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learner 

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Having asked this question at a local meeting and not getting a decent answer I pose it to the forum.

If next year I have 2 hives and one year later they try to swarm which it would seem is likely how do I deal with the extra bees if I only want 2 hives?

When I asked this question of a respected bee keeper in Nottingham he replied that he would sell them to people like me, ie someone starting up.

When I need bees he is now the last person I should want to ask, an arrogant answer may raise a laugh at someone elses expense but what is the real answer how do I deal with unwanted bees?

I would just like to add that I met a very nice chap at this meeting who seems interested to help but I do not want to consume all his time with these questions.

Many thanks Patrick
 

jezd 

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i am sure other will reply, in the end they will swarm at some point so the simple process if you don't want an increases is to kill the swarming desire by performing a AS (artificial swarm say) and then at a later date re-unite the bees minus the queen - the bonus to that us your colony is made bigger. This way you can also select the queen you want to keep, ie the newer queen once she is laying or stick with the older one if you don't.

Bees will swarm and so need to be managed, extra nuc box needed for the above.

Extra point on this is if you have a space nuc box anyway then I would use it as a 'Winter' insurance policy later in the season mind - then once past Winter you can unite the bees as normal with a Spring boost for one of your main hives.

If that makes sense.
 
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learner 

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Thanks yes it does, but how big will a colony become before it is too big, and will winter reduce that colony or kill off some bees?
 

learner 

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Maybe no I DONT UNDERSTAND if an artificial swarm is created does that stop the production of new bees then?:confused:
 

oliver90owner 

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First, welcome to the forum.

You ask the question and then ignore a perfectly good answer! Is that him being arrogant? Alternatives might be give them away to deserving new beeks, or unite with exising colonies at the end of the season.

Another scenario might be that your one colony dies and you need more bees rather than assuming that they will all survive and double your number every year.

If they were all to survive there would be an exponential increase in the number of colonies and that is clearly not the case or there would not be all the current media attention re the plight of honey bees; there would be an awful lot of cheap colonies on the market for anyone who wished to take up the craft.

Another possibility would be to let them swarm. No increase problem then, to worry about.

The latter option might be a little anti-social (to humans) if you were to live close to neighbours, but could be regarded as good for the bees if they were to increase their numbers and so avoid the current problems of a diminishing numbers.

All sorts of alternatives. The one of simply killing the bees need not raise it's head. There are not enough bees because of human interference. 150 years ago (and less) they (colonies) were killed on a routine basis, to achieve a honey crop - farmed you might say, just like other farm crops are killed at market time.

Hope this helps.

Regards, RAB
 
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Midland Beek 

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Bee colonies grow in size if conditions allow and managing the bees' wish to reproduce is an integral part of beekeeping.

Management of the bees' wish to reproduce usually goes like: a) allow colony reproduction in a controlled way, and then b) decide what to do with your surplus colony/colonies. You can kill an unwanted queen and unite colonies, or you could sell or give away surplus colonies.

New beekeepers will find managing colony reproduction to be a difficult business, and a new beek an expect to loose swarms.
 

learner 

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Yes the answer was arrogant the way it was said was all you would need to work that out, perhaps though it was unfair of me to even start the thread with this statement sorry about that it is usualy me who asks for none dispariging statements. I see your answer makes sense, my hives will not be in a heavily populated area so swarming would not be a problem and yes then winter may well leave me short, also playing it by ear and having an insurance in the form of a nuc? No killing the bees is the last thing I would want, this is why I asked really, one of the main reasons that has spurred me on this year after 18 years of waiting is the lack of colonies.
 

MuswellMetro 

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Thanks yes it does, but how big will a colony become before it is too big, and will winter reduce that colony or kill off some bees?
you can run a colony on double brood boxes or brood and a half ( Brood + a brood in a super), i never tried double 14x12 but it may be possible.

The maximum size depends on the queen giving off enough hormons to go around, otherwise the bees in the outer brood think the queen is failing, so a new fresh queen each year produced by an artificial swarm and recombine help keep the hormons high, less likley to swarm.....and loose the half a ton of granualated tate and lyle you fed them over the years
 

learner 

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Thanks Muswell seems I still have a lot to learn, but that makes sense perhaps I am worrying to soon as I dont have bees yet, but next year I think will be the year and I would like to be ready for the more common problems and this seems to be one.
 

grizzly 

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No apologies required Learner, ask whatever you like here.

Just make sure that for every colony that you have you also have the equivalent again in spares.

If you split one colony you can always reunite later in the year, increase is not always necessary.

Just be ready and once you have done your AS, they should not try and swarm again. (just make sure you dont buy Carniolans)
 

learner 

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Oliver90owner, seems that you gave me lots of options to consider, the man at the meeting did not give any other options he did not answer a simple question he just embarrased me, as other people in the room later spoke about other choices or processess to help, I will not go on about this any more I promise, and I am not consumed with self pity I assure you, but your answer was different it was constructive and of value thanks.
A close to the matter of retorical answers thankyou for the usefull stuff so far.
 

learner 

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Is it practical to keep just a couple of hives then or should I look to keep more say 4 or 5 as a practical minimum?

Yes I can see value in a spare set of equipment for each colony.
 

grizzly 

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Nothing "Wrong" with them, they are probably the best ones to have if you want to make increase, or sell a few nucs.
 

Baggyone 

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Is it practical to keep just a couple of hives then or should I look to keep more say 4 or 5 as a practical minimum?

Yes I can see value in a spare set of equipment for each colony.
How many hives you want is a practical assesment of how much time you have to do your inspections (as a newbie you take longer than you think you would), as well as your opputunitys to sell the products of the hive. Having 200lb of honey in your cupboard setting like rock is pretty pointless to me. Build up to what you can use.
 

learner 

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Productivity and Reproductivity are they linked vigorous honey makers vigorous bee makers?
 

learner 

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Thanks Baggyone I see you have 1 colony so do you also nuc for winter?
 

oliver90owner 

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Productivity and Reproductivity are they linked

Not necessarily. There are other traits which might be important. 'Probably not' would be my answer.

Regards, RAB
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Hi Learner,

Keeping just one hive can be an issue as if you have problems you don't have another colony to help you out - raise a new queen for example, so it is generally reccomended to have a couple of hives and this number will certainly produce you enough honey for your own and family needs unless things go awry. However having two hives does mean having spares and/or nucs, so, for example you may have three or four later in the summer due to swarming issues (as mentioned earlier). When you want to you can combine colonies - say back to two strong ones in the autumn. This is done by removing the unwanted queen and uniting using the newspaper method. (Newspaper seperates the two colonies, each in their brood chamber. They chew through the newspaper in the dark and are happy and content. Leave a few days to settle). You can then go into winter with two colonies again.
Bee numbers increase during spring and summer until the middle of the year - times for maximum bee numbers when there is maximum forage to store. The queen then reduces her egg laying going into autumn. During winter she will lay very few eggs and may even stop during December/January. At this time of the year the queen will be laying some eggs and the colony will be relying on stores of food collected last year. The colony will also be relying on some old bees - until new ones emerge so failure can occur in a colony at this time of year. We are all hoping that our bees that have survived the winter will get through until spring gets going. They generally do, provided the hives are sound, there is enough food (suppliments can be given) enough bees and the queen is laying. If the queen has died or cannot lay worker eggs - she has turned into a drone layer, the colony is doomed - thats one reason why a second colony is a good idea.


Adam
 

learner 

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So natural life span reduces colony size, as well as the slowing down of laying by the queen, also ravages of winter. Thanks that answers a few questions.

Thanks to everyone who has responded again really helpful stuff giving me a lot to think about.:cheers2:
 

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