Two-Queen System within a Colony of Honeybees to Increase Honey Production, Protect Hive Health and Increase Revenues
Our work activities late winter and early spring includes checking for any weakened colonies from the past winter and then gets our queen order called into requeen all of our 180 beehives. My next concern is to feed supplemental protein and corn syrup for stimulative brood rearing. After colony population is very strong, I then add honey supers to store the surplus honey in and after the supers are filled, they are brought in to our extracting facility to have all the honey extracted and placed in fifty-five gallon honey barrels. Grant funds received were used for extra equipment, new queen bees, corn syrup to stimulate brood rearing, and new top and bottom boards.
The results of this type of project has caused me to look at my extra time, queen expense and equipment to support these large colonies and found out that all the cost and effort has brought down my cost of production per pounds. Example: I have performed these procedures for 15 years and estimated closely my time spent on the 2-queen system versus the 1-queen system and shipment bee packages from Georgia. Our productions on the 2-queen systems are always 125 to 150 pounds more than single colonies ranging from 240 to 275 pounds where as the single queen colonies range from 90 to 110 per colony. My travel time is less because production is more concentrated. Our time and labor on 2-queen colonies runs about 45 minutes (50% more) than the 1-queen system which is 30 minutes. Swarming occurs less and strong colonies are less prone to nosema attack causing dysentery in the winter.
Our queen suppliers (Strachan Apiaries at Yuba City, California) were notified in September 2006 that we need 180 queen bees for the 2007 spring season to be used in our 2-queen system. All new equipment is in place and ready to go when the weather permits this spring.
Each February, around the 20th, Paul Reuter, a retired Game Warden, Beekeeper, and Inspector, and myself put on a Bee School in Urbana, Ohio. The presentations I give are always on Honey Production and Beehive Nutrition to increase yields. I find so many beekeepers withdraw somewhat because of fear of trying out new procedures, however, this is “overcome quickly” when they see our increased yields and have my assurance that I’m there to help them get their bees operating like ours. It never fails, the next time we meet, they are joyous and have proclaimed to me that the 2-queen system is really easy by following instructions that we have used for ourselves. I assure them it is now their responsibility to pass this along to others. I always add a bit of humor by telling them to take a B-plus instead of an A and my past mistakes produces opportunities to grow.