I have raised 5 frame nucleus hives since 2016 from Spring splits and allowed them to grow out to double boxes (ten frames). Last year, and this coming, I’ll graft queens and be using the Coweta mindset and method (below) to make increase or to sustainably maintain a hive after the sale of a nucleus hive or queen. I always retain 5 frames with at least one frame of young larvae and notch the cells to raise a new queen as detailed in the following article.
Source: Coweta Sustainable Beekeeping Method by Steven Page
Coweta Sustainable Beekeeping
Most beekeepers are not sustainable; they purchase nucs or packages each spring to replace winter losses. This is expensive and prevents the creation of local, sustainable honey bee genetics. The true cost of a package or nuc can escalate when some die during the winter before producing any honey. If only half of these young colonies survive until next spring the cost per a nuc or package doubles.
A beekeeper with only a few hives may experience the disheartening loss of all their colonies. No honey will be harvested for a year and they must start over purchasing nucs or packages if they can find them.
The current or traditional methods that the beekeeping books teach do not account for the difficulties we experience. A book may teach Varroa mite control but not how to thrive in spite of Varroa. Most are teaching beekeeping from a time before the combined effects of:
· Varroa Mites
· Numerous diseases
· Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
· Small hive beetle
· Short lived queens
· High pesticide use
There has to be a better way.
If you have bees you can make more bees or more accurately, colonies can be used to make more colonies. All beekeepers have the resources in their colonies to become sustainable.
In the south, winter losses average one-third. During the summer make enough splits to begin winter with one and a half times the number of colonies required for honey production in the spring. If six colonies are required for spring honey production, begin winter with ten. For example, begin the winter with six production hives and four nucs. After losing two production hives and two nucs during the winter, a 40 percent loss, the two remaining nucs are used to replace the dead colonies restoring production hives to six. There is no need to buy colonies because of winter losses. In May, splits can be started to replace the nucs bringing the total number of colonies up to ten again.
“Almost every emergency of management can be met by putting something into or taking something out of a nucleus, while nuclei themselves seldom present emergencies.” E. B. Wedmore, A Manual of Beekeeping
To read the complete article visit: Coweta Sustainable Beekeeping Method