Guys, this is my 3rd year trying to be a beekeeper. I have some questions. Sorry to be so long, but I wanted to explain all the details.
All of my hive bodies are 8 frame mediums. I bought all my equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Farms and that is what they suggested. One of the best reason was that the 8 frame mediums would weigh less, and since I had a ruptured disc and back surgery in 2005, that weighed heavily (no pun intended) on my decision to go with all 8 frame medium.
As a new beekeeper I was told to add a new hive body anytime 6 of the 8 frames were drawn out. That’s what I’ve done.
Last year I split my largest hive, and I was also asked to come get a swarm from a friend’s yard. Going to into summer last year, I had 6 hives. I lost one to wax moths. I assume it swarmed and I did not realize it, and the moths took over. Another hive got robbed and most bees were killed or left. I combined the two smallest hives going into winter.
So I wintered 3 hives. All 3 made it through the winter very well.
This spring I started adding hive bodies as needed. I had several frames of drawn comb, and when I ran out, I used foundation.
I did not really want any more than 3 hives this year, so I did not do any splits. I also did not do anything special to keep them from swarming. I just added new hive bodies to be sure they had lots of room. I did place the new empty hive bodies about 2 or 3 down from the top instead of just adding it to the top.
Anyway…I now have two of the hives with 7 bodies and the 3rd one with 9 bodies. Since I have these hives about 2ft off the ground, I have to have a ladder to get to the top of them to work on them.
As far as I can tell, neither of the 3 hives have swarms yet. I have a great population of bees in all 3 hives. I did place a single hive body with swarm lure in two locations about 50 to 75 yards from the hives, just in case they swarmed. I thought they might go to these new hives in case I was not home to capture them. So far, both are still empty.
If my main goal is honey production, is it better to split hives and to keep them no more than 5 or 6 bodies high? The hive that has 9 bodies has produced the least honey this year. Same last year. In fact, this same hive was the largest last year, and I did not get any honey from it. When I went to rob it, I found that every single frame had honey, but not a single frame was capped, or at least not completely capped. Or one side would be capped and the other would not.
It seemed that I get more honey from smaller hives.
So, if I mainly want honey, is more hives the way to go instead of larger hives?