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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
    Posts
    54

    Default Checkerboarding when frames have honey & brood?

    So - I went to set up checkerboarding this past weekend, my first time trying this. Both hives overwintered in a single deep + medium. Both are doing well, higher mite loads then I'd like but plenty of bees, good stores, etc. So I went to checkerboard, and Hive 1: The medium on top had 3/4 frame brood, 1/4 frame honey on top (a few full honeys on the side). What to do? I didn't want to break up the nest with some cold nights forecast. So I took out the 2 -3 frames full of honey, replaced with drawn frames, and then put a new super on top, with the 2-3 frames of drawn honey interspersed with drawn frames between them. Will this do any good? When they look up from the brood, they still see a band of honey.

    Hive #2 had brood up to the roof on several frames, and full frames of honey on the outside. I basically did the same thing - so I'm feeling better about this one, although the checkerboarding isn't anywhere near complete, it's just two frames of honey with an empty frame between them.

    It doesn't seem all that likely that the bees will follow the rules - that is, break off their brood nest right at the divider between boxes, which is what all of the checkerboarding pictures seem to show.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Edgefield County, South Carolina
    Posts
    627

    Default

    >It doesn't seem all that likely that the bees will follow the rules - that is, break off their brood nest right at the divider between boxes, which is what all of the checkerboarding pictures seem to show.

    That's right bees don't usually follow rules @ least not ours. You are right by keeping the brood together @ least two or so frames in particular if you still have cool weather.

    Checkerboarding is about encouraging the brood nest to grow unrestricted and therefore have a larger field force during main flow. I often have a deep of brood and 2-3 shallows of partial or full brood. Remember to stay two supers ahead (drawn comb before white wax) if you are following Walt Wrights method.
    sc-bee

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Glenmoore, PA
    Posts
    97

    Default

    I posted the same question last week, and also did not get much of an answer - I am assuming that means those that read it do not know. So that means - It's Time To Experiment!
    So try this: pull out a few of the middle frames that have the brood and honey, and scrape off the cappings of the honey (can use a dinner fork), and put them back in. Add combs above that box. Seems to me that the bees will do one of 3 things - either move it up or use it to feed the larva (either is good), or recap it where it is (not so good). You should be able to see what they do in a week or less.
    Please let us know what happens!
    Howard

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Posts
    491

    Default

    "I am assuming that means those that read it do not know. "

    It could also mean that many of us are still going through winter and we wouldn't be splitting up any of the frames in the hives since we still have weeks of winter ahead of us. I still want my frames of honey close to the brood nest since March and April can still pose a challenge with the warm and cold snaps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,599

    Default Will this do any good?

    Any time that you can open up the brood nest, here in the West at this time, will prevent swarming.
    Swarming can be caused by being honey bound and or pollen bound.
    Check the bee later and you might add some foundation so that the bees keep working for you.
    I pulled a super of old honey off a hive yesterday and supered under it with all drawn out comb to expand the brood nest.
    I am located about 400 miles down the coast from you in Ventura county.
    Good Luck,
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,236

    Default

    Memcnult,

    In your area I would advise 2 deeps for brood and you should have one or more honey supers on board by now. Just last week I found a honey bound deep on top of one hive. Pulled it off and replaced with an empty super. There is no chance of starving in the bay area. But there is a high chance of swarminig starting next week.

    Regards – Fuzzy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default

    Don't break up the brood nest when it's cold out. If you look at Walt Wrights checkerboarding he actually leaves a full box of honey on top of the brood nest and checkerboards the two boxes above that (the brood nest at this point is one deep and the rest are shallows). If it's still cold out I would not break up the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    avery county n.c.
    Posts
    240

    Default

    Right. Checkerboarding does not happen in the brood nest. Ever...
    The brood nest is moved down, but kept intact.
    Thanks for your time, Beehopper

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,312

    Default

    Michael,

    Really, the checkerboarding procedure should be done early enough in the year that the bees are still only raising brood in the deep, assuming they are being normal.

    I agree with everybody else that you would not want to split up the brood. Checkerboard the rest.

    Also, if you are checkerboarding per Walt Wright, you should add a box to the hive as part of the checkerboarding procedure. The idea is to mix a box of drawn comb with the top box of honey.

    Neil

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,652

    Default

    [quote=Fuzzy;405070 But there is a high chance of swarming starting next week.Regards Fuzzy[/quote]

    Already started here last week 3/12, was the first call I got.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
    Posts
    54

    Default

    Hm, thanks for all the thoughts.

    I wanted to avoid breaking up the brood nest since I use primarily plastic foundation - that is, I've read about "opening" up the brood nest but using only an empty frame with starter strips. "Cold" is of course relative, around here we may have overnight lows in the mid to upper 30's, but the danger of temps below freezing is pretty well past. Still, I'll definitely give it another few weeks before considering breaking up the brood.

    hfrysinger, that was actually my only other idea - to basically manually 'ruin' the band of honey. I think I understand the basics of checkerboarding, I was basically trying to create the layout shown in the bottom row of the figure on on page 2. But when I went in, lo and behold, the top super, instead of being all neatly honey, was either a mix of honey & brood, or brood up to the rafters. In that layout I don't see a box full of honey on top of the brood (post checkerboarding, that is) as you mention Michael. Am I misunderstanding your post?

    Fuzzy - that's interesting, most local beekeepers have advised me to run a single deep over winter, but I've been pretty happy with the 1 deep 1 medium. There are a ton of bees and brood.

    So, right now, both hives have one deep, two supers. I think I'll give them another week to work on the brand new super, and hopefully by then they'll have created a nice layout like the picture... Riiiiight. But regardless, the 'point' of chekerboarding is basically to allow for brood expansion, and never let the bees "see" a solid band of honey overhead, right? With that goal in mind, I should be able to keep ahead of them with some combination of foundation, comb, and hopefully a few frames of capped honey.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default

    >I think I understand the basics of checkerboarding, I was basically trying to create the layout shown in the bottom row of the figure on on page 2. But when I went in, lo and behold, the top super, instead of being all neatly honey, was either a mix of honey & brood, or brood up to the rafters.

    That has been my problem as well. The idea seems great but my hives are not configured the way he is predicting at that time of year.

    > In that layout I don't see a box full of honey on top of the brood (post checkerboarding, that is) as you mention Michael. Am I misunderstanding your post?

    I don't on that page either. But the overheads he had when he showed it here at our meeting a year ago October, he showed it that way.

    Here's what he and I put together for an experiment on both checkerboarding (Nectar Management) and "opening the brood nest":

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesexperiment.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
    Posts
    54

    Default

    Ah yes, that's where I was reading about opening the brood nest up using frames with starter strips, but NOT foundation. Although I suppose I could try it with just an open, empty frame? I'm hesitant to think of the mess they might make of that though.

    Meanwhile, I came home and... yep, big ole swarm! Ah well, it was happily my easiest swarm capture to date (man, nuc boxes are way easier than the 'bucket & towel' method'!), and I have a few friends who were hoping my ladies would swarm so they can get into the hobby without a $100 lay out for a package. Happy to oblige!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,236

    Default

    Do not fear empty frames with starter strips. As long as they go between two already drawn frames, the bees won't make a big mess. I always coat the strips with wax ahead ot time.

    regards -- Fuzzy

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