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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Checkerboarding with brood frames

    I know you aren't supposed to checkerboard with brood, but....One of my hives is very populated, and the top box has a couple of frames (foundationless) full of drone brood. Throughout the hive there are lots of fresh eggs, wall to wall brood, NO queen cells....I also noticed the bees are starting to backfill some of the brood nest with nectar. I took a new box that had a couple of frames with drawn comb but mostly foundation frames, and I checkerboarded it with the top box that had drone brood and honey. Could this prevent them from swarming, will the drone brood be ok, and is there a chance that the bees will use the drone comb for honey once they emerge?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    It's just a question of terminology. I would call that opening the brood nest.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    Would the way I did it still have the wanted affect of preventing swarming?

  4. #4
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    Aug 2005
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    Silicon Valley, CA
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    "Would the way I did it still have the wanted affect of preventing swarming?"

    It just might, but not guaranteed. You are entering the peak nectar flow now. You need at least a couple of empties above the brood box so that the bees have somewhere to store the excess. A strong colony can bring in 50lbs in 12 days if conditions are right.
    So, if you don't do something else, you may have just delayed the swarming a bit.

    Fuzzy

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    There are never guarantees. You didn't specify what you "checkerboarded" them with. Did you alternate empty drawn comb? Empty frames? New foundation? Combs with something in them? Assuming it was some form of empty combs, it should make a significant difference. Assuming a strong hive that can fill the gaps and still keep all that brood warm, it should work.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    You didn't specify what you "checkerboarded" them with.
    I took a new box that had a couple of frames with drawn comb but mostly frames with foundation, and I checkerboarded it with the top box that had drone brood and honey. I didn't have much empty drawn comb to use, but at least there were a couple of frames of it. The box with the brood and honey had about two frames of drone brood. It's a pretty strong hive so I feel that the brood should be ok. And since they are drones, I guess it doesn't really matter if they live or die - though they do have great genes.

    More than anything, I just hope they don't swarm. I read all the time that once they have made the decision to swarm, it's really tough to get them to change their mind. I don't know if they had made that decision yet since there were no swarm cells, but if they were starting to backfill the broodnest with nectar, what are the chances that that alone, without the swarm cells, indicates they have made the decision to swarm? This is something I keep wondering about. I have not read about checkerboarding for a while, but I seem to remember something about how there is a certain window for doing it, and that if you miss that window it won't make a difference wether you do it or not. Does backfilling the broodnest with nectar = missing the window? Perhaps it depends how much is backfilled, and if there is still any space left for eggs. Sorry for the rambling....I still am trying to wrap my head around this.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    >More than anything, I just hope they don't swarm.

    You should also be concerned about spreadin them so thin they can't keep the brood warm...

    >I read all the time that once they have made the decision to swarm, it's really tough to get them to change their mind.

    In my experience if they have started queen cells it's impossible...

    > I don't know if they had made that decision yet since there were no swarm cells

    They they have no committed yet...

    > but if they were starting to backfill the broodnest with nectar, what are the chances that that alone, without the swarm cells, indicates they have made the decision to swarm?

    They were probably headed that direction, but that's not the same as committing to it.

    > This is something I keep wondering about. I have not read about checkerboarding for a while, but I seem to remember something about how there is a certain window for doing it, and that if you miss that window it won't make a difference wether you do it or not.

    We are still mixing terms. You've been using "checkerboarding" for opening the brood nest. Now you're using it like you mean "Nectar Managment". In Nectar Managment you would need to do this, in my location, by March.

    > Does backfilling the broodnest with nectar = missing the window?

    Yes. For Nectar Managment. No for opening the brood nest.

    > Perhaps it depends how much is backfilled, and if there is still any space left for eggs.

    There is a point where they commit. The only point I have discerned is when they start building cells it's too late.

    > Sorry for the rambling....I still am trying to wrap my head around this.

    Good luck. Beekeepers have been trying to wrap their heads around swarming for centuries...

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

  8. #8
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    Jan 2010
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    Monterey County, California
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    "We are still mixing terms. You've been using "checkerboarding" for opening the brood nest."

    I think that is part of the basis of my original question....the concept of combining the two. There are lots and lots of bees in this hive, so I felt comfortable 'checkerboarding' with the brood. But it wasn't just brood, it was honey frames too (that I alternated with empty comb and foundation) Now this may have been a big mistake, but I moved the drone brood frames up into the new top box (alternated with honey and foundation frames), and the box below it has honey frames alternated with empty comb/foundation frames. My hope was that the drones would emerge and then those cells would get filled with nectar.

    "[my question:]' Does backfilling the broodnest with nectar = missing the window?' [your response:] Yes. For Nectar Managment."

    This has me confused. So are you saying that if I checkerboard after they have already started backfilling the broodnest with nectar, that checkerboarding will not be able to prevent them from swarming? If they started backfilling but have not yet made the decision to swarm, would the window still be open to checkerboard and get the desired effect?

  9. #9
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    Mar 2007
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    Oregon City, Oregon
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    checkerboarding is not done with foundation, but drawn comb. I dont think what you have done will help ward off overpop. very much...
    Honeydew

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    I wish I had more comb....still working on that! In the mean time I just used what comb I did have, which wasn't much.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    >This has me confused. So are you saying that if I checkerboard after they have already started backfilling the broodnest with nectar, that checkerboarding will not be able to prevent them from swarming?

    For a bee colony:
    * Survival is the primary motivation
    o Survival of the existing colony takes priority.
    o Bees will not do a reproductive swarm if they perceive it to jeopardize survival of the existing colony.
    * Survival of the species runs a close second.
    o Generation of a reproductive swarm is the secondary objective of every over-wintered colony.
    o The over-wintered colony expands the brood volume during the build-up by consumption of honey.
    o When the colony has expanded the brood nest to the amount of reserve that they consider appropriate, they are now able to move into the swarm preparation phase.
    o The first activity of swarm preparation is to reduce the brood volume by providing additional stores. As brood emerges, selected cells are filled with nectar or pollen.
    o Alternating empty drawn combs above the brood nest "fools" the bees into thinking they don't have enough stores yet for swarming and causes them to expand the brood nest, giving both a bigger field force and avoiding reproductive swarming.

    The time for this is generally a minimum of 9 weeks before the apple bloom. In my location that's about early March.

    > If they started backfilling but have not yet made the decision to swarm, would the window still be open to checkerboard and get the desired effect?

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon City, Oregon
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    991

    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Alternating empty drawn combs....... Yes.
    This is the hard part for new beeks, you basically have to use different swarm techniques your first year or two until you are a seasoned pro and have dead-outs lying around to steal from
    Honeydew

  13. #13
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding with brood frames

    Thank you Michael.

    I have actually repeatedly read through a lot of your website from the moment I started beekeeping. It has been and continues to be a steep learning curve trying to learn and grasp the many aspects of beekeeping. I can't thank you enough for the clear and simple manner in which you present things on your website, and for your continual willingness to help others on these forums and elsewhere. Your philosophy and approach has been highly influential to me.

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