In March of 2009, Erin got a SARE farmer grant to look at and demonstrate the differences between packages, northern raised nucs, and packages with the queens replaced with northern raised queens.
The project involves running 24 colonies in two separate yards (each yard with twelve colonies) on identical equipment, treating all colonies the same.
Erin manages one yard of twelve, and the other yard of twelve is managed by another experienced beekeeper, Larry Peiffer.
Each set of twelve colonies is made up of the following: four colonies started from Georgia Packages as purchased, four colonies started from packages where the queen was replaced with a Vermont raised queen in mid June, and four colonies started from CT raised overwintered nucs.
Since installation, we have been monitoring and recording the progress of the colonies for a number of factors including overall colony strength, mite, parasite and disease loads, comb building, queen replacement, honey production, and the final test will be winter mortality.
A record rainfall in June and July of 2009 caused some significant problems with the colonies (primarily queen replacement) but thanks to a strong fall flow the SARE colonies look very good going into winter. I have written progress articles about the SARE project for the Maine State Beekeepers Association newsletter, The Bee Line. The final project report, once written will be available at the SARE website.
The project abstract can be found on the Northeast SARE website here: