Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paring Down for Winter, September Snapshot

Last Saturday, I undertook to combine some hives I had left over from summer nuc production.  Several five frame nucs survived the summer, however, only one was packed out with honey and a little brood like I’d expect a good nuc to be, so I saved that one and mooshed the rest.  That leaves me working with a total of 27 colonies.  I’d be comfortable losing around seven this winter, however, if the trend keeps up, the chances are pretty slim.

What this did was allow me to get rid of less desirable stock (probably lowering my winter loss rate) and enlarge hives that I want to keep but that are unable to build up sufficiently during our long summer dearth.  In doing this, I’m accelerating natural attrition and accelerating my selective process to produce better bees for human uses.

This is also one of the benefits of having a larger number of hives.  You can operate more like a population rather than an individual.  There are many more possibilities to achieve success and many more things you can do to affect that success.

Furthermore, it goes counter to the idea that every hive must survive.  That’s not how it works in nature, why should we try to pull it off in agriculture?

I am also finally coming into full utilization.  Right now, I only have two empty deeps that are not being used.  I think with the exception of a couple new medium hives that all hives are of the size of three deeps or bigger.  The only hives that will be fed granulated sugar only in an emergency would be the medium ones, they are new and I want the medium hives to make it because I’m making a partial switch to mediums.  Nobody else will be fed under any circumstances.

There’s my September snapshot.  During a time when many beekeepers are treating or thinking of treating, this is the sort of thing a treatment-free beekeeper is thinking of.