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Best way to increase from healthiest colonies

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Appledown 

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Hi,

I'm trying to build apiary size while improving strength and vigour by making increase from my strong hives every year, and letting the weaker ones fade away. I want to increase from my two or three best hives next year. These seem to be real goers - good production, calm, good health, no need for treatments. I'd appreciate any advice about the easiest ways to get the most new colonies from them, and to how to try to get them to bring their good traits with them. I don't want to reduce the parent hives too much as I want them to build good drone populations to try to keep good male genes around for my queens.

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated,

Roger
 

Poly Hive 

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My first question is where are you? Your profile would benefit from that change.

PH
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Hi,

my strong hives every year, and letting the weaker ones fade away.
Why dont you start by balancing out your hives and treating/classing them all as one "hive" in one apiary?

And then progress on to build/increase
 

Appledown 

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My first question is where are you? Your profile would benefit from that change.

PH
Sorry, profile done, I'm in East Kent, and in what I reckon is good bee country.

Roger
 

Appledown 

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Why dont you start by balancing out your hives and treating/classing them all as one "hive" in one apiary?

And then progress on to build/increase
Hi Jim,

Because I want to be able to identify the strongest, and increase from them only. I don't want to multiply the weak ones.

Roger
 

oliver90owner 

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Why let them fade away?

Simply induce supercedure cells from your chosen colonies and either remove the dodgy queens early in the season and let them get on with raising one of those supercedure cells, or put the supercedure cells/queens in nucs and combine with the other colonies later? Simple really.

Regards, RAB
 

Poly Hive 

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Do you want to produce honey in this season of increase, and are you "isolated" do you think or are you surrounded by others drones?

As Oliver says there is nothing to stop you using your poorer colonies to mate queens, but from a base line of five your selection choice is not great to be honest.

PH
 

oliver90owner 

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BTW, I would prefer the nuc direction (or even mini-nucs, if you are inclined in that direction) as more queens (than required) can be raised (subject to availability of bees, honey crop required, etc) and then selection, based on queen traits after they have had time to mate, lay and have their own flying bees.

It depends on how hard you want to work at it and how many colonies you want to increase by each year.

I would suggest a clean sheet of paper and brainstorm all yoiur requirements; then sort out the probables, possibles, and delete the non-starters. Amazing how that can narrow down you choices while giving you an opportunity to shape a plan around your specific requirements and resources. Like - one question you might ask yourself is what kit you have already and what will you have (or need to have) available during the coming season.

Regards, RAB
 
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Appledown 

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Why let them fade away?

Simply induce supercedure cells from your chosen colonies and either remove the dodgy queens early in the season and let them get on with raising one of those supercedure cells, or put the supercedure cells/queens in nucs and combine with the other colonies later? Simple really.

Regards, RAB
Thanks RAB. Yes, I had planned to requeen the weaker - when I said 'fade away' I was thinking of those bloodlines, rather than the actual hives.


I'm doubless being thick, but I wonder if you could explain what you mean by 'induce supercedure cells'?

I think I'm really looking for is the simplest method of making increase, and some guidance as to how to get the maximum number of new colonies from my best, without hobbling their drone production.

If, for example, I found that in June I could make up perhaps 3 or 4 nucs using just 1 frame of eggs each, shaking in a good few bees, moving to a new position, and making the entrance hard to negotiate with grass (to encourage the bees to -re-learn their location) I might, with luck, get 6 to 8 new colonies, without overly reducing the parent hives. I could also shake in workers from other colonies to help out, and/or place the nucs on existing hive positions to collect returning workers.

Does that sound like a good way to achieve my aim? Is the timing about right? Could I take 3 or 4 frames twice - perhaps once in late May and again in Late June or would that have too great an impact?

Or, how about cutting say 2" squares of eggs and patching them into drawn comb, and doing as above. Then I'd get more for less?

Roger
 

Appledown 

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Do you want to produce honey in this season of increase, and are you "isolated" do you think or are you surrounded by others drones?
PH
No, I'm not bothered about honey yet - my first objective is building a strong apiary of 3- to 50 hives.

I'm not isolated, but I know of one middle size apiary nearby that doesn't treat (and whose drones should therefore meet my aim of supplying new workers that don't need treatments). There is another, again largish, who treats heavily. Two of my colonies come from swarms thrown by well-attested 'survivor' colonies, and there is reason to think there a few about. But raising high numbers of drones from my best colonies is part of my strategy.

I agree I have a small number from which to make choices, and hope to get up to 15 or 20 next year to be in a better position all round

Roger
 

Appledown 

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I would suggest a clean sheet of paper and brainstorm all yoiur requirements; then sort out the probables, possibles, and delete the non-starters. Amazing how that can narrow down you choices while giving you an opportunity to shape a plan around your specific requirements and resources. Like - one question you might ask yourself is what kit you have already and what will you have (or need to have) available during the coming season.
Regards, RAB
Yes, that's rather what I'm doing here, but with the much-appreciated bonus of expert help!

I'm planning to make my own hives to take national frames. I'm undecided as to whether to make both brood box and supers, or just work with one or the other (current preference is supers). I'm considering a one-size-fits-all box of 9 frames. (Drawback will be instability if they ever get piled up: main advantage ease on my distinctly dodgy back)

This keeps costs well down, which is very necessary - part of the aim is to build a strong stock as quickly as possible at near minimal expense. I'm forgoing income for a year or two in the hope of gaining a good potential in year three and on.

Roger
 

Poly Hive 

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You want to go to 20 colonies from 5 in the next year?

In that case you are definitely looking at doing queen rearing or buying in.

Have you grafted before?

I note you have near by someone who does not treat (for varroa I assume) in which case be very aware that you may have, or will, suffer from in influx of varroa in late autumn.

PH
 

Chris B 

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Leaving aside the question of where new queens are going to come from, I would suggest:

1. Think about additional apiaries asap. Saturation level is a variable but you will definitely have trouble with 50 in one spot.

2. Beware non-treatment! Otherwise your stocks will be decreasing not increasing. Some bees might handle varroa better but we are some way off the general population being varroa tolerant. Just select the better ones and breed from them for gradual improvement. You will need to treat in the meantime - probably many years.
 

oliver90owner 

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supercedure cells

I mean encourage the bees to make supercedure cells rather than await swarm cells, the former being under your control, the latter requiring your fairly immediate attention unless you are willing to risk lose your breeding queens or gaining more experience of capturing swarms.

Either way you will need strong colonies (as part of your requirements, I presume).

nucs using just 1 frame of eggs each, shaking in a good few bees

I would not be making nucs with eggs and some bees. A thourough waste of time, when you give it some thought. Time, effort and unpredictability.

You need queen cells developed by strong colonies, not potential scrub queens produced by a few bees drawing emergency queen cells. A frame with a supercedure cell will much more likely develop into a good queen; the nuc bees will not be feeding that larva, just awaiting her to emerge.

Timing

June? What would be wrong with April?

Timing simply depends on the season, the strength of your colonies, availability of mature drones of the right strain, and a few other possible factors. One factor out of your control is the weather. The earlier you are able to start (within those constraints), the more likely you are to have a second chance if the queens are unable to mate properly.

As I said in post #8, a clean sheet of paper and mapping out your plans in detail will soon show up the non-starters or the wrong timings etc. Other things you may not even have considered is the varroa problem with 'drone-producing' hives, the potential emergence of wasps as a threat; an alternative site where nucs could be moved to; origin and strain of your initial stocks. There are others, no doubt.

Your first aim will be to get these colonies onto, and filling, double broods at the earliest opportunity, I would think. Progress from that position is then relatively straight forward.

RAB
 
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Finman 

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Basic principle in beekeeping is to rear new queen from larvae of best hives.

Dondt let any hive fade away. Just change the queen. the start of the new hive shoud be big enough before you see what kind of queen you have. minimum of the hive is one box full of brood. From that you will se later how good it is. Smaller hives are too slow to build up. it is better aid them by taking a frame of emeging brood from big hive. So the small hive jumps to the better level.
 

BBG 

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Polystyrene & lots more next year again hopefully

Black Comb 

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Went to a talk on queen rearing yesterday.

The Demaree method was suggested as the simplest way for a small beekeeper to produce queen cells and therefore increase/replace as necessary.

Using the queen cells produced by this method (from your "healthy" colonies) make up small nucs (1 x frame brood + 1 x frame food + shake some nurse bees in).

That should get you off to a good start.

Not my opinion but that of one very experienced beek trained by Ted Hooper.
 

Appledown 

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supercedure cells

I mean encourage the bees to make supercedure cells rather than await swarm cells...
What method of encouragement would you recommend given my aims? Is there an easy way of encouraging the formation of many supercedure cells - perhaps 10 to 20?
 

Poly Hive 

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http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cushman/demaree.html

However you need to think what is the earliest the oldest cell is likely to hatch.

It's that lack of control and the difficulty of handling the cells that puts me off it. Anyone that is thinking of making increase to serious numbers needs really to teach themselves to graft.

PH
 

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