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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Maple Valley, WA
    Posts
    165

    Default Reversing in Fall??

    I've done some searching on reversing and it seems to apply to late winter/spring. I don't see any references to fall reversing. However, in one my hives, the lower brood chamber is now empty ... completely. Not an egg, not a drop of honey, no pollen. 100% empty. Does it make sense to go ahead and pull that bottom box and put it on top, giving them some additional space to store honey (I am feeding and they are actively taking it).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    At this point in the year the bees pretty much have the hive the way they want it so it's best not to change things up at this point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    I'd remove it instead of reversing it and put it back on in the spring.
    Good Luck, Mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    My first hive did that last year--and when I fed they put syrup in the cells but never capped. However, in spring, they moved down overnight and while expanding very rapidly (on 01 Apr according to my notes). This hive is doing the same thing this year (though they are weak and I'm not sure they will survive). My other two hives are not doing this and are much larger. Anyway, I was so surprised by the rapid growth that early next spring I plan to put a box of empty drawn comb under all my hives.

    I would let it be and feed to see if they take--especially now w/ the perfect storm coming and the cool weather to follow.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    roswell, georgia, USA
    Posts
    720

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    remove it this time of year and replace it above early spring
    EAS Georgia Certified. "Tradition - Even if you have done it the same way for years doesn't mean that it is not stupid."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    729

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    I would not remove it because the dead space below the brood is good for overwintering .Make sure that the mice don't get in.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Weatherford,Texas,USA
    Posts
    450

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    I am glad to hear this is not only happening to me
    "It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!" Zapata

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Accomack County, VA, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    I too am seeing this in one of my "stronger" hives. Thought the same thing about possibly reversing, but have sided with the post of just leaving it alone. I really couldn't believe how well this hive looked in the upper deep with the brood, honey and pollen and then after taking a peak in the bottom deep I did feel a bit distressed. My second winter is just ahead and am hoping to be able to share positive experiences. Jaseemtp - couldn't have said it better in my opinion.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,872

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    do you have screened bottom boards?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    This is not an uncommon condition in the southeast. We have seen two different seasons where nearly half the colonies showed a nearly empty bottom deep in the fall. The fact that it showed up in multiple colonies in the same season makes me think that some variation in that season's forage pattern was the cause.

    The time to inspect for, and correct for, the condition is early August. If most of the brood is in the upper deep, reverse at that time. It does no harm in the summer to split the brood nest, and they "want" to store honey immediately above the brood. This reversal gets the colony back to the config. they normally are in with swarm prep backfilling - Honey in the upper deep, accumulated on the fall flow. We would like to encourage one of you 'frequent responders' to open a thread on the subject to alert beeks about the first week of August. It's not in the books.

    There is another condition that has the southeastern colony out of configuration going into winter in the double deep. Too much brood at the first killing frost/freeze. If the vegetation sources are terminated, while the colony still has substantial brood, they fail to get the broodnest properly backfilled with nectar for underfoot winter warming fuel. If they have overhead uncapped honey, they can move that down to the broodnest, but they are reluctant to uncap honey for that purpose.

    What happens is that, about the first freeze, the colony relocates the cluster up on solid capped honey. (In the mild period between cold fronts) Beekeepers are not normally inspecting brood chambers in that period, and do not see the relocation upstairs. The literature implies that the colony ate their way up into the upper deep, but that's definately not the case in the southeast. Here, the colony can do very well over the winter with a properly backfilled brood deep.

    To avoid relocation from the lower deep to the upper in late fall, inspect about first frost. If substantial brood is present, feed syrup generously through the following three weeks, internal to the hive. We use comb feeding to provide more access to the feed during the getting shorter cluster-breaking periods.

    When the broodnest is properly prepared for winter, use of the upper deep honey doesn't start until late winter broodnest expansion starts. We can help, if we choose to.
    Walt

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,390

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    I think a box of empty combs at the bottom at this time of the year, is entirely normal for my bees. I do winter in two deeps and a medium. I feel that if the bees set up their hive this way, then so be it. That's the way the bees do it. Nothing has to be done, and there's no reason why the empty box has to be removed. In fact, I feel it's a good thing to have those empty combs below the cluster.

    My bees winter with large clusters...some filling the entire hive. When they're getting ready for winter...making their winter cluster..I find plenty of brood at the first frost. Because my hives are so large, there is plenty of room for honey storage and brood production.

    I find winter clusters located in various places in the hives. Some winter below the honey...moving up through the winter. I also find clusters wintering above...on the honey. Once when Larry Connor looked at my bees, he was concerned with those clusters wintering near the top of the hive...in December. I wasn't and those bees wintered fine. I feel that as long as the hive is heavy enough, and the cluster large enough, it doesn't matter where the cluster is located.

    Walt and all...think about this. It's said that if you ask two beekeepers a question, you'll get three different answers. One beekeeper says the bees do it one way, and others say no, they do it such and such a way. Well, to me, they do it every way. If you see the bees performing in two different ways, it doesn't mean one is wrong and has to be corrected. I do believe that this is the reason why Walt and I sometimes disagree.

    Bees are better beekeepers than beekeepers are bees. Observe and imitate. You'll see what I mean.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Walt and all...think about this. It's said that if you ask two beekeepers a question, you'll get three different answers. One beekeeper says the bees do it one way, and others say no, they do it such and such a way. Well, to me, they do it every way. If you see the bees performing in two different ways, it doesn't mean one is wrong and has to be corrected.
    Only 3 ways? I would have to disagree with that. But seriously, and I think we may have had this exchange before, if you want to leave an empty box below through the winter then you better have pretty tight equipment and mouse guards. When I used to overwinter up north I remember cleaning out a lot of mouse nests and losing some good comb in the process. To me the question is more about where you can safely store your comb than whether it hurts to have an empty box below your cluster. A large hive will winter just fine with an empty box below, a smaller cluster maybe would be better off in a smaller space possibly oriented to gain some heat from a larger hive.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,551

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    Can I get a ball park on what is considered a large hive? My strongest hive has a solid box of honey on it (I took one off) and the weight of the boxes decrease as you get to the bottom board. I would say the bottom box is void of honey and there is a total of 5 medium boxes (8 frame) on the hive. On a weaker hive there is four boxes total and the bottom box is empty.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,203

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    A strong colony of bees would be one w/ a tight cluster of bees in the coldest part of the year showing bees
    visible between 7 or 8 frames when the cover is removed. If in a hive of two deeps this cluster would extend down into the lower box.

    at this time of year you might find bees in loose cluster extending from the top oif the hive down almost to the bottom. I have some hives which are two deeps tall w/ bees observable when the cover is removed and then when the two boxes are tilted forward at the same time bees are hanging down below the bottom of the bottom frames.

    A large hive would be one which is really tall.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    A large hive would be one which is really tall.
    Or in the case of a TBH really long?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    My bees tend to pack full frames of pollen down in the bottom box, so lifting it you'd think it was just the wood, but it's not.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,551

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    Yes, I agree. When I removed a bottom box from one hive I checked to see that is was not full of pollen or bee bread.

    really tall - really long
    neither of these terms are definitive. An 8 or 9 frame deep cluster is. So with that in mind maybe my weak hives are not all that weak.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    In a tight cluster volleyball sized is fair basketball or more is good.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,203

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Yes, I agree. When I removed a bottom box from one hive I checked to see that is was not full of pollen or bee bread.


    neither of these terms are definitive. An 8 or 9 frame deep cluster is. So with that in mind maybe my weak hives are not all that weak.
    A big hive is either longer in the case of TBHs or taller in the case of standard Langstroth hives.
    A big colony is a colony of bees of a certain number or volume.

    We've had this discussion before. A hive is occupied by a colony. You can have a large hive w/ a small colony inside.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: Reversing in Fall??

    "All", as noted by MP,
    We don't have to disagree - we both report what we see. Opinions vary with the observations. As long as others recognize that our opinions are based on different perspectives, that doesn't necessarily constitute disagreement.

    This business of the empty bottom box was one of several reasons we moved away from double deeps a long time ago.
    A second was the fact that stopping swarming is difficult with double deeps in the southeast. Degree of difficulty is only exceeded by wintering in a deep and super. To stop swarming in either of those configurations, the beekeeper has to resort to some type of broodnest disturbance which slows the colony down, or weakens them some. Either of those impacts honey production. My goal was maximum honey with the least work. (Retirement supplemental income)

    A subjective third was the observation that bees do not "like" the break in functional comb at box joints of the lang hive design. As it applies to this thread, it sometimes causes them to fail to back down to the bottom during main flow broodnest reduction.
    On the continuous comb of the wild nest, they move smoothly either up or down.

    Also subjective is their preference for rearing brood in a deep. A medium is not as bad, but they have a distinct preference for rearing brood in deep over a shallow.

    So, we moved to a single deep and the rest all shallows - looks bizarre, but is all we hoped it would be. The basic deep broodnest has year round brood. Expansion in the spring grows into 3 or 4 shallows when checkerboarded, and the broodnest recedes back to the deep reliably. More honey; less work. Not a good plan for you folks who like to dink around in the colony for the fun of it.

    Walt
    As usual, have not convinced anybody who learned what they know more than 20 years ago.

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