Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Newark, DE
    Posts
    37

    Default Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    So I'm fairly certain I overmanipulated my hive today, but I'd like to ask everyones' opinion on the right course of action. I've made it through several years of beekeeping but not very successful about getting honey, but I'm improving and last year while I didn't get any honey, I was able to build some drawn supers (the bees ate the honey while I was away).

    So last week I had 2 supers with nectar present above my broodnest of a body and shallow, the bees had 2 superceudure cells going (one right below the "pollen box" as Walt Wright says) and I thought everything was going great so I added a box of foundation between the nest and the supers so there would be warmth and they could start drawing out more comb for this year. Well the rain came and the temps dropped tremendously over the weekend, and today I inspect and the 2 supers aren't being guarded much at all, there is no drawn comb, and the upper shallow of the brood nest is backfilled. They basically all clustered in the low temps and then the foundation made them forget they had supers up there!
    So I freaked and decided I needed to do 2 things: Get the bees back in contact with the supers so I took out the box of foundation, and I quickly made a 4 frame nuc to open up the broodnest in the hopes that they won't swarm. I would add more drawn comb above the brood nest so my queen can keep laying but I ran out!
    So questions are as follows:
    1) Did I go overboard by building a nuc? If so, can I put the frames back in on Friday if I remove the emergency queen cells?
    2) Can a supercedure cell turn swarm cell? Is there a behavior or cluster characteristic that will tell you which it is?
    3) When is it appropriate to place foundation on top of the cluster?

    Many thanks to the wisdom of the internet for your answers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Macoupin,Illinois,USA
    Posts
    351

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    u say body do u mean a deep,a deep and a shallow isnt enoughfor brood nest of good size,if they were superceding it was because queen is failing,so yes you went overboard with nuc,if you add in middle u confuse bees,it takes them time to get acustom to new box,add boxes when 7 of 10 frames are drawn or full,u got me confused,remember if your not sure what to do your better off doing nothing,than to do something wrong,u should have leftbox with foundation and took super off top ,since the queen is in orig.hive i would leave them be,let them supercede if need be,as for the nuc,feed it and hope for best.what do u mean by they're not guarding supers,they won't move up till they need the space,hope i helped.good luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,311

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    First off; I don't see anything "wrong" with what you did...sure, there are things that could've been done better, but none of them should doom your bees to failure, so don't be too hard on yourself.

    Now, with the box of foundation, when you're wanting to get foundation drawn, you need to put it where the wax-makers are, or bring the wax-makers to the foundation. Either put the box of foundation BELOW the brood nest for long enough to get a few frames drawn (yes, the queen will lay in it, but once you move it back up above the "honey cap" the brood will emerge & the bees will treat it like honey comb), or stagger a few drawn frames into the middle of the box of foundation so you have 2 boxes with drawn frames in the middle, and foundation on the outsides; these drawn frames will "remind" the bees that the space up there is intended to be used

    1)The nuc probably wasn't necessary, but now you can raise them into a new hive, which will just give you more "insurance" and more bees...nothing lost there.
    2)Swarm cells are planned. Bees build swarm cells when they're getting ready to swarm, and you can watch for backfilling of nectar in the brood chamber as a pretty decent marker that they're trying to prepare to swarm. That's when you need to get some empty frames/combs staggered into the brood chamber, so the queen still has ample space to lay (which, in theory, is a good way to prevent their swarming).
    3)IMHO, only when you have drawn frames in the same box as the foundation, to "remind" the bees that it's usable space up there.

    P.S. As mrqb said, 1 deep and 1 shallow sounds like a fairly small brood area, you might want to think about adding a little more space to the brood nest.
    Last edited by robherc; 04-26-2012 at 12:55 AM. Reason: afterthought

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,225

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    If you want to use a pollen box and checkerboard, you need two shallows drawn for use as brood boxes. When it warms up, put the first shallow with brood under the deep and let them use another on top for brood. They may or may not actually put much brood in the shallow on top of the deep, but leave it for winter even if there was never brood in it.

    What threw you off, I think, is that it got cold, the bees clustered, and pretty much shut down the queen due to low temps, not a swarming event. They won't let her lay any more brood than they can cover, and if your weather is like ours has been, it was hot in March, but quite cool in April so the bees curtailed expansion. The sudden contraction of the brood area may have also triggered supersedure even though the queen is just fine.

    If you had supersedure cells, not swarm cells, you really didn't need to do anything, but since you did pull a nuc, go ahead and raise some more bees. Feed them syrup and protien so they have a good start. If they did supersede due to weather problems, you have saved a perfectly good queen.

    Fortunately, bees are pretty tough critters and will recover from the things we do to them!

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    Kelly,
    If the deep and shallow for brood have worked for you this far, I see no reason to change it. People do it all the time. (I know that wasn't even one of your questions, just didn't want you to second guess yourself after reading the other posts.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Macoupin,Illinois,USA
    Posts
    351

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    your contradicting yourself
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 04-27-2012 at 03:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    How's that?
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 04-27-2012 at 03:08 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,267

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    Kelly, psfred is pretty on target. Now, I met a beek in Kentucky a few years ago, ran his hives as you do, a deep and shallow for brood nest, queen excluder, then shallows for extracting. He was proud that he was always collecting a lot of swarms and making new colonies, some to keep, and some to sell.

    The problem is, a good queen needs two deeps, or three mediums (sometimes more) for the brood nest. You can checkerboard those, if that's your plan. What has been your luck with swarms and swarm control in the past? You may want to reconsider your plan. Also, seems like you're in Delaware? How do most beekeepers overwinter in your area? I'd be real surprised if they do it with one deep and a shallow.
    Kindest regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    If they didn't have swarm cells I wouldn't be splitting them unless you really need another colony. Now that you did, you may as well play it out and see what happens.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Newark, DE
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: Painfully learning the secrets of drawn comb and drawing comb

    Thanks for all the comments.... let me first clear up a few things and let you know how it has gone.... first, my goal has been to run essentially what walt advocates for checkerboarding... I always have 1 deep and 2 shallows on the hive for them to overwinter. I don't use a queen excluder and if my hive was ever ABLE to use more space than that, I would certainly let the brood nest expand as big as possible. My problem is that as I have made splits, any shallows used as supers have quickly become shallows for another hives brood nest. So my concern was a lack space for the queen to lay and remember checkerboarding requires empty supers above the checkerboard... which I only have 2 on there right now and not 5 like Walt typically shows. This kind of painful management of what little comb I have and figuring out how to get the bees to give me more, is what has been my challenge.

    As it turns out, everything worked out ok so far. The 4 empty frames in the original hive have already been drawn in about 6 days and the nuc seems stable although I think I lost 1 side of the frame of eggs due to a lack of bees warming them. It will be a weak nuc but I think the original hive will still be able to produce a crop in the coming weeks. Thanks everyone for the advice!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads