spring advice please
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  1. #1
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    May 2015
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    Default spring advice please

    Hi all.
    Going into 5th year of beekeeping this year.
    Winter isnt over but so far i have 15 larger hives in 3-5 deep boxes each ( i think 4-5 of them may have medium supers also) and 8 x 4/4/4 MP overwinter nucs going strong.

    Assuming no further losses this year im trying to plan the strategy for our upstate NY relatively short season.

    Goals:
    make and sell 20 nucs.
    Take at least 14 x 4/4/4 overwintering nucs into winter 2019. I guess i could take more than this but i have enough of the double nuc equipment for 14 currently.
    Expand to 20-25 production hives.
    I also have 30 brand new mediums with undrawn foundations that need to be drawn out.
    Graft and get mated 49 new queens to requeen 15 large hives, 20 nucs to sell and 14 overwintering nucs.
    Catch a few swarms. I got 4 last year and actually they were awesome at drawing comb!!!!! If i get more this year that will be their primary job!

    Honey production is lower down my personal list of priorities although i have to make some so in conjunction with nuc sales i can get some more bee toys without my wife killing me. I want the everything beevac, and a new uncapping tank and inline filter for extraction room.


    So strategies:
    I will graft queens for the nucs and overwintering nucs in late may. I have 100 deep undrawn foundations made up and have built 20 x 5 frame nuc boxes.
    I figure i will pull brood from the overwintering nucs and checkerboard any hives that look like they may be close to swarming and use those frames for making nucs with my grafted queens and move all of the nucs to my other property for a few weeks before bringing them back.

    Is it best to cut down the number of production hives actually making honey and give those say 10 hives all the empty built supers from the other 5 larger hives so i can maximize honey from those 10 colonies?
    Or just give all the 15 larger hives 2 undrawn medium supers each and let them pull the wax and accept a much smaller honey crop this year?
    I guess i could give them the undrawn supers and feed a ton of sugar syrup so they can pull the mediums out before the flow starts but i really dont want sugar water in my honey.


    Sheesh there seems to be 1000 permutations to this hobby and strategies within it.
    I like MPs way of doing things but i guess i had assumed i would be using the overwintering nucs to replace big hive dead outs and so far no deadouts. So should i just move the 8 nucs into 10 frame equipment and give them the mediums to start drawing out? Or leave them in their 4/4/4 configuration and use them as brood factories.

    AAAGH help too many options!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Brookhaven, MS, USA
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    why not drop a couple of those medium supers on top of each double nuc and let them draw those while your big 10 frame hives get all the drawn comb to maxamize honey production

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Watching because I have a similar dilemma.

  5. #4
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by jkellum View Post
    why not drop a couple of those medium supers on top of each double nuc and let them draw those while your big 10 frame hives get all the drawn comb to maxamize honey production
    I like this idea too. Be sure to use a queen excluder! I started setting medium 5 frame supers on my nucs this week to try to get some drawn comb on my new plastic foundation. Little early, but I am also feeding 1:1.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Skaneateles, NY
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I like this idea too. Be sure to use a queen excluder! I started setting medium 5 frame supers on my nucs this week to try to get some drawn comb on my new plastic foundation. Little early, but I am also feeding 1:1.
    Yeah i like that idea too. I could remove the empty box in the 4\4\4 stack and put a QE over the tops then a medium boxes on top for them to draw with 3-4 gallons of sugar syrup on top in an empty deep.
    At some point in the year i will need to reinstall their top boxes for them to stash away enough honey for winter 2019.\

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Brookhaven, MS, USA
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    yep drop QE, medium super, then a feeder shell with syrup let them draw comb and fill with syrup. Then you pull the super sling out the syrup and store that box till nectar flow

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Hi all.
    I will graft queens for the nucs and overwintering nucs in late may. I have 100 deep undrawn foundations made up and have built 20 x 5 frame nuc boxes.
    I figure i will pull brood from the overwintering nucs and checkerboard any hives that look like they may be close to swarming and use those frames for making nucs with my grafted queens and move all of the nucs to my other property for a few weeks before bringing them back.
    well lets deal with one part at a time. The problem up here is when you start grafting in late May you are all ready past going past swarm season, in a "normal" year starts around May 10th. So what I do for the nucs, don't use Mr. Palmers method, I just have 3 5 frame nucs stacked on top of each other, is order in enough queens for what you want to do. I find the queen in the stack and put a qe under her, day b/4 the queens are do in, pull the nuc to another location, next day put the queen in the now stack of two. Now if you time it right 2 weeks later, you put the QE in between the two, the queens is laying good, pull the nuc and put in your queen cells from your grafting. so you used or sold off 2 nucs per stack, when the queen cell hatches and starts laying you drop on foundation and a feeder, they will pull wax like crazy because they need it. Keep stacking the nuc boxes on, if too much brood you can make more nucs. come golden rod let them fill the top two boxes and they will overwinter with a nice young queen ready for you to do it again the next year. Key is finding a good queen supplier, or requeening them like you would do a package. I also pull a nuc off of each full size hive at the same time if I have enough drawn combs, if not I will pull 3 off of the hives with old queens and requeen them also. need a big nuc yard once you get going.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  9. #8
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    well lets deal with one part at a time. The problem up here is when you start grafting in late May you are all ready past going past swarm season, in a "normal" year starts around May 10th. So what I do for the nucs, don't use Mr. Palmers method, I just have 3 5 frame nucs stacked on top of each other, is order in enough queens for what you want to do. I find the queen in the stack and put a qe under her, day b/4 the queens are do in, pull the nuc to another location, next day put the queen in the now stack of two. Now if you time it right 2 weeks later, you put the QE in between the two, the queens is laying good, pull the nuc and put in your queen cells from your grafting. so you used or sold off 2 nucs per stack, when the queen cell hatches and starts laying you drop on foundation and a feeder, they will pull wax like crazy because they need it. Keep stacking the nuc boxes on, if too much brood you can make more nucs. come golden rod let them fill the top two boxes and they will overwinter with a nice young queen ready for you to do it again the next year. Key is finding a good queen supplier, or requeening them like you would do a package. I also pull a nuc off of each full size hive at the same time if I have enough drawn combs, if not I will pull 3 off of the hives with old queens and requeen them also. need a big nuc yard once you get going.
    I have 5 acre property in Rochester and 15 acres in skaneateles so i can have the hives and nucs in separate yards no issue there.
    I will need to read through ur method here a couple times see if i can understand it.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Another option:
    Make fly back splits from all the main hives after the flow. To prevent swarming ->weekly inspections, remove QCs and make nucs, and checkerboard the broodnest if needed, and make sure they have plenty of supers on.
    Make use of the nucs as brood factories and for drawing out the medium supers. Make up nucs from them if needed to prevent swarming.

    Graft as soon as i see drones.
    Break down all non productive hives and overwintered nucs into 5 frame nucs

    Do second round of grafting and nuc making end of July pulling frames of brood from the nucs and any larger hives that look like they may swarm.
    I plan on knocking back all of the larger hives to 2 deeps and 1 medium for the winter 2019.

    One problem i have created this year is i took no honey last year at all so the supers are all on top of the hives full of honey which i will need to extract before they can be refilled.

    I like your way of doing the nucs Mike but I really dont want to purchase that many queens if i can avoid it. Ive got good survivor stock right in my apiary with pretty diverse genetics. There are italians/carnis/russians from foley/MP queens and queens from feral hives and my own queens that have been going for 3+ years.
    I feel like the stock i have is good to graft from.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Another option:
    I like your way of doing the nucs Mike but I really dont want to purchase that many queens if i can avoid it. Ive got good survivor stock right in my apiary with pretty diverse genetics. There are italians/carnis/russians from foley/MP queens and queens from feral hives and my own queens that have been going for 3+ years.
    I feel like the stock i have is good to graft from.
    you can sell the nucs with the bought queens and not affect your stock much as the queens will be gone and just some hatching drones. best way to cut down on swarming is with young queens so requeen more often, and eliminate any genetics that like to swarm. extracting all that crystallized honey is no easy feat.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  12. #11
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Hi all.
    Going into 5th year of beekeeping this year.
    Winter isnt over but so far i have 15 larger hives in 3-5 deep boxes each ( i think 4-5 of them may have medium supers also) and 8 x 4/4/4 MP overwinter nucs going strong.

    Assuming no further losses this year im trying to plan the strategy for our upstate NY relatively short season.
    15 larger hives...I wouldn't be so quick to requeen them all. Requeen by pattern and performance. And, won't you use the best of them to graft from? I would run them for honey. If there are some that aren't making you a good crop, break them up into nucs for wintering.

    8-4x4x4 overwintered nucs...I would use them as brood factories. Over time, say from mid-June to mid-July, you should be able to harvest enough brood for 40-50 nucs....and still have the 8 brood factories to winter. So, maybe sell some, and keep the rest for factories.

    And, as Mike from Syracuse said...you might consider buying in queens for a few years, until you get your program established.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    15 larger hives...I wouldn't be so quick to requeen them all. Requeen by pattern and performance. And, won't you use the best of them to graft from? I would run them for honey. If there are some that aren't making you a good crop, break them up into nucs for wintering.

    8-4x4x4 overwintered nucs...I would use them as brood factories. Over time, say from mid-June to mid-July, you should be able to harvest enough brood for 40-50 nucs....and still have the 8 brood factories to winter. So, maybe sell some, and keep the rest for factories.

    And, as Mike from Syracuse said...you might consider buying in queens for a few years, until you get your program established.
    Enjoy reading your insight.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTqB0zcmhmQ

  14. #13
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    15 larger hives...I wouldn't be so quick to requeen them all. Requeen by pattern and performance. And, won't you use the best of them to graft from? I would run them for honey. If there are some that aren't making you a good crop, break them up into nucs for wintering.

    8-4x4x4 overwintered nucs...I would use them as brood factories. Over time, say from mid-June to mid-July, you should be able to harvest enough brood for 40-50 nucs....and still have the 8 brood factories to winter. So, maybe sell some, and keep the rest for factories.

    And, as Mike from Syracuse said...you might consider buying in queens for a few years, until you get your program established.
    Thanks a ton MP.
    Ill have to rewatch the video you made on brood factories so i can figure out how to maximize them without them all swarming on me.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    15 larger hives...I wouldn't be so quick to requeen them all. Requeen by pattern and performance. And, won't you use the best of them to graft from? I would run them for honey. If there are some that aren't making you a good crop, break them up into nucs for wintering.

    8-4x4x4 overwintered nucs...I would use them as brood factories. Over time, say from mid-June to mid-July, you should be able to harvest enough brood for 40-50 nucs....and still have the 8 brood factories to winter. So, maybe sell some, and keep the rest for factories.

    And, as Mike from Syracuse said...you might consider buying in queens for a few years, until you get your program established.
    Ok I watched the video. You harvested a mountain of brood from the 50 overwinterered nuc to make 35 cell builders and then June-July took frames of brood periodically to make up new nucs.

    I have 3 quick qs:

    1. If im not going to be grafting queens but buying in queens then does that mean i can start making nucs earlier? say in late May?
    2. How do i keep the nucs from swarming in the meantime? Remove QCs/make sure to keep supers on them/checkerboard the brood nest?
    I assume that the nucs will need to be fed pollen sub and syrup throughout to ensure they keep raising enough brood for me to harvest.
    3. Is it every 2 weeks that i pull 2 frames of brood from each overwintered nuc to make new nucs up?
    -> 2 frames brood, 1 frame honey/pollen, 1 frame built empty comb and 1 foundation frame?

    Thanks again for the help its much appreciated.

    Looks like i will need to find a queen supplier near by after all.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    QUOTE=aran I have 3 quick qs:

    1. If im not going to be grafting queens but buying in queens then does that mean i can start making nucs earlier? say in late May?

    Depends on the strength. I start setting up cell builders on May 9, so I'm harvesting brood at that time. But, in 2018, first pollen was April 22...two weeks later than normal. That delayed everything...canceling the first two rounds of queens...200+ queens!

    2. How do i keep the nucs from swarming in the meantime? Remove QCs/make sure to keep supers on them/checkerboard the brood nest?
    I assume that the nucs will need to be fed pollen sub and syrup throughout to ensure they keep raising enough brood for me to harvest.

    Reverse, add 3rd story of comb. Add the combs against the divider. Mine are built up to 5 or 6 stories by August...to handle the fall flow. Then we harvest tghe top two boxes of honey, about 50 lb., and winter in 3.

    3. Is it every 2 weeks that i pull 2 frames of brood from each overwintered nuc to make new nucs up?
    -> 2 frames brood, 1 frame honey/pollen, 1 frame built empty comb and 1 foundation frame?

    Well, the number of combs you can take depends on the strength of the nuc. Sometimes it's one, or two, or even three. Take enough so they won't swarm, but not so much they dwindle.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    QUOTE=aran I have 3 quick qs:

    1. If im not going to be grafting queens but buying in queens then does that mean i can start making nucs earlier? say in late May?

    Depends on the strength. I start setting up cell builders on May 9, so I'm harvesting brood at that time. But, in 2018, first pollen was April 22...two weeks later than normal. That delayed everything...canceling the first two rounds of queens...200+ queens!

    2. How do i keep the nucs from swarming in the meantime? Remove QCs/make sure to keep supers on them/checkerboard the brood nest?
    I assume that the nucs will need to be fed pollen sub and syrup throughout to ensure they keep raising enough brood for me to harvest.

    Reverse, add 3rd story of comb. Add the combs against the divider. Mine are built up to 5 or 6 stories by August...to handle the fall flow. Then we harvest tghe top two boxes of honey, about 50 lb., and winter in 3.

    3. Is it every 2 weeks that i pull 2 frames of brood from each overwintered nuc to make new nucs up?
    -> 2 frames brood, 1 frame honey/pollen, 1 frame built empty comb and 1 foundation frame?

    Well, the number of combs you can take depends on the strength of the nuc. Sometimes it's one, or two, or even three. Take enough so they won't swarm, but not so much they dwindle.
    Thanks! ill give it all a shot see how i do.
    We are probably similar in terms of climate . Sounds liken then from what you have said that about 2.5 weeks after first pollen i can harvest ( if they are strong enough) first brood.
    These nucs are already all 3 boxes deep so i will reverse in late march/early april if its warm enough, and keep adding comb against the divider each time i steal their brood. Im assuming its the brood combs in box 1 and 2 against the divider that I would be stealing each time? Or the combs in position 2 of box 1 and 2, then move the comb from the divider position into comb 2 position and put new foundation against the divider in both box 1 and 2.

    Looks like i need to build/buy more 4 frame supers!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    I add foundation to nucs a little differently. When I told my friend Aurelio how I do it, his eyes brightened and his smile widened, and he said, "Ah, Zig-Zag".

    Let me explain. When adding foundation, to get it drawn quickly it has to be above or next to combs of brood. Say we have a three story 4 frame nuc. Remember the center of the broodnest are the two combs against the divider. I could add the foundation at the top, but the bees may ignore it, plug up below, and swarm. Rather I would add two frames of foundation in box 3...against the divider, and two frames of foundation at the outer wall of box 4. The two frames of brood removed from box 3 are elevated to box 4 against the divider. Now there's foundation in box 3 above brood, and in box 4 next to brood. Building from 4 to 5, or 5 to 6 stories with foundation is the same.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    nucs are already all 3 boxes deep so i will reverse in late march/early april if its warm enough,
    I would go by flow and not date. I reverse at the beginning of dandelion bloom. When does you dandelion bloom? Can't be much earlier than mine. I'm reversing in early May. On a rare year at the end of April.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I would go by flow and not date. I reverse at the beginning of dandelion bloom. When does you dandelion bloom? Can't be much earlier than mine. I'm reversing in early May. On a rare year at the end of April.
    Yes the dandelion blooms at the beginning of may usually here.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: spring advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I add foundation to nucs a little differently. When I told my friend Aurelio how I do it, his eyes brightened and his smile widened, and he said, "Ah, Zig-Zag".

    Let me explain. When adding foundation, to get it drawn quickly it has to be above or next to combs of brood. Say we have a three story 4 frame nuc. Remember the center of the broodnest are the two combs against the divider. I could add the foundation at the top, but the bees may ignore it, plug up below, and swarm. Rather I would add two frames of foundation in box 3...against the divider, and two frames of foundation at the outer wall of box 4. The two frames of brood removed from box 3 are elevated to box 4 against the divider. Now there's foundation in box 3 above brood, and in box 4 next to brood. Building from 4 to 5, or 5 to 6 stories with foundation is the same.
    this makes perfect sense to me!
    So it looks like May for me will be busy with the overwintered nucs reversing the brood boxes, and adding in the zig zag pattern the foundation frames to get up to 4 boxes deep per colony before i start stealing brood for making nucs. Hopefully by mid June there will be 4 boxes with brood in each box for me to start pilfering their brood off to make new nucs!
    Thanks again MP!

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