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My Apiary Continues To Grow - Help!


#1

Fairly new beekeeper here. I got started last May with two colonies and two flow hives. My intentions were to only have two hives. A year later, I now have six colonies: one from a wild caught swarm, one from a hive cut out and two from splits in addition to my original two. Yes, you could say that am slightly addicted.

However, how does one maintain a consistent number of hives? Sure, I can resist the urge to capture swarms or do hive removals, but isn’t splitting hives necessary to prevent losing half of each hive to swarming when they are getting overly crowded? Do those of you who maintain a consistent number of hives just allow the bees reproductive nature to take place and swarm?

The only other option that I am aware of is to do the splits and attempt to sell nucs for profit; if I could find anyone who is interested in buying them.

I appreciate any feedback.


#2

You suffer from bee math like me. 1+1=50


#3

Where in the world are you, Jason? At this time of year in the US, there is a huge demand for nuclei, and you could probably sell them for $150 or more if they have a known, marked queen. The best place to start with selling is your own local bee club. Craig’s List (in the US) is another possibility, but expect to have your price cut down.

To answer your question in a bit more detail, yes you have to split hives to prevent swarming. I aim to have 3 hives. I will tolerate up to 5, but by winter, I always want to be back down to 4. I will do that by merging any weak colonies into a hive I want to keep at the end of the season. I hope never to lose a hive, but nature often has other ideas, so if I enter winter with 4, I probably have 3 by spring, which is a good place to start again.

If I can’t sell the nuclei, I offer to donate them to my club, but that hurts if you have bought a queen and you don’t get any equipment in return (frames, foundation etc). At least it controls the apiary though. I also have a mentor whom I think will take them from me at cost, and resell them, as he supplied the bees and knows the heritage. He has a waiting list for his nuclei, so if I can supply him one, it gets him a little more profit.

Hopefully that gives you one or two ideas. :blush:


#4

RHC. Hahaha. Exactly!


#5

Thanks Dawn! I’m in Louisiana near Baton Rouge.

I haven’t thought about Craig’s List. I considered mentioning it at one of the club meetings, but still feel like I would be “stepping on the the toes” of the professional beekeepers who do this for a living.


#6

My club in San Diego has a kind of forum, and any member can list available bees there. You don’t have to give a price, but if somebody contacts you, you can negotiate. I don’t think that most clubs would object to that, after all, who wants to waste perfectly good bees?


#7

Hi Jason, you wont have any trouble selling bee colonies, believe me. I have some people picking up a colony of bees for their flow hive this afternoon.

Just one free ad on Gumtree brings plenty of responses. I haven’t done that for a while.


#8

Hi Jason, just going back to your first post on this topic, I reckon it’s generally not the done thing to let nature take its course and allow swarming to maintain hive numbers- they can end up causing distress and damage if they get into houses/buildings. Sometimes they can get away even doing your best to control it but at least we can try. Dawn mentions merging the colonies back together after a split to contain hive numbers - I wonder if many members who do this also get the bonus of a really super strong hive going into winter -which will produce well in the first flow?


#9

if you can buy complete hives affordably- you could try selling more established complete hives. A hive full of bees and ready to go is a very salable thing…


#10

That is the idea, and providing the flow is good, it works well. Also with varroa in this country, the late season merge helps to mitigate some of the inevitable overwinter losses. :slight_smile: