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Black Comb 

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So, I've got 2 nucs this year which I hope will survive the winter and I start off next Spring with one full and one half/threequarter full hive.

How many hives can I sensibly expand into next season?

Site -wise now I can cope with up to 10 - perhaps more if I can gain another site.

I need to buy equipment and want to plan accordingly.

I have already agreed to buy another nuc from my 1st supplier but would like to split hives and also breed a few queens and raise some of my own.

Regards
Peter
 

hedgerow pete 

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be warned your on the edge of the slipper slope into multiple bee hive syndrome there is only one cure and thats reality.

so lets try these numbers for you to laugh at and egnore.

so lets get through the winter with two hives say, these will have there best and foirst good season next year so if you split you will lose a lot but not all honey crop. you dont say where you are in cumbria so if in town ten on one site is a waste stick to 6 max in the country its less if you have fields of single crops more if there is something for them to use like many meadows,
costs are you biggest killer of expansion, if like me you can make your own no matter how rough then its just a case of expansion into what ever you have built but but if your buying it , it is expansion into what you can afford and if your doing it that way i would try to buy another couple of hives and find swarms next year or buy a queen and pull a few frames out
 

Finman 

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- you may get 10 hives next year but you have not skill to nurse them
- you may get 1000 jars honey but how to find customers from 0-situation.
- to build 10 hives from 2 small nucs is not sensible.

first you shoud learn to handle full size hives year around and get normal yields. È
 

Peebels 

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or buy a queen and pull a few frames out
Does this mean you would take 2-3 frames out of an established hive, put them in a new hive (in a different position) along with a purchased queen in her cage? I assume you would treat this like an artificial swarm, lots of feeding etc?

p
 
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I was given a 4 frame nuc at the beginning of July and managed to build it up to 9 1/2 frames by the beginning of September. My first hurdle is to get the colony through Winter. Because this is my first year I decided not to risk losing more than 1 colony. So next year I will hopefully be in a position to expand. I intend to build my existing colony up as big as possible and then make 3 nucs 3-4 frames big. That will then give me my existing queen and 3 more. 2 of those nucs will be sold to give me a return on the money I have already spent. I will then have 2 colonys to go into next Winter with. I think a beginner should start with 1 colony and double it each year until they have no more than they can manage.
 

thurrock bees 

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I think a beginner should start with 1 colony and double it each year until they have no more than they can manage.
i agree, i started with one hive and done a art swarm 4 times ,any swarms i got was/are going to be requeened with daughters of my best queen. i now have 12 overwintering, did have 20 but sold 8 off to pay for the winter feed and new frames.
 

Poly Hive 

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Unless of course the single crop is OSR LOL

In Cumbria I suspect that bees in the countryside would do rather well with so much hill grazing, clover comes to mind here.

PH
 

Black Comb 

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Thanks for your replies so far.

FYI I'm on the coast on the edge of a large village with lots of gardens.

Fields are invariably grass but there are lots of trees around.
 

Hebeegeebee 

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I started with 3 full hives this spring and decided that one would be used as a queen raiser, the other two would be used for honey. Not everything went to plan (of course!). However I raised a few queens, I brought in 2 swarms and now have 9 colonies after combining a couple in the autumn where the queens were iffy.
There is no reason why you can't at least double your stock next year.

I've got about 5 hives more than my Wife would like me to have!

Adamd
 
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Chris B 

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Peter,
it's a distinct possibility that both your colonies could attempt to swarm next spring so you need spare kit to cope with that eventuality at the very least.
But given you also want to try your hand at queen rearing why not attempt the following:
mid-May go through each colony and take away the queen with 5 frames and enough bees to make a nuc. Nurture these 2 nucs in the normal way - they aren't likely to swarm and they'll probably give you a modest crop before the end of the season.
Your 2 remaining queenless colonies can be combined (via newspaper) to make a nice strong cell-raiser. Graft larvae from your best queen onto a cell bar (or whichever method you choose) and let the bees rear some new queens. When the cells are ripe, split the cell raiser up into nucs, each with a queen cell. There should be enough bees to make at least 3 or 4 nucs but it all depends on the strength you want.
Regards
Chris
 

oliver90owner 

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slightly misleading

Hawklord,

Why should that be misleading? Please explain why as I can see nothing wrong with it.

How many colonies one might start with in one's first year might depend on several factors, like previous experience, mentoring, confidence, and others.

I would always recommend starting with two colonies. So much easier if/when things go wrong. Still the same opinion after nearly ten years experience.

Regards, RAB
 

taff.. 

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1 hive is the best - you learn how costly a mistake can be.
:confused: and how many good contacts you need to keep supplying you with nucs.


I really dont understand that statement, at the very least there are occasions when you need a test frame and having just the one colony doesn't even give you that :confused:
 

VEG 

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Have to agree with you taff 1 hive is not the best way to start. I started with one and in hind sight it was a bit of a gamble. At least with 2 you can swap frames of eggs if needed.
 
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I've started with 1 and had no problems so far. Take a look at the forum members list and you will see how many people have 1 hive. As a beginner it is no point in taking on more and more until you gain some experience. Up until this year I had spent time with other peoples hives but never been stung. Until you get stung how do you know what reaction you will have? Why take on more than 1 only to find out you loose interest or haven't got the ability to look after them properly. It's fine looking in to a small nuc or hive in the early part of the season but I'm sure people will agree a colony will change later on in the year when it has more foragers and honey to defend.
 

Black Comb 

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I'm pleased this thread has re-started as I'm learning a lot.

I'm with the 2 hive start.

I went on several courses and handled bees 7 or 8 times.

then I got my first nuc - gentle, busy, Carni's.

7 weeks later got my second nuke. By then I had confidence. Turned out a lot different to the first - different temperament and different problems to solve, but I coped.

Result is I've 2 hives going into the winter and have learnt more because it's 2 and not one.

Ongoing I have (or will have) plenty of kit.

i thank you all for advice as I really didn't know how many colonies to aim for next year.
 
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Stiffy 

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Hi
I think the question of what you start with really depends on how you get into beekeeping and many other factors. I attended a beek course through last Autumn, winter and early spring and then bought my first nuc.
If you just go out and buy a hive/nuc then in my opinion you really are taking on a lot but then I guess many people do start this way.

I quickly realised that a single hive was not a good idea and didnt give you many options, and promptly bought another nuc. By now I had the bug (excuse pun) and began to think what I wanted to do next year and another 2 nucs were sourced.
Two swarms later and a combining of 2 hives has left me with 5 to over winter, hopefully to start next year with.
Although the course I attended answered many questions and gave me the opportunity to handle bees, having my own gave me a lot more confidence and of course I had to deal with my cxxxxups!
Cheers
Stiffy

The answer to starting out as a new beek.........many and varied but then as with all wildlife they throw up more questions than answers.....brilliant !
 

oliver90owner 

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1 hive is the best

I rarely make a definitive statement like that.

One needs to be sure that their arguments stand up to total scrutiny.

There is not a 'best'. I never tell anyone they must buy two colonies, I just recommend that course, as do many others.

I wonder how many queens have been lost in one way or another by an over-enthusiastic beginner. As beginners we all want to check the colonies to gain experience as quickly as possible often before the nuc expands into a full colony. Bad news. Too many inspections and inexperienced operatives.

The cost of two hives and colonies need not be much more than one hive, two colonies and a couple of extra queens. Lets face it you need hive tool, smoker, spare bits and pieces and a beesuit whether one or two or more colonies. I always liked the beek who kept telling people it only cost 50 quid to start beekeeeping - a scond hand hive, a swarm and a net curtain, and a lot of luck, I daresay.

I was going to start with two full colonies but was mentored by a very experienced beekeeper who, unfortunately, was giving up his two colonies due to ill health, so I started with four full colonies. Two Nationals and two WBCs. Gone up and down in numbers since then, including zero.

I didn't realise what pussy-cat bees were until I collected a swarm one summer. Later I met a fellow who was a starter with two colonies. One had died out over winter, the other was so docile (Bromley beekeepers, thumbs up!). He had only 50% losses that winter and something to go forward with, for a crop and recovery to two colonies.

I know that nucs and queens are much in demand this last couple of years. Two reasons - first, winter losses and secondly the renewed interest in keeping bees. They will increase again next year, I expect.

One could be spending over £600 to start with one nuc in a hive. I started with 4 for not much more than half that amount. I would not like to count up how much my hobby has cost over the years. I just enjoy it and the Association meetings, etc. Personally, I would not want to spend a grand to start with two colonies. Most need not, if they go about it in a sensible way. Ymmv.

Regards, RAB
 
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