Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Zone 4 Langsthroth mostly.
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
This might be a heated discussion, but I'm going to throw it out there. Anyone in colder climates NOT attempt to overwinter- just replace the hives in the spring? If it's a gamble every winter, would it be cost-effective to harvest the honey and replace the lost hives in the spring? I definitely have lots of learning to do for overwintering, but after only having 3/7 hive remaining with a good month of winter left I'm just exploring options.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,426 Posts
No, and no. As you know being a keeper of honey bees is a dedicated process of lifelong learning, which is why there are forums like this and beekeeping Clubs. My advice is to not give up or get discouraged, or it seems to me, giving the product of the hive precedence over the health of your honey bees. Once you can accomplish healthy honey bees, everything else will fall into place, and you will surely bee a keeper of honey bees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,965 Posts
A sustainable apiary should be achievable for every beekeeper, no matter your location. The secret has been revealed by Cloverdale: healthy bees with adequate stores. Get your mites to a low level in late July,early August so you have a couple rounds of healthy winter bees. Harvest and feed in fall. For me, this is usually after goldenrod in September. Do a final mite check early October and treat if necessary. For me, I can get away with 2 shots of OAV. Put on quilt box and insulate early November. Do a shot of OAV around xmas and a shot about a week later. Check stores mid to late winter and add sugar brick if needed. That's what I do and I haven't lost a hive yet. Yet.
Of course, your timing may vary a bit, but if you follow the general guidelines that I do, you will be successful. J
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,522 Posts
From a financial standpoint, honey is not particularly valuable.
The same as bees - if you learn how to get them for free.
Current commercial bee producers are very good and produce tons and tons of bees.
Many of these bees are on the loose - love it or hate it, just what it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,036 Posts
Hello,
This might be a heated discussion, but I'm going to throw it out there. Anyone in colder climates NOT attempt to overwinter- just replace the hives in the spring? If it's a gamble every winter, would it be cost-effective to harvest the honey and replace the lost hives in the spring? I definitely have lots of learning to do for overwintering, but after only having 3/7 hive remaining with a good month of winter left I'm just exploring options.
When I launched into large scale (for me) beekeeping a 3 lb package of bee delivered in the far north was 17.75. The annual state average production in North Dakota was 148lb per colony that year. Full time commercial operations gassed their bees with potassium cyanide every fall and stacked their equipment indoors for maintenence and storage. I was getting a dollar a pound retail at the farmers market and the water white alfalfa and clover honey went for about 60 cents a pound in a barrel. It patentely did not pay to try to winter. I couldn't bring myself to kill my bees like that but it might have been kinder as my overwintering percentage was pretty sad as was the condition of the survivors.

But that was before the internet and readily available information on how to successfully overwinter bees. With the information available now, I think anyone willing to listen and learn and work can winter their bees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,930 Posts
Anyone in colder climates NOT attempt to overwinter- just replace the hives in the spring? If it's a gamble every winter, would it be cost-effective to harvest the honey and replace the lost hives in the spring?
Yes it is done and Yes it is a valid strategy. There is a large commercial keeper on this forum that does this very thing. [Maybe HoneyHousholder?, apologies if I have falsley accused]. And this approach is not limited to just those in colder climates. Feed and treatments cost a lot of money in both material and labor. Run the numbers. Factor in your time and what you want to get out of beekeeping. Every body has an opinion. Some look at bees as purely consumable livestock. Some as magical and revered mini-dieties. You pick your lane and go with it.
 

·
Registered
65 colonies +/- mostly Langstroth mediums, a few deeps for nuc production
Joined
·
486 Posts
What psm1212 said. It is done both ways depending on your management goals. Not overwintering let's you harvest all the honey and excess comb for wax. If you can sell retail price that would easily cover the cost of replacement packages in the spring.
Also depends on your location, many people who do this are in areas that have steady honey flows and harder winters.
 

·
Super Moderator
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
6,524 Posts
Honeyhouseholder (Ron) has told me in the past that he sells off his bees after the harvest and purchases new colonies every Spring. It is a business model that is working well for him. There are some people, I won't call them beekeepers, that shake out their bees every fall and allow them to die after harvesting all of their honey vs trying to see them through winter. Nobody here on Beesource admits to that practice, but it does happen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,819 Posts
In the days before varroa, when the border with Canada was open to packages from the US, it was a pretty common practice. Many Canadian honey producers dumped their bees after pulling honey and replaced them each spring with packages. Like it or not, it was a very viable business model.
The closing of the border resulted in a number of southern US package producers going out of business. Those that survived struggled for a while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,522 Posts
he sells off his bees after the harvest
Which is hard to do after the harvest time (maybe depends on the location and exact timing but still). Maybe if accommodated before-hand.
Sounds sketchy though if really done or not.

Someone here tried to do this (but rather late in fall and with no advance notice) - there were no takers for the unneeded bees, even for free.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,421 Posts
Mr Householder, to the best of my knowledge, DOES sell all of his bees after the honey is pulled. Remember, he has hundreds of hives, and has had a good working relationship with the buyer for a long time.

It would be much harder to sell a few hives of bees.

Where in Wisconsin is the OP? It does matter, the north is alot colder than the south.

Crazy Roland
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,522 Posts
Mr Householder, to the best of my knowledge, DOES sell all of his bees after the honey is pulled. Remember, he has hundreds of hives, and has had a good working relationship with the buyer for a long time.

It would be much harder to sell a few hives of bees.

Where in Wisconsin is the OP? It does matter, the north is alot colder than the south.

Crazy Roland
OK; yes - sounds like a working business model indeed.

The OP is in South-West WI.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
OP, is this a hobby or a potential business?
Do you leave the hives outside or put them in a shed for the winter?
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
2,207 Posts
Yes it is done and Yes it is a valid strategy. There is a large commercial keeper on this forum that does this very thing. [Maybe HoneyHousholder?, apologies if I have falsley accused]. And this approach is not limited to just those in colder climates. Feed and treatments cost a lot of money in both material and labor. Run the numbers. Factor in your time and what you want to get out of beekeeping. Every body has an opinion. Some look at bees as purely consumable livestock. Some as magical and revered mini-dieties. You pick your lane and go with it.
I can confirm there are a few In Michigan doing this same thing.
they shake the bees out on the snow and extract "ALL" the frames, after brood rearing.
install a package in the spring, wash rinse repeat, so the trade off is 50-70 pounds more honey VRS the package cost, And the time to clean out the dead outs and the dead outs still then need the replacement and you did not sell that honey.

really a time cost business decision. unless you have emotional invest met in your bees.

the cost and the quality of packages has trended the wrong way for this practice IMO would need to find a commercial ordering 100s of packages and add in you 20-50 each year.

GG
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,094 Posts
There was a time with cheap packages that it was financially viable. You would have to have a very different feeling about bees than I have to do it though. Now the packages are too expensive.
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
2,207 Posts
There was a time with cheap packages that it was financially viable. You would have to have a very different feeling about bees than I have to do it though. Now the packages are too expensive.
Michael, as a business you have a valid point , the profit has gone out of it.
But for a Sideliner..
I can get 2 supers (medium) from a package on a good year maybe 3 on a few. My run rate is close to 9 quarts per super at 20$ is 360 in honey, if you get the 3 is is 450. If you also happen to have a late season pollination gig, lets say sunflowers for 55 a hive, now at 415 to 555 a hive. So last package from a big group I paid was 135, there is room for a triple of cash out lay, for some one who has the hives and the honey room, and a customer base, already and is tired of cleaning dead outs and rebuilding. granted no labor costs in the math here, but some of us like playing with bees. for a sideliner with 40 hives pays for the beer and chili, during hunting season and Ice fishing.

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,421 Posts
One of the dangers of buying packages is that if and when the price gets out of control, you do not have a genetic stock for your area built up. Typically the packages do not winter as well as a blood line that has been wintering for years. Therefore the cost to jump back into overwintering may be higher than what the pencil on papers says.

Crazy Roalnd
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top