Albuquerque Beekeepers

Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.

I am somewhat new to beekeeping, and recently received my first package of bees. I am wondering how many hive bodies people in Albuquerque typically have? Is one sufficient or are 2 recommended?

Thanks!

Rhea

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It depends. I’m going to make an assumption that you are using deep hive boxes. A good rule of thumb is if your bottom box is at least 75% full of drawn out comb then you can add on a second deep box on top. You may consider moving a few drawn out frames from your lower box to the upper box to encourage expansion of the brood chamber to the new box. From my experience having 2 deep boxes for a brood chamber works well. With a good nectar flow and a prolific queen two boxes normally works great. You just have to learn what to look for. You are right in asking questions. My response may not be what other would do and that is to be expected. All things being equal you will also need a honey super or box above your two brood boxes. You should research the pros and cons of a queen excluder to decide what works best for you. For my two langstroth hives, queen excluders are very helpful. For other it may not be. If your bees don’t build out the second box enough to put on a honey super don’t be surprised. It will depend on where your bees are, resources, heat, rain and health of the hive. Good luck.
Thanks Randy! Yes, I’m using deep hive boxes and plan to use a queen excluder between by hive body/bodies and honey supers. It sounds like just about everything I’ve read about beekeeping is based on personal preference. For every opinion I read, there is someone else who says that that way is completely wrong and their way is right! Now I see why it’s a good idea to start with two hives... to experiment and compare!
I tend to avoid those who say there is only one way to do something in beekeeping. Logic and experience tells me that here in NM as well as around the world there are many ways to accomplish the same thing. To illustrate, we have learned that it is prefered by the hive for a queen to be well mated. This means that she must mate with many drones (diversity of DNA helps produce a strong hive). We are also told that a hive that has multiple nectar and pollen sources is stronger and healthier than a hive that only has a limited variety of nectar and pollen sources. Diversity is a key indicator in breeding queens as well as the health of the bees from nectar and pollen. I believe that the principle of diversity holds true with methods of beekeeping. Don’t be too rigid in how you do things. Look for principals in beekeeping that are successful and make sense to you. Always be open to new ideas and methods. You can’t have too many books on beekeeping or beekeeping friends to learn from. You will discover methods and principles that ring true to what you have experienced, read, learned from other or that you prefer.

I think that's great advice!

I Agree, if you ask 10 beeks for opinions you’ll get 20 answers; so i just try to find the ‘truth’ or whatever works for my situation somewhere in between...  I use all deep langstroth bodies (4 hives, 1st year back trying beekeeping after losing a hive a while back).  

From what i have learned 2 deep hive bodies full of brood/honey should be sufficient to overwinter; so by fall any 3rd or above boxes are for you, the bottom 2 are for the bees for the winter... And even then a lot of beeks will still feed pollen patties on top of that.  In my opinion the mites are the biggest reason the bees are leaving the hives so I think aggressive mite management and treatment is a priority.  We’ve been fogging them with winter green oil and plan on Apivar in the fall.  Hate to use chemicals but it is apparently pretty effective.  Supposedly there is some heat mat device that can kill mites but I’m waiting to hear more about its effectiveness.  

 Not a lot of experience under my belt but thats my 2 cents...

Thanks, Peter! I definitely have a lot to learn about mites and other pests, and would prefer to go the more natural route. I'm curious to learn more about the heat mat device you mentioned. 

I believe that mites are the number one problem in most hive losses too. It is probably a good idea to do a mite count to determine how big a problem they are before treatment. I have read and heard that oxalic acid is a good mite treatment that is different than using a pesticide and less harmful to bees. I don’t have any experience with it. I currently use all medium boxes but use to have all deeps. It worked well for me. By late September I would remove all but two deeps to prepare for winter cluster. We tend to get a late summer, early fall nectar flow and the bees would use that time to add on more honey stores for winter in the two deeps. You may not have a lot to harvest with new packages but you never know. With a good monsoon flow and reasonable temps they may make some extra honey for you. I have tried to feed pollen patties but my bees rarely ate it. They were bringing in early tree pollen and usually had a surplus of pollen in the hive from the summer. Late fall I lift the back of the hive and get a baseline for weight. I lift the back of the hive throughout the winter to keep an eye on food stores. I have only had to supliment with feed a few years. Most years they have plenty to last until early spring flow.

Thanks again, Randy. Is there a correlation between number and/or size of hive boxes and the magnitude of a mite infestation? I am also curious about why or when you would choose to feed the bees pollen versus candy or syrup? Based on what I've read, I am not expecting to have extra honey to harvest until next year, but we'll see :)

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