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Building up a small colony

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Dave /Oscroft 

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Simple question from a newbie, whats the best way to build up a small, say three frame colony?

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Dave W
 

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Give a frame of emerging bees from another colony. If frame is full, you get 3 frames of bees.

Another important thing is a warm, insulated hive.

These means that the colony may rear brood as much as it may keep them warm.


If we look 3 fra´me colony, it makes about one frame of drood in spring.
If you have 6 frames bees, they may do 4 frames of brood. So, you have 4 times more frood than in half times smaller colony.

If you have 10 frame box full of bees, they may rear 8 frames of brood.

That size of colony do with its own. However it takes 1,5 months that it is capable to forare honey to be extracted.

.
 

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I have tried to give pollen patty to 3-4 frame colónies and warmed them with electrict heating but in practice it gives no help. Often the colony get sick.

But if you take care of the biggest hives, they grow really fast and then you may donate bees from biggest hives.
 

JCBrum 

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I am a supporter of the "big wing" theory (Leigh Mallory, Ha Ha,) and would suggest that giving an extra frame of brood or two to a small colony, could usefully be supplemented by a new queen in the spring to support a good laying rate. Otherwise it might degenerate into a "small colony" again.

'Large colonies' is a theory I intend to follow next year, which is why I have stayed with 14x12 frames so far, but the bees do take a long time to gain colony size on their own if the queen is not prolific.
 

Finman 

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I am a supporter of the "big wing" theory (Leigh Mallory, Ha Ha,) and would suggest that giving an extra frame of brood or two to a small colony, could usefully be supplemented by a new queen in the spring to support a good laying rate. Otherwise it might degenerate into a "small colony" again.
'Large colonies' is a theory I intend to follow next year, which is why I have stayed with 14x12 frames so far, but the bees do take a long time to gain colony size on their own ]if the queen is not prolific.
I wrote about practice.
Jc, i do not understand much about your theories.

It is better to talk about 3-frame nuc, which has normal good queen.
In spring even 2-box hives queen may stop laying if it gets bad nosema.

Profilic or not, queen cannot affect on build up speed of small colony. All queens lay so much that laying is not minimum factor.
 

JCBrum 

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Finman, my apologies for the obscure reference. Sometimes, for a new beekeeper it feels like the "Battle of Britain" all over again :). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Wing

Assuming that one starts with a small colony (3 frame nuc), then making a large colony will only be effective if it is achieved quickly, so as to take advantage of the forage available before the blossom is over. It is no good having a lot of bees when the season has already passed by.

One way to make a small colony into a big one more quickly is to add frames of bees and brood. This tactic achieves the same effect as a a prolific queen, by combining the efforts of more than one queen towards the population of the hive.

Having obtained a bigger colony that way, it is necessary for the queen to become a prolific layer so as to maintain the colony size, otherwise the death-rate is higher than the birth-rate and the colony dwindles rapidly, losing effective foraging force.

Not all queens are prolific layers. So it is necessary to check that the queen is laying enough. If not she must be replaced before the colony size dwindles again.
 

Finman 

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Having obtained a bigger colony that way, it is necessary for the queen to become a prolific layer so as to maintain the colony size, otherwise the death-rate is higher than the birth-rate and the colony dwindles rapidly, losing effective foraging force.

Not all queens are prolific layers. So it is necessary to check that the queen is laying enough. If not she must be replaced before the colony size dwindles again.

That is true. I renew my queen every summer. I look that all queen are good layers before winter.

After long winter many queen have got nosema with its hive and they will never bee the same as last summer.

I have every year nosema hives. They are not able to rear brood in early spring and do not eat pollen patty. They digestion system is ruined. Some queen stop totally laying.

BUT I have found that 2/3 of nosema queens are OK. When the hive get new emerged feeder workers from another big hive, its starts it life again.

I keep 20% extra hives over the winter for queen losses.

Small colonies are the most easy to get nosema during winter.

.
 

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HOw to start the hive?

When I started beekeeping long ago I byed swarms. I put 2-3 swarms together. So I got 4 kg colony which occupied 2 Langstroth stores.
That has been the minimum swarm to mee to start.

My mating nucs are 3 frames. I need not to worry that they grow too much during whole summer. Only problem is that they may fill the nuc with honey.

Profilic queen means nothing to the nuc because my queens are all profilic. If they are not, they meet they destiny.

The small colony has its own mathematics how it grows and it is 3 weeks brood cycle. The queen lays in few days the brood area full and then it must wiat 3 weeks that it get new emerging bees. Nothing helps because nurser bees are limiting factor.

If you bye a nuc, it is better to be 10 frames instead of 5 frames. 10 frames build up much more quicker than 5 frame.

Beginners do a big mistake when they split their hives in spring. But they are so nervous to get new hives than no one can help them. And others even encourage to rear their own queens.


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Beginners do a big mistake when they split their hives in spring. But they are so nervous to get new hives than no one can help them. And others even encourage to rear their own queens.
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Being a beginner with only 1 hive it is a worry that should anything go wrong then it is 100% loss with nothing to fall back on but wait until swarming season and hope. I am worried at the moment 'Have I done all I can to get the hive through Winter', so it is important for me to do an AS as soon as possible next year to create an insurance policy. I will probably build the existing colony up as big as possible and make 3 nucs off it next year and then concentrate on building them all up for Winter. I will then concentrate on honey in 2011.
 
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Finman 

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You can take normal honey yield first from hive and in late summer split the hive into 3.
 

JCBrum 

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I'm not so keen on it and I've always felt that Air Vice Marshall Park never got full recognition for his services....
At the risk of being 'off-topic' for a while, the problem with 'Big-Wing' was the time it took to assemble and get up to fighting force and position. Often by the time a big wing was ready the damage had been done.

Conversely, immediate engagement by small groups led to appalling losses of aircraft and crew.

The problem was that we didn't have enough aircraft ready in the air, on patrol all the time.

We built nearly 12,000 Spitfires in Birmingham, half of all production, and after teething troubles made them at the rate of 300 per month in 1940, and still the losses were higher at times.

- Back on topic, that is why I used the "big-wing" allusion, - It's all very well creating a large colony of bees, but it has to be done quickly, and the size must be maintained, if it is to be effective. :)
 
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JCBrum 

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Finman said:
After long winter many queen have got nosema with its hive and they will never bee the same as last summer.

I have every year nosema hives. They are not able to rear brood in early spring and do not eat pollen patty. They digestion system is ruined.
Have you tried any treatment ? ........... Fumidil ? ..... or Thymol ? ......

What test do you use ? .........

.
 

JCBrum 

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What should be done with a colony that has Nosema ?

Should it be destroyed including the queen ? .......

........or kill the queen and combine the bees with a healthy colony, with the risk of spreading the infection ? .....

........ or just re-queen it and hope the progeny are more resistant. ??


:confused:


.
 

JCBrum 

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Fumidil-B and a Bailey comb change...
That seems to have been the conventional approach ..... but has it been effective ?

Fumidil is borderline banned because all it seems to have achieved is to develop resistance by Nosema to it's anti-biotic effect, making it useless and the position worse than before ?

Also does it really work anyway ? ... do the bees recover full vigour ? .....

... or is the queen permanently damaged, and requiring culling anyway .... ???


I remain :confused:

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Finman 

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Nosema is common disease in hives. Bees stand it better or worse.
It makes its harms during winter and hives recover from it better or worse.

No panic.
 

Finman 

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Have you tried any treatment ? ........... Fumidil ? ..... or Thymol ? ......

What test do you use ? .........

.
25 years ago I used Fumidil. It was good but exppencive.

I do not test them but symtoms are like in nosema: poo in the hive, extra dead on bottom. Poor build up in spring, - because gut is spoiled.

Many say that it is dysentria. What is that?
 
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Meanwhile, back to the original question....

Putting the small colony on the side of an oil seed rape field in flower should give them a good boost but watch out for swarming and give them plenty of new frames to draw out.
 

Peebels 

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Is there a particular way one would go about identfying a feild of OSR? Or is it just a case of driving round untill you spot one and having a chat with the farmer?
 

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