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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    hamilton city, new zealand
    Posts
    169

    Default Natural comb and percentage of worker brood and drone brood.

    I have a hive with a carniolan queen which is mated with italian drones. The bees were allowed to draw comb on thier own without any foundation. They drew the comb pretty good but i would say they have built around 50 percent of the comb as large cells for drones and the other 50 percent small cells for workers.
    They did fill most of the large cells with pollen and honey last season. Its getting into spring here and the bees are coming up fast. The bees have already used up most of the honey and pollen which i left in the hive and the queen is laying pretty much everywhere in the brood box.
    What i find interesting is that the queen is laying almost the same amount of drone brood and worker brood. There are a lot of drones already in the hive. She is laying a very good pattern. I use 2 brood boxes, She has layed around 8 frames of worker brood in great pattern and around 7 frames of drone brood too.
    Is this a common thing to happen. I am not really worried because the queen in a young one from last year autumn and she is laying a great pattern. I am just curious to know if its how the bees maintain the worker/drone ratio in spring and summer in colonies with natural comb(foundation less).? Is there any advantage or disadvantage of having a lot of drones in the hive?
    Please post your replies.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,263

    Default

    They'll make lots more drones in the spring. As the daylight hours get longer, it's swarm season. Drones are needed in swarm season for mating queens. In late summer thru fall, they'll kick out the drones and use those cells for storage.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    morehead city, nc, usa
    Posts
    378

    Default

    I have enjoyed watching comb being built in my top bar hives this year. The variation in cell size and location is almost comical compared to my Langstroths with foundation. I'm sure the bees know what they need in the way of worker cells, drone cells, and storage cells, and I'm even more sure that they will not tolerate more drones than nature says are necessary.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Santa Rosa, California
    Posts
    86

    Default Natural comb

    josethayil,
    This is the problem that comes with natural comb. The bees build the larger cells to put honey in but the new Queen is wanting to lay eggs! The size of the opening determines the sex of the egg to be ovipositioned in it. As she ovipolitions in a worker cell, the sides of cells stimulate her spermatheca to allow sperm to be released and fertilize the egg. In larger cells this does not happen, no fertilization takes place and drones are raised. During a honey flow this is not a problem, but when this flow stops there can be a big problem with no honey! The hive will die out if feeding is not provided to this hive. Keep a good watch and note the amount of honey.
    Lee...
    Last edited by beemanlee; 09-03-2008 at 12:05 AM. Reason: Spelling

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Default

    I always try to get the drone comb to the outside edges of each box so they can use it as drone or fill it as honey and it won't be in the way of the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,207

    Default

    As the brood nest expands, a larger percentage of it will be worker sized. Do as Michael said and move it up or out of the brood nest, but don't remove it completely, and they will draw worker to replace it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    hamilton city, new zealand
    Posts
    169

    Default

    Thank you for your replies. I have removed a few of those frames. I will leave a few drone brood frames in there to produce drones because most of the bees around my place are italian/british dark bee hybrids. It will be good to add the carniolan genetics through the drones my hive produce. Adds more to the genetic diversity.

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