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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Swarming means a hive has been successful in filling the brood nest with the required resources for the next generation, but this usually means there won't be a honey crop for the beekeeper.

    I have studied the causes of swarming for some time and looked at the various methods for swarm prevention.

    Ideally the beekeeper wants to stop the bees from backfilling the brood nest with nectar in the first place, but the methods to do this require a couple of boxes of drawn comb for the beekeeper to be successful for swarm prevention. This includes Checkerboarding or Supering and reversing brood boxes. The first or even second year beekeeper does not have drawn comb to do this.

    Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - is a method for comb building for first year hives.
    (This assumes the brood nest is in the top of a hive at the end of winter.)

    Here's the process:

    1. In early spring (when plum trees are well into blossom), move an outside frame into a new box to be placed above the brood nest.

    2. Find the edge of the brood nest and place a foundationless frame (with a comb guide or a short strip of foundation) beside the brood nest. This is the "hole". There must be brood on one side of the foundationless frame and drawn comb, or the edge of the box on the other side of this foundationless frame.

    3. Repeat this process every 2-3 weeks, alternating sides. (The previously added frame should be at least 2/3 drawn.) you can even do both sides at once when temperatures are warm enough and the bees are flying every day.

    4. Once there is brood on the edge frame(s) of the brood box, move this frame to the box above, centred directly above the brood nest.

    5. Do this well into the main flow. Then you can just concentrate on the supers. Alternating honey frames with foundationless frames or frames of foundation works well.


    • This method does not force bees to cover a larger brood nest than they are able to cover.
    • The bees still have direct access to the frame that was beside the brood nest, but it is now above instead. Not a problem, when heat rises.
    • The bees can build the comb in their own time, but it gives them an incentive to build comb.
    • Develops comb builders before swarm season.


    Matthew Davey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    To summarise the processes leading up to swarming, this is what I've got so far:

    Excess incoming nectar
    |
    Insufficient overhead storage space AND/OR a band of capped honey above the brood nest
    |
    ----- Causes backfilling of the brood nest
    |
    ----- Causes reduction of space for the queen to lay
    |
    ----- Causes less open brood
    |
    ----- Causes excess Nurse bees
    |
    ----- Causes extra feeding of larvae
    |
    ----- Causes Queen cells
    |
    ----- Causes house bees to be used as storage tanks
    |
    ----- Causes wax builders to develop


    So "Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest" is working on the wax building process.

    It gives the queen more space to lay in, continuing to extend the brood nest. It also reduces the nectar in the brood nest by the bees using it to make wax.

    Matthew Davey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,836

    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Your synopsis is very nicely stated. It is amazing how much life is made easier when one has that pile of drawn comb to utilize. Merry Christmas!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Athens, greece
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Matt, your post, deserves a great thanks. It makes us <<sense>> the process of swarming.
    By the way, have you noticed how many weeks after the plum tree blossom, is the swarming season?
    Merry Christmas all and a happy new year.

    Tasos

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
    Posts
    244

    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    I think this is very similar to Michael Bush's approach which I am planning on trying this year. 2012 was a year of the swarm for me so I am hoping this helps!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    sounds similar to 'opening the broodnest' as described on michael bush's website. he describes using foundationless frames, but not necessarily just one at a time, and not necessarily at the edge of the nest. let us know how it works for you, thanks!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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