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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Enfield, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    22

    Arrow Reverse or not to reverse? That is the question.

    Beekeepers. Say you want to eliminate the chore of reversing hive bodies from your management routine. How do you do it? In my experience, if left to their own devices the queen will reside in the top box and leave the bottom (two deep brood chamber) until it becomes empty and will eventually swarm or move swiftly into honey supers. I guess my questions are these:

    1. If you don't reverse what is your swarm control method and what do you do with that empty box?
    2. How do you keep the queen out of the honey supers without a queen excluder with no reversing?
    3. Will running all mediums help by some way allow the queen to interchange b/w boxes more easily?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Default Re: Reverse or not to reverse? That is the question.

    In a natural hive the bees start at the top and build their comb down. By winter the brood nest is at the bottom and overhead is full of honey. All winter they work their way up eating the stores and end the winter at the top. Since their instincts are to store honey overhead they fill that area with honey and the queen works her way back down. No one reverses the boxes.

    Swarming is about the bees deciding to swarm and then setting things into motion to bring it about. The clues that it is time to swarm are having a lot of overhead honey stores, a good population of bees and time for the swarm to get established before winter. If these needs are met they will start backfilling the brood nest which will set off a chain of events. As the bees emerge and the brood nest has nectar stored in it, the emerged bees, who would have nursed the next generation of brood, are unemployed. It is these unemployed bees then that leave with the queen, who has now lost weight because she has no where to lay. If you open up the brood nest you can interrupt the chain of events.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,263

    Default Re: Reverse or not to reverse? That is the question.

    I have bees in a mix of hive configurations. The queens in medium boxes will move down into empty comb faster than those in deep bodies. Queens and bees will move up into empty comb faster in any size frame than they will move down.

    Your choice of management techniques seem to be either leave them alone, move frames, move boxes or move frames and boxes. It is up to you to choose which method is the least work for you and which one you like best.

    Checkerboarding will stop/slow down swarming, reversing boxes and adding supers of drawn comb will do the same. Checkerboarding a hive that is in a deep brood chamber and 2 medium for food chambers is fast and easy, and is usually a one time operation. Reversing is also fast but usually must be repeated at least once, at least here in my area. In both cases surplus honey supers must be added. I have used both methods and have no preference for either one. I check brood nests for disease as soon as the weather permits so moving boxes/frames is normal operations for me. It takes very little time to reverse when going all the way down in the bottom to check brood.

    I use queen excluders when I put on surplus honey supers in the last of April/first of May. My nectar flow is not a huge rush of nectar but is intermittent. The queen will have time to move up into the honey super if she is not confined. If your flow is fast the cells may be filled with nectar so that the queen can't lay in them and you will not need an excluder. Don't be fooled into thinking the band of honey above brood will keep the queen below, a good queen will find empty cells in which to lay.

    Any method of swarm control works part of the time, and usually requires drawn comb to be really effective. If you can't lift full boxes move frames. If the bees swarm, it's not the end of the world... just your honey crop. Find out who is the best beekeeper in your area and copy his technique until you have time to develop one of your own. Don't take any information as Gospel, try everything yourself and see if it works for you and your area.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Enfield, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Reverse or not to reverse? That is the question.

    Thank you both! Good data.

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