24 last summer. I purchased 2 packages in the spring of 2011 and have only purchased 2 queens since. My increases were from splits and swarm captures. Don't want to run more than about a dozen production hives because of the day job. I have 14 now - did some combines and sales last year. I lost 3 hives over winter. Checked them all today and what remain are brooding up and are good with stores or sugar bricks.
I know this isn't the commercial section but I'll chime in anyways. The real answer I should give is "Way to many!" Once you get to a certain point the number is just a hazy fog that doesn't mean much anyways. They all involve work and money to keep rolling. I quit giving the real number a long time back as its not about the numbers as much is how you do with the numbers you have. My standard answer for the last ten years has been: "To many for the work and not enough for the money."
We have already grafted over 8000 cells in the last 22 days. Even though some of the cells went to other folks for their tender loving care making up half that many mating nucs is crack head crazy. When I hear about the operations north of me who have tens of thousands all I can say is thank God I'm not in that racket. Happy where we are at and not looking for new headaches.
I at one time had over 1,000 I do not know exactly because when you reach that many you just cannot keep track of the individual hives, and begin tracking yards, loads, or pallets. Somehow doing it as a business seemed to sap the pleasure right out of beekeeping. Now, I have between 30 and 50 I am happy. enough to keep me busy, but not so many as it feels like I am overworked for the compensation.
I know what you mean, Tenbears. As a sideliner the most I had was 125. It was in the days before mites and all I had to do was check for disease and make equipment but my regular job gave me 1 day a week off so I had no time for the family. I think the numbers I enjoy most is 6 hives and around a dozen nucs. Reducing to that number and staying there is the problem, honey bees are worse than rabbits when it comes to reproducing.
I have been running 6 production hives and 2 nucs, I may add another nuc this year. My desire is to maintain at this level, if any of the colonies swarm to the trees then they are on their own I won't be the one chasing after them.
I started out with one hive just so i can get some honey for myself.
Well, in a few years this number grew to about 40. This year i have about about 30 production colonies and 20 nucs. Planning to start selling a few nucs and queens soon.
I'm with honey-4-All & Tenbears,It's not the number, But the care you give each.
I was like a lot of people at one time & tried to get all I could,That way I could set back & brag about how many I had(Now that was just me)
After awhile the fun left & It turned to WORK,
I would suggest to anyone & I think others will agree with me.Is to just get enough that you can enjoy,& properly take care of,Again have fun.Mark,,,,,,,
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