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Discussion Starter #1
Still a foot of snow around the hives and I have too much time on my hand which results in me thinking too much.

I appreciate the input on my recent thread about if I should removing insulation now with the related activity and population on my 10 frame double deeps and my fears of an early swarm. (Assuming I get through the next few weeks) While I have quite a few medium extracted supers with full comb and a smaller pile of partially built, I was thinking about the lack of built out deep frames with comb (aside from the ones in the hives) and am wondering once the temperatures break into the 50's F during the days and above 40 at night, would it be worth doing a little manipulation once the top feeders go back on? My thoughts were originally to do a reverse of the deeps but now I'm thinking to leave well enough alone initially and add another 10 frame deep on top with the 4.5 gallon ML top feeders (as stated, once the weather breaks). The girls reacted extremely well last year to the top feeders and from 5 frame nuc's built up 15 more full frames in less than a month early on. With three deeps on, with the QE between the top (third) deep and feeder, the Boss Lady would have full range to lay eggs. I could, once they get build comb along and established, I would reverse the second deep (former top) with the bottom, recycling out the old 5 frames black comb for other use (swarm trap, etc.) replacing them with new frames to keep the building part going. Assuming I could get another deep of comb and hopefully brood by early May (start of swarm season here) I might be able to get multiple splits from each hive as I am planning on adding some new VSH queen stock in May. Obviously I would feed, both pollen and syrup as heavy as the girls take it to support them, even through early flows and all of this would be dependent on weather. I was thinking about doing this last fall but was advised that they wouldn't build comb that late but there was plenty of new burr comb on the bottom of the quit boxes I put on in mid November.
 

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Be careful feeding if there is any amount of flow. The bees can easily flood all the brood comb with nectar, leaving no place to lay freely. Guaranteed swarm! I came close to doing that on my first summer. I would be cautious with doing too much. Walking close to the edge is thrilling but if you err a bit................?

Do search on OSBN Opening the sides of the brood nest. Matt has lots of posts explaining his methods and fielding questions from others new to it. I have only dabbled a bit with these practices. I dont much anymore; I prefer tranquility to the adrenalin rushes now a days;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I actually had the same situation during my first spring and caught it just before it became honey bound. I appreciate the reminder and just re-read Matt's post so I think that does need to be considered in this plan.. One of things that I didn't consider in my first year is the necessity of manipulation, I think I and many other new-bees are in such amazement over the growth of the colonies during our first year that we may not do the inspections necessary to learn how the hive is growing and actually under the right circumstances, how fast the hive can grow. An experienced beek is able to judge conditions through observation of weather, bee traffic in and out of the hive and just by popping the top to look at the top bars. (Not to minimize the need for full inspections) New-bees, like myself, might have some hesitation due to fear of killing a queen, maybe even fear of the bees flying around them while in getting into the hive or even just the lack of training. I did, along with my then 16 year old daughter, take a 3 day introduction course at the local bee club and it was definitely worth it. Fortunately, like here mother, she's much smarter than I am (just ask her) and listened more intently to the instructor-had no fear of the bees and would quote the instructor, verse, chapter and paragraph.

Part of what I am proposing aside from developing more deep frame comb, is manipulation early on to get some frames ready for splits and possible swarm traps. The though of adding deeps serves both the purpose of getting some frames ready for splits and avoiding early swarms from what is (hopefully) strong colonies that have fully built out their double deep broods. Of course this is all weather dependent and even if the extra frames are only partially built out, they could be used (I think) to replace more complete brood and pollen frames that are pulled prior to stronger flows later on for splits. I do have well over a 100 frames of extracted and partial medium frames with comb and plan on utilizing them, possible checkerboarded, on top to help get a jump on honey production as the splits grow out. I am curious of what you all think about this plan and if it would be viable.

Last thought is maybe we should start a new thread called "Dumb stuff I did my first year as a Beek" to benefit other new-bees. It might be fun.
 

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I'm sorry Larry but the more I read your posts,the more confused I get.All together,in both posts,I see only one question mark.
To get a concise answer,we need to have a concise question without 15 lbs of fluff.

Don't overthink beekeeping. It's not that complicated.
If you don't know what you're doing,don't do anything. You may make a mistake but also learn a lesson
 

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Timely use of expansion encouragements can get them moving a bit sooner than their inherent cautions advise them but it does have risks. Weather reversals can result in chilled brood which can lead to disease.

I agree with the education benefits of being in the hives, but........ if you make too many changes simultaneously you wont be able to know how to attribute the values of any one of them. Usually any change has benefits and drawbacks. Most will cause at least some lost time till the bees reorganize their communications. Where in heck is the baking powder? I always kept it right here above the microwave!
 

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For newbs I would recommend OSBN for expansion. And note also that a second year hive will tend towards swarming and less towards comb building than a first year hive. I would shy away from early major expansion as you described it. You mentioned checkerboarding, do you have mediums with capped honey? How many colonies are you planning to manipulate? Are you hoping for honey or just Nucs headed by VSH queens? You will get a lot more splits if you can keep them from swarming until mid main flow (when is that for you?). Splitting 5 frames of brood you can get about 2 splits plus original queen and maybe some more in a month, depending if you put in queen or cell (obviously an experienced beek can push that farther). Splitting 10 frames of brood (about 2-3 weeks later) you can get 5 splits plus original queen and take more splits from her in 3 weeks. I have had colonies go from 2 - 7 deep frames of brood in 2 weeks when spring finally hits. I aim to keep that expansion going until mid swarm season or later. Of course if I get behind I will do an emergency split but I plan on keeping ahead and splitting on my schedule as it is far more productive. You can also see better which ones you want to split: If it is a healthy colony but not putting away much honey you can use that brood and not loose a crop. And don't split the ones getting your honey and you have almost as much surplus as if you had not split. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
My focus this year is building out to 20-30 colonies half being on a 14 acre farm field I bought which is 85-90% in (organic) hay and the balance in wind break trees and has a small trout creek (water source) along its western edge. It is roughly 5 miles from my home. Part of the focus now is to preserve my ag real estate tax exemption but I'm going to build a 3000 sf barn (my sons and I) on the northern edge. After 35 years of running construction projects all over the world, I'm bagging it and staying home, working part time as a consultant. I'm going to work out of the barn as an office, apiary and garage for my car collection. With that said, I'm doing this for fun, something I wanted to do for years. I recently bought a pallet of each of assembled deeps and mediums with frames from ML and have 15 additional nucs on order from my supplier along with some VSH stock hopefully for April/May. I currently have 5 hives after a late season gift from another beek who moved away. It sounds like a lot of money but the tax offset (NJ has ridiculous RE taxes) more than pays for the beekeeping expenses. The other half will be at or near my home, populated with splits and queened with VSH stock. This part of the plan is to introduce, on a continuing yearly basis, VSH genetics into our local environment and see if it is sustainable over the course of several years. My area has limited commercial farming and haven't really seen any migratory hives any where near us. While I agree that VSH genetics will dissipate over several generations I don't necessarily believe that it is as recessive as commonly believed here and between maintenance of VSH hives and continued introduction will develop a more dominate stock. Even any feral will be influenced by our drones. I'd add that I am not treatment free but IPM towards organics. Maybe someday we can all be TF.

My original point is simple, I'd like to get as many deep frames built out to support future splits and right now, honestly, don't give a rats ass about honey. I don't need the income and can always buy a pound of honey from myself for $500 to get the exemption.

(edit note) I apologize for that last line, just having a bad day.
 

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So I would say osbn will get you the most drawn comb. Keep them in expansion mode and pull splits from big hives only enough to maintain that expansion. Feed when the dearth hits to continue comb building. If your new Nucs are coming early enough drawing 15 frames each should be no problem.
 

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My focus this year is building out to 20-30 colonies half being on a 14 acre farm field I bought which is 85-90% in (organic) hay and the balance in wind break trees and has a small trout creek (water source) along its western edge. It is roughly 5 miles from my home. Part of the focus now is to preserve my ag real estate tax exemption but I'm going to build a 3000 sf barn (my sons and I) on the northern edge. After 35 years of running construction projects all over the world, I'm bagging it and staying home, working part time as a consultant. I'm going to work out of the barn as an office, apiary and garage for my car collection. With that said, I'm doing this for fun, something I wanted to do for years. I recently bought a pallet of each of assembled deeps and mediums with frames from ML and have 15 additional nucs on order from my supplier along with some VSH stock hopefully for April/May. I currently have 5 hives after a late season gift from another beek who moved away. It sounds like a lot of money but the tax offset (NJ has ridiculous RE taxes) more than pays for the beekeeping expenses. The other half will be at or near my home, populated with splits and queened with VSH stock. This part of the plan is to introduce, on a continuing yearly basis, VSH genetics into our local environment and see if it is sustainable over the course of several years. My area has limited commercial farming and haven't really seen any migratory hives any where near us. While I agree that VSH genetics will dissipate over several generations I don't necessarily believe that it is as recessive as commonly believed here and between maintenance of VSH hives and continued introduction will develop a more dominate stock. Even any feral will be influenced by our drones. I'd add that I am not treatment free but IPM towards organics. Maybe someday we can all be TF.

My original point is simple, I'd like to get as many deep frames built out to support future splits and right now, honestly, don't give a rats ass about honey. I don't need the income and can always buy a pound of honey from myself for $500 to get the exemption.

(edit note) I apologize for that last line, just having a bad day.
Larry
if I was building a new barn I would look into the wall hives, or have a nice (10foot) over hang on the east SE side of the building to keep the bees.

good luck with the growth, we are close to the same with growth not honey as the goal for the year.
post pics of the barn build.

GG
 

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My area has limited commercial farming and haven't really seen any migratory hives any where near us.
gotta look harder larry. assuming you are near princton, there will be commercial outfits holding nearby when they come out of blueberries waiting to go north as the bloom progresses. lots of early blooms in neighborhoods that are not in the ag fields actually. i wish you well with the VSH stock but honestly there are too many backyard beekeepers in NJ with one or two hidden hives that will dilute your efforts and worse yet is the mite bombs in the fall. keep and eye out for basswood trees. you have some random areas there and those will bloom during your dearth.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So I would say osbn will get you the most drawn comb. Keep them in expansion mode and pull splits from big hives only enough to maintain that expansion. Feed when the dearth hits to continue comb building. If your new Nucs are coming early enough drawing 15 frames each should be no problem.
Agreed, the first step will be getting drones in the air so each hive will have at least one drone frame, I'm on the fence on two each but the wind is blowing... need to look into if two would be a drag on the hives health (mites).

Larry
if I was building a new barn I would look into the wall hives, or have a nice (10foot) over hang on the east SE side of the building to keep the bees.

good luck with the growth, we are close to the same with growth not honey as the goal for the year.
post pics of the barn build.

GG
Goose: The barn is going to face south and the plan is to have a full "porch" along the front (slab on grade). I'm leaning to keeping the bees in full sun as I think it will help with managing mites, SHB's and moths. I will update as we get into it-bee are going to come first, they have their own calendar.

gotta look harder larry. assuming you are near princton, there will be commercial outfits holding nearby when they come out of blueberries waiting to go north as the bloom progresses. lots of early blooms in neighborhoods that are not in the ag fields actually. i wish you well with the VSH stock but honestly there are too many backyard beekeepers in NJ with one or two hidden hives that will dilute your efforts and worse yet is the mite bombs in the fall. keep and eye out for basswood trees. you have some random areas there and those will bloom during your dearth.
Coal: I've looked pretty hard. I'm not near Princeton, I am actually in what was Princeton Borough, about 200 yards off the main campus. My neighborhood is pretty much tenured professors including 3 Nobel Prize winners, one of them won this year-they walk to class from here. My survey of the area (granted I might miss something) of a five mile radius is there is some corn and soy, not pollinators. To the east-suburbs and some small hobby farms, south corporate campuses and condos, then more con and soy farms (>5 miles), west corporate campuses, research facilities a few small orchards (>5 miles) North, suburbs, horse farms, golf courses, some corn, a few organic produce farms (CSA's). From the State's registry, there are two small apiaries and I know of two unregistered. (have you renewed your registration?) That is a defined 5 mile radius, I might have missed some and who knows who will jump in this year but I'm trying to do some out reach. .

I'm in discussions with large landowner here to place a dozen or so VSH hives and have agreements for a few private hosting sites that will have 3 or so colonies within the circle. After our initial drone flights which I hope correspond to the early swarm season (and beyond). Beyond the splits and re-queening, I am going to try to raise some queens and if successful, will offer them to any beekeeper in this zone at no cost. The Barn is outside the zone and will be used to as an isolation yard, resources and brood rearing. In year two, I plan on expanding the smaller satellite yards with F1/F2 queens and add new VSH queens. I have a whole paper written including testing, genetics and maintenance with (to quote "Alice's Restaurant") all kinds of arrow, circles and diagrams!.

In no way am I disparaging any commercial or migratory Beeks, its a business, they work hard and are the backbone of our hobby. As young guy I worked in commercial fishing and I see the similarities in commercial bee keeping-you get to handle a lot of money but relatively little sticks to your hands.
 

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Goose: The barn is going to face south and the plan is to have a full "porch" along the front (slab on grade). I'm leaning to keeping the bees in full sun as I think it will help with managing mites, SHB's and moths. I will update as we get into it-bee are going to come first, they have their own calendar.

excellent plan

some pic and ideas

let us know how it goes

GG
 
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