a single medium. That should allow a more gradual build up. Small swarms here in June can end up filling 3 mediums (8 frame) by the end of the year foundationless, no feeding, so I may be underestimating their needs if I make the splits to fill a single medium. My problem right now is the drawn comb I have available. I think the timing I laid out might make it work. I admit, the Lang gear I'm a bit new to, having started with it just this year.

  18. #18
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordak View Post
    Small swarms here in June can end up filling 3 mediums (8 frame) by the end of the year foundationless, no feeding, so I may be underestimating their needs if I make the splits to fill a single medium.
    You might try different numbers and see which you prefer.
    David
    What do you have that you did not receive?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    west central Arkansas
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    626

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    Yeah, good idea. My feeling is 4 total ought to do it, but I'm not familiar with the flow in this region. I'll play around with the numbers and it will give me an idea what to change the following year.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Southeast Texas
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    1,717

    Default Re: Hive Size for an Unmanaged Colony

    IF YOUR NOT GOING TO CHECK THEM OFTEN - PUT ON SOME OF THOSE SHIM TYPE BETTLE BLOCKING BOTTOM BOARDS - HECK - ITS ONLY 3 HIVES

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