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I have 4 hives in my 2nd year. I am interested in learning more about different methods to increase colonies. I realize that just getting them through winter is sometimes the best you can hope for but what else do do beeks do? I don't want to buy more packages every year. Thanks for sharing your strategy.
 

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Bought mine w/ loans from FSA.
Not to be an idiot here Mark but what is FSA?

As for increasing numbers of hives, SPLITS are key. Small splits from healthy hives early in the spring will get you great results. Doesn't take much 3 frames from each hive in a NUC box and 3 to 4 weeks later you have a laying queen. Then to manage your splits you let them build up to a point and rob them of a frame each making a new NUC. Won't take long to build right up there. I went from 10 hives this spring to 43 right now using this same method. Buying queens will get you the results even faster and give you more genetic diversification in your apiary too.
 

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Drlonzo, Can you expand a little on how you did it. Did you just take 3 frames from each hive? I am running 10 frame deeps two high for colonies, I am thinking in the spring a person could maybe take two sets of three frames with out too much setback. I started with two lb packages in April with all new frames and I have two hives with a full medium of honey and filling a second as of today. I am hopeful that we will grow next year, if we figure out how to survive the winter.
thanks
 

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Split each year and catch swarms. If you put in the time you will learn how to better your odds of over wintering, and talk to people with the same climate as you and what they do to SUCCESSFULLY over winter!! I do my increases by splitting and the occasional swarm catch or easy removal from a irrigation box or bird house!! I rarely do swarm catches or removals because I can split my hives in much shorter time and not worry about people in the area getting stung.
 

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Drlonzo, Can you expand a little on how you did it. Did you just take 3 frames from each hive? I am running 10 frame deeps two high for colonies, I am thinking in the spring a person could maybe take two sets of three frames with out too much setback. I started with two lb packages in April with all new frames and I have two hives with a full medium of honey and filling a second as of today. I am hopeful that we will grow next year, if we figure out how to survive the winter.
thanks
ABruce - Expand a little on how I did it, sure. I got 10 packages of 3# each of Italians in the spring. Started on April 6th. They started in 8 frame deeps, 1 frame each drawn and the rest were RiteCell waxed from Mann Lake. Each hive was allowed to build giving them 1:1 syrup with HBH in it. We were actually in a flow here at the time so I fed them about 1/2 gallon every two days at night. They built comb out like crazy. Within the first 3 weeks I had to super up the hives with a second deep. Same as before only frames with RiteCell in them. At that point I actually only fed them about once every week just to make sure they had plenty stores to keep building with. At the 6 week mark I pulled 5 frames of brood/bees/stores from each hive and started new hives with Russian Queens from Coy's. Then I allowed them to go back to work again and fill up those new frames that I just put back in and brood up again. At the next 6 week mark which was about the 1st of July, I had a hive swarm and knocked it down and made nuc's with the extra brood. But I also went into each and every hive and found they were on one heck of a flow and pulled honey. Then gave them empty frames again. The Russian hives at this point were in need of a knock down as well since I plan to overwinter them in singles this year, so I pulled 4 of the frames from each of them and put in empty frames and started those new hives. So basically it's been a process of just keeping the girls in the hives. If they are healthy and you don't mind feeding them a bit when needed, they will make more hives than you can keep up with. Counting the NUC's i've sold so far and the hives that I still have, total is 50. It actually would have been more at this point but I lost a round of grafted queens I started. Waited too long to pull them. I plan to do another round of grafting tomorrow though to catch up. I hope to winter about 30 NUC's and the 10 doubles, and 20 singles this year.
 

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Watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIYz65Vquxg

he suggest a week before swarm season to decide if you want to make honey or make increase.

If you wanna make increase do this.
take the queen and a couple of frames out an place in a nuc, move her away.
next step is dependent on how many brood frames remain. notch every other brood frame. let the entire colony perform as a cell finisher.

couple of days before the cells are to hatch remove the brood frame, the extra frame some resources and make a nuc. so the 8 frames of brood in the original hive now makes 4 nucs. etc.

also by moving the queen into another box, you have created an artificial swarm. so minimizing the chances of the original hive getting the swarming feeling.

G.
 

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In your particular area, there is a date you can say each year that the flow is over. At the end of the flow there will be loads of bees with nothing to do. Take at least one split off each of your big hives. It relieves congestion in the hive, and saves honey that was left for winter stores. There should be plenty of time to get these nucs ready for winter. It would probably be best in Mi. to buy some mated queens so the nucs will have more time with a laying queen. Also, feed, feed, feed.
 

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Not to be an idiot here Mark but what is FSA?

As for increasing numbers of hives, SPLITS are key. Small splits from healthy hives early in the spring will get you great results. Doesn't take much 3 frames from each hive in a NUC box and 3 to 4 weeks later you have a laying queen. Then to manage your splits you let them build up to a point and rob them of a frame each making a new NUC. Won't take long to build right up there. I went from 10 hives this spring to 43 right now using this same method. Buying queens will get you the results even faster and give you more genetic diversification in your apiary too.
This is how I went from 1 overwintered and a couple swarms to 7. I wish I had of thought to steal a frame from each nuc once they were bursting. I will remember that next spring.:rolleyes:
 

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Good question. it is what I spent my entire season on. My goal was to increase 20 fold in a single season and produce queens nucs or honey to pay for it all. This woudl require not only producing 20 queens per colony during the swarm period. All destined to be sold. But then turning aroudn and producing another 20 queens per colony for the final increase.

Actual results: We did get on average 19.5 cells per colony. Plus we put together a cell builder and gafted 45 cells resutling in an additional 32 queen cells. Not bad for being an estimate based upon one hive cell building the previous year.

Of those cells and mainly due to I suspect weather conditons. 40% of all cells did not produce a live virgin queen. This loss was not expected.

Proper hive build up in spring supplied the ebs necessary to make up mating compartmetns for all virgin queens. We had more than adequate numbers of bees. Btu it required reducing all colonies to sizes taht woudl nto be capable of producing honey. IT was expected that production of large numebrs of queens woudl restore bee numebrs in production colonies.

The results where that very few virgin queesn survived mating flights. In all of nerly 300 queen cells we ended up with only abotu 80 total queens nealry half of them sodl as virgins. We never got our bee numbers restored.

The failure of the plan was simply that virgin queens did not sucessfuly mate. All other factors not only can be done they have been done. I am workign on both queen cell handling and rate of virgins getting mated.

At thsi time we are attempting the second production of queen cells. so far our take on grafts at thsi time of year is very low. Of a total of 420 grafts introduced in the past 15 days we have had 12 accepted. We saw this same thign last year in the earlier half of July. A few weeks later acceptance increased to well over 75%. I still do not know what causes this.

In all our goal was to increase from 23 colonies to 207. we are currently at about 50 or a little more with 23 queen cells that are in an incubator. We set up 14 mating compartments yesterday and will start introducing ripe queen cells later today. So far it seems to me the harder it is to get queen cells made the better mating rate we get. I hope that holds true. I have litel hope of makign the 207 colonies and would be very happy to have 100 at the end of the season. But the truth is there are far easier. less expensive and more reliable ways to make a 4 fold increase of an apairy. I will continue to attempt to make the 19 fold increase work but now with only a select few colonies each year. If you count each succesfully mated queen as a new colony even if I sold it afterwards. I actually have made a 3 fold increase so far. much of it has been sold though. I do not count it as increase inless it is a colony that will remain in my apairy. This means to increase from 23 to 207 colonies and pay for it my apiary has to produce 368 total new colonies or queens. Half of teh new colonies or queen are sold to generate teh income to cover the costs. Since many could do it cheaper than I was trying to do it that number could be reduced.

As for me I believe the answer lies in finding a more realible location to get queens mated. That and improving the handling of queen cells to increase emergence of virgin queens.
 

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Wow Daniel, those are high ambitions, 20 fold. Nothing I could ever consider. Im going to be a 15-20 guy. Interesting the numbers. Good Luck on your future endeavors and increases. G :thumbsup:
 

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Those of you who are aiming to large increases how are you handling:

The cost and/or time & effort to keep up with equipment
The need for drawn comb..it seems they draw on the flow then quickly shut down
The time & effort required to manage the larger number of hives
The cost of feeding & treating extra hives if in fact you feed and/ or treat

I ask as I made up some nucs this summer and my family are pressing for no more hives due to the time comitment, the kitchen looking like a production line and my asking for help if I need to have deeps lifted.

I would like more hives as it is great fun watching how different each is, it is fun trying to manipulate some to see if I can alter a result in the direction I am hoping for and fun to see if others can make it on their own.
 

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At the end of the flow season, if your hive consisted of 2 deep brood boxes, why couldn't one simply move the second deep to it's own Bottom board and call it it's own single hive? Basically a walk away split, or if you could find the queen, requeen the queenless box.

Could a hive theoretically survive the winter like this?
 

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I like Daniel Y mention of selling to provide income to increase your apiary. I think i will need to start some more nucs to pay for the resources i will need next year. I'm already figuring 60+ deeps, frames and Wax.
Half a dozen nucs at the going rate would go along way to keeping my wife from getting on my back about the cost and little return. lol.

I'm hoping these double nucs will turn into drawn comb factories.

Time, argh there is only 24 hours in a day.

I might get laughed at, but we have an old beekeeper at our club. he does not believe in feeding.
I am thinking correctly managed i wont have to feed either. also my bees are feral survivors. I will not be treating them.

G.
 

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also my bees are feral survivors. I will not be treating them.
In the words of a now dead politician: "trust, but verify." In other words test (or at the very least learn to recognize viruses, check drone brood, etc.) Feral survivors are not exempt from ordinary bee maladies such as skunks, queenlessness, chalk brood and swarming. Get to know your bees. Don't be a bee haver. Check your hive's Varroa levels and if they are high be prepared for the colony to collapse and die. Or to change your attitudes about treating.

I am an avoid treatments person trying to reconcile myself to losses from Colorado Potato Beetles that are having fun in my potatoes at present.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
At the end of the flow season, if your hive consisted of 2 deep brood boxes, why couldn't one simply move the second deep to it's own Bottom board and call it it's own single hive? Basically a walk away split, or if you could find the queen, requeen the queenless box.

Could a hive theoretically survive the winter like this?
In Michigan I don't believe that a single deep could survive a typical winter, let alone last years winter. Some people were pushing two heavy deeps with a medium super of honey on that! Nebraska winters are pretty tough too aren't they?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I might get laughed at, but we have an old beekeeper at our club. he does not believe in feeding.
I am thinking correctly managed i wont have to feed either. also my bees are feral survivors. I will not be treating them.
I believe Michael Bush feels the same. Only feed in an emergency. Bees will generally be healthier from nectar and real honey as opposed to table sugar and the stuff it becomes.
 
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