|New vs. Used
Honey Production in N.
Graphs 1,2,4 & 5 courtesy Adony
Here's an experiment done right here on our farm at Swalwell, Alberta:
With a forty pound crop, the bees on foundation would not even pay expenses, at normal honey prices, and the hives on drawn comb would make over three times as much honey -- 120+ pounds -- and a good profit. The hives on comb were also much easier to handle, with less coddling required to ensure they did not starve.
What many people forget is that the first half -- or more -- of an average crop is required to pay expenses. Only after that, is there money to pay loans, the labour of the owner, and allow for expansion. The profit comes only after expenses are paid and a small increase in production can double the profit. Conversely, a small decrease in yield can wipe out any hope of profit.
Moreover, unless the year is exceptional, and the bees are evenly strong, from one hive to another, a lot of foundation will be left un-drawn (See the next graph). As a result, the second year may not be much better.
Here is the amount of each foundation
drawn as time passed in the above experiment.
Interesting note: The number of cells drawn above was roughly the same, since Pierco plastic frames have roughly 20% more cells per frame due to slightly smaller (more natural) cell size and reduced top and bottom bar area.
BUT... What if the drawn
combs are too old and full of drone comb?
Some drone cells, especially around the edges of the brood area are unavoidable, and maybe even beneficial, but here is the effect on honey production of having four drone combs in a double brood chamber, compared to hives without much drone brood.
I read the paper, and my main criticism is that he added solid drone combs at positions 3 and 7 (see diagram below). IMO, this is not the way I find drone comb in my hives when the bees make it. Usually the drone cells area round the periphery, and not complete frame-sized slabs, so I wonder how applicable these results are. To me, this arrangement is artificial and restricts the area available for worker brood, especially considering that -- as we have covered here before -- the amounts of egg laying and worker brood Seeley reports (elsewhere) as being normal in his area are much higher that what I have seen in my experience.
A Beekeeper's Diary