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Advice with 2nd year hives.

1043 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Specialkayme
This question is for those experienced beeks. Currently I think i am doing good on starting hives from packages and nucs and starting hives from swarms. I have also read Walt's theory on checkerboarding. It seems to me that for checkerboarding to work you need extra comb which I don't have. Most of my starter hives are up to 2-3 mediums right now and I expect they will make it to 3 mediums by end of fall. My question is, coming out of next winter with a 3 medium size hive what should I do to build up to have enough bees to make a honey crop but NOT to have a bunch of swarming.

I did have a hive this year that was building up nicely so I thought I would not split it but use it to get a honey crop. Just about the time they had about 1/2 a super of honey they swarmed several times. I am looking for advice on how to get a good honey crop...not increase the number of hives.

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Your question seems overly broad, and it might be difficult for you to get a straight forward answer. You want a good honey crop, and no swarming. That's what most beekeepers want, and it usually takes a bunch of reading and even more experience to actually accomplish it. What works well for one won't work well for all. It usually takes a few years of trying a few different methods before you figure out what you like and what works well for you.

Keep in mind that swarming is actually a good thing. While it means a reduced honey crop, it means the bees are happy, and are trying to procreate. To get them to stop is un-natural for them.

All that being said, consider reading more up on checkerboarding, or brood management (I don't remember the name of it, but it's when you confine the queen with an excluder and move larvae above it). Either that, or take out frames of brood. I find it very helpful to remove two frames of brood every inspection that they have 9 or 10 frames of brood. It cycles out comb as they have to keep building, keeps them busy, and stops them from getting too big. Take the two frames from both hives and make a 4 frame nuc out of them. If you don't want it, sell it. I still have swarms every now and then, but everyone does.

You might also want to consider reading the MDA Splitter technique. I know you don't want more hives, but the system can be used for good honey production only. If you take your 10 frames of brood and split them up into two frame nucs with a home made queen each (through the OTS method), you'll get 4 or 5 nucs. Let them build into five frame nucs or 10 frame hives (depending on time). When your honey flow comes, pinch all but one queen and combine all hives. You end up getting one monster hive that's large enough to gather a ton of nectar without having a massive amount of brood to feed.
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