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This is my ramblings on how TF works in the real world:


Advise for new beekeepers:

1. Choose hive type
2.Understand honeybee life cycles
3.understand varroa life cycle
4.knowledge of bee diseases
5. Source your bees from TF beekeepers/ or local stock if no TF is available
6. Realize bees know more about beekeeping than you do
7. Realize bees die, treated or other wise
8. Don't waste money, be cheap and expect profit
9. Please get a good smoker and use it
10. Queen rearing is a must, this is the heart and soul of a working TF apiary

A year in my apiary:

January- Take a nap
February- Build equipment, ready sugar blocks for hives that were a bit light in October (equipment is made as needed year round)
March- Check hives add blocks where needed
april- pollen starts coming in around mid month, at this time all Bottom boards are scraped, sprayed off and painted (Br. Adam)
May - all bees are built up as strong as possible, equalize, May 21st all hives are artificially swarmed (Every last one) this reduces mites and is my swarm control method
- All queen splits are brought to new yard and built up
- Example, 20 hives come through winter. Half are made into nucs, half make honey (Tim Ives)
- So 20 queen splits were made and moved on may 21st.
- colonies are notched (mel OTS) and split X 2.5 nucs= 25 nucs - 10% failed matings = 22 nucs built up 4/4 palmer style as strong as possible
-10 production colonies are made up to have 7 frames of capped brood one open brood which is notched (OTS) (8 frames of bees, 2 honey and pollen), please note luck doesn't make these hives strong enough I make them that way, Usually colony 10 has to little brood to be useful to make honey and is moved to queen split yard. Now being queenless and no brood for 30 days the bees can put all honey into the shallow comb honey supers. Two are placed on at this time. 9 colonies X 2.5 shallow supers = roughly 900 cuts of comb honey X $5 each wholesale = $4,500 or more if sold retail
june- build up and production
july-build up and production, on july 21st EVERY queen is killed and all honey is pulled
- 22 nucs are split and notched (OTS) X2= 44 nucs -10% failed matings = 40 nucs
-11 hives in queen split yard X 2.5 nucs= 27 nucs -10% failed matings = 24 nucs

A major brood break is accomplished across entire apiary when mites are peaked population = sacrifice of initial brood and tons of dead mites along with bees that have tolerance/ resistance. New young queens that will lay late into the season with reasonably lower varroa population. DON'T BE DUMB! sample colonies for varroa shortly after queens start laying. Anything too high receives A shot of OAV. Try to maintain TF and remove the most susceptible queens from gene pool. Use cells from other colonies in the spring to re-queen poor genetics.

august and beyond: Build up feed as per usual with any apiaries.

So from 20 colonies we have:

- made 64 nucs going into winter X30% loss over winter (19 colonies)= 45 colonies -20 best hives to start next season with = 25 nucs for sale @ $150 ea = $3750
- made 900 cuts of comb honey = $4500 wholesale

seasonal revenue= $8250/ 20 colonies = $412.5 per colony

Note: winter loses are usually at 15% and 3-4 supers of honey are produced so the above is low ball figures

Other things to note: - I am foundationless , clean up my wax supply campaign
-although I don't prescribe to Lusby's small cell I do prescribe to a smaller cell size

I'll add more as I have time.
 

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This is a good write up and I appreciate.

I don't see much about:
- evaluate your location(s) regarding feasibility/risks in terms of TF - before even doing anything
(a very important component; e.g. I probably would not bother next to a big commercial yard, especially migratory).
 

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Some great common sense advice, much would apply in the non TF world also.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
evaluate your location(s) regarding feasibility/risks in terms of TF - before even doing anything
(a very important component; e.g. I probably would not bother next to a big commercial yard, especially migratory).
From 2000 to 2016 I was hard bond style TF along with small cell methods. In 2016 enter commercial yard down the road from my main mating yard. Hard bond TF doesn't work well in this situation. I had to change my ways. Makes an endless loop of poor genetics causing my colonies to get worse and worse then spreading varroa to the neighborhood. I also at the time I brought in some TF queens which were terrible with almost no resistance/ tolerance they crashed by end of august and set me back more than I want to admit. This is the main reason for OAV in a TF apiary due to to reinfestation from neighbor colonies. This is used as needed. The most important thing is to not use anything that will contaminate wax.

Bees with good virus resistance can only be done in colonies that aren't treated. Bees that show DWV is what I use to select for virus resistence, its not perfect but is the only virus that I can spot quickly. So colonies that show DWV are re-queened using other cells at mating time. So some queens don't last over 2 months here. Every queen dies each year. Queens to me have as much value as drones. With my current system I don't care what the neighbors do with there bees. There drones just give me genetic diversity and I don't have to buy any queens at all. I only buy queens about every 3-5 years and no more than 10% of hive count from TF beekeepers or Russian stock.

Something I learned from Steve Coy (Russian breeder)- Russian bees are the only bees here in the US that groom there drones- all our over breed commercial stock doesn't do this, this is a trait I find desireable from Russian bees. Russian and carniolan bees are often said to be more swarmy than other bees. I give them what they want every year by swarming them. Swarming / supercedure is one way Russian (or any bees) deal with varroa. I do it so I never have to chase them. I direct there energy they don't direct me.

Change your thinking. Instead of asking why did they die? Ask why did they live? In the end we can only deal with the ones that live.

I'll add more as I think of it.
 

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From 2000 to 2016 I was hard bond style TF along with small cell methods. In 2016 enter commercial yard down the road from my main mating yard. Hard bond TF doesn't work well in this situation. .........
Exactly why the feasibility study is #1 before spending time/money/effort.
Lot of (most?) wanna be TF never thought/were told of the feasibility.
Has to be on the top of the list.

(IF you are already grandfathered in there - that is a different case; you can not just give up and drop out).
But starting anew and no base/resources, and no experience, and a commercial yard within a mile?
Don't bother with the TF project.

Lucky for me - not commercials around.
Only a bunch of residential activity going on based on purchased bees - they popping up/they are dropping off.
I feel this much of the imported bees I can tolerate by doing the moves that I am trying to do.
So, CF is feasible here with some planned-for losses.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For anyone interested in my honey production method it can be found in Richard Taylor's book, The Comb Honey Book. It goes perfectly hand in hand with mel's OTS method. The chapter (Ch. 11) is called; Reducing the colony and letting the bees raise a new one. My modification is instead of combining the two units I break both down into wintering nucs. Although its a comb honey method it can equally be used for extracted honey.

It should be said that we can have a decent fall flow from asters and goldenrod. I choose to not produce honey here as I do allot of foundationless. I let the bees have it all.
 

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Greg I had kept bees there since I was 10yrs old. It was my home yard I wasn't moving away. Been there for 30 yrs or so in 2016. Like I said I changed what I was doing. If you can't flex and change in your beekeeping it won't be long before you get in trouble. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results..... It was time for change and I embrace it.
 

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Greg I had kept bees there since I was 10yrs old. It was my home yard I wasn't moving away. Been there for 30 yrs or so in 2016. Like I said I changed what I was doing. If you can't flex and change in your beekeeping it won't be long before you get in trouble. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results..... It was time for change and I embrace it.
Totally understand and so I qualified the "feasibility proposal".
A new circumstance landed on you.

The feasibility evaluation is for a lot of new folks who just need to be talked out of it - as appropriate and best for everyone.
 

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Some great common sense advice, much would apply in the non TF world also.
Argreed, timing may change depending on location and flow. For me, artificial swarms need to be completed around the first of April. I waited too long this year and hives were swarming by the second week, just as we hit the main flow.
 

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.... May 21st all hives are artificially swarmed (Every last one) this reduces mites and is my swarm control method
Technical question:
- what do you mean by this? "artificially swarmed"

Seems to me you mean - queen-right splitting.
Is that right?

Artificial swarming in my context == a shook swarm that forces the bees through some home-less state.
As in here (bees physically shaken out and dumped outside or into some enclosure, optionally)
20190819_194424.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We just have a difference in terminology. Artificial swarming is when the queen is taken with the split, leaving the other half queenless. This is opposed to a queenless split where a cell or queen is added after. I make my artificial swarm splits with 2 frames of capped brood and one honey and a couple shakes of bees. This leaves the remaining unit a nice cell builder. It is important to let the cell builder make the queen cells first then a week later break into nucs. Done the opposite way leads to terrible queens. Have to always work with strength.

What you call Artificial swarming I call shook swarming. Just difference in terminology. No big deal.
 

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We just have a difference in terminology. Artificial swarming is when the queen is taken with the split, leaving the other half queenless. This is opposed to a queenless split where a cell or queen is added after. I make my artificial swarm splits with 2 frames of capped brood and one honey and a couple shakes of bees. This leaves the remaining unit a nice cell builder. It is important to let the cell builder make the queen cells first then a week later break into nucs. Done the opposite way leads to terrible queens. Have to always work with strength.

What you call Artificial swarming I call shook swarming. Just difference in terminology. No big deal.
This is what I did last summer and it worked very well to make a handful of splits off one swarm that came in May. By July they were strong so I took the queen and some capped brood into a nuc and left the original in place, queenless. They produced cells on several different frames and each frame that had a cell went into a new nuc. Only one later needed a new frame of brood to re-try, and that one took.

This amounts to a double brood break for each colony. I saw not one mite all year, even in the alcohol wash.
 

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Clayton- Finally- Someone in my latitude that is doing what I've been looking for. There is a great group of TF beekeepers using this forum to keep in contact with each other, but most of them are in the southern regions of the country. I'm not saying that's a bad thing- but their timeline is quite a bit different then here. I'm in the N.E. corner of Iowa. Looking at your calendar write-up in your first post- you look about the same as me. May build up.
I've been using Mel's OTS for making a few Nucs to sell every year year but this is the first year I'm going to do both May and July. I've got 18 hives that I'll be splitting in May , half are in 8 frame and half in 10 frame. I essentially had decided to do just about what you are doing, except the 10 frame ones that I'll be splitting will be my production hives and I'm going to use Walt Wrights checkerboarding (not opening the broad nest) and harvesting in July before the July OTS.
I'm glad I read your thread this morning and I hope this finds you healthy and bees are building up great. I'd like to know how your season is going. Any advise you could give would be appreciated.
Have a good day. Cloudy and 46 degrees this morning.
Jerry
 

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Greg- Are your bees building up this Spring as fast as they normally do? Every year is different- When do you think your first splits will be done?
Jerry
 

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Greg- Are your bees building up this Spring as fast as they normally do? Every year is different- When do you think your first splits will be done?
Jerry
I only can say about my sole survivors - no.
These bees are not quick builders anyway, but especially this crappy spring they are slow - April 30th day, no fruit tree bloom yet, dandelion barely starting up, cold/wet/both.
I consider these to be good Northern bees (the Southern imports here are probably ready to swarm, crowded in their boxes already).

They only sit on 6 frames last I checked about a week ago - did not pull any frames out as these are feisty bees to poke my nose around.
I say about a month before I consider them for QC project starting up - early June.
 
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