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the recent arctic blast led to over 72 continuous hours of subfreezing temps at my location in northeast alabama. i realize that's not too drastic when compared to what many of you in the north see but for us that is well below normal for here and it was the first real overwintering challenge for my bees. i made the rounds with the stethoscope today and to my relief i still have decent cluster roar in 18/18 hives.

i had mentioned in other threads that i was considering chronicling my 2015 season here on the forum. the purpose for doing so is because there has been interest expressed for more detailed information regarding the real life successes and failures involved with keeping bees off treatments. so i begin this thread with that expressed intent, primarily for information sharing and educational purposes, with all humility and with no desire to toot my own horn or otherwise. the one selfish objective i have in doing this is the hope that some of you seasoned veterans will chime in with feedback and suggestions.

background: as stated in my tagline i started with bees in the summer of 2010. i started with stock obtained from a supplier who began breeding from feral cut outs in 1996 and has not used treatments the whole time. i still get some queen cells from him from time to time but mostly propagate my own queens via splits and grafts. i run all langstroth equipment, and most hives are a single 10 deep with medium supers. i use 5 frame deeps for nucs. foundation is mostly ritecell, although i have begun adding foundationless frames to the deeps. i generally avoid artificial feeds, but have made exceptions when indicated. the operation is a sideline business (llc) intended to produce supplemental income through honey and nuc sales.

2015 goals: i seek to maximize the profitability of the operation to the extent possible while maintaining the colonies off treatments and avoiding artificial feeds. my specific goals this year involve having every colony 'earning its keep' by providing harvestable honey and/or nucs. i would like to average one nuc sale and 100 lbs of honey sold for every hive that survives winter, and then end up with around 20 established colonies and a handful of nucs going into next winter.

so much for the introductory post. i'll take this opportunity to offer my many thanks to the fine contributors on the forum who have been a huge part of the learning process for me. here's wishing everyone a successful 2015 of beekeeping! :)
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

As I've said before sp...you're a good man. I like your threads and respect your honesty. It has been cold here too....by our standards....so far, so good.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

Best of luck on your endeavors squarepeg!

question: do you stay with the single deeps all thru the year, just adding medium supers? Also, when do you split them?
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

Looking forward to your posts!
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

no desire to toot my own horn or otherwise.
Arrgh a new Sol! :eek:

Ha Ha just kidding Squarepeg it will be a wonderful thread, I for one will very much enjoy it. It may well become a kind of TF flagship, and reference point. Above all, I hope it may shed some light for the likes of me, those who have followed the formulae prescribed so far, but failed anyway. Maybe new ideas and understandings will surface along the way.

I remember StephenG's thread from way back which was the best thing going at the time, unfortunately it has not been maintained, perhaps this thread will fill the gap.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

Brrrrr Brrrrrr

More Brrrrrr

I don't know what SP is getting, but we are still below 38 degrees here in NW Alabama. Bees are fine though.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

I am glad to hear that all 18 of your hives are still peculating, I will be following your thread with interest, all my best to you squarepeg........:)
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

many thanks to all for the kind replies, and for easing my conscience about having this thread.

beewitched, yes i use a single deep with medium supers on almost all hives. i have two deeps when using a cloake board for queen rearing, and sometimes two deeps temporarily when combining.

ot, lol! may i enlist you as my accountability partner on that one? :)

the next post will be my inventory of colonies at this time, along with their hive weights taken on jan. 4, changes in weights since october 31, estimated current lbs. of honey in hive, year of origin, and mite counts for three of them.

you will notice that 2/3 of them were just started this year. this is partly by design and partly by mistake. i have two yards and up until now one was used for honey and the other was used for nucs. i made the mistake of splitting all of my 2013 overwintered colonies into nucs that i sold this past year, wishing later i would have kept some of the overwintered queens for myself. i also split and requeened three colonies this year that i have had for several seasons because even though they were surviving they were just not producing. so we'll have to take into account for this winter that first year untreated colonies often do well until the second winter.

this year both yards and all hives will be managed for honey and nucs on a hive by hive basis.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

LEGEND:

HIVE: WEIGHT ON JAN. 4, CHANGE FROM OCT. 31 TO NOV. 30, CHANGE FROM NOV. 30 TO JAN. 4, (ESTIMATED LBS. HONEY IN HIVE), YEAR, MITE COUNT AND DATE TAKEN

#2: 95 +1, -2 (50) 2011 NUC 8.93% MITE COUNT 9/26/14
#3: 87 +5.5, -4 (52) 2014 SWARM
#4: 71 +.5, -4 (26) 2012 NUC
#5: 99.5 -4, -2.5 (54) 2014 SWARM
#7: 105 SAME, -1 (60) 2013 NUC 10.7% MITE COUNT 10/19/14
#8: 88.5 +3, +.5 (43) 2014 NUC
#9: 98.5 -3.5, +.5 (53) 2012 NUC 13.4% MITE COUNT 10/19/14
#10: 74 -1, -1 (29) 2014 NUC
#11: 84.5 -5.5, -4 (39) 2014 NUC
B1: 57 -1, +1 (22) 2014 NUC
B2: 56 -1.5, -.5 (21) 2014 NUC
B3: 57 +6 (HONEY ADDED), SAME (22) 2014 NUC
B4: 58 -5, +2 (23) 2014 NUC
B5: 62 -1.5, +.5 (27) 2014 NUC
B6: 56 +6 (HONEY ADDED), SAME (21) 2014 NUC
B7: 82 -1, +.5 (37) 2014 NUC
B8: 60 +1.5, +1 (25) 2014 SWARM
B9: 77 +3.5, -1 (32) 2011 NUC


i hope this makes sense.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

Thanks for starting this. I was thinking of starting a thread of the north ala beekeeps to keep track of what is going on in our area and here you beat me to it.
mike
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

To me it is clear, thank you. You have 2 hives that do not swarm since 2011 (#2 and B9). In your case, and being productive colonies and resistant to mites , I would make them the center of my breeding queens program. What process do you use to assess the weight of the hives?
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

thank you eduardo. the older hives may have swarmed, but have been surviving without needing requeening by me since those years. yes, the ones that have survived the longest, swarmed the least, and produce the most honey are the ones i take my grafts from. i use a scale that is made for weighing fish to weigh first one side and then the other side of the hive, and then add the two.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=3463&d=1352499946
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

Great thread SP I also look forward to reading your accounts. I'm Do have one question regarding what is currently,or historically at this time of year, happening in your colonies. have they already begun rearing brood. Or do they even stop for any period of time so far south?

Thanks EC
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

good question eric. the bees here close out their broodnest and go into overwintering mode by around the first frost which normally occurs around the end of october. if you look at the hive weights you'll see that there has been very little change in most of the hive weights from the end of october until now. since there has been no forage and very little stores have been used i interpret that as no brooding.

the exceptions are #5 and #11. these two are really strong colonies and continued to forage pollen even after the others stopped. i believe these two are leading the rest in their early brooding coming out of winter. that usually starts here around late january to early february and corresponds to the first tree pollens becoming available. fusionpower is near me and he is observing the first rounds of brood in some of his hives.
 

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Re: squarepeg 2015

I see. The place where you have your hives is very beautiful. You use medium beneath the deep. It is for storage of pollen?
that's the idea, although i did not get that one put on in time for pollen storage. i also feel it is better to store it there for the winter instead of in my garage. in another month or so, the bottom super will be brought up and the empty comb in it will be checkerboarded with the honey super that is now on top.
 
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