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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    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
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    667

    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
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    4,258

    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
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    140

    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
    253

    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
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    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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Yes, it is similar to "Opening the brood nest". But the point of it is not to disturb or open the brood nest!

    When you put foundationless frames inside the brood nest, you are forcing the cluster to cover a larger area. If temperatures are low it means they both have to warm a larger area as well as make wax. It can result in chilled brood.

    I have no problems with opening the brood nest when the temperatures are warm enough and there are plenty of nurse bees. But this is not long before swarm season. I want them to start building comb well before this in order to prevent swarming.

    Matthew Davey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    667

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

    Plum trees blossom here in late June and July. Swarm season is from around mid October.
    About 15 weeks.

    So you could do this several times in that period. Enough to fill a whole brood box.

    Matthew Davey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,355

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

    No comprendi. Assuming your spring season is 6 months out of sync with ours, can't make the months come out right. Your swarm issue period works out OK. (April here; October there) But our plums bloom in March, and yours in J/J. That's 3/4 months. Are we using the same calendar?
    Walt

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Athens, greece
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    140

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

    Also here the plums bloom in March( 4 of March in 2012) and the first swarm in 2012 was in April the 14th. It is six weeks after the plums.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Thanks for bringing that up Walt. There's been a number of times when you've mentioned time periods and they haven't made sense to what Im seeing here either!

    Going by this climate map from Wikipedia (below), I'm in a Marine West Coast climate. So from that it looks like I have similar conditions to Vancouver.

    Well I looked up the local plum flowering times for Victoria, (Australia) and the peak flowering time is in August. I must have an early flowering variety as it was definitely flowering in early July this year. Also, the ornamental flowering plums / Prunus were definitely flowering at the end of June.

    So if I take the process to start in early August, it's still as much as 12 weeks for me.

    If you only have 6 weeks from Plum blossom to Swarm season, there may be enough nectar around to do the process almost every week.

    What do you think?

    For interest sake here are some details about my climate:



    We don't get snow in winter and only get a few days below 0 degrees Celsius (32F) which are frosts.
    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/c...ta&staticPage=

    Here's the mean monthly temperatures for Melbourne:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averag...w_086071.shtml

    Matthew Davey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,566

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

    Your location isn't like Walt's (or mine) -- we have definite seasons with large variations in temperature, and you have much less seasonal difference and no winter in the same way we do (although last year would have been typical for you -- almost no snow, rarely below freezing).

    Our orchard trees all require definite cold periods to flower, and only do so when they have been chilled enough and the days are long enough, so they are a good indication of the development of other flowering plants that supply nectar to the bees. I'm not sure the same is true of SW Australia, and unless you have a strong wet/dry season climate, probably somewhat less of a reliable guide to hive development.

    Vancouver is much the same indeed, and beekeeping there is much different than here, notably severe moisture in the hive problems there due to the constant damp air and rain while we have a serious dearth in late summer almost every year

    You will have to determine what climatic events are associated with swarming for your particular area, and I'm guessing that you will find that more difficult than it is for us.

    Peter

  13. #13
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    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Matthew,
    Thanks for the climate map. I find some surprises there. Have spent some time in several areas of the northern hemisphere, but not below the equator. Now, I can relate.

    Since you are past your swarm season, can I assume you tried this approach this spring? How did it work for you?

    Walt

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
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    780

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

    So this worked last year and you still got a decent honey crop?
    I agree life is better with drawn comb, splits, traps expansion. I also like that you are talking about bloom date rather than calendar date. My first plums last year started March 27, second (red) went April 15th, First apples (Gravenstien and crab apples) went April 22nd almost a full month after first plum. Italian prune went next. Bottom line, do you happen to know what plum, mine went on a 6 week spread for 4 varieties.
    This is for the maritime North west of Portland Oregon, (my zip is 97089)
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Since you are past your swarm season, can I assume you tried this approach this spring? How did it work for you?

    Walt
    Yes, I did try this on my double width (horizontal) hive with two queens. I have been testing a few things with this hive.

    I started off "opening the brood nest" from early August and noticed that frames inside or beside the brood nest were quickly drawn out. All the frames I have added have been foundationless. A new frame added between frames of nectar/honey were drawn slower and those on the outsides were not touched.

    After our discussions on wax building I started looking at this more closely.

    I added two half width supers on the sides and a full width super in the middle (no access to this from beneath). The frames in the half width supers (or Nuc boxes) were drawn a lot quicker than frames in the full width super in the middle. So I was moving frames from the half width boxes across to the full width box.

    Another thing I noticed was that the Carniolan queen extended her brood nest right to the edge of the box and started up in the bottom of the half width supers. The frames on this side were drawn much faster than frames on the other side. The other side did not have much of the Italian queen's brood nest under it.

    The hive went from 10 frames in early August and now has 46 frames plus 6 were taken for splits. So 42 frames have been drawn in less than 5 months, and we still have about 4 more weeks left before the summer dearth usually kicks in.

    I have since started doing this with the six frame split, which is now nearly ten frames.

    Matthew Davey

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    very cool matt, and no swarms i presume?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Quote Originally Posted by minz View Post
    My first plums last year started March 27, second (red) went April 15th, First apples (Gravenstien and crab apples) went April 22nd almost a full month after first plum. Italian prune went next. Bottom line, do you happen to know what plum, mine went on a 6 week spread for 4 varieties.
    I didn't take note of dates. But they were in the following:
    Plum - July/August
    Pear - August/September
    Apple- September/October

    Each flowered for up to 6 weeks. Not sure of the varieties as I did not plant them.

    The plum is a blood plum. I believe it is a Japanese variety of plum, called SATSUMA.

    Matthew Davey

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    very cool matt, and no swarms i presume?
    No swarms. Was making sure there was about 1/3 open brood and eggs, with 2/3 capped brood. Still a lot of brood now, but the brood nest is now being reduced.

    Matthew Davey

  19. #19
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    good job matt.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest - comb building for first year hives

    Too many variables for me to draw any conclusion. As I understand the config. this is your double half stack with two queens reported earlier. Had they been overwintered in that config? Or more to the point, how many summer seasons had they spent in that config? 2nd year colonies, if they perceive that they did not fill their cavity completely in the first year, will often develope wax making early.

    Walt

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