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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Connersville Indiana USA
    Posts
    33

    Default switching brood hive bodies

    Ten years ago I gave up bee keeping, Defeated by the verona mite.
    With the introduction of the mite resistant carniolians I decided to try beekeeping again.

    My bee are russian's from Kelly bee's, I am very happy with the way they came through the winter. I would recomend them to anyone in northern parts of USA.

    I have two hives, both with two deep brood hive bodies installed in 2010

    My question is [This spring 2011]

    Do I need to switch the hive bodies. I mean change the brood hives bodies from the bottom to the top, And the top to the bottom.

    central Indiana Jerry

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nassau County, New York, USA
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    IMO if the bees have moved to the upper super over the winter (as it happens mostly) you should put it at the bottom and move the now empty lower super on top. But if the bees are in the lower super, and did not move to the upper super, no need to switch.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Well, you can but you don't have to.... This is one of many topics of debate between beeks.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    If the bees have all moved up to the top deep after winter, there's really no debate. Switch. Keeping empty comb above the queen is one of the simplest swarm preventatives.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by NasalSponge View Post
    Well, you can but you don't have to.... This is one of many topics of debate between beeks.
    But even if you decide to switch them, I believe it's too early here in Indiana to do that.

    Off-topic: are you going to the Spring Beekeepers' Meeting in Bloomington?
    http://www.hoosierbuzz.com/

  6. #6

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    I agree, there are folks in my neck of the woods that reverse way too early in my opinion. If the purpose of reversing is for swarm prevention, why not wait until dandelion bloom or just before? I think reversing is a great way to clean things up and give 'em a little more space at a critical time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nassau County, New York, USA
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    According to "Beekeeping for Dummies" book, whose advise I follow rigorously, you must repeat the reversal in 3 to 4 week restoring the hive to its original configuration.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by WillH View Post
    According to "Beekeeping for Dummies" book, whose advise I follow rigorously, you must repeat the reversal in 3 to 4 week restoring the hive to its original configuration.
    That's only if your goal is to be a Dummy!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nassau County, New York, USA
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Omie View Post
    That's only if your goal is to be a Dummy!
    As the name of the book says it is for those who are already dummies. Not for those whose goal is to be a dummy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Chicago,Ill.
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Switching boxes works like they say, but make sure your not going to split up the brood . Check and make sure half isn't in one box and part in the other.
    Sometime there in the middle of both.In that case leave alone. Time to put down the book and pick up a local beekeeper in your area. Reversing back after 3 to 4 wks??. First time I heard that one.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nassau County, New York, USA
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by lenny bee View Post
    Time to put down the book and pick up a local beekeeper in your area.
    Don't need local beeks. We got something lot better. "Beesource.com"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Munfordville, Ky. U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,245

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by WillH View Post
    Don't need local beeks. We got something lot better. "Beesource.com"
    Absolutely, where else can you go and get as many as 50 differient CORRECT answers for 1 inquiry.
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    As can be seen from earlier posts on this thread, reversal is a multipurpose technique depending on colony status in late winter. Let's see if we can make sense of the advantages/ disadvantages. It's a rainy day in Elkton.

    In northern areas of longer and colder winters where the beek can winter successfully in a double deep, the cluster is often in the upper deep. He needs to reverse hive bodies to put the lower deep, mostly empty, back in service as a brood chamber. The colony will quickly build brood in the now empty upper. Two mistakes are often made at that point of colony development. He fails to add comb above for continued brood nest growth or adds an excluder above the double deep and then the supers. The colony sees the excluder as a barrier and starts swarm preps below. He can offset the backfilling of swarm preps by periodic reversal - 2 week intervals. By depriving the colony of their normal brood nest reduction and increasing the population he runs the risk of generating an overcrowding swarm - with afterswarms. If you are addicted to the excluder, learn to live with it.

    In more southerly areas where cold does not descend quite so abruptly and the colony gets the lower deep backfilled on broodnest closeout, the colony generally winters in the lower and has a full deep of honey overhead in late winter. Brood nest expansion is slower - unlike the nothern situation, they need to consume that overhead honey to expand the broodnest. They won't fill the upper with brood, but will typically leave some overhead capped honey as a reserve for the swarm prep period. Reversal can remove the barrier of the reserve, with some not-so-good side effects. You must insure that the population is sufficient to protect a divided brood nest.
    Timing is important.

    Middle Indiana is somewhere between these extremes - probably more on the northerly side. You'll soon have an opportunity to see your overwintered status and chart your course.

    We are dismayed at the number of beginners in the southeast who set out to fill two deeps with their first hive. Just asking for trouble. We shifted to a single deep and 2 shallows years ago. Too many advantages to go into here. One primary - ease of checkerboarding.
    Walt

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,118

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    In more southerly areas where cold does not descend quite so abruptly and the colony gets the lower deep backfilled on broodnest closeout, the colony generally winters in the lower and has a full deep of honey overhead in late winter.Walt
    I'm in the South and mine almost always end winter in the top deep with honey to the side of the cluster and only empty comb in the lower.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
    Posts
    1,585

    Re: switching brood hive bodies

    The key element that I saw was "Russians"... they will take much longer to buildup and will do so a bit more rapidly... although, the Russian queens that kelley sells are indeed hybrid Russian/Italians, thus they can start a bit earlier, it just depends on which end of the gene pool your particular queens are swimming in...

    It is best to wait until the bees start to build up before your first switch...4 frames of brood covered with bees, put them on the bottom... they should have already stored pollen on the sides of that chamber and hopefully a tad bit of nectar... once swapped, check out the empty deep that you put above... place the best brooding frames in the middle and any honey (if there is any) on the far outside edges, and pollen just inside of that... if you have any supers with honey in them, put them back on as usual... within a few weeks, (if a small flow and the weather is right), she will have moved up again and laid about three of the center frames... switch again... at this point you will have a full hive of bees, a bottom deep with open comb for her to lay, and a good variety of brood, and a top deep with the same... both chambers will have honey and pollen for brood rearing, and you will be ready to draw wax or fill supers.

    Hope this helps.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    heaflaw:
    I doubt that your bees ate their way into the upper over our milder winters. This suggests that the brood nest was in the upper in mid summer when they elected to prepare that box for wintering. They can winter in our area successfully in a single deep, properly prepared. Reluctance to jump the gap in functional comb in the early fall is just one of the problems with the double deep. To prove me wrong, check locatiion of the brood nest on 1 Aug. Am betting you will find them upstairs. If so, mid summer reversal might be appropriate for your flow pattern. Way out on that weak limb here.
    Walt

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boring, OR
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    i skimmed through here and it seems most of you are in favor of switching boxes. why?

    consider the natural progression of a hive in the wild (or your package): the bees begin building at the top of the hive. as they need more comb, they work down and store honey above. they continue this way through spring and summer. by fall, there is lots of honey above the brood and the bees are lower in the hive. through winter, the work their way up as they eat the honey and end up at the top of the hive. then, in spring, the cycle starts again.

    what happens when you switch boxes? at best, you slow down the rebuilding of the hive in spring and summer. at worst, you may put the honey in the middle of the hive and discourage the queen from moving up or down.

    will the bees adjust? most of the time. however, you have cost them valuable time as they reconfigure the hive. it does not prevent swarming. it just confuses the bees. for this same reason, it is better to add your second brood box under the first rather than over.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    Kathy, I would have to respectfully disagree with almost everything you have said. Yes, bees in a natural setting do not have the luxury on switching anything in the spring, but natural colonies do what's natural: they swarm. The idea for most beekeepers is to prevent this from happening. Your suggestion that bees will simply start over once they've reached the top is ill advised. The truth is that queens are extremely reluctant to ever move down a hive as she lays. I do come across hives at the beginning of spring where the queen is still in the bottom box, and that's where she's laying. In that case I don't switch, but if she has started laying in the top brood box she needs to be moved down. Saying that switching boxes during early spring doesn't prevent swarming is like saying the earth doesn't revolve around the sun. Both theories, but widely accepted knowledge.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boring, OR
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    i have had queens like that .

    swarming in spring is the natural inclination of a strong hive. there are any number of less disruptive things you can do.

    if you have a queen that won't move up, you can take her and a couple of frames of brood and move them to the top box. just take the frame she's on and the one next to it, and put them in the top box. put empty frames on either side. be sure that there are frames of brood or empty frames below her and not honey frames.

    if you find swam cells, you can split. take queen and some workers away to new hive, and leave swarm cells behind. if you don't have enough brood space, you can checkerboard the brood area, or just put extra empty frames next to brood area. save extra honey frames for feeding back later.

    i will not say that i have never swapped a box, but it is the very last resort when all else has failed to move a queen. in fact, i can't remember the last time i had to do it because other methods failed.

    also consider that a new beekeeper, being taught to swap boxes but not understanding the natural configuration of a hive, runs a high risk of not getting it right and actually causing a swarm. how many swap boxes and do not know that they can't have honey between the queen and the bottom box? they swap boxes and do not know to check for swarm cells, etc. better to teach them prevention than some easy fix...that may not be a fix.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,082

    Default Re: switching brood hive bodies

    however, you have cost them valuable time as they reconfigure the hive. it does not prevent swarming. it just confuses the bees.
    Reversing boxes works as an easy swarm-prevention method in my little apiary. It also is an effective tool in commercial apiaries with hundreds of hives. It hardly seems to slow down the bees, though I have no idea how confused they are, since they never voice their objections. (How, exactly, does one know the bees are confused?) That it doesn't work, in light of the success had by countless backyard and commercial beeks using the method, is news to me.

    It works well for beginners as it is hardly rocket science to switch boxes and take a peek to make sure it is not solid honey across the top. It is a basic management tool that we teach at our bee school classes for beginners. I haven't come across anyone that finds it as difficult a concept as you make it out to be. No one has yet been unable to comprehend our simple instructions, as far as I know.

    Nothing sets back a hive more than a colony that swarms while I'm sitting there waiting for them to move down into a lower box with 10 frames of empty drawn comb except, perhaps, a hive split as a method of swarm prevention. Done properly and at the correct time, reversing works to stop swarming preparations and, thus, keep honey production up. Also, done at the correct time, one doesn't have to worry nearly as much about finding swarm cells as the bees are not crowded into the top box, not knowing that they are to go down since they haven't read the books.

    I'm always interested in the arguments pointing out "what bees do in nature," but I'm always baffled why, for instance, when what they "do in nature," the bees refuse to do in the hive and swarm instead. I guess the box bees are just a little behind in their nature studies.

    Saying that switching boxes during early spring doesn't prevent swarming is like saying the earth doesn't revolve around the sun.
    NCSUbeeKEEPER: That's not very reassuring. A study a few years ago found that 1 in 5 Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. Perhaps 1 in 5 beekeepers believes that reversing causes swarms?

    Wayne

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