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  1. #81
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    Another update on my Darwinian adventure.
    .............
    Please let me know if anyone else is going the Darwinian route and what your experiences are. Thanks
    I am and I said so few times.
    Since you took the time to describe your location setup, I will describe mine a little.

    Currently I have 7 locations, roughly placed along a driving route (some places I drive up to the very hives; the other places this is 300-400 feet walk, carrying the stuff - not much fun, but the sites are worth keeping strategically; I got stuck and yanked by a tractor another day - not too fun).
    6 sites are currently active; 1 site is only a trap (I need a swarm captured to get this site going).
    I intend to keep each yard population to a maximum of 3-4 units (if more, I will move extra units elsewhere).
    If I have all my sites full, that will amount to about 20 units - my max # as anything above is not reasonable for me to manage.

    Each one of the sites is simultaneously a trapping location too.
    That makes it seven (7) swarm trapping locations.

    Imagine a rectangle, 5 miles by 2 miles, the long side oriented North to South - that would be my beekeeping route.
    Yes - it is a hassle to get to all the hives at once (have to be strategic with your time and effort).
    Yes - it helps to stay out of the bees (some units I don't open 3-4 weeks in a row) - oh well and maybe for the better (set it and forget it).
    But even my backyard resource unit I only open a couple times a month.
    Granted I am not around daily and weekly even, I have to be proactive and efficient with my visits (and am doing pretty well on that).

    I have the "Northern" cluster (4 sites) and the "Sourthern" cluster (3 sites).
    The yards within each cluster are close enough to be within a mating range.
    But the "northerners" and "southerners" are rather sufficiently separated to consider them not-mating.
    Of course, there are other bees are around outside of my control (but no large commercials exist).
    Currently my southerners are the dump-grounds/testing-grounds for the captured swarms with the focus on honey crop (for this year).
    The northerners are largely a project on pseudo-feral population creation and my TF lines' propagation and cross-mating.
    The northerners also overlap with a TF beek that we try to collaborate and maintain a common TF drone flying sector.

    Why all of these?
    Because this is how initially my bee-yards turned out (original owners who let me in just happened to be that way).
    Then later the ideas described above came to mind.
    With the ideas in the head, I seeked out and got me more strategic locations so to fit the existing program.

    Will see how the season goes!
    I feel I again will have more bees that I can manage (and less honey that I may want).
    Last edited by GregV; 06-27-2019 at 08:21 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #82
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    I ended up with only one hive. So, I'm working with it.
    Right now I'm back up to 14 hives.
    Kathleen:

    Great update. I really enjoyed reading about your efforts to build your apiary back up. I applaud you for your persistence. I sincerely hope it pays off for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    The other compromise I've made is a top entrance. I have screened inner covers that have an inch and a half opening that can be reduced or closed off. I also give them an inch and a half entrance at the bottom board. The hives are in full Georgia sun so I like that they have the ventilation. Each colony seems to have a different entrance preference.
    While anecdotal, I like you have a mix of Langstroth and Warre hives and I have observed that many of the colonies give strong preference to an upper entrance. Based on a small sample size last year, I hope to supply all the Langstroth hives with upper entrances prior to final winter preparations as it seemed to confer an overwintering and spring build-up advantage to those hives that had it last year (at least here in the mid-south).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    The Langs will get no more than 3 mediums and the top bars have no more than 32 (medium sized) bars. I still have bait hives up if anyone is interested in moving in. We'll see what the fall brings.
    Personally, I am thinking about maintaining the Warre colonies as 'genetic resources' and leaving them 4-tall year-round (approximately equivalent to 2 Langstroth deeps or 32 frames as you allude to with your top bars). On the Langstroth production hives, I am still thinking through the implications of varying cavity volumes. Assuming you are interested in harvesting surplus honey, have you put much thought into the scope and timing of honey harvest in a Darwinian model? I am genuinely curious to know other's thoughts on this.

  4. #83
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    .....Assuming you are interested in harvesting surplus honey, have you put much thought into the scope and timing of honey harvest in a Darwinian model? I am genuinely curious to know other's thoughts on this.
    Trying to develop a solution along this line too.
    I want to limit my honey hives to 4-5 Land medium 10-frame boxes in size (or compatible volume) - this is somewhere you need to call it a compromise between building the strong enough hives for harvest but also expanding apiary/replacing the losses at once.

    My typical Darwinian site should look like this:
    - a honey hive
    - 1 or 2 replacement/recovery/mating nucs
    - a swarm trap nearby (out of picture)
    20190626_201158.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #84
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    My typical Darwinian site should look like this:
    - a honey hive
    - 1 or 2 replacement/recovery/mating nucs
    - a swarm trap nearby (out of picture)
    20190626_201158.jpg
    GregV:

    This makes good sense to me- seems to strike a good compromise between isolating colonies from a disease perspective and affording you enough resources (both bees and equipment) to handle on-the-spot contingencies (i.e. failed supercedure, catching an errant swarm, etc.).

  6. #85
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Trying to develop a solution along this line too.
    I want to limit my honey hives to 4-5 Land medium 10-frame boxes in size (or compatible volume) - this is somewhere you need to call it a compromise between building the strong enough hives for harvest but also expanding apiary/replacing the losses at once.

    My typical Darwinian site should look like this:
    - a honey hive
    - 1 or 2 replacement/recovery/mating nucs
    - a swarm trap nearby (out of picture)
    20190626_201158.jpg
    I am a bit Skeptical on the Darwinian size, models. What country, What State?, What kind?(Italian Russian, Mutts) Seems with generalizations you have a Beekeeping 1 size fits all. In General, I give them room when they need it, I have some on 2 deeps and a Medium for brood with excluder and 4 supers on top (medium),, a few at 1 deep and 1 medium with 1 super. Mine will NOT be size limited, that for me, would toss a swarm. I have started spacing hives 50 to 100 feet apart as I start new ones. In My Humble Opinion to get bees to "stay in" small hives you would swarm away the good queens until you got "substandard" queens only able to fill your small hive with brood, then you would claim "Success" . The bees tell me when they need room, some are big and some are small, I propagate from the biggest survivors. And add in some swarms.
    GG

  7. #86
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    I am a bit Skeptical on the Darwinian size, models. What country, What State?, What kind?(Italian Russian, Mutts) Seems with generalizations you have a Beekeeping 1 size fits all. In General, I give them room when they need it, I have some on 2 deeps and a Medium for brood with excluder and 4 supers on top (medium),, a few at 1 deep and 1 medium with 1 super. Mine will NOT be size limited, that for me, would toss a swarm. I have started spacing hives 50 to 100 feet apart as I start new ones. In My Humble Opinion to get bees to "stay in" small hives you would swarm away the good queens until you got "substandard" queens only able to fill your small hive with brood, then you would claim "Success" . The bees tell me when they need room, some are big and some are small, I propagate from the biggest survivors. And add in some swarms.
    GG
    Well, GG, this Darwinian model is not an absolute template but rather a general set of idea.
    So I do some of the ideas best I can.
    Small, well spaced-out yards is one idea that I am taking seriously enough to spend the time/effort, as I have shown.

    However - I would immediately say 1 Lang deep and 1 Lang medium in total are more hassle than worth it.
    The ideas of equipment Seeley keeps using are.... not great (if even satisfactory at all).
    For me to have the "set it and forget it" way working - 1 deep + 1 medium - are a non-starter not worth the hassle.
    Clearly, I do my own adjustments (large horizontal hives being the choice equipment - but these require building time that I do not have).
    So - when I lack my favorite equipment - I improvise/compromise with what is laying around (Lang boxes).

    What I put up on the sample yard picture is what I have at the moment at a couple of locations and hope will work out.
    Basically, a honey unit (a reasonably big and strong unit) and a couple of resource/mating/contingency units.
    The support units could be of any size - as we speak I have 1-frame nuc just created last night and 6-frame nucs (and anything in between as things develop).
    In short, "3-unit + a trap" yard is a way to go that I am trying out.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #87
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    This makes good sense to me- seems to strike a good compromise between isolating colonies from a disease perspective and affording you enough resources (both bees and equipment) to handle on-the-spot contingencies (i.e. failed supercedure, catching an errant swarm, etc.).
    Have to have on-the-spot contingencies.
    Last night that saga with the "swarm-to-be" continued.
    I concluded - the "swarm" somehow went queen - less (they attempted last-ditch type emergency QCs).
    Well - immediately on-the-spot - I combined in a nuc with freshly hatched virgin queen.
    Them immediately on-the-spot I broke up another nuc with STILL unhatched QCs into two even smaller nucs (just to have contingency mating progressing).
    So yes - each small site must have a contingency built-in.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #88
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Have to have on-the-spot contingencies.
    Last night that saga with the "swarm-to-be" continued.
    I concluded - the "swarm" somehow went queen - less (they attempted last-ditch type emergency QCs).
    Well - immediately on-the-spot - I combined in a nuc with freshly hatched virgin queen.
    Them immediately on-the-spot I broke up another nuc with STILL unhatched QCs into two even smaller nucs (just to have contingency mating progressing).
    So yes - each small site must have a contingency built-in.
    agree, running site to site to fix an issue would waste time. My smaller size sites are also due to the bears around here, 3 times I have been hit and was totally affected, every hive torn apart. so having all your eggs in one basket is not good either.

  10. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    In My Humble Opinion to get bees to "stay in" small hives you would swarm away the good queens until you got "substandard" queens only able to fill your small hive with brood, then you would claim "Success" . The bees tell me when they need room, some are big and some are small, I propagate from the biggest survivors. And add in some swarms.
    GG
    GG:

    For what it is worth, I am philosophically-aligned with you at present in adopting the hive spacing aspects of this approach but not necessarily the volume limitations in whole-cloth.

    That said, I had never considered cavity-filling capacity to be a selectable trait... makes me wonder if I should reconsider my 'set-it-and-forget-it' approach to the Warre resource hives in the apiary.

    If I understand your premise, you conclude that a persistent small cavity size will inevitably lead to genetics that can generally only fill a given volume?

  11. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Have to have on-the-spot contingencies.
    Last night that saga with the "swarm-to-be" continued...
    Sounds like you have your hands full with this one- I too had a contingency arise last night that reminded me why it is good to have other colonies with consistent hive set-ups close-at-hand. Hopefully this one will turn out o.k. for you.

  12. #91
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    ...... the bears around here, 3 times I have been hit and was totally affected.......
    Bear - a big, strong, very quick and effective "mega-mite".
    Now this requires some redundancy for sure.
    Forget sugar rolls, oxalic acid regiment and other toys.
    Serious business takes some serious measures.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #92
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I got a swarm call for bees moving into an outside speaker....... those bees definitely didn't calculate their space requirements other than they all fit inside. The speaker is 14" tall and about 4" in depth and width.... Not all the inside space was usable either.... They've surprisingly built up very fast and we're trying to get the queen to move out onto proper frames but she really likes it inside the speaker apparently but the workers are occupying 3-4 deep frames now and using it for stores....

  14. #93
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    I got a swarm call for bees moving into an outside speaker....... those bees definitely didn't calculate their space requirements other than they all fit inside. The speaker is 14" tall and about 4" in depth and width.... Not all the inside space was usable either.... They've surprisingly built up very fast and we're trying to get the queen to move out onto proper frames but she really likes it inside the speaker apparently but the workers are occupying 3-4 deep frames now and using it for stores....
    That's a neat story, JRG13. I appreciate you sharing it.

  15. #94
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I just found the latest book by T. Seeley - published 2019 (relevant to the Darwinian Beekeeping - hence posting).
    Apologies if this is a repeat (but the book is really fresh - Publisher: Princeton University Press (May 28, 2019)).

    The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild
    .....
    Got me a paper copy for $20.
    Upon a very brief scan found many familiar pictures and diagrams.
    But regardless, I think I ought to pay my dues to Tom Seeley - he rediscovered what used to be field naturalists and observational scientists (most everyone into the labs, stats and math modeling now days). Just the reference pages are worth reviewing for Tom's sources.
    Should be a good bedtime story book.
    20190806_205455.jpg
    Last edited by GregV; 08-06-2019 at 08:33 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #95
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    OK, here is the continued "evolution" of my Darwinian experiment.

    With bait hives, caught swarms from houses, cut-outs, and splits, I'm up to 16 hives. 1 Warre, 4 Top Bars (medium lang frame size) and 11 - 8 frame medium Langs.

    The Langs are in a circle (with the entrances facing out) that's about 50' in diameter. The top bars and warre are in a row but 30' apart.
    I haven't taken any honey from them this year and I probably won't unless there is a tremendous fall flow. I'm not in a great honey producing area (a lot of pine trees and pasture) but it's my own property and I really don't want out yards.

    I am working a 10 frame hive for some friends that have never been treated. They are in a good honey area and the girls crank it out. I just split them but haven't had a chance to do a mite check yet.

    All the hives are the size of 32 medium frames/bars and I plan to keep them that way. Some have room to spare and some are full. My understanding is that a big part of Seeley's approach is to keep the size limited and let them swarm. I know that kills most beekeepers but I think the idea is that it's better for them (not us). That's why my plan includes a ton of bait hives.

    I just did mite checks (alcohol wash) and everyone is under 3/100. That's the threshold I'm going with. If they climb higher they'll get a soapy water bath.

    Once again, I'm going to work with whatever I have coming out of winter.
    I'll let you know how it goes.

  17. #96
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    OK, here is the continued "evolution" of my Darwinian experiment.

    With bait hives, caught swarms from houses, cut-outs, and splits, I'm up to 16 hives. 1 Warre, 4 Top Bars (medium lang frame size) and 11 - 8 frame medium Langs.

    The Langs are in a circle (with the entrances facing out) that's about 50' in diameter. The top bars and warre are in a row but 30' apart.
    I haven't taken any honey from them this year and I probably won't unless there is a tremendous fall flow. I'm not in a great honey producing area (a lot of pine trees and pasture) but it's my own property and I really don't want out yards.

    I am working a 10 frame hive for some friends that have never been treated. They are in a good honey area and the girls crank it out. I just split them but haven't had a chance to do a mite check yet.

    All the hives are the size of 32 medium frames/bars and I plan to keep them that way. Some have room to spare and some are full. My understanding is that a big part of Seeley's approach is to keep the size limited and let them swarm. I know that kills most beekeepers but I think the idea is that it's better for them (not us). That's why my plan includes a ton of bait hives.

    I just did mite checks (alcohol wash) and everyone is under 3/100. That's the threshold I'm going with. If they climb higher they'll get a soapy water bath.

    Once again, I'm going to work with whatever I have coming out of winter.
    I'll let you know how it goes.
    How and what do you do for the soapy water bath, Make a mix and dunk them in? how long in the bath until you remove the frames?
    GG

  18. #97
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    .........
    All the hives are the size of 32 medium frames/bars and I plan to keep them that way....
    I feel this is way too small to be practical and you basically end up with no produce for yourself while creating too much work for yourself (continuous swarm management and normal workflow interruptions due to non-stop splitting or swarming).

    I seriously think T. Seeley does not understand how the bee hives work so to strike a practical compromise, usable by the practicing beeks (I guess he just does not care - he is a naturalist by trade).
    And so if you rigidly follow his advice you are, basically, neither here nor there and only going to frustrate yourself.
    Eventually you will dump this approach as unpractical OR start modifying it to actually make it useful.

    Mel D.'s formula is actually much more practical (all the while still running lots and lots of smaller hives - the start ups - quite a Darwinian approach too).

    I use modified T. Seeley's idea as in running a mix of big hives and small hives at once (which is nothing new - you always want to produce AND expand/replace at once).

    * biggish honey production hives I got are compatible to 5 medium boxes (upwards 150 liters = 30L x 5) - IF these die off in late season, I just get more resources to myself then
    * medium-to-big resource hives I got are compatible to 3-4 medium boxes (upwards 120 liters = 30L x 4) - these I use to generate splits from and steal resources as needed (best TF lines)
    * small hives - current season startups - compatible to 2-3 medium boxes when ready for winter.

    Issue with "Seeley's approach" - it is very unpractical to run a bunch of little hives (too busy - too little pay back).
    Have to have several larger hives also (just medium to large in size are sufficient - not the giants people are bragging about).
    Last edited by GregV; 08-07-2019 at 09:53 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #98
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Gray Goose, a big part of the Darwinian concept is to be willing to euthanize any colony with high mite counts.
    Last year I had to do that to a couple of colonies by using a big restaurant bussing tub filled with soapy water. I just shake the bees in the water and the soap soon suffocates them. I feel that these hives were dead already . . .they just didn't know it.

    Greg V, I don't need to get a lot of honey from my bees which is one of the reasons I wanted to try this method. If you keep the hives small and don't worry about how much honey you take, you don't have to worry about swarm management. Once again, the idea is that it's healthy for the bees to swarm.

  20. #99
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    Gray Goose, a big part of the Darwinian concept is to be willing to euthanize any colony with high mite counts.
    Last year I had to do that to a couple of colonies by using a big restaurant bussing tub filled with soapy water. I just shake the bees in the water and the soap soon suffocates them. I feel that these hives were dead already . . .they just didn't know it.

    Greg V, I don't need to get a lot of honey from my bees which is one of the reasons I wanted to try this method. If you keep the hives small and don't worry about how much honey you take, you don't have to worry about swarm management. Once again, the idea is that it's healthy for the bees to swarm.
    We understand the idea of swarming (i.e. natural bee colony propagation and the mother colony "cleansing" as a side-affect).
    I myself just do it on my own terms via planned (or emergency) splitting.

    Speaking of euthanizing the bees, I got this idea - don't kill them.
    Use them as a resource to the max via forcing them through the shook swarm.

    1)Shake them ALL into a completely empty hive.
    2)Give them empty frames and nothing else.
    3)Take all the frames and use as you wish
    - store/extract honey and pollen
    - freeze the brood (or use it some other way - I would use it differently), but still kill the brood as it is the mite propagation factory (this is what you mean to do when euthanizing the worker population anyway)
    4)Bees/queen in the completely empty hive will rebuild the best they can and will generate some comb/honey again and maybe will rebuild completely (depending on the timing)
    they will go via the shock and forced brood break;
    they may or may not die in the end (BUT - only after you got them to produce more resources to your benefit)

    I would not kill them.
    I would use the potentially doomed workforce IF it is strong enough to produce.
    Another reason for this is - you decided to kill them upon artificially determined number (3/100) - well, on this exact TF forum it has been shown how certain bees are doing fine with higher mite counts (this is how they operate).
    So - I am not qualified to kill any bees myself based on some theory (be it even from T. Seeley) - it is up to the bees to die (my job is to prevent robbing if possible).
    Last edited by GregV; 08-07-2019 at 01:28 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #100
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    Gray Goose, a big part of the Darwinian concept is to be willing to euthanize any colony with high mite counts.
    Last year I had to do that to a couple of colonies by using a big restaurant bussing tub filled with soapy water. I just shake the bees in the water and the soap soon suffocates them. I feel that these hives were dead already . . .they just didn't know it.

    Greg V, I don't need to get a lot of honey from my bees which is one of the reasons I wanted to try this method. If you keep the hives small and don't worry about how much honey you take, you don't have to worry about swarm management. Once again, the idea is that it's healthy for the bees to swarm.
    Kathleen, I will support you to keep as you wish. I only ask the same back. For me if there was no honey to take then I would not do it. I need a crop to compensate for the time. Same as most folks would not have chickens if they did not get any eggs. For me in Northern Mich. 3- 8 frame mediums is on the edge of too small to make the winter. so losses may just be due to cavity size, As well IMO if "YOU" have picked the cavity size the Darwin thing is out of the picture, you are breeding for queen that can only make use of 32 Medium frames, in "time" you will be successful, you will just need to Swarm off all the Queens that need more space, until you get a few happy with that space. I also understand there is a difference in "allow" to swarm and "force" to swarm At some size, be it a mailbox, you are more or less forcing them to swarm. At some other size like a Semi trailer you are allowing them to swarm. So you are in between, IMO force is not Darwin either. Hopefully you started with local stock, else you may have brought in some non Sustainable bees and are spitting out swarms like mad and affecting the local stock. At any rate carry on, Interesting to hear of your experiences. Another item i do not see much comment on is the "Habitat" So with a Horse, we would not expect them to survive in a Desert as they do not eat sand. I would not expect them to survive in Alaska as they do not eat snow. I would not expect them in South Dakota in the badlands as they do not eat rocks.. So presumable you are on the same page here. I mentally partition the USA into 3 mile squares, and it would be like a checker board. In each square the bees need water, pollen, and nectar and of course a cavity , and water. You State " I'm not in a great honey producing area (a lot of pine trees and pasture) but it's my own property and I really don't want out yards." So one could conceivably argue that in a poor site maybe 1 bee tree or none would exist. By Having several and Understanding that you may need to feed or water or wrap from the cold you also are not very Darwin, So I am somewhat mystified why in a poor site you would place bees that you worked to cut out and then kill them when some "human" set threshold is reached. Again, I support you to do it, I just do not understand why. Ideally you will end up with low egg count laying queen able to thrive in Pine and pasture, with little or no honey crop, as that is the "Habitat" you are working in. what is then your next step? I look for the best site possible, Some of mine are several hour drive. If sites are on a 1-10 scale I want a 10 or 11 to put my bees there.. For my time on earth I want the best outcome. I give them all the room they want, I get some that produce 300 pounds of honey, I do it to sell to people to defray the cost and I give away a lot of gifts. I am trying to get a 40 deep frame Colony produce lots of surplus as I am a Capitalist. Interesting to see the variance in keepers. we are somewhat on the opposite ends of the keeper spectrum. All the best to you.
    GG

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