Been up to the Bees today again to add some brood boxes, boxes where they create more workers, and feed those that are expanding. You don’t need to feed them at this time of year but when you do they grow faster and the hives are stronger ready for when you want to split them and make new hives. If I wasn’t going to split them I wouldn’t bother.
So, I have five hives, three are really strong and could be split, one is OK but isn’t strong enough for splitting but the last one doesn’t seem to be doing so well. There is a queen but no sign of eggs or larvae. I’m going to keep an eye on it this week and if no sign of anything next week she will be getting deposed. In this instance that means more than just losing her job.
The time I’m spending on the hives at the moment means I’m not doing as much on the land as I’d like and I’ve worked out I’m spending about 20 minutes per hive plus prep time per week. Using this data I’ve worked out that I’m can increase my hives to about eight which works out less a days worth of work per week on the hives, during this busy period of course. Much less in the quieter times. Any more and I think I will find I don’t have time for anything else and I have a lot of work to do. Eight will provide all the honey I need, capability for resilience if anything happens and the option to grow if I decide I want to.
As well as being time consuming it can work out to be a lot of heavy lifting. The bees themselves may be individually light but a complete hive including its contents can weight nearly 100lb. Luckily it comes modular.
It can also work out expensive if you are not careful but once you have all the hardware it doesn’t cost much per annum. Initial outlay can easily reach £400 each hive with bees plus one off equipment at about £100. Yearly outlay can be around £25 after that for consumables. I spend a lot more on several items in the house than I do on the bees once the initial investment is over.