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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I began beekeeping in the spring of 2018 and currently have two hives. My original plan for this year (how is it 2019 already?) was to expand to 4 hives by splitting these hives in spring (assuming both made it through winter), or through a combination of splits and purchasing nucleus hives if I had winter losses. Due to unforeseen regulatory issues, that "expansion" will have to be delayed a year (i.e. until 2020), which leaves me in a bit of a pickle. With only two hives I have little room for losses and I have very few options for helping struggling hives by moving resources between hives. To make matters worse, my oldest queen may be due for replacement in the spring of 2020 (when she'll be nearing 3 years old) and so I need to start making "succession plans".

I've read a bit about resource hives, and I think this may be a reasonable stop-gap measure for this year (and something useful moving forward). AFAIK, there is only one kind of resource hive out there, but to be clear I mean the hives where you "split" a deep box into halves, with each half functioning as a mini-hive. This would potentially give me some resources to move between hives, and could be over-wintered as a combination of a hedge against colony loss, could act as a source for a replacement queen, and could even be used as nucs for starting new full-sized hives.

But this brings up two questions:
  1. Is this a dumb idea (i.e. is there a better way to build some more redundancy & capacity into my operation short of out-and-out starting new full-sized hives)?
  2. Assuming I started these this spring, how do I keep the colonies small-ish - i.e. of a size that would fit into the half-hive + half-super size of a resource hive? My experience last year was one of exponential growth that would easily out-grow such a small hive in a month. Do I just let then swarm?


Thanks

B
 

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Using the snelgrove system can give you two colonies in one "apparent" hive footprint. It can give almost foolproof swarm prevention which is a big plus if you are in the position that would make a swarm embarrassing. It has interesting possibilities, limited only by your imagination!
 

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Resource hives are my L-O-V-E! Nucleus hives (five frame) are next. You will do well to invest in a double nuc hive as they are treasures. Based on your reasons I think you will find the resource hive to be your best bet to provide the redundancy and resiliency you are looking for. Your use of them (pulling a frame of brood, honey, etc) helps keep them from over running the box. You can always add more supers (four frames) to the top to provide room for expansion. The master of resource hives, Michael Palmer, recently replied in another thread on this site with this quote from "A manual of Beekeeping" by E. B. Wedmore "Almost every emergency of management can be met forthwith by putting something into or taking something out of a nucleus, while nuclei themselves seldom present emergencies." - A truer statement has not been made. You have a great plan in my assessment. Here is a photo of one of mine. 2018resourcehive.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Using the snelgrove system can give you two colonies in one "apparent" hive footprint. It can give almost foolproof swarm prevention which is a big plus if you are in the position that would make a swarm embarrassing. It has interesting possibilities, limited only by your imagination!
I've read a bit on this, and to be honest, am quite confused on how it works. Do you have any videos or recommended reading that explains it at a level a total newb would get? I'm literally 9 months into beekeeping, so not everything is as obvious to me as to more experienced keeps.

Resource hives are my L-O-V-E! Nucleus hives (five frame) are next. You will do well to invest in a double nuc hive as they are treasures. Based on your reasons I think you will find the resource hive to be your best bet to provide the redundancy and resiliency you are looking for. Your use of them (pulling a frame of brood, honey, etc) helps keep them from over running the box. You can always add more supers (four frames) to the top to provide room for expansion.
This is what attracted me to this option in the first place - it seems very versatile. I never thought about simply pulling resources to keep the hive in check.

Thanks again

Bryan
 

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I agree that the Snelgrove board sounds perfect for your situation. I am not certain what you are referencing by "regulatory" constraints, but only a trained beekeeper would be able to tell that you were running multiple colonies as opposed to a single tall colony.

You can run 2 four frame nucs on top of each of your colonies. You can either super the nucs, or you can continually rotate frames full of capped brood into your "parent" hive to make a honey-gathering super machine (Palmer calls them "bee bombs").

I recommend Wally Shaw's paper linked by Michigan Mike above from the wbka.

Attached are pictures of a modified Snelgrove board (also called a "double screen" board) that will accomodate 2 four frame nucs that I build and use for splits.

Snelgrove1.jpg Snelgrove2.jpg

Here it is in action:

Front.jpg

I have a four frame Deep Nuc on one side and 2 four frame Medium Nucs on the other.
 

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I have a copy of the original booklet by Leonard E Snelgrove in his 1934 book, “Swarming - It's Control and Prevention” It is available online as a Pdf. It is about 35 pages but the essentials are fewer. Snelgrove does a good job of explaining the instinctive bee behavior that work with the device to simulate queenless state and how the device induces demographic sorting of age groups. This is what makes it work to prevent swarming and yet concentrate a very strong honey producing work force. Manipulating the doors seems like a lot of memory work but it quickly becomes intuitive if you understand the reasoning.

Below is a board installed. Production colony below with its supers. Snelgrove board with distinctive door step for returning queen. Box above with second queen colony whose bees are diverted below as they reach foraging age. It is not obvious that it is a two colony stack. This is the rear of the stack. Bottom colony entrance is at the front
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree that the Snelgrove board sounds perfect for your situation. I am not certain what you are referencing by "regulatory" constraints, but only a trained beekeeper would be able to tell that you were running multiple colonies as opposed to a single tall colony.
Its not bee regs causing us issues - we have a small area on our property which is protected wetlands (e.g. we cannot develop it, but can use it for animal pasture/etc). We're looking to build a new barn, but the counties map of the protected region (who approves the building permit) is different than the one from the province (which we used for planning and is who would fine us if we build inappropriately). Long story short, if the municipal map is the "correct" one, the barn will have to move to where the new bee yard was planned and I'll have to figure out something different for the bees.
 

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Perhaps now is the time to think about making both the barn and the bees occupy the same footprint. On top, through a wall like Ukranian or Russian, or just backed up to the southern wall.
Bill
 

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Long story short, if the municipal map is the "correct" one, the barn will have to move to where the new bee yard was planned and I'll have to figure out something different for the bees
sounds like your making excuses for not expanding... adding 2-3 hives to your footprint is little extra space. just push them together
AFAIK, there is only one kind of resource hive out there
A resource hive is what its manged for, the type of box is immaterial.

Assuming I started these this spring, how do I keep the colonies small-ish - i.e. of a size that would fit into the half-hive + half-super size of a resource hive? My experience last year was one of exponential growth that would easily out-grow such a small hive in a month.
thats the point of them, growing them 3x tall (12 combs) as you keep pulling resources out to use in outher hives, usually for nuc work

you could add a QE and then a deep, keep pulling brood up and moveing emptys down, add supers... but that can be a lot of lifting and work, so I would only suggest it for some one with a tiny back yard.... your talking barns and pastures
To make matters worse, my oldest queen may be due for replacement in the spring of 2020
lucky if she lives that long
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Perhaps now is the time to think about making both the barn and the bees occupy the same footprint. On top, through a wall like Ukranian or Russian, or just backed up to the southern wall.
Bill
The barn is going to be part of our commercial goat milk/cheese production facility, so by law we cannot have other livestock (sadly including bees) in it. If we wern't looking to make cheese we'd could co-house bee's...but cheese is where the $$$ is and what our customers are currently buying.

sounds like your making excuses for not expanding... adding 2-3 hives to your footprint is little extra space. just push them together
More like I'm lazy and I'm looking for excuses to not have to move my hives. My current yard isn't machine-accessible (dumb move on my part), so I'm already manually lugging boxes back and forth - nearly a kilometer round-trip. Plan is to setup a new yard, move the old hives to that site, then split them to get 4 hives total. This is something I want to do just once.

lucky if she lives that long
She'll be ~2.5 years at that point (assuming winter survival), which I thought was normal for replacement.
 
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