how many hives to start with

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by T.J., Mar 7, 2012.

  1. T.J.

    T.J. New Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    being somewhat of a newbie i have a few questions i hope y'all can help me with.

    the first being : how many hives do you think someone new should start with? it seems alot of people say to start with at least 2.

    i have 3 packages coming April 24th & i have also talked to a local beekeeper that told me he could get me another 2 or 3.so, would 6 be a good number to start with?

    the plan : the first 3 packages are small cell bees & he reccomends 8 frame all mediums.the local guy is more of a "conventional" beekeeper and uses deeps with pierco frames.

    i have bought all medium boxes 10 - 8 frame and 10 - 10 frame to see which i like better and to get me started.i figure if i decide that i like the 10 frame better i can use the 8 frame equipment as nuc boxes(put a division board feeder in and i'll have a 6 frame nuc instead of 5).good idea or not?i have also bought enough mann lake pf120 frames to get started.

    any advice would be appreciated.
    T.J.
     
  2. RayMarler

    RayMarler New Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The size of boxes is really more beekeeper preference, the bees seem to do well in any cavity so long as the over-all volume is enough for them to build a nice sized brood nest with stores for over wintering. As far as how many to start out with, I always said 3 to start is a good round number, but go for more if you have the opportunity and desire. It would give you more of a comparison between different hives, and make it so you could check thru a hive every day and take one day a week off and not be checking or disturbing any more than a single hive per week!
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    2 to 5 is the most recommended. 6 probably wouldn't hurt. Everything else sounds good, except the pf120 frames. You are in SHB country. The pf120 gives them many places to escape from the bees. You will have to keep a VERY close eye on them, and if the SHB start getting the upper hand, you only have a few days to act, or they will kill the hive.
     
  4. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sounds like you are starting out with three :lol:

    There use to be quite a bit of talk on small cell bees, seems to me it has died down a little.

    The smaller the frame count in the box just means you will need to keep a closer eye on them, they can out grow them before you know it.

    If you have a mentor close by I would say to go for it.

    You will have to make up your own mind as to what works for you, I like wood frames with wax foundation myself.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Speaking for myself, I would have found it too overwhelming to start with more than 3 hives.
     
  6. Marbees

    Marbees Member

    Messages:
    983
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Started with 3 nucs, not enough buzzing going on, ordered 2 more.:wink:
    With more hives you speed up your learning journey. You watch bee videos, read books and articles, visit forums, and all of that "knowledge" you collect, clicks in when you see it in your hive.
    In my opinion 3 is a minimum, but there are no rules about it.
    Like and use pf 100 frames, got over 1000 of them, but those are not good for you, shb thing Iddee mentioned.
    As G3 said, smaller the frame count you have to keep closer eye on them, I prefer 10 frames set up.
    The hardest thing to do will be following Ray's advice about not disturbing hives.:lol:
     
  7. CharlieB

    CharlieB New Member

    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It depends on how fast you want to learn and how much time you have. I started out with two Carnie packages last April and went into winter with 17 hives. (The rest were swarms I caught). I'm retired so I have plenty of time to work my hives. I wouldn't recommend that many for someone who works fulltime but I can tell you that I have learned so much my first year.

    The more hives you have, the more problems you have which translates to the more you learn. So many beeks that were in my beginner class last year who only got one or two hives really don't know a lot more than when they started. I've had queens fail, hives swarm, laying workers, two hives with Nosema, one hive with AFB, weak hives I've kick started with brood frames, the list goes on and on. The more hives the better!
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ray writes:
    I always said 3 to start is a good round number

    tecumseh:
    I would definitely agree with Ray here (and just as a side note my father who knew absolutely nothing about bees but some 50 years ago insisted that I begin with just this number).

    did I mention that 3 is also a prime number.

    really the true advantage for a new beekeeper is that multiple hives gives you a better idea of the variation in bee hives. this variation itself will often inform you when things are not going properly.
     
  9. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

    Messages:
    372
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm a newbee, don't know what I'm talkin'bout, but here's my plugged nickle's worth... ;)

    I started with a a nice little 8-frame nuc back in December. I already had two 10-frame deep colonies bought but not delivered (mentor overwintered them for me)...just got them a week and a half ago. That gives me 3 colonies going into spring.

    When I set up my hive "row" I made 5 stands...the two 10-frame colonies are on the west end and the 8-frame colony is on the east end. The two empty stands are between the 10 and 8 frame colonies.

    My thinking is that the 3 colonies will be plenty for me to get hands-on experience with and to learn more about the bees. The two empty stands are for possibly a swarm or cut-out that I might stumble upon. I'm going to be setting out a few swarm traps to help those possibilities. ;) I wouldn't mind adding some feral genes in the beeyard (I have a remote area for a quarantine yard). If I fill those stands up I've got room to add more stands but will not actively seek more bees this year (at least that's what I'm saying right now!<grin>).

    Look at your own situation and see what fits for you...time, resources, experience, etc.,.

    Best wishes,
    Ed
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ed i think that's a very well thought out plan!
     
  11. kebee

    kebee Active Member

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I am starting out with only one hive right now, at my age and not much left over money was all I could aford. Hoping with the LORD help they will make it until next spring of 2013. I am planning on buying a little more stuff along the year so that I can have a couply more hives next year.

    Kebee
     
  12. T.J.

    T.J. New Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thanks for all the help & advice.i appreciate it very much.

    to tell the truth i had my doubts about the pf120's....i guess i should listen to what my gut tells me next time.
    a question about frames : what if i go ahead and stock the boxes with them,get them drawn out,and then put some of Kelly's foundationless frames in between the pf120's & cycle the 120's out as i go? what are y'alls opinion on letting the bees make whatever size they want?or would i be better off breaking down and buying wood frames and wax foundation?

    thanks again,
    T.J.
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As long as the SHB don't cause a problem, the pf's should be fine. If you can't control them, then switch. It's all the little cracks and crannies that is the problem. It gives the bugs hiding places.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    just as a note to ya' TJ... the same advice Iddee is given' ya' is also applicable to wood frames. for myself this means I have gone to grooved top bars and grooved/solid bottom bars to limit any small place a shb can lurk.

    if you want to grow a hive or a group of hives at some reasonable pace then cough up the money and go buy yourself some wood frames and wax. learn how to run wire in frames and insert the foundation... this can be a bit time consuming at first but after just a bit of practice and a building jig or two these can become their own reward <just kind of satisfies that urge to build something good which can last for decades. on the other hand if you have lots and lots and lots of extra time and/or no desire to go beyond a few hives then let them build their own wax <this is just an extremely slow process.
     
  15. T.J.

    T.J. New Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Iddee & tecumseh,

    thanks for the advice.i really appreciate it.

    i guess i'll go ahead and use the pf120's that i've got and keep an eye out for the SHB.i'll buy wood and wax from now on.

    what about Kelly's "new" style frames? good or not?

    thanks,
    T.J.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I TJ would heed iddee's warning and go ahead and use the stuff anyway. once warned you can pay a bit closer attention to this small detail and limit any possible damage.

    in kelley's new style frames are you talking about the ones with the split tops?? I myself would avoid those. if you go the wood route the heavier the wood (dimension wise) in the frames the longer the frame may potentially last. there is nothing wrong with Kelley's traditional frames.... most of the other suppliers frames are beefed up just a bit from Kelley's frames.
     
  17. T.J.

    T.J. New Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    tecumseh,
    thanks for all the help.i appreciate it.
    yes those are the frames i was talking about.i guess i'll go with mann lake wedge topbar & grooved bottom then....unless anyone has advice on a better frame to use.

    thanks again,
    T.J.
     
  18. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

    Messages:
    1,249
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    T. J.

    Here is a case where you ask 10 different beekeepers the same question, and get 12 different answers.:grin: I'm going into my second year and have several different frame/foundation combinations that I've bought, inherited, scrounged, or had given to me. I started out with the deluxe beginners kit from Mann Lake. It came with wood frames and ML's waxed Rite Cell plastic foundation. I love it. (I can hear Iddee screaming now) I also scrounged some solid plastic frames/foundation. They quickly went back down the lane to the burn pile. I was able to harvest 2 hives last fall, 1 with the wood/Rite Cell and one with wood/wax. Maybe it was my lack of experience in using my extractor, but I had more blowouts with the wax foundation than with the Rite Cell. Try several different, and use what you like best, and what works best for you.
     
  19. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    :ranting::ranting::box::club:

    Is that the reply you wanted, Gunsmith? :rolling:

    Yes, the blowouts were because of new comb and new keeper.

    I never tell a beek what frame or foundation to use. Just the known hazards of each, and what I use. To each his own.

    Heck, I know a few that even use TBH's, and I still speak to them. :D
     
  20. RE Jones

    RE Jones New Member

    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes you do, but I know better than to put the top bars in an extractor!!
    Robert