My biggest problems have been small hive beetles and wax moths. If the hive swarms, the beetles overwhelm the remaining bees, then the wax moths move in too. I lost my hives last summer. They seem to require constant manipulation to prevent swarming. I’m not sure if this is common or not. I know of two bee trees that died out. I think from this.
Keep reading & learning. Take a class. Get your equipment ready. Find your supplier NOW. They will be taking orders very soon. MN has some special bee challenges during winter. Plant foods for them to use all spring, summer, & fall. The fellow in the video is a long time professional permie type beekeeper from VT so I strongly recommend his other videos too. I suggest starting them as early as possible in spring & feed them heavily when necessary. Use a little Honey B Healthy to help boost their numbers rapidly. The only goal for the first year is to get the new colony as strong as possible before first winter. There is a type of honeybee called MN hygienic. UM website probably has specifics since they originally introduced them. You might want to look into those for increased natural pest resistance. It is wise to start with TWO colonies if you can. Especially in MN.
I had a hive in MN once. Don't recall many hive beetles but the oil filled traps are effective. Once the wax moths appear that colony is as good as dead unless you catch it early. There is another problem somewhere. The wax moths are just cleaning up the mess but first they make a really nasty mess of their own.
Good luck & happy bees!
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
A lot of anecdotal evidence suggests that smaller nuc hives are massively productive coming out of winter. It could be the smaller size helps the bees more easily defend the space and focus on production, or there is just something about the size constraints. That said, I would think splitting your hives, or letting them swarm and catching a good chunk of them, into nucs, then clustering those nucs for the winter (preferably stacked a few nucs high to make use of the chimney effect), would put you in a good place to take advantage of the relatively short foraging season. Once winter is over you split them up to their hive-stands and move them into larger hives when needed.
I've never tried this, and there is also plenty to suggest that bees get on just fine in northern climates under normal beekeeping conditions. But if I was worried about the climate extremes, I might take this nuc approach to overwinter/clustering.
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