The process of splitting hives, also known as making nucs, has become essential for all sideline and commercial beekeepers. Making nucs is done for a variety of reasons:
- Replace hives lost during the winter.
- Expanding the business with increased number of hives.
- Splitting the hive before it has a chance to swarm.
Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD has reared its ugly head again. The losses are similar to those I saw in 2006 when I lost seventy percent of my hives. This year the number reach eighty percent. It’s as bad as I have ever seen it. What gives me hope is that my families bee business recovered from our losses in 2006 and went on to enjoy five prosperous years with strong honey crops and all-time high pollination income. As I have put plans in motion to recover from our catastrophic losses of the past eight months I am hopeful that the coming years will be kind to our bees.
I have mixed emotions when it comes to package hives. Some of the most pleasant days working bees have been when I installed packages. It’s exciting to see the old equipment filled again with young, healthy bees. On the other hand, I only get package bees when the winter hive loss reaches devastating levels as it did this winter.
50 Package Hives in Cherry Orchard
Two days ago I, along with four other family members, installed 220 package hives in eight different orchards. It took us about eight hours to get the work completed. When I first woke up and looked outside, I was concerned to find two inches of newly fallen snow. Fortunately the weather worked in our favor by staying cool, dry and cloudy all day. The bees kept calm and didn’t fly much, which will help them settle into their new hives nicely. The last time I purchased package hives six years ago, the temperature got too hot and the bees drifted a lot.
Below is a short video of how I install package hives.
Installing Package Hive
There are very mixed opinions in the world of beekeeping about the almond pollination in California. It has received part blame on the outbreak of CCD due to transporting hives long distances. The almond groves could be considered the countries petri dish for bee diseases. With over a million and a half hives being trucked into a condensed area of California, hives are bound to catch some additional virus or bacteria. The so-called “natural” beekeeping movement speaks as if it’s a horrible stress to inflict on these poor insects and should be stopped. And all the while commercial and sideline beekeepers quietly load up the semi trucks year after year and move their beehives into the almond groves. Continue reading
A sideline beekeeper, as I would like to define, is someone who works another full-time job and runs a side beekeeping business. This beekeeping venture probably started as a hobby with a few hives and grew to a dozen or more. You are starting to make a side income and the amount of time spent with the bees has increased to the level of a part-time job. Now decisions will need to be made as to how large of an operation to run, how to effectively build it and how to balance all the other demands of life while pursuing this great adventure. Continue reading