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  1. #1
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    Default Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Some food for thought from "The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping" by Richard Taylor:

    " 25. How to preserve the integrity of the brood nest

    The brood nest of a normal beehive has a definite and uniform pattern. The queen begins her egg laying more or less at the center of a comb, more or less at the center of the hive, and works out from there.Thus one finds a pattern of sealed brood, surrounded by larvae, surrounded by smaller larvae and eggs. Eventually, as the larvae develop, the entire comb, or most of it, comes to consist of sealed brood.Then as brood at the center emerges, the queen again deposits the eggs there. Above and around this brood nest, one finds, first, pollen, then honey. The outermost combs in a hive contain only honey, sometimes pollen and rarely brood. The pollen is what is needed first, to feed the larvae, and then as winter approaches and brood rearing ceases
    (declines), the honey will be used; so both are appropriately placed."

    "This general pattern should be preserved, unless there is good reason for doing otherwise. Thus you should never spread brood out, alternating combs or empty combs (frames) of foundation, thinking that this will cause the bees and queen to redouble their efforts to fill the empty combs. It only demoralizes them, and puts them behind."

    (The small/startup brood nest will also benefit from a certain level of warmth, and it's conservation, (from #22. "How to make increase, with automatic re-queening") by placing the new colony over a double screen board, on top of an existing healthy colony. )


    "Similarly, the common practice of reversing hive bodies in the spring ...has little justification. It is likely to result in breaking the brood nest in two right across the middle. When a bee hive is inspected or combs removed for any reason they should be replaced in the order in which they were removed. About the only times the brood nest should be disrupted are when one is making increase by dividing the colony (21),(57), or making up nucs (19). "

  2. #2
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    athol idaho
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    I have broke that rule and someone with more knowledge can slap my cyber wrists please, but I had a new package that was just not making normal comb on some frames so I scraped it off and placed it between two frames that were properly drawn out with normal comb and brood. This scraping of comb has been going on for a month now. The other package I started with is drawing out comb perfectly. I felt I had to try and do something to get the foundation drawn out properly.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2014
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    Great Falls, Montana
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    You scraped off new comb produced by a new package?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    Some food for thought from "The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping" by Richard Taylor:

    "Similarly, the common practice of reversing hive bodies in the spring ...has little justification.
    I disagree.

  5. #5
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    I routinely break that rule by moving a frame of foundation in between frames of brood to get good comb drawn, or an empty comb in to increase the amount of brood the queen is laying. It can't be done until the weather is warm and you must have a good population of adult bees. One frame at a time is all you should do until the adults are strong in number, then you can move in one frame on each side.
    37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    yes they were making comb on the foundation they could crawl under between the comb and foundation if that makes sense? they are also making high comb on one side and very low comb on the opposite side.

  7. #7
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    "The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping" by Richard Taylor

    According to The How To Do It Book...I've been doing it wrong all this time!

    NOT.

  8. #8
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    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    Some food for thought from "The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping" by Richard Taylor:

    "

    The brood nest of a normal beehive has a definite and uniform pattern. The queen begins her egg laying more or less at the center of a comb, more or less at the center of the hive, and works out from there. "
    My bees clearly didn't read this. They often concentrate their brood rearing on the first few frames on one outside wall.

    A sure fire demoralizing method would have come in handy earlier this spring!

  9. #9
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    May 2014
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    I routinely break that rule by moving a frame of foundation in between frames of brood to get good comb drawn... It can't be done until the weather is warm and you must have a good population of adult bees. One frame at a time is all you should do until the adults are strong in number, then you can move in one frame on each side.
    I don't think you are breaking the "rule".

    The way I read it, he was referring to alternating combs (plural) - brood/empty/brood/empty/etc. I believe what you are doing is not uncommon, and I would do the same, under the same conditions - warm - larger brood nest - and balancing the need for more room/nice brood comb vs the risk of chilled brood. In many cases I'd advise any beginner to consider placing that same empty frame/comb along the outer edge of a small developing brood nest - just outside the last brood frame. Once a couple brood cycles have emerged, there is more flexibility.

  10. #10
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    Apr 2014
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    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    I started with packages this year, and as soon as I saw that they could and were moving on their own away from the inital frames they pulled out, i broke the brood nest up. Kept feeding them and they kept pulling wax. By day 21 they were hatching out large amounts of brood and kept right on doing the same thing. So i apparently have broken that rule several dozen times too.. lol. I'm with Michael Palmer on this..
    Thomas Bartram - Since 2013, 43 - 8 F langs, 22 Italian & 21 Russian

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by drlonzo View Post
    I started with packages this year, and as soon as I saw that they could and were moving on their own away from the inital frames they pulled out, i broke the brood nest up. Kept feeding them and they kept pulling wax. By day 21 they were hatching out large amounts of brood and kept right on doing the same thing. So i apparently have broken that rule several dozen times too.. lol. I'm with Michael Palmer on this..
    Interesting. He appeared to be disagreeing with reversing hive bodies (?). I was unable to find anything about the Wright checkerboard variation you appear to refer to. Glad it's working for you. It's finally warm enough here to consider something like that - care to expand on your/his technique?

    In an earlier post you reported "Out of those 10 (Packages installed this year), 1 went queenless and developed laying workers which was fun to fix, then in ALL 9 of the other hives 3 weeks in, I found supersedure cells."

    Do you think that may have had something to do with it?
    Last edited by Colobee; 06-02-2014 at 09:46 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Haven't read the book so can only comment on the quoted portion in the opening post. I suspect much of this may be further qualified in the book and context for these remarks may be missing in the post.

    There are 2 aspects to what he says. The first is that inexperienced beekeepers can and do cause havoc in a hive by spreading brood inappropriately, doing more harm than good.

    But the second thing is that as a beekeeper grows in his or her understanding of the bees he should not be constrained by some kind of rule saying he cannot move combs, shift boxes or whatever. If he can see a need, or an advantage, and has the understanding to successfully make some manipulation which will benefit the bees, he should do it.

    Me, I breed and sell bees. The more bees I can make and sell, the more money I have. I manage my hives intensively. The way I see it, they are working for me, and doing what I want, that's my view. Course the only way I can achieve that is work with them, and set things up so that they are actually doing what they want, to their greatest ability. If I just let nature take it's course, and never messed with a brood nest, I would be a poor man indeed, or likely doing some other job to survive.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    At one small yard this year, I inserted new undrawn mediums between two deeps. All five hives in this manipulation put out swarm cells in the now isolated top deep. As a manipulation to create swarm cell in Queen Right hives this worked peachy. Created a bunch of extra work for me, so don't think I will be I'll be doing that again. The top deeps were broken down into several nucs and the swarm cells distributed. Its a low input procedure for increase, but chaotic. Luckily, the bottom deep didn't seem to join in the swarm inpulse (yet).

    It may be some of the swarmy hive chatter that the forum is filled with presently is a result of overmanipulation and division of the brood (a la the deliberate isolation I trialed.)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I disagree.
    I agree with Michael on this one. ..there is plenty of justification to reverse bodies. OTOH, there are often reasons not to do it....splitting the brood nest is OK if it is warmish or lots of emerging brood or tons of bees. I think it is often done without considering what the downsides might be _n specific circumstances.
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    In my long hives, I've used the technique that many top bar beekeepers recommend, of putting empty frames between brood frames to expand the nest, once it's warmed up enough to not endanger the colony. In this my second year, each of my long hives expanded to fill a 4 foot long box, making for colonies that are actually a little scary in their size and numbers.

    Oddly enough, the one Lang hive I have here in FL swarmed, even though I left the brood nest untouched, only adding supers.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Should have ignored Richard Taylors advice & spread the brood in the lang also.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
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    Apr 2014
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    Lincoln, RI
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    When using foundationless frames, I find it advantageous to insert empty frames in between 2 drawn frames with capped brood. It appears to accelerate the comb building on that new frame and tends to keep the comb straight by being constrained between the adjacent drawn frames. I do not know if I have 'demoralized' the bees through my manipulation of their frames and am uncertain how to find out - worker survey?

    I also move drone comb to the outer edges of the box to keep the center mostly worker sized comb. This has the added benefit of being able to be used for honey storage in the larger cells once the drones emerge.

    If they are indeed demoralized by my actions, I have not seen any behavior change.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Haven't read the book so can only comment on the quoted portion in the opening post. I suspect much of this may be further qualified in the book and context for these remarks may be missing in the post.

    There are 2 aspects to what he says. The first is that inexperienced beekeepers can and do cause havoc in a hive by spreading brood inappropriately, doing more harm than good.

    But the second thing is that as a beekeeper grows in his or her understanding of the bees he should not be constrained by some kind of rule saying he cannot move combs, shift boxes or whatever. If he can see a need, or an advantage, and has the understanding to successfully make some manipulation which will benefit the bees, he should do it.

    Me, I breed and sell bees. The more bees I can make and sell, the more money I have. I manage my hives intensively. The way I see it, they are working for me, and doing what I want, that's my view. Course the only way I can achieve that is work with them, and set things up so that they are actually doing what they want, to their greatest ability. If I just let nature take it's course, and never messed with a brood nest, I would be a poor man indeed, or likely doing some other job to survive.
    In my view, that sums it up nicely. Thank you. There is much context to be inferred. Taylor's approach was to assume anywhere from a little to a great amount of knowledge, and approach a number of topics with that in mind. No one has questioned his 1st paragraph observations of the brood nest itself (yet).

    When inserting new frames into the brood nest, there are are some (not never) situations where it can be beneficial, and others where it is likely not. It may provide much needed space, or enhance a "brood boom"; or it may cause chilled brood, and incite swarm/supercedure activity.

    Reversal of hive bodies in the spring, when the nest is almost entirely in the upper, should have little negative impact. And it stands to reason that a strong large nest is much more capable of sustaining a "split" or reversal. There is justification that a knowledgeable beekeeper may have success splitting the brood nest. Reversal as a "common practice" should take the foregoing discussion into account.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    I agree with Michael on this one. ..there is plenty of justification to reverse bodies. OTOH, there are often reasons not to do it....splitting the brood nest is OK if it is warmish or lots of emerging brood or tons of bees. I think it is often done without considering what the downsides might be _n specific circumstances.
    Michael has chosen to disagree, and having read some of his work, I believe understand why, and under the circumstances, don't believe I disagree with him either. I won't put works in his mouth, rather make the observation that if you are experienced ( and understand much about the brood nest),and if you have timed early flows, and if you have strong colonies/large brood nests (and are able to address chilled brood), and if you have found that if reversing colonies does involve splitting the brood nest, and if you have found it to be beneficial for you anyway, then there is much justification. The inference that Taylor makes using the word little justification comes across a bit insulting. In the overall context of the subject, there is "little" justification, most of the time, and much justification some of the time?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Preserving the integrity of the brood nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    Michael has chosen to disagree, and having read some of his work, I believe understand why, and under the circumstances, don't believe I disagree with him either. I won't put works in his mouth, rather make the observation that if you are experienced ( and understand much about the brood nest),and if you have timed early flows, and if you have strong colonies/large brood nests (and are able to address chilled brood), and if you have found that if reversing colonies does involve splitting the brood nest, and if you have found it to be beneficial for you anyway, then there is much justification. The inference that Taylor makes using the word little justification comes across a bit insulting. In the overall context of the subject, there is "little" justification, most of the time, and much justification some of the time?
    Well, don't try arguing directly w/ Richard. He has been dead for a long time now. Twenty some years I believe.

    Taylor's main focus w/ bees was minimal manipulation geared towards comb honey production, if I understand what I think I know about him. So keep that in mind when reading quotes from his books.

    Michael, did you know Ray Churchill from Burr Mills, NY, near Watertown. He was really accomplished and knowledgeable about comb honey production too. I wonder if he rotated brood chambers? He has been dead a long time too, so I can't ask him. I wonder if Buster would know.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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