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Hi all,
I would like some opinions on how to maximize my honey flow when introducing 2 lb packages to 10 medium 8 frame hives with drawn comb in brood boxes. Approximately 1 frame of honey per package available at introduction.

I live in Central MN and packages normally arrive from California around mid-April and this year expect dandelion flow between mid-April to late-April with main flow mid-June through July. I run 3 mediums for brood boxes and they have drawn comb - honey supers will be foundation.

I am starting 10 packages this way and expect to lose between 1-2 due to poorly mated package queens this early in the season.
I have no problem taking brood from half or more of the packages to build up and maximize 2-4 hives for honey flow and then in July leave the rest to build up for winter.

Opinions please on how to maximize honey crop taking into account the bee math (eggs/larvae/hive bee/forager times) and package intro date of Mid-April and honey flow dates of Mid-June through July.

Thanks to all here who take the time to help,
kq
 

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Re: Opinions Please

Kerry, I don't have much information for you but I am envious of your summer flows. I think your on the right track in using the brood and adding it to increase hive sizes. Having the drawn combs will be a big help to these small packages.
 

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Re: Opinions Please

2 pound packages, that is about 7000 bees and about 1 1/2% of them are dying everyday. With queen introduction time, there are no replacements for a month. The bees need to collect a hundred pounds of honey just to feed brood for a month. The bees will probably store a hundred pounds of honey in those three mediums before you should super them. That is a fair honey crop right there.

As far as being able to pull brood and shift it to production colonies, that is fairly aggressive management. In my experience with packages and nucs it is a game of averages. Doing everything I could to equalize numbers, a third struggled to build up let alone store surplus. A third had queens that led colonies that just exploded and produced a big crop and a third in between. The big producers were the ones with exceptional queens and were the ones who actually produced the apiaries surplus. Are you going to be able to pick out the ones to maximize or are you going to boost the career strugglers?

I would study techniques for comb honey production like Demaree's methods. That might allow you to ramp up your production after your colonies get established. I understand you want to expand and your plan calls for your honey crop to finance that expansion. Just be aware you can overthink things and cost yourself your honey crop.
 

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Re: Opinions Please

Might want to add at least another 1lb of bees to those packages. Being in MN I would imagine your time is about a month shorter than here. Last year a 3lb package on one 8 frame drawn med built to 4 Meds by the end of the flow. A 4lb package on a 8 frame drawn med filled out two deeps and two meds by the end of the flow. Both were started right when the first flow started here (cherries) and we have HUGE flows from April until July.

If you couldn't get more bees I would start w/ 5 hives instead of 10. Even w/ two drawn boxes the bees are limited by the size cluster they can make over the brood nest to keep it warm during cool nights. I could be wrong but I think 2lbs just is not enough. If you do have brood frames available immediately upon installation then that changes the equation.
 
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