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Started with 4 this year and ended with 5. I’d love to hear from backyard beekeepers about the fun threshold and the right number of hives for them and why. My 5th colony was a swarm and its presently overwintering in 1/2 of a resource hive snuggled up to a big colony. Right now the best number seems to be 5 regular sized colonies and 2 nucs within a resource hive. Anything more would seem like work. I love the bug. I also like having a population threshold to share resources. Not even interested in honey if I’m being honest about it. Have you started with larger numbers then scaled back? Or the opposite?
When you get tired of bottling it is time to scale back - naturally and with focus on quality. We ae setting about building a "high tunnel".
 

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I am going to see if I can do 20 again this year (reduced to two locations). Last time it just about made me quit.
I was having fun raising queens and making new boxes. Suddenly there were a bunch of boxes with bees in them. Maybe somebody is coming in at night and putting new bees here? Winter will thin them out some and I can play some more.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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For real...... They do seem to multiply in good weather. :D
Bees do two things really well, make honey and make more bees.

22 hives and 20 nucs (42 colonies) seems like a good number. Also a fan of Douglas Adams.
 
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