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Discussion Starter #1
I have never really equalized my hives, except for occasional donation of frames. I haven't equalized because I have always wanted my honey producers to be strong through winter and ready to go in the spring, and it always has seemed that it would be counter productive. But I'm curious about it now, especially now that I've reached 35 colonies and managing hives and time is a different thing. Another reason I'm curious is that this spring was crazy here and I was doing a lot of swarm prevention and management, and some hives still swarmed. I'm wondering if equalizing is a way to control swarming rather than having to make splits. And in summer or fall, what does equalizing accomplish?
 

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It helps in many ways but it is a good way to prevent them from swarming before the honey flow and you may have some colonies that need a boost. Do you run double or single chamber?
 

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never have equalized in 40+ years, I raise my own queens, I want to know which are the good queens and the ones that don't make it a habit of swarming, after a while the bees will match your style.
 

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I start to equalize hives now to ensure winter survivability. My stronger hives donate stores to the weaker hives. If I need to feed, I check again before buttoning them up for winter. J
 

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I have never really equalized my hives, except for occasional donation of frames. I haven't equalized because I have always wanted my honey producers to be strong through winter and ready to go in the spring, and it always has seemed that it would be counter productive. But I'm curious about it now, especially now that I've reached 35 colonies and managing hives and time is a different thing. Another reason I'm curious is that this spring was crazy here and I was doing a lot of swarm prevention and management, and some hives still swarmed. I'm wondering if equalizing is a way to control swarming rather than having to make splits. And in summer or fall, what does equalizing accomplish?
cconnell

Spring equalizing can help to knock down the too strong and build up the weak.

in the fall I will take a hive heavy with stores and swap it will one that is light, the "field" bees already have the original ready for winter and can help the one that is behind.

do note the "pre" equalized strong one for potential queen mothers. If they will swarm any way why not get a slow starter up to speed.

I had one that was 3 deeps and 3 supers too strong early june, I pulled a deep out of the center, for a walk away.
then mid july it was 3 deeps and 4 supers again very strong, So I pulled a deep and a medium and 2 supers for a walk away split.
was up last weekend to put traps on, I have 3 really nice hives now, 5 supers on the original , 2 on the first split , and 3 on the 2nd split. So one hive is now 3 and I have 10 supers filled. Equalize can also mean splitting a giant hive in 1/2
Had I done nothing I likely would have had a swarm or 2 issue and got 4 supers. (this was 8 frame boxes BTW)

GG
 

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Of course keep in mind - moving brood around also means moving mites around.
Doing this blindly may result in a reverse effect.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the various replies and methods. Interesting to see different approaches and attitudes. I think I will do a little evening out this fall after the honey harvest for winter strength. Next year, I think it depends on our winter and spring, which can be highly variable. This year we had an early spring in February followed by a late winter in March. The bees got an early start, but I was still thinking winter, cold, and snow, and so swarming became a huge issue. If I had equalized somewhat in the spring I probably would have had more honey producers and less swarming. On the other hand, I did many splits and had a lot of increase. Next spring some kind of frame re-distribution will probably be necessary.
 

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I follow A Canadian Beekeepers Blog on YouTube. Ian does a lot of equalizing to optimize his work flow. When hives are about the same strength it means he can work faster. He has some great vids about the how and why.

For my part- I move frames in or out based on the season. I have plastic totes for frames that need a parking space and a resource hive in case a production colony needs a boost of something.
 

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I equalize all active season. In spring is important especially. Colonies that don't progress forward after equalizing stick out like a sore thumb and are the ones that need re-queening. Some weak colonies just have bad luck once equalized they take off and sometimes and the best colonies. I like to equalize, deal with the real poor colonies that need re-queening. Nothing more time consuming than dealing with a bunch of colonies that are all different strengths.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I equalize all active season. In spring is important especially. Colonies that don't progress forward after equalizing stick out like a sore thumb and are the ones that need re-queening. Some weak colonies just have bad luck once equalized they take off and sometimes and the best colonies. I like to equalize, deal with the real poor colonies that need re-queening. Nothing more time consuming than dealing with a bunch of colonies that are all different strengths.
lalldredge said:
When hives are about the same strength it means he can work faster.
Yes, unequal hives increase the work and the number of visits to each yard.
Making it easier to spot weak colonies is an interesting approach.

I'll have to do some thinking about what I want going into spring.
 

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equalizing now would seem counter productive as you are giving potentially less favorable queens the opportunity to survive winter but to what end if they are inferior queens?

In the spring equalizing makes more sense to me. I havent done lot of this in the past but i agree with Ian's approach in that going into the flow it looks to be much more efficient for honey production to have the colonies all similar strength. I will likely start doing his approach in spring of 2021.
 

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I find that I am equalizing almost constantly as I go through and inspect yards. After watching so many of Ian's videos it's almost a knee jerk reaction to equalize. But it really does make sense to me, I can see clearly the efficiency of it. Each of the 6 yards is a common strength, not a common strength across the whole apiary yet. I plan to do some open feeding in early September and that is one great reason to have each yard a common strength in the fall and also in the Spring you will easily see the poor Queen's.
 

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equalizing now would seem counter productive as you are giving potentially less favorable queens the opportunity to survive winter but to what end if they are inferior queens?
I don't see it that way. I think there is confusion between inferior queens (genetics) and old queens running out of steam or poorly mated queens. An colony that doesn't take off after spring equalizing likely has a old queen or a poorly mated queen. However I have seen time after time when nucs and an occasional full colony come threw as a 1-2 framer. After equalizing these colonies explode and produce 100+ pounds. Never be too quick to judge allot of times some of these colonies just got the short end of the stick threw no fault of their own. Probably the beekeepers fault if we were honest with ourselves. There should be very few poor queens going into fall, they should have been identified and dealt with before then (I find the best way to deal with most queen issues is to drop a nuc in the hive for many reasons). I'm a big proponent of re-queening on year three. Regardless of how well they are doing. Its usually that third winter that average queens start to decline. I don't want to re-queen weak duds. I try to never let it get that far gone. Re-queen while there is plenty to work with (I'm speaking about queen age here and longevity). But in the real world we see all kinds of situations and deal with them as they come. Fall equalizing should be more about equalizing honey stores, to me equalizing is not only brood but food as well. So some of the later nucs just lack resources and drawn conmbs. Steal from the rich and boost the poor. They should still have good brood patterns and be progressing just need help cause winter is unforgiving. Let the strong do the work for the weak. And by weak I don't mean inferior. So by equalizing it puts the spot light on all queens performances either they can perform or they are replaced.
 

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Follow what clayton huestis is saying - all ACTIVE season long.

Winter prep is not necessarily equalizing, If you are using USA or English National standard colonies and they are two 9-11/16ths inch deep brood boxes with a medium 6-5/8 honey box, You want the best colonies to get up to 130 lbs minimum to ensure making it over Winter.

I'm talking about using a scale and weighing them.

Take photos of each frame and decide how much total resources your apiary has. You then have to decide how many colonies it can make into 130 pounders for over-Wintering. 35 colonies is not too many to go ahead and weigh each frame if you felt up to it.

So some of this is combining and to some degree equalizing. I'm trying to go into Winter with my strongest colonies between 135 and 140 pounds. The weaker ones are split up and combined into the ones that are close - like say, 105 lbs get a lot of help, 120 pounders get a couple frames, 125 pounders get 1 frame, etc. 75 pounders are likely donor colonies (unless that is your heaviest - in which case newspaper combine them up to 130+).

I judge by the early Winter rainfall how far to split them early in the Spring, but late rains can cause a bloom that makes a lot of extra work adjusting a bad guess - re-splitting, then lots of ongoing equalizing.

On poor rainfall years, I'm just trying to keep them alive. Feed, equalize feed equalize, yada yada yada.

Equalizing is most critical right after honey harvest when the robbing screens go on. Place the brood at the entrance and the honey way up top and in the back so that the robbers have to go through the whole colony to steal the honey. Buy or make the best robbing screens you can get, and attach them correctly. Be sure the hive boxes do not have any other holes, or add another robbing screen if they do.

Later in the Fall, try to re-equalize after the robbing has stopped, but do the 130 pound minimum thing described above.

***********

BY THE WAY - Paso Robles, CA should hit 113 degrees today, so put out several watering pans NOW. They will be fanning the five for survival this afternoon. Pull any corks out of the holes , or go drill extra holes NOW.

Mojave, CA hit 120 degrees F yesterday, plenty hot enough to melt wax combs and destroy a hive. Put shades up , put water out, or take them to the coast.

Best of luck, uh, wait - that should be MAKE YOUR LUCK!!!
 

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this time of year im culling queens. 6 have already been dispatched.
I dont waste time on trying to overwinter mediocre or poorly performing queens. Every hive in my yards are treated regularly for mites and have the same opportunity to build up in spring with supplemental feedings. I have lost no swarms this year. Every queen i have is marked.
The ones that produce a decent honey crop and are in 2 packed heavy 10 frame deeps this time of year go into winter. Those that made a small honey crop and are still dragging behind the others get culled and their bees/resources divided up across the apiary. Simply too much work to prepare and overwinter hives here to monkey around with anything but my best queens.
 

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this time of year im culling queens. 6 have already been dispatched.
I dont waste time on trying to overwinter mediocre or poorly performing queens. Every hive in my yards are treated regularly for mites and have the same opportunity to build up in spring with supplemental feedings. I have lost no swarms this year. Every queen i have is marked.
The ones that produce a decent honey crop and are in 2 packed heavy 10 frame deeps this time of year go into winter. Those that made a small honey crop and are still dragging behind the others get culled and their bees/resources divided up across the apiary. Simply too much work to prepare and overwinter hives here to monkey around with anything but my best queens.
:thumbsup:
 

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aran - probably ought to track their performance over 2 or 3 years before culling, unless you KNOW they need to be pulled at 6 months.
 

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aran - probably ought to track their performance over 2 or 3 years before culling, unless you KNOW they need to be pulled at 6 months.
The queens are not 6 months old. These are queens that have survived winter last year. But i have also culled under performing 2020 queens also.
I graft my own queens so there is no incentive to me to try and baby crappy queens along.
As Mike said the winters here are harsh...real harsh.
 
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