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So first year beekeeper here.

Have always known I wanted to do this, however I never got around to it until this year. Normally I go overboard in anal retentive research mode, and frequently that keeps me from moving forward on things. This year I figured I better just get something going, and work on keeping things within the lines as we move forward.

I did spend a fair amount of time researching and reading, but if we waited for that process to complete itself I would never have graduated into actually having bees.

Initially I thought I was going with all 10 frame mediums, primarily for flexibility reasons. I am very much interested in treatment free, however I recognize that it may take me a few years to get things in line for that style of beekeeping.

Where I am at the moment:

I have started three colonies from California package bees. I installed the packages on April 19th into 10 frame deeps with screened bottom boards. Things seemed to go as planned. The first week was cool and rainy. I am feeding 1:1 syrup in quart jars on the inner cover.

I inspected for queen release at 3 days, and all was / is well. I inspected Tuesday to see where were are on eggs / brood, drawing comb and setting up stores. I found small amounts of capped brood in all colonies, with solid progress in brood and eggs. I also saw a fair amount of stored syrup, and the beginnings of pollen stores. So all appears to be on track.

I expect there to be a bit of a downturn in population as the package population begins to be replaced with reared population. I would like input as to when and how long this period might take, and what to expect in terms building up the population. I am intending to feed syrup for a while, but also intend to discontinue at some point down the road a bit. I am going to do my best to leave them alone for a week or two. I do however want to start inserting some foundationless frames into the mix soon.

It is my intention to re-queen sometime a month or so down the road to some "locally" produced queens to head towards genetics that better fit with my longer term goals.

I am looking for input: Is it feasible to think along the lines of creating a nucleus colony, or three when it comes time to re-queen. It seems that there might use for those queens to continue to produce eggs and brood "offline". Would this be a reasonable plan, or should I just pinch them and move on? It seems any extra frames of brood could be a valuable resource for a rookie to have on hand.

Is now a good time for inserting foundationless, or should I wait for brood to start emerging?

Is it practical to think of queen rearing in the second year? First year?

All for the moment, although I am sure there will be more questions as we go.


Thanks

Don
 

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Seems a bit extreme/unnecessary to replace a queen for a local queen before you even know how they perform in your location. They may yet surprise you. If they don't do well then the bees may well supercede and that will be be mated with local drones for a nice mix of genetics anyway.

You can go foundationless pretty much anytime. It is good to insert foundationless frames in between frames with foundation (or drawn comb) this helps to keep things straight. HOWEVER, it sounds as though you are trying to do too much too soon. Leave them alone for a while let them settle in and get things going. Queen rearing in based on how well the colony is doing not what year you are in. I would leave it this year and concentrate on getting established colonies. There is no need to open to check every week. If there is pollen going in, there is probably brood. If there are a lot of bees out foraging they probably don't need feeding.
I haven't housed package bees before but the "lag" depends on the age of the bees. You may have a lot of younger bees in which case you might not notice too much of a lag. When I have housed a cast swarm there is a definite lag as the queen isn't laying on arrival and all the bees are of similar age. Best of luck.
 

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as august said slow down a bit... the best time to start foundationless and treatment free would be next year or the year after. you need some experience first, unless you like problems and starting over and over. get past the main problem for new beekeepers " I squished my queen" learn the basics first.
 

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You seem to have thought everything out very well and have learned a lot by your research, but you will find that nothing replaces actually having bees to learn from. I kept notes for the first few years and yesterday I was reading from my second year section and was amazed at the contrast from then to now. I saw that I had killed off a lot of my colonies by trying to do too much too fast, instead of paying enough attention to each individual colony and keeping it strong, I was trying to grow a larger apiary by rapidly increasing my numbers, my advice is slow down a little, if you take good care of your existing colonies and split them before they swarm you will soon have more bees than you know what to do with. In reading my second year notes there was no way that I was ready to breed queens.
 

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I'm in year two. I plan to do a little bit of queen rearing this yea rjust to get some experience at it. if it works, I'll make some splits, and if it fails, I'll hopefuly have learned something.
 

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Your population will dip in week 4, right before the brood emerges. Workers emerge at about 20 days. You can probably get away with 1 nuc (weaker) from a brand new package. You will have to provide both with patty and syrup for quite a while.

You can add foundationless anytime, but in a new install I would not stop feeding until all the boxes are drawn and they have a bit of stores.
 
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