The Farrar rule (1931), known by many beekeepers, states that the more the population increases in the hive, the greater is the individual production of each bee. This amounts to saying that it increases in productivity and is known as a principle of synergy. This is because as the number of bees in a hive increases, the proportion of foragers also increases, according to the following table (Reid, 1980):

Total workers10.00020.00030.00040.00050.00060.000
Total foragers2.0005.00010.00020.00030.00039.000
Percentage of foragers20 %25 %30 %50 %60 %65 %
Population weight1 kg2 kg3 kg4 kg5 kg6 kg
Honey yield1 kg4 kg9 kg16 kg25 kg36 kg

We can also make a mathematical calculation by which, knowing the population of bees in a hive, the production of this hive can be estimated approximately. We say that the production capacity is equal to the square of the weight of the population.
If a full brood chamber has 10,000 bees and we know that 10,000 bees weigh about 1 kg, a hive that has 50,000 bees will be able to produce 5 squared, which means 25 kg of honey.

Editor’s comments:

  • Are Farrar and his rule known to most beekeepers (as stated above)?
  • Are the honey amounts listed: total produced by the colony, total harvested by the beekeeper, or what?
  • It would be very interesting to do some measurements on some real hives in the field. I suspect this is impossible due to the many variables and unknowns
  • More on this can be found on
  • The line below the table in the above link does not seem to make sense as it implies a hive of 1000 bees makes 1kg of honey

Anyway, it is certainly a bit of very new information to me. Perhaps someone would like to explore it further, or send their own knowledge if heard about elsewhere.
Thanks to David Parker for bringing this topic to our attention. The original article was in Spanish and I suspect that some of the ambiguities are in the translation.

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