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  1. #1
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    Default 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, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    1,142

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Is the farm status based on net or gross? The easiest way to increase the gross is to invest more, even if it reduces your net. Determining gross sales is pretty simple. Determining net is much more complicated, and there is considerable flexibility in determining "reasonable".

    Inventory; You produce 10 nucs worth $140 each with a basis of only $40 each because you made the nucs yourself. You sell none. Have you produced $1400 or zero? 1/2 die. How much have you produced then? Often the ordinance is silent, do not ask. Not saying cheat, I'm saying read it for what it really says, not what someone else thinks it says, or should say. Farmland tax breaks are designed to protect open spaces. Are you doing that?
    Last edited by Saltybee; 11-06-2013 at 12:04 PM. Reason: Clarity
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Based on gross...no expenses factored in.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Yes...we have been assessed and qualify. I don't know what you mean by the "ordinance is silent".
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    I simply mean that some do not clearly define how value or income is determined.Do not define it any narrower than specifically defined.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Bay Springs, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Good thinking Saltybee. We raise Purebred Arabian horses and to stay within the tax rules we have to show a profit at least one out of 7 years. Now that being said, can you force someone to buy your product? No. All you can do is advertise and with ad's you have done your part, you put forth your best effort. We keep our receipts for our ads, and they don't have to be expensive ads either. Just do our best.
    Some years we make it and most years we don't, and so far no problems. We have had horses for nearly 40 years.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    We have to sell $2500.00 per year...any product except by product (straw,manure,compost etc)...pets like dogs and cats and exotics don't qualify. For us with horses you need to get the $2500.00 every other year..needs to be $2500.00 above purchase price or the stud fee. You have to have the horse on your farmland long enough to provide added value...you can't simply bring a horse from Europe for $60,000 and sell it for $62,500.00 as soon as it clears quarantine On the "off" year you can get the farm income from other produce but you need to produce every year...unless you are a nursery..then you get a four year grace period.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Since you spring temperatures are slow changing like mine you don't need to worry about drastic measures such as splitting to stop swarming.

    As a first year beekeeper you likely don't have spare drawn comb so I suggest that you "Open the Sides".

    Opening the sides of the brood nest:

    When daily maximum temperatures start getting to 15C (59F) go into the hive and find the outside edge of the brood nest. Insert a new frame on each side of the brood nest, moving the two outside frames up into a new box in the centre. I've found that a new frame in between these two drawn frames works well (make sure there are no eggs in these frames.)

    So the bees now have three new frames that they will work on. The new frames I use only have a strip of foundation. This is because an empty space encourages comb building much more than a sheet of foundation.

    Give them about 3 weeks, at most 4 weeks to draw these out.

    Then go into the hive and find the outside of the brood nest again (The queen may have now laid eggs in the top box as well.) Insert new frames on the outside edges of the brood nest (in both boxes.) Again move the outside frames into the top box. You can now effectively checkerboard the frames that are only nectar/honey. The new frames will be drawn out over the next 3-4 weeks.

    Repeat again putting frames into a super. They should now have a number of frames that only contain nectar. You can just move these up into the super. Always move at least 2 frames up into a new box with a new frame in between them.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    I am sure you are wondering why I keep going off on a tangent; You have a husbandry plan for your bees. You have a legal hurdle to clear. The sooner you clear the legal hurdle the sooner you can return to keeping bees the way you would without the land use requirements.

    If I have it right, you have a sort of modified gross sales requirement. If you bought a calf for 1k and sold it for $1500 you would count that as $1500 in sales and it would not matter if you grass fed it or spent $700 in feed. Value added is the criteria.
    That calf would need a fence. Do you deduct the fence costs and the labor value? No. That is how it gets complicated. Your labor hours and fence materials become mixed in with the value of the calf. True with bees as well.

    Moving to bees; It is all in the counting. If you do not need to count all costs for your gross sales then sell nucs in the prettiest, fanciest box you can. Painted, stenciled and monogramed on cyprus. Sell them as nucs preinstalled in full hives. Include the price of delivery and after sale support at the customers location.

    If you need to deduct the box then sell the bees as late season packages to those who missed ordering spring bees . The retained comb will make more bees faster and is worth more to you than selling with the nuc. Under this accounting, I would plan on intense feeding of pollen and sub well before bloom.

    Selling one round of bees early would let you get double duty out of your drawn out combs, bees then honey. Again the idea is to get you back to keeping bees the way you would without the complication.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
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    1,017

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    To produce honey, you need strong hives and to keep them from swarming. Splitting (unless it is a cut-down split) will eat into your production. In Canada, you pretty much have one long summer flow, so you need to do your management based on that.

    For honey production, I really like G. M. Doolittle "Management of out-apiaries" or "A year's work in and out-apiary". Same book, just different publishers use different titles.

    I have a summary of the book here along with my management plan here. Keep in mind that for your location, a cut-down split and recombine might work better than the shook swarming method since you have a long summer flow.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    Since you spring temperatures are slow changing like mine you don't need to worry about drastic measures such as splitting to stop swarming.

    As a first year beekeeper you likely don't have spare drawn comb so I suggest that you "Open the Sides".

    Opening the sides of the brood nest:

    When daily maximum temperatures start getting to 15C (59F) go into the hive and find the outside edge of the brood nest. Insert a new frame on each side of the brood nest, moving the two outside frames up into a new box in the centre. I've found that a new frame in between these two drawn frames works well (make sure there are no eggs in these frames.)

    So the bees now have three new frames that they will work on. The new frames I use only have a strip of foundation. This is because an empty space encourages comb building much more than a sheet of foundation.

    Give them about 3 weeks, at most 4 weeks to draw these out.

    Then go into the hive and find the outside of the brood nest again (The queen may have now laid eggs in the top box as well.) Insert new frames on the outside edges of the brood nest (in both boxes.) Again move the outside frames into the top box. You can now effectively checkerboard the frames that are only nectar/honey. The new frames will be drawn out over the next 3-4 weeks.

    Repeat again putting frames into a super. They should now have a number of frames that only contain nectar. You can just move these up into the super. Always move at least 2 frames up into a new box with a new frame in between them.
    Thank you...it is the frames outside the nest..not part of the nest that one moves up.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    1,342

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    I am sure you are wondering why I keep going off on a tangent; You have a husbandry plan for your bees. You have a legal hurdle to clear. The sooner you clear the legal hurdle the sooner you can return to keeping bees the way you would without the land use requirements.

    If I have it right, you have a sort of modified gross sales requirement. If you bought a calf for 1k and sold it for $1500 you would count that as $1500 in sales and it would not matter if you grass fed it or spent $700 in feed. Value added is the criteria.
    That calf would need a fence. Do you deduct the fence costs and the labor value? No. That is how it gets complicated. Your labor hours and fence materials become mixed in with the value of the calf. True with bees as well.

    Moving to bees; It is all in the counting. If you do not need to count all costs for your gross sales then sell nucs in the prettiest, fanciest box you can. Painted, stenciled and monogramed on cyprus. Sell them as nucs preinstalled in full hives. Include the price of delivery and after sale support at the customers location.

    If you need to deduct the box then sell the bees as late season packages to those who missed ordering spring bees . The retained comb will make more bees faster and is worth more to you than selling with the nuc. Under this accounting, I would plan on intense feeding of pollen and sub well before bloom.

    Selling one round of bees early would let you get double duty out of your drawn out combs, bees then honey. Again the idea is to get you back to keeping bees the way you would without the complication.
    If you bought a calf for 1K and sold it for $1500 that would count as $500...you count what you paid for the animal not what you fed it The fence, the food etc is then deducted from the income made when you are calculating income tax (which is different from property tax).
    The box would be like the bottle for honey...fancy or plain it would be up to me as I understand it. The delivery and after sale sale support would not count.
    I am hoping that after a season or two the sales will be a natural spin off from keeping the bees...just selling the excess.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,341

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Beekeeping is an art. There isn't one right answer because it depends on how fast they build up, how prone they are to swarming, how many hives you want and other factors. You look at them coming into prime swarm season (a month or so before the main flow) and you do what you do based on the condition of that hive. The next hive may be in a different state and you may do something different with it. You can have goals (such as wanting more hives or wanting more honey) and factor those into your decisions, but the bees may change your mind. If they are intent on swarming you'll get more honey from two hives (one that cast a swarm and the one that swarmed) than you will from the one hive that cast the swarm. So if they are going to swarm, it's worth splitting. If you don't want more hives you can combine them later after they get over the swarm impulse. On the other hand, if they are NOT intent on swarming you'll get more honey if you don't split them.

    Most of productive beekeeping is timing. You have to work that out for your location. If you encourage them to build up too much too soon, they swarm. Too much too late and they eat up all the surplus. I find it usually works best, in my location, to not try to interfere with their timing but let them build up when they think it's best and it usually is best, but this may or may not be true in your location...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    WBVC, You obviously have a firm grasp on the requirements. Thank you for the feedback.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    1,342

    Default Re: Managing hives come spring

    Quote Originally Posted by merince View Post
    To produce honey, you need strong hives and to keep them from swarming. Splitting (unless it is a cut-down split) will eat into your production. In Canada, you pretty much have one long summer flow, so you need to do your management based on that.

    For honey production, I really like G. M. Doolittle "Management of out-apiaries" or "A year's work in and out-apiary". Same book, just different publishers use different titles.

    I have a summary of the book here along with my management plan here. Keep in mind that for your location, a cut-down split and recombine might work better than the shook swarming method since you have a long summer flow.
    Thanks for the reference..I will give it a read
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

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