Michael Cox wrote:The underlying problem with treatment free beekeeping is that the loss rate of bees is higher, and in the first few years it is substantially higher
Michael Cox wrote:When breeding crops you plant large numbers of your hybrid seeds, hoping to spot that ideal genetic combination. The more seeds you plant, the better the odds.
Michael Cox wrote:Regarding having more production colonies - this is a non starter for me. For various reasons I need to buy my equipment. A Nuc hive fully setup costs me £40, and production hive costs me nearer £150.
Michael Cox wrote:Next - if I lose a production colony to disease it is a big hit, but nucs are cheap (in terms of bee resources) and renewable. I can make a viable split from just 3 frames of brood and have it ready and waiting in the wings in case of a problem. There is also always the option of selling nucs (£120 a pop here).
Michael Cox wrote:Swarms - I catch swarms. It is one of my favourite beekeeping pastimes. However, it is time consuming and unreliable. Typically it takes me one to two hours to get all the bees in the box ready to pack up. I can split a hive in under 5 minutes and get 3 colonies for the effort. This year I've put maybe 20 hours into catching 7 swarms (including travel time). Only one of those swarms has built up sufficiently to give me a yield this year, while over wintered nucs are far more likely to build up properly.
Michael Cox wrote:Actively propagating good genetics - swarming alone is hit and miss for getting the best genetics going in your apiary. Using splits I can make 5, 10 or 100 queens from my best survivors. If I design my system well I can then pick the best of those. Using Nuc boxes costs me 40 per colony to test vrs 150.
Michael Cox wrote:(Ran out of time posting from my phone - I'll come back later and add/edit)
tel jetson wrote:
it's an attractive metaphor, but I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate. bees aren't actually seeds, so there's some risk in applying lessons from the one to the other.
Production hives and language
But more to your point about needing to buy equipment: it's an issue. if for whatever reasons, a person can't build their own hives or buy used equipment, beekeeping can be expensive.
I've got a different attitude about losing colonies. I certainly don't relish losing colonies, but I don't consider it a total loss, either. there's generally some honey left, and plenty of wax and propolis. if there's empty comb in any boxes, I leave the comb in place and use the boxes for bait hives. I don't have great success with new boxes for bait hives, but previously occupied boxes attract swarms pretty reliably during swarm season. I also recognize that a loss of a colony that isn't well-adapted to some local condition can be good for the general population.
We are back to having the means to build your own kit again aren't we? I've had some bait hives setup but no joy, and I'm limited by my construction resources. I live in a tiny flat with no work space or garden.
I rely a lot more on bait hives that I can collect or move at my leisure.
My main criterion is if a colony survives, but its ability to propagate successfully without my help is also important to me. artificial propagation would prevent that particular trait from being selected for.
tel jetson wrote:it's a good conversation. a lot of folks getting started might get the impression that there's only one right way to keep bees. unfortunately, a lot of folks who disseminate beekeeping knowledge seem to do their best to confirm that impression.