Managing hives come spring
I am in my first year so have never managed bees through or after a winter.
I am hoping to have some make it through the winter.
So...what happens in spring? I have read that established hives build up in spring...to the extent that one has to do something to prevent swarming. That "something" seems to be splitting hives. The result being a smaller original hive, with the original queen and a small split nuc that is either given a new queen or left to make a new queen. Re the nuc....some say a brood break and a month or so to make a new queen is a good thing (but you have make certain drones are up and flying). Some say you lose a month or so of production and that is a bad thing.
Some say you can't harvest honey from a new season hive...does that mean the nuc and the original reduced size hive?
So..if you split hives you shouldn't harvest from them. If you split hives what is the earliest this can be done to give them a chance to build up in their first season?
If you don't split a hive you risk a swarm (an uncontrolled split) but if strong you can harvest honey.
IF you want to harvest honey how do you manage the hive so it won't swarm yet keep it strong enough to harvest from?
In order to maintain farm status on my property I will have to sell product (honey). I need to sell ~$2500.00 per year. I am going into winter with 15 hives. I could likely manage double that if I had to. My aim is not a commercial apiary..it is to have enough hives to produce a bit more than than the minimum $$ requirement, to have a number of hives that I can manage along with full time employment, to have enough hives to also have some to "play" with so I can learn how to do splits, raise queens etc...the fun stuff
Thanks for any insight you can provide
Janne....first hives April 2013, 15 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06