Start with this simple fact. If you buy a nucleus of bees and the necessary hive equipment, you are going to be out around three hundred and fifty bucks. Ouch right? This being my third year working with bees I have put out, just for start up equipment, about nine hundred bucks.
You can purchase boxes of bees, I discussed what all that means in another post, and that will save you plus or minus seventy-five bucks a hive. The down side to boxes is that they do not provide an active “mini-hive” like the nucleus does, so it takes longer for your hive to get grounded, start producing brood and honey, and get stronger.
Buying your way to an apiary is expensive, so what can you do about that? Basically there are three strategies to grow your apiary without have to sell the children to the circus. They are as follows:
Split Hives: Take a strong over populated hive, catch it before it begins to swarm and split it in half.
Trap Bees: Set out your basic bee traps and capture bees who are swarming.
Remove bees for others: People often have trouble with bees, but these days are more aware of the declining bee population. So, rather than kill them, they want people to come take them away.
This year so far, I have been involved in two out of three of these methods with mixed success. Over my next three posts, I will talk about all three, starting with taking out a hive at someone’s request. Then I’ll talk about splitting, and finally, the one I haven’t done yet but want to very much: trapping swarms.
First allow me to update you about the general condition of the bees. We started the spring with one hive that had made it through the winter. No one was more surprised or happy than me. After losing both hives to beetles the year before,, and one hive to unknown causes during the winter, one success was just wonderful.
I ordered one more nucleus of Russian Bees during the spring. During the summer, the surviving hive was split. We also gained a hive though taking bees out of a house. I will talk about splitting and pulling out bees in the next two posts.
This summer has been very hot and dry. I am at the point where I am going to be putting out water for the bees. Today we are over 90 degrees and, as you can see by these pictures, nobody wants to go outside. Not the bees and not me. Maybe as it cools off.
But I looked late last week and everybody was fat and sassy, with some of the prettiest honey I have ever seen. I will check them tomorrow morning, and see how that is going. When I post another in this series, it will be about pulling bees out of places for other people, and trying to start a hive or hives from them.
This was my first try at that so I will be able to tell you about all kinds of things I did wrong, and hopefully you can avoid my mistakes.