I began beekeeping in the spring of 2018 and currently have two hives. My original plan for this year (how is it 2019 already?) was to expand to 4 hives by splitting these hives in spring (assuming both made it through winter), or through a combination of splits and purchasing nucleus hives if I had winter losses. Due to unforeseen regulatory issues, that "expansion" will have to be delayed a year (i.e. until 2020), which leaves me in a bit of a pickle. With only two hives I have little room for losses and I have very few options for helping struggling hives by moving resources between hives. To make matters worse, my oldest queen may be due for replacement in the spring of 2020 (when she'll be nearing 3 years old) and so I need to start making "succession plans".
I've read a bit about resource hives, and I think this may be a reasonable stop-gap measure for this year (and something useful moving forward). AFAIK, there is only one kind of resource hive out there, but to be clear I mean the hives where you "split" a deep box into halves, with each half functioning as a mini-hive. This would potentially give me some resources to move between hives, and could be over-wintered as a combination of a hedge against colony loss, could act as a source for a replacement queen, and could even be used as nucs for starting new full-sized hives.
But this brings up two questions:
- Is this a dumb idea (i.e. is there a better way to build some more redundancy & capacity into my operation short of out-and-out starting new full-sized hives)?
- Assuming I started these this spring, how do I keep the colonies small-ish - i.e. of a size that would fit into the half-hive + half-super size of a resource hive? My experience last year was one of exponential growth that would easily out-grow such a small hive in a month. Do I just let then swarm?