Epiphany - no, not the Christian holiday...the literal definition: THE SUDDEN REALIZATION OR COMPREHENSION OF THE (LARGER) ESSENCE OR MEANING OF SOMETHING.
My goals as a beekeeper changes from year to year...as I GROW as a beekeeper....as I GAIN A GREATER UNDERSTANDING.
This years goal...."propogation of survivor stock". 2 out of 6 hives coming out of winter this year.....my epiphany? THE TWO HIVES COMING OUT ARE MY ORIGINAL STOCK FROM 4 YEARS AGO!!!! yes! these bees have CONSISTENTLY made it through 4 wisconsin winters!
I'm going to take a guess at YOUR next question....WHERE DID YOU GET THESE BEES??? BEE WEAVER out of Texas....."ALL STARS" - which I just confirmed via the original invoice. They came in the mail - the first package DEAD ON ARRIVAL...one week later - the replacement came.
I've noticed that these bees are a little "cranky" in the fall....and I've wondered if they're not REQUEENING. I read in one of the bee periodicals that hives that REQUEEN in the fall (through superscedure) - tend to get off to a MUCH BETTER START the following spring. Their bee language is telling me in the fall...LEAVE ME ALONE....and I do so.
Last year I overwintered these bees as a 3 DEEP HIVE! (beekeepers - do I need to tell you how HEAVY the top DEEP box was????!!!) and they came out of winter with WHOPPING BIG POPULATION....ready for a split EARLY in the spring. And there you have it...the ORIGINAL MOTHER HIVE and IT'S SPLIT are this year's survivors.
So...for 2011. I'm not ordering any packages. I'm going to try to get these two hives to make me some queen cells which I can introduce to new hives/split.
I know that I'm SACRIFICING PRODUCTION for stock. My BIG PRODUCERS last year were two packages that I installed spring of last year...4 supers each!....but they're dead. SO - what do you do as a beekeeper? I guess that is dependent of what you're wanting out of beekeeping.