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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Year One Success, Year Two Plan of Attack and Advice

    Well as stated in the title year one went swimmingly well: Started with six colonies, caught a swarm, did a split, had some swarm, had a failing queen and drone laying workers, had a very warm autumn so that 100lbs of honey I left on top of the hives got ate up quick so had to do emergency feeding. In short I had many opportunities to learn from non fatal mistakes. The honey yield was pretty bad this year, only harvested about 300lbs. Monitored for varroa and saw very little off one hive. Went and visited the apiary and the bees were out on cleansing flights, still have food, and a decent sized cluster. Now I am anxious and itchy for spring!

    So my goal for next year is to be up to around 25-30 hives, have an overwintered nuc for each colony, and do some queen rearing/selling. My question is what should be on my to-make list in the woodshop? Im figuring for about 25 hives I need the following:

    • 50 Deeps
    • 50 Mediums
    • 25 5 Frame Nucs
    • 4 3x3 Frame Queen Castles


    and then all frames/BBs/Top Covers

    Optimistically half my bees make it, and I can do early spring splits with new queens and get back up to eight colonies. From there harvest swarm cells as I see them and fill up the queen castle. Once the queens hatch move them into a 5 frame Nuc. I figure by June they might be ready to get into a single hive colony, at which point try my hand at some grafting to produce queens to overwinter in nucs. I will also be putting all my nucs into another yard so if/when varroa becomes a problem in the honey production yards it wont drift over as much. If it does become a problem ill debate confining the queen to brood break (depending on the nectar flow).

    So I suppose do you think that ratio of equipment will yield a sustainable turnover? Or would you adjust it and how?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Canterbry, UK
    Posts
    1,625

    Default 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

    Mike (UK)
    Last edited by mike bispham; 01-02-2014 at 03:08 AM.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

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