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  1. #121
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Thank you Micheal for endorsing that THEORY. In response to Matt, was wondering if I should mention that the beesource guru believed it to be true.

    I don't see it that way at all. Excess young bees is just one indication, of many, of the EFFECTS of the instinctive honey bee reproductive process. Reproduction by colony division is a complicated, and care must be given to both halves to insure survival of the parent colony and provide the offspring swarm with the best chance of establishment/survival in a new location. Although quite complex, the bees have had a long time to incorporate those elements of support into their instincts.

    Young bees are needed in both halves. Brood rearing is continuous in the parent and the swarm must have immediate replacement bees, during establishment. Brood rearing starts in the relocated swarm with cells barely started - almost no cell sidewall. Urgent. Which brings us to wax makers. The swarm makes no progress without comb. Wax makers are reported to need 10 days in quiet meditation to secrete wax, and the swarm needs a large contingent of those "unemployed" young bees.

    Bee crowding is another effect of the process that is considered a "cause." It's automatic that generating two viable colonies in a one-colony space would create some crowding, but it also supports the generation of the wax makers. Wax makers need about 100 degrees F to generate wax. By crowding into the top of the cavity, they can elevate the temperture with collective metabolic heat.

    May as well mention another favorite "cause" here on these forums that is an EFFECT. No Room For The Queen To Lay. Reduction of the brood voume by backfilling is quite deliberate and provides benefit to both the parent and offspring swarm. The parent gets a headstart on resupplying winter honey. Note that they only have the second half of the spring flow remaining. It also helps to recognize that their survival traits were developed for the forest where a fall flow is unlikely. Getting the brood nest back to a level appropriate to the fixed cavity size of the tree hollow is also of benefit.

    The swarm benefits from backfilling by freeing up the young bees we've been talking about.

    Yes, the reproductive process is complicated, but we don't believe any single element of the indications that we see are causes. The bees, or any creature, does not need an excuse for their reproductive process. It is handed down by instinct. We see the whole process as a well-orchestrated scheme that is undeniably effective.

    Walt

  2. #122
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    I should have specified reproductive swarming as we all know overcrowding can cause swarming as well. And my point isn't that that is the only factor, but if you're trying to distill reproductive swarming to one factor that you can control, occupying otherwise unemployed nurse bees does seem to be at the root. Your checkerboarding keeps them occupied with expansion when they would otherwise be unoccupied.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #123
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    We see the whole process as a well-orchestrated scheme that is undeniably effective.

    Walt
    So as a manipulation either providing more space and or occupying the nurse bees time is enough of an upset to change the orchestrated scheme if done soon enough.
    I guess the books do not define honey as part of the brood nest but to me it is a key element. However you manipulate the honey above the brood nest will affect the brood nest quite dramatically.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #124
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Thank you Michael and Walt. I appreciate your comments.

    I should have stated I was talking about Reproductive Swarms. I also agree Walt that it is not the only cause, but I'm thinking it is the major driver to the colony committing to swarming. So it can be used to discourage a hive from swarming.

    Thanks again,
    Matthew Davey

  5. #125
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    MB
    That's one way to look at it, but the original intent of checkerboarding was to intercede in the format further upstream. To divert the nectar of backfilling overhead. Got lucky - it worked. The side effects were of more value than just avoiding swarming. The technique was more reliable than other swarm prevention measures and larger populations generated much more honey production. Thought other beekeepers should know about it and abandoned my objective of supplemental retirement income, and now make a full time job of promoting the concepts. It's still a tough sell, but making some progress.

    Had my cryptic say and am ready to let this thread expire.

    Walt

  6. #126
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    For those interested I have found the reference I was talking about in my previous post. Page 9 of Better Queens by Jay Smith. "In nature, when swarming, the bees seldom need more than one cell and never more than three or four, but they often build from one to two dozen. Why this extravagance in cell building I do not know but possibly the bees are secreting so much milk in their glands they want to get rid of it. This desire to get rid of this over-supply of milk is probably one of the causes of swarming. I have often prevented swarming by adding unsealed brood from other colonies. This gave bees so much larvae to feed that they found an outlet for the excess of bee milk and the colony tore down the queen cells it had started."

  7. #127
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    this is my favorite thread. many thanks again to you walt, mb, and all the others who have been contributing.

    i only a had a few hives that i could try checkerboarding on this year, but so far, no swarms.

    these hives were overwintered in one deep and one medium super. when the time came to checkerboard, several of the medium frames of honey had already been consumed, so i tried alternating the honey frames with the empty comb frames in the one super to approximate checkerboarding.

    when foraging started, i added a second super of drawn comb above the first super. when the population increased and they started filling the second super, i added a third super. all i had at this point was foundation, but i checkerboarded the foundation with the nectar filled comb from the second super, so that the top two supers were now alternating frames of nectar filled comb and foundation.

    one of the hives had been bearding outside for the past couple of days. i inspected it today, and found that they had only modestly began drawing out the foundation frames in the second and third super, but had almost completely back filled the brood comb in the first super. i found several uncapped queen cells with jelly on the middle frames of the first super.

    in the deep, there was not much backfilling, and lots of brood, but only a few eggs. i think i found the queen, but she was shrunk down almost beyond recognition.

    my questions are:

    1. could we already be past reproductive cut off and could these be supercedure cells?

    2. did not having enough drawn comb cause them to run out of room upstairs too quickly and back fill the first super?

    i also opened up the brood nest in the deep a few times by donating capped brood to some smaller hives and put in foundationless frames.

    i decided to pull what i think was the queen and three frames of brood and made a nuc.

    can we please not let this thread expire?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #128
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    A.Q.
    I worry about an expert that doesn't know that one cell is invariably supersedure.
    That doesn't take away from the possibility that adding a frame of open brood could disrupt the format enough to avert swarming.

    Sq,
    1. We were in Harolds this past Sunday, and I believe them to be past Repro c/o. Two weeks earlier a couple colonies showed a hint of new wax and now all have some token new wax, but not enough to be 'all up' main flow.(Repro c/o wax purging) And none needed another super (Lull.) Those indications would be about three weeks earlier than normal and that's about the average lead time for trees in the area.

    If that is a 2nd year colony, they start supersedure promptly at repro c/o. If that colony had 6 or less Queen cells, regardless of colony age, I would guess SS. !0 or more - swarm.
    Another clue worth noting is the age of queen cells. If they are all about the same stage of developement - that's an indication of supersedure. To see the variation in developement age of swarm cells, you might have to wait a week or more if the first cells have been just started on the leaders. Too late for that now.

    Conflicting data: Bearding this early is a bad sign. Doesn't normally happen to CBed with adequate perceived room to grow.

    2. Possibly. You may remember that I told you that your drawn comb inventory was marginal. Although brood nest reduction starts at repro c/o, it's not as quick as the backfilling of swarm preps. When properly motivated with overhead drawn comb needing filling, the brood nest drifts smaller at a slower pace.


    Other: If you are uncertain about the queen in the nuc, you likely have reason to be. Queens trimmed for flight still look very much like queens. Some workers do appear to have longer abdomens than others.

    Walt

  9. #129
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    many thanks walt.

    there is a lot of new white wax in this and other colonies. i found only a few queen cells, and they were about the same age.

    i have been having to add supers for the past 2-3 weeks, but i'm not seeing much in bloom at this time.

    i am pushing the foundation as much as i can this year, and robbing brood to build up new colonies. hope to be able to over winter 12 strong colonies with a few nucs on the side, and have enough drawn comb to properly checkerboard next year.

    the queen in question appeared to have a little bit of her mark left from last year, but it could have been pollen. i have another hive that is queenless due to operator error, and i will probably be getting a few new queens soon.

    again, many thanks, best regards, and look me up when you are this neck of the woods next time.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #130
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Walt, I don't think Jay Smith was confused about supersedure. I understood that he was pointing out the abundance of swarm cells to support his hypothesis that "over-supply of bee milk" was a probable cause of swarming; In other words when the goal of the parent colony is to produce several well-fed virgins their routine practice is to make 12-24. I haven't seen a better hypothesis for this.
    I echo Square Peg's appreciation of this thread. Beesource is very valuable to me, it gives an opportunity to interact with beekeepers who think outside the box and are generous enough to share their time. Thanks.

  11. #131
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    I've been thinking over the last few days that in order to compare the various swarm prevention methods, especially Checkerboarding and Opening the Brood Nest, I think it's worth making a list of the general stages (not considering the age of the hive) and factors in spring buildup that contribute to Reproduction Swarms.

    This is what I believe happens as concisely as possible. If I have things out of place or just plain wrong let me know.

    - A couple of inches of capped honey around the outside of the brood nest is seen as the boundary of the colony.
    - Space is created in the brood nest by consumption of honey during winter, aiding in heating, and then during spring build up, generally moving upwards.
    - Due to lower temperatures, clustering continues, especially at night and so nectar is preferred to be stored in the brood nest.
    - Large amounts of pollen are available in early spring and this is stored in the brood nest to raise increasing amounts of brood. This is determined by cluster size.
    - Brood are often raised in batches during spring buildup due to limited space. Brood population can almost double with each batch. As the brood nest expands, gradually all stages of brood are present.
    - Wax making capabilities are very limited in late winter and early spring due to temperatures being too low and limited incoming nectar. So extension of comb is limited.
    - Expanding areas of brood, and storage of nectar and pollen in the brood nest by foragers puts pressure on the available space in the brood nest.
    - During a spring flow, empty cells are quickly filled by the foragers with nectar, before the Queen finds them.
    - Empty cells become less and less very quickly as they are filled with nectar. Quickly reducing the amount of open brood.
    - The Queen starts loosing weight due to laying less and less eggs.
    - With a large amount of young Nurse Bees, any very young brood start getting a lot of attention and large amounts of Royal Jelly is available to get deposited into these cells, making ideal conditions for Queen Cell building.
    - Once the brood nest is backfilled with nectar, and there is a large number of unemployed Nurse Bees, then queen cells are built.
    - Due to little space to store nectar, Nurse Bees are also full of nectar. This aids in preparing for wax production. (It is held on to as long as possible, in preparation for a swarm.)
    - The Nurse Bees are now ready to swarm as soon as weather permits.
    - Scouts start searching for a new hive location.
    - When ready to leave, a signal is sounded and bees (especially Nurse Bees) start flowing out of the hive, chasing the Queen out as they go to get her to leave with them.

    Contributing factors to Swarming
    So when looking at the stages in spring buildup it seems that the main issues in causing swarm conditions are backfilling of the brood nest with nectar, which then causes there to be large numbers of unoccupied Nurse Bees. Once there is a large number of unoccupied Nurse Bees, opening the brood nest may not be enough to prevent a swarm.

    Checkerboarding attempts to get the foragers to store nectar above the brood nest rather than in it, by providing empty comb above the brood nest. Ideally this is done before nectar sources becomes plentiful. It becomes clear that this leaves the brood nest free from congestion and allows for maximum population. All stages of brood continue throughout the spring buildup. Ensuring there is enough open brood to keep large numbers of Nurse Bees occupied. The issue with Checkerboarding for those new to beekeeping is lack of drawn comb.

    Opening the Brood Nest does not stop backfilling of the brood nest with nectar. Rather it tries to maintain enough space in the brood nest to allow for backfilling, while maintaining enough space for the queen to lay and to ensure that there is always open brood to keep Nurse Bees occupied. Placing empty frames or foundation in the brood nest encourages wax builders earlier in the season, but wax making uses extra nectar and likely requires higher temperatures in wax making areas, again using more nectar.

    Conclusion
    So based on that, it seems that deterring foragers from storing nectar in the brood nest in the first place looks like the best way to prevent swarms, produce a higher population and to yield a larger honey crop. (Sorry MB).


    Thanks Walt Wright and Michael Bush and to everyone else who have contributed to this valuable discussion. I certainly have learnt much from it.

    I will also start a new thread with the details from this post to put the summary at the start of the thread rather than reading through several pages first. Here it is.

    Thanks everyone,
    Matthew Davey
    Last edited by MattDavey; 04-04-2012 at 07:43 AM.

  12. #132
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    - The Queen starts loosing weight due to laying less and less eggs.
    I think the queen looses weight because the tenders stop feeding her.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #133
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest


  14. #134
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Adrian/Roland:
    It occurs to me that you guys are in a position to push back the frontiers a bit. The subject of wax purging came up on the "summary thread." It's a concept that originated here and very little is known about early wax making. Or, under what circumstances it can be induced. See a recent post on the other thread.

    In discussing the differences in what we see with M. Bush, we (MB and I) agreed that we need to know more about the traits of the bees on the subject. That gave rise to the "Experiment" on his website. No one was interested and it was DOA.

    Roland reported above that he sees early wax making in some seasons. We saw substantial this season, but my question is whether or not it was wax purging or field nectar induced. I think purging because it stopped about mid lull with the area covered in a multitude of tree species in bloom. (Including wild cherry and Black Locust - 2 of their favorites) We now make the distinction of "sustained" wax making as unique to main flow.

    Am assuming your moving capped brood above the excluder is incremental - like 1 frame when the cluster is smaller and increasing the number of frames as the population builds. So you guys are in a position to help out on the experiment, if you're willing to use foundation on a couple of hives to get a few preliminary data points. You might even have time on your schedule to get a heads up this year.

    Please??
    Walt

  15. #135
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Walt, yes moving the brood above the excluder is incremental as you describe. My deep frames are all Mann Lake PF's. Are you asking that we run the Roland type method with the designated (undrawn) honey frames undrawn as an indicator of when wax starts to be drawn? I could do this with a couple of hives. What observations/data points are you looking for?

  16. #136
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Am assuming your moving capped brood above the excluder is incremental - like 1 frame when the cluster is smaller and increasing the number of frames as the population builds.

    Basically, yes.

    Please define wax purging.

    Exactly what do you wish us to do? I have about 100 deeps with foundation.

    For reference, we are in the middle of our dandelion bloom.
    Crazy Roland

  17. #137
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    My dandelion bloom is just starting.

  18. #138
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    A.Q.,
    That's the general idea. This is not a good year to try this because of the advanced bee/tree schedule. An experienced beekeeper would have a good feel for when the sustained new wax of main flow started in his area. This season is not representative in most of the East. But a little adjustment in timing might be an indication of results for a typical season if referenced to the start of 2012 main flow.

    MB, in using empty frames in the buildup/swarm prep period says that the bees jump on it and draw it out - if there are enough bees to festoon the open space created by the frame removal. Maybe room to festoon (no foundation) makes a difference, but that's a refinement in the investigation.

    Conversely, I get no action on foundation any time prior to main flow. (Seacrist and other tests.) Bees use it for a ladder to upper comb only. True of fully established, overwintered colonies.

    Mr Palmer in Vermont reports that his bees are capping honey prior to main flow. In contrast, my bees don't cap overhead nectar until main flow. Is it a regional thing or is somebody reading it differently from others? That's one question I have, but not necessarily the starting place.

    First, I'd like to see when the colony will draw foundation inserted in the broodnest interior referenced to main flow. In other words, how far, time wise, in advance of main flow will they have sustained wax making capability. On each cycle of raising brood, give them a frame of foundation immediately adjacent to a frame of brood. If you don't get the same results I do, we'll consider it a regional thing and figure out the next step.

    I tend to talk in riddles. And over-condense. Feel free to grill me.
    Walt

  19. #139
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Roland,
    You posted while I was dinking with my keyboard.
    Re wax purging. What I see in Dixie is waxmakers generated during swarm preparations deposit their wax when its no longer needed for support of the swarm in a new location. Two circumstances cause purging. Either reproductive cut off or some are left behind when the swarm leaves. Those wax makers deposit their wax to prepare for a job change.

    Walt

  20. #140
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding verses Opening the Broodnest

    Room to festoon is an interesting concept. Two weeks ago I noticed one hive had drawn out about half of a medium frame that I had left in from a protein patty feeding experiment. After they consumed the patty they proceeded to draw out the now empty frame. I removed the unintentional frame and gave them two frames of wax coated plasticell foundation between frames of brood. After 1 week no wax was being drawn - - anywhere. Maybe this was "wax purging" . They had started to raise a little drone brood in the foundationless wax, otherwise it was empty wax.

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