The Compelling Case for Starting with 2 Hives
It’s early Winter and as the cold winds howl and the snow flies outside your window, you cozy up with a good beekeeping book and a warm throw and diligently research these fascinating insects.
The more you read the more you’re hooked. Now you’ve made up your mind that you are definitely going to kick off your beekeeping journey in the Spring. But, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the bees and the equipment itself is a hefty financial commitment.
So your first thought is that you will only start with one colony and see how it goes. While being new to the craft and not wanting to bite off more than you can chew may give some validity to this thought process, you should know that you’re selling yourself short if you only start with one colony.
Here’s Why:1. You immediately become more self sufficient
•When you have at least two hives you have a few more options available to you when things aren’t going right.
•If one hive is a little bit weaker, you can help give it a boost by taking some resources from the stronger hive and giving it to the weaker colony.
•If you experience queen loss at a time in the year when it is difficult to impossible to purchase a new queen you can transfer young larva and eggs from the queen right colony to the hopelessly queenless colony if they have no other resources to raise a new queen themselves.
2. You will learn quicker
•When you have at least 2 colonies you now have something to compare and contrast against.
•You will notice the subtle differences from colony A to colony B.
•When one colony is performing drastically different than the other it can help you identify that there may be an issue with one of the colonies.
•Having two colonies allows you to stagger your inspections so you can be into the hives a bit more often without always disturbing the one colony.
3. You have better odds of at least one colony surviving to the next season
•Beekeeping, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is highly seasonal. Bees are only available at certain time of the year. So if you have one hive only and you make a critical mistake and the colony perishes, you’re done for the season and will have to wait for the following Spring to try again.
•Winter is also tough on bees and even the best cared for bees sometimes still don’t make it through a cold, long Canadian Winter. If you have two healthy hives going into Winter you have a better chance of at least one surviving to Spring which will give you a whole new experience managing an overwintered colony.
•If everything goes well and both colonies survive to Spring, now you have the ability to make more splits and grow your hive count if you wish or sell the nucleus colonies to other beekeepers and recoup some of your initial costs.
There are likely a slew of other reasons to start with more than one beehive, but these are a few of the most compelling in our books.
Hopefully this article has helped you see the benefits of starting out this way. Lastly remember, even though it’s likely Winter when you’re reading this, order your bees for Spring early! Nucs sell very fast and if you wait until March to order you stand a good chance that the order lists are already full and you’ll find yourself without bees in the Spring.
Have fun on your beekeeping journey! NBee Gold Beekeeping Supplies is always here to help you get on your way and beyond.