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Poly Hive 

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The problem is sourcing the local material.

BIBBA considers anything more than a few miles away not suitable for the area. I canna get my head round that one but there is is.

So here's my situation. I have spent this year looking for material for breeding from. No success at all even with my not inconsidearable contacts.

Given that most of what you say is right and I am not getting involved in a discussion of anyones personality in public and think Mission you are out of order in doing so but that is another matter. One for Admin to consider in fact.

Given that Queen rearing is in reality pretty easy where do we the ones who can do it get the material to do it with?

The bees in Germany are a wonder to behold. Years of careful breeding paying off, use of rules, use of isolated mating on islands, so why are we in such a dman mess?

More what can we do about it. all it needs is the will to get after it.

Lewis, Harris, Uist, Barra. Barra in particular as it has the airport, all could be used as mating stations.

However before we begin we need something to start with...

PH
 

admin 

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Mike shipped his first orders of 2009 around 3 weeks ago using imported queens.

Are you saying that in 2-3 years time we will be able to sell Nuc's with queens reared in the same year in April ?

I may have this wrong as I have only got it third hand but my understanding is that Mike is in contact with his solicitors regards comments and insinuations that have been made regards him burning hives because his yards have disease ?

I realise that Mike can get a little personal at times but thats just Mike,my understanding is that its not Mike who is taking action but Easybee products who Mike is employed by.
 

Mission 

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Hi Admin, You asked "Are you saying that in 2-3 years time we will be able to sell Nuc's with queens reared in the same year in April ?" Do you think that it can not be done? Raise queens in the spring and early summer and get them laying and into nucs to overwinter. Then in the following April supply these over wintered nucs with their proven queens. I managed to over winter nucs with last years queens and I can tell you it aint rocket science. Supplying of nucs in April can be done, but we generally are led to believe it cannot happen, to justify the importation of queens. Over winter the previous years queens and anything is possible. Certainly on a small scale anyway. But if many people are doing it then, supply will soon start to catch up with demand. It would be better for us all in the long run, rather than relying on a sole dominant supplier.

I respect Mike for what he manages. His supply quantity is a fantastic result. Very admirable. But we all have the choice as to how we aquire our bees. Whether we import or home rear etc. It all comes down to choice. If lots of us choose to breed our own, overwinter them and then supply them. Then the reliance on one supplier is reduced. Competetion is better for everyone. And Mikes dominance in the market is what makes him the benchmark to aim for. That's not an attack on Mike, but statement that gives him credit for what he has achieved.
 
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David P 

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Mission,
I am assuming for the purposes of this post that you and Mr Clegg are one and the same.
If not my apologies in advance and let me know and i will of course edit accordingly.

Mikes threat of legal action on the other forum is not an overreacted defense mechanism. If you read the posts another memner has clearly suggested that Hives were burnt in Gloucestershire because of some sininster threat and "we all lnow why hives are burnt". The implication even though not stated is very clear. Since bee base and therefore DEFRA show no recorded incident at the time the implication is that a notifiable outbreak has not been reported. This claim that has no back up at all could clearly damage Mikes business as well as that of any Gloucestershire beekeepers.

Congradulations on you having the queens ready to mate, i just hope the recent change in the weather doesnt leave you with a dozen queens fit only for bird food.

Its obvious that you want to rear UK queens and for that you should be commended, but it speaks volumes that you have advised a freind to get nucs from Mike rather than rely on a supply from yourself.

David
 

VEG 

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The only problem for somone to supply a considerable amount of overwintered nucs is the cost. Take as an example someone called Ted who is going to supply over 300 nucs. They firstly have to have nuc boxes that they can overwinter in, plus boxes to sell them in. These then will probably have to be fed and looked after. Then ted would have to factor all the labour and any winter losses into his prices. It may seem easy to do it with a few nucs but is a whole different ball game when you get into providing hundreds.
Not having a go but if things were really that easy there would be loads of people supplying nucs.
:cheers2:
 

Mission 

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Hi David - yes Mr Clegg. My friend wanted a colony on National frames that would hopefully produce some honey this year. She wants her bees as early as possible. So the obvious choice was Mike. My colonies are all for my own use only. They are not a commercial venture, but part of what I ultimately hope will become one. I am not supplying anyone with anything. Mikes hives have an excellent reputation, so I was happy to suggest she get one from him.

Again you are right about the weather. It could indeed play a big problem. But, if does then we simply try again. Sooner or later the weather will break and mating will happen. If all else fails then A.I is a possibility. Nothing is unsurmountable. Lets not forget - we are talking small scale breeding at this stage. Nothing more than a proving ground. Failures as well as successes will happen along the way.

Hi Veg, you are absolutely right. It does require a huge investment to be on a scale comparable to Easybee. But for a small scale producer it wouldn't be that bad. Nucs are very cheap to make and they are reuseable year after year. In terms of feeding costs, it wont be much different to the cost of feeding any colony through the winter and then adding an imported queen. Everything has a cost.
 

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Hi Admin, You asked "Are you saying that in 2-3 years time we will be able to sell Nuc's with queens reared in the same year in April ?" Do you think that it can not be done? Raise queens in the spring and early summer and get them laying and into nucs to overwinter. Then in the following April supply these over wintered nucs with their proven queens. I managed to over winter nucs with last years queens and I can tell you it aint rocket science. Supplying of nucs in April can be done, but we generally are led to believe it cannot happen, to justify the importation of queens. Over winter the previous years queens and anything is possible. Certainly on a small scale anyway. But if many people are doing it then, supply will soon start to catch up with demand. It would be better for us all in the long run, rather than relying on a sole dominant supplier.
Sorry Mission I thought we were comparing like for like,Nucs shipped in April with current year Queens not last years overwintered stocks.

Yes it would be great to be able to buy uk produced Nucs in April but nobody wants to take it on in the numbers that would be needed to keep up with supply.

If you imported 100 queens in April and 30% died in transit then by sending back the dead queens you would be refunded 30% of your order cost,but if you overwintered and lost 30% of your Nucs(Thats the number that the goverment seem to be running with ?) then you would have to take the hit.

So the 30% loss would have to be worked into your costings.

Talks cheap ! who wants to take it on ?

We could get individuals to breed and overwinter a few Nuc's each for sale but trying to motivate a few hundred beekeepers to do it and agree a policy is well......

Lets say I did a couple,I would have to overwinter at least 30% more than I need due to loss and then theres my own hives that will need to be increased because of my own loss as well,it starts to become big numbers for hobby beekeepers.
 

Mission 

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You know admin, I agree 30% losses would be very hard to deal with.

But if you bought hives from anywhere with a new UK queen, or even an imported one, you would be annoyed if they failed over the winter. Lets say you buy a colony in the spring from a supplier and pay £100+ for it and it fails in its first winter, then unlucky you are out of pocket.

If you bought a colony from someone who had overwintered it already and proved it suitable then you would have at least a reassurance that if it is fed properly, looked after and managed properly by a responsible bee keeper it has the best opportunity to succeed. It may still fail, but on paper at least it would have a better chance. Having already come through one winter would be less of a risk take. Let the supplier take the risk by overwintering and proving the queens and nucs they are selling.

OK Missions off dreaming again....................... I already know the responses that are coming.
 

VEG 

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You say let the supplier take the risk but in the end the cost WILL be passed on to the customer.
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Are we as beekeepers being selfish?

Beekeeping is one of the simplest forms of live stock to "breed" from, they are always wanting to swarm / expand and produce new queens.
There are approximately 600 members on this forum, with an approximate average of 5 hives each = 3000 hives (queens)
If each member produces just one additional nuc/queen/hive (i.e doubles up) this increases to 6000 or 3000 new queens/nucs to pass on.
The numbers of beekeepers in the Uk are some 20 - 40K, taking the average number of hives to be 5 again ....you get the point you can all do the math!

Why then is there a shortage of queens/nucs/hives?
 
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gavin 

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I haven't regularly tried to overwinter nucs but it does make a huge deal of sense to do so and I will this coming winter. One box split into three nucs can sit on top of a hive and be sitting there to requeen or repopulate any winter losses - and if they are not needed I've a saleable product. Useful to fund my visits to Thornes.

Three or four people doing this in each local association would make a big difference.

There is something I don't understand. If our (UK) winter losses are 30% and Slovenia's 50% (so I read lately) why is it such a good place to produce queens? What is the reason for these losses, and are the losses of queens in transit also down to the same factors?

all the best

Gavin
 

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You are right Mission,I would be placing my order for the uk Nucs.

Just to add my bit of impartiality:
I have been told by a few beekeepers that in the last couple of years imported queens have been superseded very early,even in the first year and some imports are very swarmy,about the only good thing regards the imports is they are available early in the year.

Mike does seem to get a good press on this forum and at times it can look as if its a our forum versus their forum type of thing,truth is new bekeepers want Nucs early in the year and Mike can supply.

Do I think Mikes Nuc's are any good ? as I seem to be the one with the admin hat I dont want to say because people could take it as a forum recommendation rather than my own personal viewpoint.

Maybe as a forum we could be the best chance that such a project would have because we seem to respect other members opinions more than some do,at least at times we seem to be able to agree without deleting posts and using abuse to get our points of view across and not using the Ban button as an answer to solving disputes.

As a group do you think we could make this work ?
Overwintering Nuc's into the hundred's between us ?
 

Mission 

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You say let the supplier take the risk but in the end the cost WILL be passed on to the customer.
Jim just hit the nail on the head. If enough of us took the decision to do it. Then the cost of purchase of a good colony would be reduced to everyone. Costs would not increase, they would decrease.

Dependancy on a major supplier is what keeps the costs artificially high.

Admin - A BIG THANKYOU FOR YOUR COMMONSENCE APPROACH.

I leave myself open to some serious abuse because I am willing to my neck on the line and go against the flow. I dare to dream, but I back up that with action. I have no interest in Mike personally, I have never met him, spoken to him - I don't know him. I respect Easybee as a business, it is an amazing success. But it isn't anything that can not be emulated. We all have a choice.

If just 100 people produced 3 colonies each to overwinter and sell next April then straight away 300 colonies are available to sell. Even with a 30% loss statistic we still have 200 to sell. UK reared, low carbon footprint - home grown.

Increase that to 200 people in year two producing 6 colonies each and pretty soon say 3 t 5 years we are on the way to being self sufficient.

It's not that we cant do it, it is simply because we CHOOSE NOT to do it.
 
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gavin 

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As Jim was writing that I was thinking - 100 decent associations, or maybe 200?

100x4 forward-thinking beekeepers. Two mother colonies each with three nuc on top. 30% losses. 1600 nucs available in spring, plus several times that number in late May and June.

Each beekeeper selling his 4 surviving nucs at £100 funds his Thornes bill, and makes a big profit from his early summer nucs.

I'm away to buy some plywood tomorrow.

G.
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Gavin some of are doing this already!

We just need the other 39,999 beekeepers to do it as well.

It is not hard, but then again beekeeping is not hard. Beekeepers (some) just make it hard!

I believe the word we are looking for is a cooperative!
 

jon 

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If you bought a colony from someone who had overwintered it already and proved it suitable then you would have at least a reassurance that if it is fed properly, looked after and managed properly by a responsible bee keeper it has the best opportunity to succeed.
I agree 100%. A proven overwintered colony is a superior product to a nuc which is made up of a few frames of brood and bees with a queen recently added.
I overwintered two nucs last winter and they are both up to full strength with a super on.

That 30% losses figure is bandied about a lot but I wonder how many longer term experienced beekeepers who breed from their own stock are reporting losses so high.

We have a local bee importer, nothing to do with Easybee, and anecdotal evidence suggests that many of his Slovenian queens did not make it through last summer let alone last winter.
 

jon 

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I have been told by a few beekeepers that in the last couple of years imported queens have been superseded very early,even in the first year
I have also heard the same. See post above.
 
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Nellie 

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I am very surprised that local associations do not seem to be more proactive about queen raising. A branch of our association is running a queen rearing series of events this year that I was hoping to be a part of, but it seems like this is the first time this has happened in earnest which I find even more surprising given some of the apparent "names" within our associations.

As a noob and given the fun and games that people have trying to prevent their hives swarming, I'm frankly amazed at the need to continually import large quantities of queens into the country.

My aim this year is to go into winter with at least two colonies whether splitting my existing or collecting a swarm, I'm thinking my aim for next year is to start seriously looking at queen raising. As Gavin points out creating a couple of Nucs doesn't seem to be that difficult a thing to do, if you end up in spring with a nuc or two surplus then that's your running costs for that year covered before you've even done anything.
 

admin 

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I believe the word we are looking for is a cooperative!
That was my thought as well,otherwise how do you manage orders of 150 Nuc's to a single customer ?

Out of interest does anyone know if the Honey co-operative is still running ?
 

VEG 

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The other thing that puts people off is that queen rearing is talked about as though it is some sort of rocket science.
:cheers2:
 

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