Nordak wrote:.. A large hive is not necessarily detrimental to a TF outcome from my experience.
I don't disagree.
But I do disagree with advice I got recently to just grow a single nuc into a single big hive for the winter so that "it will winter better".
I am choosing a route of making few smaller hives instead and winter them, and have some redundancy on hand as soon as possible.
Per the documented observations (even this year, for example), the large hives fail just as often as small hives if not more so.
People started the winter with 5-6 large hives and now have one or even zero (per our local list).
Well, so much to show for wintering the large and the strong.
All of these people do treat too.
Wintering small hives is just an issue of methods and works fine per what many people report (surely need better equipment; clustering them together works too - see MBs site).
Jason Bruns in his podcast with SP (Episode #19) talks how he routinely catches small feral swarms in this one location (like a grapefruit size).
He talks about how these feral bees live in a small tree cavity somewhere there and they keep throwing small outcasts year after year and don't really care about conventional teachings (the bigger the better). Jason did notice that these particular bees are NOT particularly honey-productive when in his care. But they are very stingy, winter in small cluster and are un-destructible (great material for selection).
The bigger is better for honey production - no doubt.
So some management to arrange the big honey producing hives is appropriate (split combines, what not).
But is bigger better for the long-term sustainability?
Not so sure.
Wild/feral bees seem to survive in varous places just fine (but mostly small because there are more of the small cavities available).
For sure, they do swarm a lot.