Glory be. Mother nature (and the bees) took care of business. I inspected the hive 2 days ago, 2 weeks after a spectacular July 4th swarm (30,000 bees in a 40-50 foot vortex was a sight to behold), Michael-the-expert-moderator walked me through the home-grown queen versus store-bought queen management decision, I let them do their own thing, and lo and behold, a beautiful looking queen was there identified even by this rookie.
I had pulled two full brood frames up into the food chamber after the swarm on advice received here about possible overcrowding as a swarm trigger. There were lots of single eggs in those 2 brood frames and the rest of the food chamber frames were nearly filled with capped honey.
However, no eggs in the brood chamber down below, and still plenty of comb building to do. So, I reversed the boxes; put brood box on top of food box.
Was that the right thing?
>lo and behold, a beautiful looking queen was there identified even by this rookie.
>I had pulled two full brood frames up into the food chamber after the swarm on advice received here about possible overcrowding as a swarm trigger. There were lots of single eggs in those 2 brood frames and the rest of the food chamber frames were nearly filled with capped honey.
When were there lots of single eggs in those 2 brood frames? Now?
>However, no eggs in the brood chamber down below, and still plenty of comb building to do. So, I reversed the boxes; put brood box on top of food box.
>Was that the right thing?
Reversing probably didn't hurt anything. If I understand correctly you have some eggs that were in the upper chamber with a lot of honey and you've move all of this down to the bottom and you have some pollen and what used to be brood (but probably all hatched now) that you moved to the top?
The main point here is that the queen needs several adjacent frames to lay in and the nurse bees need pollen and open (NOT CAPPED) honey to feed the brood. I would rearrange the frames to end up with at least six frames in the middle of a box of either open brood, capped brood or empty comb (drawn is best, but new foundation will do) with another four frames of OPEN honey and pollen on the outsides (two on each side). Put all the brood together and the empty ones on one side. If you don't have open honey, uncap it up with a knife. The queen will probably already be on one of the brood frames, but if not try to get her in this box and put it on the bottom. Put the other one on top. If you have some pollen or open honey left over for that box put it in the middle so it's above the brood nest.
Try to picture this: A brood nest sorounded on each side and the top by honey. The bees will cap the honey to make a "crown" that establishes the brood nest as seperate from the rest of the hive. The queen seldom crosses very much capped honey to start laying somewhere else. A honey bound brood nest is one that the capped honey has squeezed the brood nest down so small that the queen no longer has any empty cells to lay in.
Thanks, Michael. I think your understanding is correct; I moved the honey-laden top box down to the bottom with the new queen and 2 frames of brood comb with single eggs in nearly every available (non-honey and non-pollen) cell. The brood chamber was either empty frames (4-5 of them) or brood comb with no eggs but lots of uncapped nectar.
I'll rearrange as you wrote. I assume the nectar-filled (uncapped) cells will not be a problem for the bees?
Are there particular strains of bees that are so proficient at making capped honey that they lose track of (and poorly manage) available space for the queen's egg laying?
<<Are there particular strains of bees that are so proficient at making capped honey that they lose track of (and poorly manage) available space for the queen's egg laying?
This sounds like the sort of thing that happens when they're short of space and incoming nectar gets dumped all over the place. A strain which routinely put nectar in the broodnest would be likely to disappear in pretty short order due to natural selection.
I've watched my observation hive when removing a queen and they raise another. They quickly fill the brood nest with honey as the bees emerge and there are no eggs, but when the new queen starts laying they start moving the uncapped honey out of the way. Sometimes, though, the honey get's capped and they don't move that. I don't know if different strains are prone to crowding the brood nest. Until last year I pretty much only had Italians and Buckfasts. Last year I got some Russians and Harbos. This year I got some Carniolans and Cordovans.
A strain that crowds the brood nest might pass on it's genes simply because they would swarm a lot and spread their genes around.
Depends on the survival rate of swarms and established colonies. If things got at all marginal, the ones with less organised broodnests would probably go to the wall.