Re: Year One Success, Year Two Plan of Attack and Advice
You're in roughly the position I was in last year. I increased from 7, with 4 good goers, to 40, but the late ones didn't mate or build well/got robbed/I didn't support them quickly enough, and I'm currently at 33, aiming to go towards 100 this year.
The main limiting factor I found was lack of comb. Its asking too much of small nucs to build their own and raise their numbers quickly at the same time. I got in the habit (too late) of slowfeeding to support comb building without flooding the brood cells. (I don't use foundation for brood, just a starter strip.)
I realised early it was either press for expansion or a crop - you can't have both. Well you can have a middle - but if you want as many new hives as possible the crop largely goes.
This year I'm going to make a few long hives - just double length nats, which I can super for late flows - and encourage them to grow big for supplying comb and bees for nucs. I'll make better use of swarms, which are great for comb building.
I've learned that expansion and comb-building generally are pre-mid-summer activities. Once the days start shortening its harder to get much build. I'll be feeding thin syrup starting early March to encourage build up so I have more bees to work with early in the season. But I'll be dropping that as soon as I can - I want my bees to be attuned to local flows.
This year I'm going to do more grafting (getting better organised with cell-starter and cell-raising colonies) and mating in apideas. That will make it easy to try out some feral zones for mating purposes. But I'll also make decisions about splits as I go, always looking for the opportunity to make a quick new hive, and see what works.
I also learned its handy to have at least 3 working sites. Bees pinched whatever way from one can be loaded from another, and then parked at a third without having any fly home. Perhaps because I've been rather disorganised I've often felt the need to move a large hive to one side and park a nuc there to be loaded with flying bees. This year I'm going to use my doubles for that, and will put some on wheels/tracks so I can shift them easily.
I'm also going to try to work harder at having my own drones in the air in good numbers.
I can't think of anything else right now. Good luck
Last edited by mike bispham; 01-02-2014 at 04:08 AM.
The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet