1)The scavenger crop harvest.
Well, this year is terrible in this department as I do not have much to scavenge (but maybe will be good for 2019 for the point #2 below - still a win if so).
Last season I had excellent crop from several small dead hives (40-60 liter wintering nucs).
Yes - they dropped out late fall/early winter and, hence, there was not robbing (good timing in that).
And yes - they were packed with the honey crop.
I had more honey than I was prepared to handle (bought second freezer just to keep it all).
In that regard, some of these were good bees and it was my fault they dropped out.
I was too liberal moving brood around from random, captured swarms trying to balance out other hives - a very bad idea, as I cross-infected some colonies.
I learned this same lesson again this year and that is my own, stupid bad thinking (made up a couple of nucs from a captured swarm so to take in outside queens - wasted).
Those captured swarms should be 100% in quarantine through the winter and used for nothing.
To compare to the small dead-outs last year, if the monster "almond bee" hive drops out today, there will be no crop to harvest from them.
These bees seem to be all into growth and nothing else - a definition of a good "almond bee" I guess.
2)The standard crop harvest.
I think I now know the recipe how to run many smaller hives (good for loss mitigation) and still harvest enough crop off of them in small increments (thus produce enough crop from the entire fleet for my own needs).
Very small honey frame/very large brood frame - this is the proposed answer.
Given proper equipment configuration (a mini-super box with small frames over the brood box), 40-60 liter strong nucs could each produce some crop.
But my equipment was not set for that until now (and so the crop was entirely splattered across the brood nest as bees wanted it).
Will experiment this year with this idea.
Yes, I agree that given the same circumstances the larger hive should bring larger crop.
We know the issues of hive maintenance overhead and blah, blah, blah...
This is a known and let's move on.
Well, at the same time running a fleet of smaller hives gives 1)much better loss mitigation due to redundancy and 2)ability to still make up composite, crop-oriented large hives when so needed.
As long as you have lots of resource hives, you have ability to do lots of things and hit lots of targets.
The only downside to this - forget the "two-times-per-year" management model.
This will take more management time for sure - and that's OK as for me.
It has been fun so far.