As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2017
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    Mercer, NJ, USA
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    Default As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    While reading about beekeeping I continually come across people suggesting that it is better (or recommended) to start 2 hives simultaneously when beginning. The rationale has been that a compare and contrast of the hives will help identify problems.
    (I did a search on the forum but didn't see a thread dedicated to this question. Most mentions of 2 hives are mixed in with other threads.)

    Before reading, I considered *possibly* getting a 2nd hive after a year of learning.

    I have the space and cash and I am now questioning my thinking. So, I'm looking for thoughts about starting 2 vs 1. As I said, space and cash aren't an issue.

    Thanks.

    Moe

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  3. #2
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    Dec 2012
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    Livingston county,Michigan,USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I lost my first hive for a lack of a second.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Gresham, Oregon
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    In my opinion, I would. You can share resources between the two. And for all the reasons you mention. You basically get 1 crack at a season per year. The more bees the more avenues for self education during that time.

  5. #4
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    Cuba, NY USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Get another if you can. I wish i had when i started. I had a beek look at them and they were weak and i needed a new queen. I didn't have another hive to compare them to.
    Jim

  6. #5
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    Jan 2016
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    Keosauqua, IA, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoeC View Post
    While reading about beekeeping I continually come across people suggesting that it is better (or recommended) to start 2 hives simultaneously when beginning. The rationale has been that a compare and contrast of the hives will help identify problems.
    (I did a search on the forum but didn't see a thread dedicated to this question. Most mentions of 2 hives are mixed in with other threads.)

    Before reading, I considered *possibly* getting a 2nd hive after a year of learning.

    I have the space and cash and I am now questioning my thinking. So, I'm looking for thoughts about starting 2 vs 1. As I said, space and cash aren't an issue.

    Thanks.

    Moe
    If I wouldn't have had two hives there would be multiple cases where one would of kicked the can.

    If not only for contrasting it's for resource sharing. Queen smooshed? Bad mating flight? Bad queen? Runs out of sperm? Bees supercede?
    "In all honesty, I don't think any of us know what were doing. Just what we've done."

  7. #6
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    Jul 2013
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    lake hopatcong nj
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Moe. If money and space are not an issue, what would your concerns be with starting with 2 or even 3?

    I started with 1 and it did survive that year. But my anxiety was so high as I knew it was my only 1. I think I would have been more at ease with 2 or 3.

  8. #7
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    Mar 2017
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    Mercer, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Learning2Bee View Post

    If not only for contrasting it's for resource sharing.
    What resources can be shared? Can brood be moved to another hive?

  9. #8
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    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Well, I started with three, because that's how many swarms arrived at my house needing hiving.

    But I would never have started with more than one if left on my own in my complete newbie-ness. I am very glad I had more than one because it tripled my rate of skill uptake to have to figure out three different colony's individual traits.

    Two is probably better than three, though, since there is less at risk and maybe less pressure.

    But having a spare will help you solve more problems, and, probably double your pleasure.

    It's not the same a starting new hobby and embarrassing yourself by buying too-advanced equipment.

    If you can swing it, I would.

    Enjambres

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Gresham, Oregon
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    You can share honey, pollen, brood. You could combine hives if you wanted. (read more into that before attempting.) If a queen is going bad and a hive doesn't have a good frame to make a queen from, you could get fresh laid eggs/young larvae from the other.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Absolutely beneficial to start off with more than one.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  12. #11
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    St. Michael, MN
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I started with two last spring. One struggled for several months. If I had not had the second hive for comparison, I would not have known any difference. Ultimately, the struggling hive went queenless in late July and I was able to use resources from nucs I had created from the strong hive to recover it.

    Get at least two. You won't be sorry.

  13. #12
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    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Get two. If you can not get two, get one, & start a nuc as soon as you can.
    Then continue to split the nuc to start additional colonies, while (attempting) to manage the original hive for honey production.
    Knowing that you have a "spare queen, etc " takes a lot of pressure off your decision making process. Good Luck ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  14. #13
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    Jan 2015
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    Williamsport, PA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I bought a 5-frame nuc in April, let it build and split it June 1st intending to have 2 hives. After seeing queen cells on 2 different frames I split the split and added another frame from the main hive. I was back to 5-ish in the original hive and 2 3-frame splits. The original built back into an 8-over-8 and the two splits are now 5-over-5. I just checked on them earlier this evening and everyone was doing fine.

    If this weather ever breaks I'm confident my experiment will have worked and I learned a lot in my first year. If you have $ buy two. If you want to take a chance and learn a lot go with one.

  15. #14
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    Titus County, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I started with 5. Then again I studied for years, was a member of bee clubs when I had no bees. Visited well over a dozen people with bees and helped with every part. 5 gave me a solid base to judge them all against. The ability to test walk away splits, Summer solstice splits. For me it has speed up the learning, where even when I made mistakes, I had the resources to fix it.
    Bee management is like a flowing river, persistent and ever changing.

  16. #15
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    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    The others are mentioning the fallout for the coming year of having only one colony vs. two or three. I would mention to you the prospect of overwintering one colony. Will you find yourself miserable if that one dies in the winter? I would likely feel as if I'd wasted a significant portion of a calendar year as a beekeeper. That's how I felt about the three colonies I was left with when some family members relocated who'd been keeping bees in my back yard. Those colonies died out and we re-started in spring 2016. This year we have many colonies surviving and feel as if we do not have a total re-start. We have more learning we can do with continuing overwintered bees. The splits from last summer were learning experiences (using purchased mated queens), as are those we're just starting (with the hope of locally reared queens). If you purchase only one nuc/colony/package do consider it worth your time to split it even if purchasing mated queens for the splits. Our splits last year were too late in the season, post nectar-flow, for me to be confident of local queen rearing.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  17. #16
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    My opinion is to always go into winter with 1/3 to 1/2 more strong hives than you will want for the coming year. Ask the most experienced beekeepers and they will tell you that they lose around a 4th of their hives each winter. As a beginner, you will probably lose many more. If you get into spring with more hives than you want, you can easily sell them.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  18. #17
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?
    Yes. Like keeping two candles burning. If one goes out, you can light it with the other.
    David Matlock

  19. #18
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    Mar 2011
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    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I lost my first hive, and my 2nd hive, and I learned and bought 2 nucs
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, flood and strange weather. The bees are still alive.

  20. #19
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    Sep 2016
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoeC View Post
    space and cash aren't an issue.
    never had that issue my self
    in your case, yes set up 2 hives,(or 3-4 )
    come early July buy/build a "Palmer" and 2 queens and set it up to over winter and maintain a nuc per full sized hive
    the 2015-16 USDA numbers for the 5 hive and under crew http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda...05-12-2016.pdf
    Start with 50k colonys 34,500 died and 8,870 needed resources from another colony
    so break that down , if you start with 1 you will have a 87% chance of no bees surviving a year.
    lesson is treat for mites to cut your losses (60% of the sub 5 doesn't) and having a 2nd hive can cut losses almost 20%.
    The odds are not in your favor with 1
    Last edited by msl; 03-11-2017 at 09:34 AM.

  21. #20
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    Mar 2017
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    Tucson, Arizona
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    Default Re: As a beginner, is it really "best" to start two hives?

    I'm building a top bar and a nuc this weekend. If all goes well, I'll build another 2 or three before the end of May. ~Fingers crossed~

    This isn't advice, BTW. Just telling you I'm new. It's what I'm doing.

    I already committed to this a couple weeks ago. This thread just solidified my decision.

    I expect high failure rates my first season. So, I don't want all my eggs in one basket.

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