Is your expansion successful?

Engaging a mode of expansion is how you keep ahead of mites and breed bees that can handle them. Get in the practice of staying ahead, and avoid the bad habit of always trying to catch up.
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Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sun Jul 05, 2015 1:38 pm

I thought I would start a new topic because I would like to hear about others plans are, how their season is progressing and whether they meet their goals.

My story is I got my first hive on 10 frames at the end of May last year. They had built up from a early split and an introduced queen. The queen was Hawaiian and I had no faith in her overwintering or surviving mites. I brought in 4 mite resistant queens, had a swarm cell given to me, and raised a couple from the original queen, going into winter with 8 colonies with 10 combs, 5 over 5. The original queen didn't make it, nor did one of her daughters, but one daughter did along with all the others. 6 out of 8.

My goal this year was to go into winter with last year surviving nucs now production colonies plus 30 nucleus colonies.

Through some incompetence (moving 2 across the yard too early) I ended up with 3 colonies that built nicely with 2 requiring help (made into 2 queen system and added brood) and one slow to build up. Also caught one swarm that is now in 4 medium boxes. My early queen rearing was spotty,

As of now the tally is one two queen system, 4 production colonies, a swarm colony, 8 nucs with laying queens (2 in three stories, 6 in 2 stories), one nuc with a virgin, and 10 with queen cells about to emerge. Those are on 3 frames. I have 5 Russian queens coming in the middle of July, I think I need to raise 6 more queens (plus some to cover whatever fails) and I will have met my goal. So far I have had 0 swarming.

So maybe this expansion thing works. Any other stories?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby COAL REAPER » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:19 am

i would say so.
i am trying to compromise between making honey vs. making bees. getting comb drawn is something i need to factor in better. i spun spring honey last night, just about 5 gallons. i only pulled from one hive. that hive has also produced one split with its overwintered queen and 5 nucs with QCs that it created. i could have had 20 nucs and no honey or no nucs and maybe twice as much honey. anyway, 3 of those nucs failed due to robbing. the other two are amazing. also added two swarms to the apiary but i dont think that is considered as part of the expansion model.
i will try to overwinter two 5x5 nucs and four 10x10 hives. i may split one of those four hives in half if i happen to find a QC, but it is getting late for me to be able to do that. the next 2 months will be dearth.
TF since 2010, successfully since 2013. Trying to increase without totally giving up honey crop.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:32 pm

So I got my 5 russian queens today. Put them in their nucs, but noticed heavy wasp and sugar ant pressure in some of them. Not enough bees to cover the frames. So I screened the entrances off for a few hours, put up some wasp traps, killed some wasps, I took a couple of my 3 tiered nucs, shook out the top box into the hive, put a queen excluder on, put the top box with brood back on and now have a source of nurse bees to augment the new nucs. Looks like any new nuc will have to be made stronger now.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby bryan4916 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:11 am

I started the year with 7 hives and had 2 make queen cells. The queens did a Houdini. One swarmed and didn't recover. Of the 14 queens I started, 5 remain. Without swarms and cutouts I had 7 (original) - 3 (swarming) + 5 (breeding) = 9. Thankfully I trapped 1 swarm next to my yard that could have been the one I lost, 2 swarms elsewhere, and 2 cutouts.

The 2 cutouts are from long term wild hives. One of the swarms came from a hive on its own for 10+ years. So, I am excited to get the genes in my yard.

Though I increased my numbers internally, it isn't enough to overcome the theoretical 50% loss. Then again, I only lost 1 of my 8 hives (13%) last winter while the rest of the state reported the biggest losses to date. Next year I will start queens on purpose this time in May, weather willing. The hives should have a better chance to build up for the summer dearth and shb yearly July attack. I am learning and my apiary is getting stronger.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby WestyMcFinn » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:05 am

While my grafting attempt was unsuccessful , I did raise some queens using a Snelgrove board. I placed frames with one or two queen cells in three nucs and they all have laying queens now. I will try grafting again next Spring. I have some ideas on what went wrong but right now I am happy with my results and hoping for a good Fall and Winter survival.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:43 pm

Its funny how things work out. Last year in my first year, I had 100 percent success in mating. This year its much more spotty, and I have a couple of new laying queens with queen cells already. The spotty mating success I attribute to transferring queen cells. I may be damaging them, or they aren't accepting them. Success is on the order of 75 percent. But I'm also finding that a strong queenless nuc that has been together for a while, given eggs, makes really nice queen cells. They seem nicer than a thrown together nuc with an overabundance of bees. Is it because they are well organized as a group compared to a throw together situation?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:46 pm

Tomorrow I'm going through my new nucs to check for brood. Last week, maybe 30 % were just starting laying. This week, nucs without eggs will get frames with eggs and the cycle continues.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:33 am

Success was only 4 of 8 for the last batch. Duly gave frames with eggs. Also I found a queen under a ball of bees and I assume it was one of my new russian queens (I was just removing the cage). She was still living and I tried to grab her, but she flew off. I didn't see the blue dot so maybe it was a virgin going into the wrong hive. I'll find out a week or so.

30 nucs going into winter is starting to look a little dicey.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby bryan4916 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:49 am

I keep hearing 50% is the norm. If that's the case, queen rearing is a resource hog.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:50 pm

I think 75% would be closer to a number an experienced queen rearer would obtain, though batch to batch must be variable. Most of my resources for my expansion now come from established nucs. Most are already in 2 or 3 5 frame boxes. I inspect for room weekly and usually pull a frame from the 2 story hives and often 2 from the 3 story ones. It will be a challenge to keep them from swarming till the end of the summer. I'll give a frame to bees to weak nucs, but I find by the time a queen is laying, they have already made a frame or 2 of capped honey and have filled out the box with comb and I feed one into the second box. They aren't idle while waiting for a queen.

So they take resources to get going. I think I pulled 30 frames for my last round of home grown queens and another 15 for the russians queens that came in. I'll have to pull another bunch for my next set. But the last set I pulled from existing nucs and didn't touch my production colonies. I'm hoping the same my next and maybe final set.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:09 am

Well the last set I tried certainly have their problems. An initial burst of robbing and the wasps are incessant. I am screening some of them off completely in the evening/morning. The wasps are much more active earlier and later than the bees. It won't be an issue once some of the brood emerges. And I was short a queen cell. Will have to give that one a frame with eggs once they get organized and have some foraging. I'll start beefing them up a frame a week using the early nucs.

As far as the last bunch of nucs...I thought it was 4 out of 8, but another queen was just a little late...5 out of 8 is better.

I think that's thirty. Maybe I will get them all going. As of last inspection they were all building comb and filling their boxes quickly. Just have August and September to consolidate.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:09 pm

Lost 2 nucs to wasps, down to 28. They'll get reinforcements Monday.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:19 pm

Remaining 4 new nucs look fine. Nursing their queen cell along nicely. Found a queen cell in one of my larger nucs though. Just one. I'll put it in a nuc tomorrow and see what happens with the original nuc.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:23 am

Back up to 30. Found a queen cell in on of my nucs. Could have been a swarm cell, conditions could have been conducive, but couldn't find another. Also found the queen and eggs, so took it from her and started a nuc. Also dismantled the the 2 queen system I had going and put this years queen into a nuc. Screened the new ones in for the night until they get organized and can defend themselves. Now just have a few queens to mate and start laying.

Also building boxes for the nucs. Would like to see them all fill 2 or 3 5 frame medium boxes. Comb is still being built, though it has slowed down.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:29 am

Moving 8 nucs to a new bee yard tomorrow morning. Got the electric fence operational today. Nice spot by the river, irrigated pasture, alfalfa nearby, natural hedgerows, fall sage within distance as are the flowering trees of a nearby village. It just may be a good spot. Can't wait to compare nectar flows between the different locations.

Think I need to confirm queens in 4 or 5 more nucs. One nuc started queen cells with the eggs supplied, the rest are still in play. Comb building has still slowed down but there is some festooning bees yet. Maybe a 1/4 to and 1/2 the rate that it was occurring. Now leaving top boxes completely alone to allow bees to make winter preps.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:39 pm

Only have 2 queens to go and I have 30 laying queens in nucs. One I gave eggs to last week is making queen cells. I could make another nuc or 2 with the extra queen cells. However, the comb building has more or less come to a screeching halt. A little is being made but not enough that a donated frame can be quickly replaced. I'm going to call it for this year.

Even if they are finished comb building, I have a bunch of extracted comb from my big hives. I'm going to put it in the nucs that could use some more comb in prep for winter. Some are still very light, full of brood and could use some space to put some nectar. I'll be going to Cosco soon and loading up on sugar. I see feeding in my near future.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Thu Aug 20, 2015 12:05 am

Ok checked my last group of 6 and found some queen cells in one nuc that is remaining stubbornly queenless. I was really expecting success, so what happened this time?. Gave them another frame of capped brood as the numbers aren't very good. So I need 3 queens to start laying, 2 that haven't emerged yet.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:59 pm

OK, couldn't resist. Had an extra queen cell and I started another nuc. I was in another hive anyway so took some brood while I was at it. They had lots to spare and I made it strong. 31.

Checked my country site and the nucs there are bringing in nectar/pollen and are building comb again. I wish my extracted comb was in them already as all the nectar could be put away for winter. Next week. Had one nuc out there with queen cells. No eggs in it, but found the queen. Supercedure? I left it alone. But they were the ones that motivated me to start 31 at home here. I'll probably make it an even 32. I'm going to test the end of the season a bit.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:59 am

So it looks like a bit of a flow has started again.

So I was beefing up some of my late nucs with a frame of brood from the big hives. There is a bit of a flow going on, and instead of giving extracted comb to nucs, I am giving nucs frames of brood from big hives, then giving the big hives the frames of extracted comb to do as they wish.

I opened one of my big hives and found a frame with queen cells, then another, 5 frames with queen cells. Hmmm. It was the source hive for nuc 31. Checked nuc 31 and sure enough, the queen was in there. So I took the big hives brood nest and split it between 4 nucs, then gave back the original queen and her 6 frame entourage of brood and bees. 34. I don't expect to overwinter them all, but some extra mated queens would be nice going into winter. I found another nuc balling a queen. I fished her out and put her at an entrance of a next door hive without a laying queen. She went in and maybe she came from there in the first place. I'll find out next inspection if she was accepted and if the balling bees are queenless. Adventures in the apiary.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:53 am

Transferred another 8 nucs out to the nuc yard. There are 28 out there, but maybe 3 have queens just laying or about to lay. I have 6 nucs at home of which 5 are waiting for queens to start laying. Anything that gets going at this point will be used to combine with failures that I moved out. Or combined with each other depending.

Haven't been happy with what the nucs are putting away for feed, so have given all my empty comb to my big hives at home and feeding heavily for the last week. I will transfer the comb filled with capped sugar syrup to the nucs later on.

It been a little tough getting these nucs going and I'm not happy with the amount of feeding I'm doing. I had a number for the number of nucs I wanted to start next year, but that number looks like it will be revised down even though the ratio of nucs to big hives will improve.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:28 am

I have one more nuc waiting for a queen. It balled their queen. Actually had some success with the latest accidental batch of nucs with 3 of 4 late mated nucs. I will use them to combine with queenless hives/nucs. I might have a couple at the nuc yard. Will do an inspection this week for the last batch I brought out there.

One of my successful matings only had a tiny group of accompanying bees. So I switched the position with one of more populated but no apparent queen nucs and a decent foraging force. I checked them today and it seems almost all the bees from the more populated (but queenless) nuc have gone to their old location and are supporting the formerly minimally supported queen:) I shook out the remaining few young bees on the queen right nucs and they all found a home. They were sisters to begin with. I guess I'll bring this group out to the nuc yard this week.

The final tally still not determined but close to 30. I'll inspect the nucs this week and update. Will be bringing some newspaper with me.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:28 pm

I did an inspection of the nuc yard and took out the last nucs. I found that I was missing queens in 5 hives, including a booming nuc. More than I thought I would have. More dead bees on one of the nucs. Ongoing robbing problems I think. The brood looks ok as do the bees. I newspaper combined the 3 new queen right nucs I took out there and probably will go out again and combine the struggling robbed out nuc with the last queenless nuc. I'll give them another week to see if the queen starts laying. Officially the count is 28 with queens, one I sort of expect to lose. 27 probably going into winter.

They are almost all backfilling the broodnest like crazy with honey. They are foraging heavily on sage that I'm happy to have on the site. I'm much more comfortable going into winter with what has happened the last 2 weeks.

The landowners are saying there is a bear around. Fingers crossed that the electric fence is adequate. I'm going out again Saturday to improve the grounding system. A 2 foot wide metal mesh around the perimeter wired to the ground rods.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby waspkiller » Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:47 pm

Sounds very encouraging. :)

So all up, how many hives do you have now, compared to the same time last year?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:48 am

I went into winter last year with 8 nucleus colonies started from one my first spring. 6 made it through winter. I lost one through incompetence then gained a swarm. Still have those 6 along with the 27 nucs = 33. 4 queens this year were bought. The 6 will be going into their second winter without treatment, so we'll see how they do.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:02 pm

Had a look at a new potential bee yard. Looks promising. Along a creek with easy access, nice people. Lots of pasture around and access to alfalfa. Will be setting up 2 new yards next spring.

My goal of building 150 boxes and frames for next year is almost complete. Will be just putting together a few more nuc boxes and accessories and my winter work is almost done.

I see some snelgrove boards in my future, so will be making a few to try.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:51 am

I'm overwintering 2 colonies right now in Surrey. If they survive, is it reasonable to expect to divide each hive into 8?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Michael Bush » Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:38 pm

"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:13 pm

Fair enough. Looking at Leroy's expansion figures, it looks like he split each hive 3 times in a season. That is where the 1:8 number came from. I'd like to learn how he did it. Kirk Webster talks about an apprentice who built up from a single hive to 70 in 3 years, which yields a 1:4 per year expansion, or 2 splits per hive.

What is the thing that tells you a hive is ready to split?

If you split into 3 frame nucs, how much expansion space do you give the bees?

If you split into 3 frame nucs, are those 3 deeps, 3 mediums, or other?

Are you making them swarm more often by keeping them in a 20 litre cavity? 10 litre?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:57 pm

The first year I got a 10 frame medium at the end of May. By then I had done enough research to know that I needed some numbers on my side if I was to do tf. Especially since the original queen was from Hawaii where bees have no experience with varroa. So I brought in 4 queens from a program that took varroa seriously. I gave each about 2 or 3 frames of bees/brood and they took off. I also got a swarm cell from a local guy, and made 2 queens from the original hawaiin queen. She did a good job providing bees for me so I gave her genetics a chance. Each hive was on about 10 medium frames in 2 5 frame boxes Michael Palmer style. I fed them heavily as I had no idea how much stores they actually needed. Top box was about 20 lbs and bottom box 10 on average going into winter. This is almost all on foundationless comb.

The original queen and one of her daughters died in the winter and I weakened 2 hives severely by moving them across the yard too early in spring. They got robbed and I had to nurse them back up to strength. So most of my early expansion fell to 4 hives of which 2 were very strong.

This year, as soon as drones were flying I started my queen raising. I stole bees/brood to start 3 frame nucs with a queen cell. Earlier successful nucs contributed brood/bees to later ones. Unsuccessful nucs rolled into queen rearing again. I also brought in 4 more queens from another program. Again I fed heavily this year. I had to work hard to get to the 30 number with poor mating success and had a few late mated queens I combined with other queenless nucs. They all have at least 10 combs again, but some of the clusters are quite small. So I expect mediocre survival. I think I have lost a couple already. But quite a few are very strong on 15 combs. Maybe I'll have 20 to 25 colonies in spring.

This year, barring disaster this winter, I'm going to start 45 nucs. More like a 2 to 1 ratio. If I've learned anything, I'll have a better start than last season where the learning curve was steep and I fell behind early. I hope my nucs will be stronger and that I have to feed minimally as my goal is not to feed at all. I give the nucs as much room as they need supering with 5 frame boxes. But between starting later nucs and evening their strength going into winter, I haven't had a problem with swarming so far.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:44 pm

So I guess the answer is that rapid expansion is probably possible but a number of factors need to come together. Also the more rapid the expansion, the more hives need to be subsidized, which is against the goal of tf. Still initially, some numbers need to be obtained at the beginning.

From my limited experience, bringing in some queens to increase numbers initially is a good thing. As I discovered this year, raising queens in addition to supplying bees/brood is demanding on the apiary. Its that lag period when the new queen is not yet laying. When you bring in queens, you get that almost immediate boost and its almost a sure thing. It also gives you a chance to bring in some interesting genetics compared to something unsuitable for tf. I brought in Saskatraz queens my first summer. I was much further ahead going into my first winter with a bunch of nucs than one hive.

Once you get to that 4/5/6 limit, then you have resources to work with and backup when things go wrong and they will.

The big factor is experience and background. I think I did OK, but I have a background in entomology and ecology making part of the learning curve easier. I'm also handy with a table saw and have many resources (truck etc) to get going. I've had a good winter my first winter and it looks like this winter will be mild as well, but not too mild. Luck is a factor. My nectar flows here are very good in the city and they built lots of comb which is sometimes hard to come by. Even the order you try things out may impact you. Try the wrong thing out and it may set you back. There is lots of good information out there, but you need to discern what's appropriate for the scale of your operation and your location.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:05 am

lharder wrote:So I guess the answer is that rapid expansion is probably possible but a number of factors need to come together. Also the more rapid the expansion, the more hives need to be subsidized, which is against the goal of tf. Still initially, some numbers need to be obtained at the beginning.


Since I've heard that chemical treatments may be necessary in the first year while the bees adapt, I'd count feeding in that category; necessary evil when allowing a new colony to get established in a rough environment.

From my limited experience, bringing in some queens to increase numbers initially is a good thing. As I discovered this year, raising queens in addition to supplying bees/brood is demanding on the apiary. Its that lag period when the new queen is not yet laying. When you bring in queens, you get that almost immediate boost and its almost a sure thing. It also gives you a chance to bring in some interesting genetics compared to something unsuitable for tf. I brought in Saskatraz queens my first summer. I was much further ahead going into my first winter with a bunch of nucs than one hive.


Wow. $300 per mated Saskatraz queen. Looks like they did well in Kamloops. Here on the coast, it is really wet and damp. My three top bar horizontal hives have always had ventilation problems, mold, moisture, damp, etc. Possibly because I used coroplast for the outer skin instead of 1" thick wood. Thanks to a local beek, I made a ventilated cover lid, that seems to have helped.

Have you heard of Olympic Wilderness Apiaries, run by Dan Harvey? His stock is all from feral varroa survivors that he found in the cedar forests on the Olympic Peninsula, 20 miles away from Canada. Since the climate is so similar to the Lower Mainland, I'd love to bring some of his queens in. Apparently they've done very well in various places they've been shipped to.

http://www.wildernessbees.com/

Doing the import process is a lot of work, but the Harveys are willing to work with Canadians. It is a bit much for me to do by myself, but if others are interested in importing his queens, we could do a group buy. I think we have enough time to get the queens in this year if we start the import process in the next week or two.

Once you get to that 4/5/6 limit, then you have resources to work with and backup when things go wrong and they will.


Right now, just hoping my two hives get through winter. They're both alive, but they put away hardly any honey. I got them as split-with-queen nucs July 13, just before the summer drought started. I put the hives in a shady spot, they built up nicely, to 10 combs. They were bringing in nectar and pollen until October, when the cold and rains started. Then the hives got moldy and very damp inside.

A few weeks ago someone helped me put a proper lid on the hives, so now they are ventilated and insulated on top, and I'm feeding them with mountain camp method, dry sugar as per Michael Bush.

I took the lid off the weaker hive a few days ago. No sound. I blew down into the brood nest, and heard the wings buzzing, so put the lid back on and left them alone since. The stronger hive has dead bodies below the entrance, so they must have done some house cleaning.

Both hives are 110 litres in volume, 2 deeps and 1 medium, I guess.

The big factor is experience and background. I think I did OK, but I have a background in entomology and ecology making part of the learning curve easier. I'm also handy with a table saw and have many resources (truck etc) to get going. I've had a good winter my first winter and it looks like this winter will be mild as well, but not too mild. Luck is a factor. My nectar flows here are very good in the city and they built lots of comb which is sometimes hard to come by. Even the order you try things out may impact you. Try the wrong thing out and it may set you back. There is lots of good information out there, but you need to discern what's appropriate for the scale of your operation and your location.


I'm ok with woodworking. I just got a mortise and tenon machine, so I'm going to experiment with using that to make frames.

Next year experiment: an observation hive. internal dimensions 36x36x1 7/8, giving a volume of 40 litres. No frames; the hive is the frame. Two internal vertical bars made of 1x2. Management only possible by cutouts. I was inspired by the one I saw on Solomon Parker's podcast, "Aaron in New Zealand" And the 1 7/8 measurement comes from Mike Bush.
Last edited by Mycroft Jones on Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mycroft Jones
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:56 am

Leroy, my last response wandered a bit off topic. Here is the nitty gritty:

To make sure I understand:

You divided a 10 frame medium (30 litres) into 4.

You put 2 or 3 medium frames into a 30 litre cavity (5 above, 5 below)

When did you do this? Early spring? As soon as the drones were flying?

You fed them heavily... mountain camp style, or syrup?

Did you reduce the entrances to slow robbing?

How did you "start 3 frame nucs with a queen cell". Artificial plastic queen cell, or you monitored, and as soon as brood had a queen cell you pulled it and put it in a nuc?

How did you roll an unsuccessful nuc into queen rearing? I would have thought to join a failed nuc to a successful colony to make use of the comb and forager force.

You went from 4 to 30 hives this year; what was the trigger for making a new hive? If you brought in 4 queens, you got the other queens through other means; were the bees showing signs of swarming that often, or were you using a queen rearing system like Nicot?

You mentioned all the hives filled their 30 litre cavity, and some went to 45 litres (15 combs). You just added another super when they had 10 combs filled? Or transplant them into two fullsize Lang mediums stacked?

So, from one hive your first spring, you went into that winter with 4 hives, or that was how many you got through the winter?

I think I understand the 5 above, 5 below; Sharashkin says bees like to have at least 18 inches of height to work with. Also makes temperature control easier for the bees. My personal frames are modelled on the Layens/Lazutin 18" deep frames and Lupanov 20" frames.

Going from 4:30 is almost a 1:8 expansion, like doing 3 splits per hive. How late was the latest split/nuc that is still alive?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:43 am

Listening to one of Solomon Parker's podcasts, he says to add more frames/space when 3/4 of the existing frames are filled. It is nice to know that huge observation hive is the "apiscope" hive.

So if I have 4 frames, and 3 are filled, then I could bump up to a full 10 frame box. And when 7 or 8 frames are full, add a super on top. To speak in Langstroth terms.

I've read this page now: http://parkerfarms.biz/queenrearing.html

Are you using the Ben Harden system to generate queen cells?

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:34 pm

I'm not sure how useful my insight/techniques will be, especially at a very specific level considering my lack of experience but will write what I am doing. I will try to answer bit by bit as I have time.

The basic idea I am following I got from Michael Palmer (see his sustainable apiary talk on youtube if you haven't already). He also has an excellent talk on overwintering nucs on vimeo. I use the same basic set up as he does except I use mediums. Because my frames are 1 1/4 compare to 1 3/8, I am able to fit 5 frames in a box. I got my initial idea about increase from his talk, and lean on Michael Bush for ideas about tf/management philosophy, day/seasonal management, foundationless comb management, bee health etc.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:53 am

lharder wrote:The basic idea I am following I got from Michael Palmer (see his sustainable apiary talk on youtube if you haven't already). He also has an excellent talk on overwintering nucs on vimeo. I use the same basic set up as he does except I use mediums. Because my frames are 1 1/4 compare to 1 3/8, I am able to fit 5 frames in a box. I got my initial idea about increase from his talk, and lean on Michael Bush for ideas about tf/management philosophy, day/seasonal management, foundationless comb management, bee health etc.


Thank you, I'll watch Michael Palmers video today. I saw his "overwintering in the north" video, got some good insight from it. Didn't know the bees would melt themselves an airhole in the snow. Makes sense though.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:50 pm

Let me know what you think of it.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:37 pm

>Since I've heard that chemical treatments may be necessary in the first year while the bees adapt, I'd count feeding in that category; necessary evil when allowing a new colony to get established in a rough environment.

Treating is not a road I would go down under any circumstances and not one I consider to ever be "necessary". Feeding is sometimes necessary mostly because we steal food from the bees and also because some years are worse than others.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:40 pm

I would listen to the bees on how many splits to make. Make strong splits, not a lot of splits. See how they get going. In my case a strong split is four eight frame medium boxes of bees that is growing. After the splits have grown to four eight frame medium boxes, I may split again and this may be sooner than you think, so keep an eye on them. With drawn comb I have made five splits from a package before the year was out and they all did well, but this is the exception, not the rule or the norm. Some hives you can't split. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Other circumstances may push things in another direction. If I find a lot of good swarm cells I may make a lot of small splits to leverage all those well fed queens. Then I may get five or six splits at one time. My point is to go with the flow. Don't have an arbitrary goal of x number of splits.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:26 pm

How did you "start 3 frame nucs with a queen cell". Artificial plastic queen cell, or you monitored, and as soon as brood had a queen cell you pulled it and put it in a nuc?

How did you roll an unsuccessful nuc into queen rearing? I would have thought to join a failed nuc to a successful colony to make use of the comb and forager force.

The basic idea is that you raise some queen cells, then cut out the queen cell and place it in a 5 frame nuc box with 2 frames of brood and a frame of food. After 3 weeks or so, I check the status the queen. If she is laying then all is good. Chances are they have filled the 5 frame box by this time, so I will give them another, and bring the brood nest to the top box usually 3 combs. If the queen isn't laying, then I give them a frame of brood with some eggs/young larvae on new comb from a queen I want new queens from. They have lots of bees by this point, and a strong foraging force, and they make 5 to 10 decent queen cells at least compared to some of my earlier cell building attempts. I take the best (looking ones) ones and start new nucleus colonies with them. This works for me at the scale I'm at as I don't have a lot resources to provide lots of brood to start 20 colonies at once.

I want to nucleus colonies to winter with at least 10 combs. So I let them build into their second box. After they nearly fill them, then I can start using brood and honey from them to start new nucleus colonies. I try to have at least 1 frame per box empty during a flow. They fill it fast. If I can I like them to build into a 3rd 5 frame box. In fact I will give them an extra box even if they don't need it underneath because things move so quickly during a flow.

So I'm not really splitting them.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Mycroft Jones » Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:11 pm

lharder wrote:Let me know what you think of it.


I finally finished watching it. I'll have to go back and listen to it again. But first I'll listen to his Queen Rearing one. He made sense. It was nice to see the numbers and cents broken down so clearly.


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