# of starting hives?

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naxx3 

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I wanted to ask this on this forum, as many of the beekeepers in my country talk down to beginning beekeepers and it bothers me. It seems that when I look at videos with British beekeepers they are much more friendlier and less likely to verbally attack or challenge those with less experience. (This seems to be a theme with American beekeepers. And its happened to me a lot on the 'other big beekeeping forum'.

I have experience with poultry farming, and rabbit farming and gardening. I wanted to get into bees since about 5 years ago, but at the time there wasn't any opportunity to do so, and it took time to win over my family into the idea. During that time I studied and read a lot over a long period of time while also building up for it.

What's the maximum number of hives someone like me could start with, who already has experience with time management, and some farming on a small hobby scale? (I think that starting with 1 or 2 only would be dreadfully slow also. And the idea of only starting with 1 hive and then you if something happens to lose that only hive would be crushing also to somebody.)
 

Curly green finger's 

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Hi and welcome, if I was you I would get some practical experience with bees first maybe with a mentor?
The above imo is essential.
I would then start with 2 colonys once you have had some practice.
It is quite easy once you know a bit to expand your colony numbers in a couple of seasons.
I hope this doesn't sound to blunt:)
 

Boston Bees 

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1 certainly isn't enough. 2 or 3 would be fine to learn from in the first year. If you are asking about the maximum, that's an interesting question. Just be aware that you will make mistakes in the first few seasons, and you may also find that your hives multiply in number quite fast as you split them to manage their impulse to swarm. So don't start with more than 5, would be my advice.

And as CGF says, get hands on experience first.
 

pargyle 

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Two is an ideal number to start with and when you first start (no matter how much reading etc.you have done) it's still a steep learning curve. You will gain so much confidence in the first year that it will prepare you for the second year, which is often more challenging as colonies grow in size and make swarm preparations. Two colonies can easily be four by the second year and more if you split and buy in or raise queens. If you are still serious about being a larger beekeeper by the end of the second year then expansion is more a case of how much kit can you afford to accommodate them and how much time and commitment you have to manage them.

Don't try and run before you can walk, beekeeping is not as straightforward as it looks to be before you start and it's only about year three that you start to realise how little you know and how much more you need to know - but at least, by then, you know enough to look for the answers.
 

happyculteur 

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The advice I would give is learn to be very calm and gentle with the bees, and then you can concentrate on seeing what's happening. The other advice is that if you want to expand then be sure of your system otherwise you may find yourself wanting to change equipment after a couple of years and hives are not cheap. I'd go for a simple one box size set up. Good luck. I keep rabbits too. I have 120 recipés o_O
 

drex 

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I suggest you start with 2 like others. It is a steep learning curve. Despite practical experience prior and having a really good mentor, I made lots of mistakes in my first couple of years. The more hives I had the more mistakes I would have made. Don't get me wrong, 10 years down the road I am still making mistakes, but have the experience to learn from them and easily rectify. Hive numbers increase dramatically, such that after 3-4 years I had far too many to manage in the time I had. I now have just enough .
 

Frizzaldo 

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Start with two but buy a spare hive and empty nuc (or two) so you have the equipment to expand if it goes well. That will be a significant financial outlay to start with.
 

madasafish 

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If it took time to win your family over, you don't want to do anything that makes their (and your) life difficult.
Two hives? Fine - you will be able to cope with most issues and not be stressed by things going wrong (which they will do).
Five hives? You run the risk of things going wrong together in two or more hives at once. (eg swarms). This is a recipe for stress for you - and your family.

I would start small with two and build up as you become confident. This gives your family time to get used to bees..

(If you get an angry colony - for whatever reason - your family will hate it And any near neighbours as well. As a beginner it's stress no-one needs.)
 

Swn58 

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Yes......have two colonies, but have get hold of as many spare parts as you can. Be prepared! I started with one and inside a couple of months ended up with four. :rolleyes:
 

Fatima Aftab 

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to be honest..reading stuff blogs and bee problems on the internet is no doubt a step towards improvement but as long as you won't experience it on your hands you can not handle it as well you think you can by reading..have two colonies, learn the pro and cons of every act get used to it and it will be fun for you but slow and steady!
 

mbc 

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I wanted to ask this on this forum, as many of the beekeepers in my country talk down to beginning beekeepers and it bothers me. It seems that when I look at videos with British beekeepers they are much more friendlier and less likely to verbally attack or challenge those with less experience. (This seems to be a theme with American beekeepers. And its happened to me a lot on the 'other big beekeeping forum'.

I have experience with poultry farming, and rabbit farming and gardening. I wanted to get into bees since about 5 years ago, but at the time there wasn't any opportunity to do so, and it took time to win over my family into the idea. During that time I studied and read a lot over a long period of time while also building up for it.

What's the maximum number of hives someone like me could start with, who already has experience with time management, and some farming on a small hobby scale? (I think that starting with 1 or 2 only would be dreadfully slow also. And the idea of only starting with 1 hive and then you if something happens to lose that only hive would be crushing also to somebody.)
How much do you want to spend?
Buy a semi load coming off almonds and dive in head first.
 

plain_hunt 

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And as long as you don’t expect to make a living from the honey from them you’ll be ok. Although if you’ve got a good supply of forage you ought to get some, depends on how many other hives there are around you.
 

Nannysbees 

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We started with two colonies last June. Initially we were going to have one but after a lot of advice we had two which was the right decision. Believe me having two wasn't boring and gave us plenty to do, even now for us two is enough, have room for a third if either swarm, hopefully we will head that problem off as I'd like to keep to two. It's a fabulous interest (obsession) and I'm sure you'll love it
 

Boston Bees 

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We started with two colonies last June. Initially we were going to have one but after a lot of advice we had two which was the right decision. Believe me having two wasn't boring and gave us plenty to do, even now for us two is enough, have room for a third if either swarm, hopefully we will head that problem off as I'd like to keep to two. It's a fabulous interest (obsession) and I'm sure you'll love it
8 colonies by August, guaranteed ;) (y) (y)
 

BoStor 

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Will have only enough equipment for one colony with brood + 2 supers polly hives as start-up. Would not want to go beyond two colonies.
Can I get away with one for the 1st year assuming all ok?
 

Boston Bees 

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Will have only enough equipment for one colony with brood + 2 supers polly hives as start-up. Would not want to go beyond two colonies.
Can I get away with one for the 1st year assuming all ok?
Always
Always
Always
Have an empty hive ready to be used (or at the very least a poly nuc)

If for no other reason - what if you miss a queen cell and there's a swarm from your colony sitting on your garden fence, what are you going to do, just sit there and look at it until it goes into your neighbour's chimney? :)
 

drdrday 

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Will have only enough equipment for one colony with brood + 2 supers polly hives as start-up. Would not want to go beyond two colonies.
Can I get away with one for the 1st year assuming all ok?
I would be the first to say I have a tendency to over prepare but in terms of equipment you'll always need more than you think. I quickly needed four supers per colony, and for each occupied hive I try to make sure I have another empty hive or nuc box available for AS etc.
 

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