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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,320

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    Unlimited Brood Nest Management.

    Since this was requested I’ll take a stab at this.

    The concept of an Unlimited Brood Nest (hereafter called ULBN) is in contrast with the normal practice of limiting the queen and the brood nest to a specific area (usually one deep or two deeps). It seems to mean different things to different people, so feel free to comment on what it means to you. To some it’s just three deeps with an excluder on top. To some it’s not limiting the queen at all. Basically anyone not using an excluder is running an ULBN since the queen can lay where she likes, but usually it also involves extra stores for building up in the spring.

    The old ABC & XYZ of Beeculture books call running a hive with three deeps for the brood nest a “food chamber”. At least the third box is. [img]smile.gif[/img] The idea was that the bees had more resources in the spring to rear brood so they would expand more sooner. This is still the same concept of more boxes.

    In order to run one effectively you really need (IMO) to have all the same sized frames in a hive so you can encourage the queen to lay in multiple boxes and you need to not use an excluder. If you use an excluder how is it unlimited?

    Dee Lusby’s manipulation she calls “pyramiding up”, is a way of getting the bees to move into multiple boxes. Basically she takes some brood from the brood nest (two or three frames) and moves it up to the next box so the bees will spread out the brood nest. This often gets the queen moving between several boxes laying. Walt Wrights Checkerboarding also encourages the queen to move when she wants and the bees to open up space for the queen to lay. Whatever method you use, the concept is to get them to expand the brood nest. Putting empty frames in the brood nest also encourages them to expand the brood nest. You can do this horizontally or, if there isn’t enough room, you can do this while moving some of the brood up a box, but then you’re “pyramiding up” again. Bees often hesitate to move into more than one box. By moving brood to other boxes you speed up this indecision. You need to do this judiciously. The bees have to have enough nurse bees to cover all the brood when you do this.

    So, the short version is that ULBN usually involves three concepts. Not limiting the brood nest to a small area. Getting the queen to lay in more boxes and leaving the bees more stores to rear brood on in the spring.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
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    5,080

    Post

    Thank You, MB. That is something that needs to be put in a sticky thread and be required reading for all members, young and old. That is what I have been trying to say, but your literally expertise is much better than mine and I think everyone can understand it the way you wrote it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina
    Posts
    1,443

    Post

    excellent post

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina
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    Post

    With the top deep, do you usually see a honey cap there? how often does a queen fill the other two deeps with brood, capped or eggs? thanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    Some of the management techniques are to get the queen to lay in the other deeps. Otherwise she may not cross between the boxes. Once you get her used to doing it she does it freely. I've observed she does this more easily in a hive of all mediums because she has to to find room, where with deeps she's less inclined to cross between the boxes. Yes, the top deep often has a honey cap if you run three deeps. But it also often has eggs on the bottom half of the frames, especialy if you "pyramid" up.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina
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    Post

    for me and others, you might need to say what pyrimid up is. natural comb is a upside down pyrimid, so i'm confused there.

    talking about getting her to cross, are you wanting her to go up, or is her natural tendency to go down? I have a similar question in 101.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,320

    Post

    >for me and others, you might need to say what pyrimid up is. natural comb is a upside down pyrimid

    I assume you mean the upside down arched shape?

    The "pyramid" is the shape of the brood nest after you manipulate. Something like this where E is empty and B is brood H is honey and P is pollen. You start with something like this:

    EEEEEEEEEE
    HHHHHHHHHH
    HPBBBBBBHP

    And, in the first step rearrange it something like this:

    HHEHEHEHHH
    HHEEBBEEHH
    HPBBEBBEHP

    And then when that has expanded into this:

    HHEBBBHEHH
    HHBBBBBBHH
    HPBBBBBBHP

    You add a box and move it up to somethign like this:

    EEEBBBHEHH
    HHBBEBEBHH
    HBEBBBBEBH
    PBEBBEBBBP

    When that fills in just the brood frames look like a pyramid.

    >talking about getting her to cross, are you wanting her to go up, or is her natural tendency to go down?

    I want her freely laying in four or even five medium boxes or three deeps. Not up or down. All over.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Mineral, Virginia
    Posts
    188

    Post

    "Everything works if you let it."

    I run 3 deeps, no excluder and last year had more honey than I knew what to do with. The bees in these two colonies filled the top two hive bodies with honey. I took the top one off, they got to keep the middle one and they hit thr ground running this year. To some this might not be considered "management", but to me, it's simply living in harmony with the bees. I don't recall seeing an excluder of any type in the last feral hive I saw, short of the thin line of honey the bees themselves will sometimes use to keep her where they want her, but that's natures doing, not mine.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Austin, Texas, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    Hi Michael,

    Question about ULBN management and overwintering. In discussion with an experienced beek who uses deeps for brood and mediums for honey. His opinion is the winter cluster won't have enough in a medium and won't cross from one box to the next to get the stores above. Raising bees in cold long winter country, what is your experience? How does the cluster move up when divided into different mediums?

    --Jim

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    I've used ULBN since I started eight years ago. In fact, I keep five deeps on every hive that has grown into them year round. I haven't seen any problems with the cluster moving anywhere unless they were brooding. Last year I had one hive build up from a nuc to four deeps. They started somewhere in the middle going into winter, now they are in the top box where there is still capped honey.

    I don't know about mediums, but I think Michael will say that it's not a problem since that's what he runs pretty much exclusively.

    Toward harvest time in late June, I see the upper two boxes full or nearly full of honey, and some in the third. Last year I had good success with adding an entire deep full of foundation between the bottom two boxes.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Beckville Texas,USA
    Posts
    297

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    Thanks Micheal.This is the concept i'm baseing my hives on now. Glad I have a name for it.
    While it might reduce honey volume it seems, at least in my mind, to lead to stronger, healthier hives. Strong going into winter, strong coming out in the spring. In this climate I was thinking 2 deeps would work but now you've got me thinking again. ****!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,162

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    Some of the reading I've done on ULBN. You never rotate the boxes. They let the bees stay in the top in the spring, & work their way down as they fill the top with honey.
    Might have been Ross Conrads book.
    Dan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    I don't see ULBN as reducing honey production. With a large unhindered broodnest, you have plenty of bees to work. Plus since I don't really touch any honey in the third deep, I've never had a hive run out of honey. If they're capable of bringing it in (most are if you don't rob them) they should be capable of overwintering without help. If they can't do that, I let them die.

    The theory does suggest against rotating the boxes, and it's generally not necessary, but I am a pragmatic.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,642

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    >I keep five deeps on every hive that has grown into them year round...

    Solomon, do you put the top two deeps back on after harvesting, and let them fill them up with the fall flow?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    I switched to ULBN 3 summers ago based on MB's advise and some of my own observartions with how the bees struggled to move thru the excluder. I have had a noticable increase in honey production since switching to ULBN.

    The first summer (2009) my two hives only expanded into the first medium above the traditional double deep hive bodies, however the last two summers (2010 & 2011) the queen and bees moved the brood nest higher than the first medium and ignored the bottow deep.
    For me this created a shortage of medium honey supers during the heaviest nectar flow.

    Last summer when I noticed this happening I reversed the deep hive bodies and then the queen moved back down to the double deeps and I got my honey supers back.

    IMHO the reason it did not happen in '09 was that we had a cool dry summer compared to '10 & '11 when we had record heat and humidity for our region.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    Solomon, do you put the top two deeps back on after harvesting, and let them fill them up with the fall flow?
    I put them back but they don't fill. Our fall flow is good for a total of a couple frames in each hive and it usually goes around the brood nest as it contracts. I leave the three bottom boxes alone. Last year, I had one very frugal hive make it through with nearly a whole deep of honey left. Unfortunately it had a lot of problems this whole year and died a few weeks ago.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,642

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    wow, sorry to hear about your colony. what protects all that comb in the upper two deeps from moths and shb, is it all the bees in these super strong colonies?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    They're not super strong, mostly average. The bees clean up the comb and maintain it even when they're not using it.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,642

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    thanks solomon, that's really interesting. are you going to put an empty box between the bottom two again, and if so do you still pyramid or checkerboard the frames above that?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Unlimited Brood Nest

    Usually I do some pyramiding, but a full box of foundation is for really exceptional hives.

    I try to add two frames in each brood box every spring.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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