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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Reply to Wcubed quote about drawing foundation in a deep:

    But I still don't know whether the one that did started before "main flow" or not.

    Answer: to the best of my recollections, they where given an empty brood chamber of foundation one brood cycle before our honey flow was SUPPOSED to start. The only explanation I have is that one of the queens left more pheromone behind, and encouraged cell drawn than the other. When we sub in 4-5 frames interleafed, and they are in expansion mode, we often see eggs laid on the bare foundation, with the cells walls drawn as the egg/larvae grows.

    Crazy Roland

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Roland,
    Thank you sir. We (you or I) don't need to have an explanation for the why. But it helps to know the what.
    Walt

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Walt, surely those photos have been doctored?

    Roland, when you've alternated frames of foundation in the brood nest, knowing that you put capped brood frames above a queen excluder, have you also alternated frames of foundation with the remaining 5-6 frames above the excluder?

    If so, is this essentially Checkerboarding the brood nest with foundation?

    Have you done this regularly, or do you usually use drawn comb instead?

    Would you recommend this to someone who doesn't have drawn comb and the brood nest is clearly being backfilled?

    Thanks guys!

    Matthew Davey

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    UPDATE ON THE EXPERIMENT
    Refresher on the fall activities: Two colonies were combined in mid Sept. One, a package hived on all shallow supers and a second package hived in a shallow over a deep. Both were started in late spring on standard foundation and were fed through the remaining season to keep them barely growing. At combining time, the all-shallow hive had 1 1/2 supers of brood and 3 1/2 supers of honey laced with feed. When extracted, it tasted like our normal honey, so it was mostly processed field nectar. Set aside to be used as feed.

    The unit housed in the deep and shallow had a full deep of brood and a few frames of honey in the shallow overhead, with the remainder still undrawn foundation. When combined, the hive was, from the bottom, a deep of brood, a shallow of brood, a shallow of mixed brood and foundation, and 3 full shallows of capped honey. The 3 filled supers were removed later for extraction on a freezing morning to avoid taking bees - below in the tight cluster. Leaving the stack like that until Nov. was the first of several mistakes on my part.

    We have reported several places in our writings that colony instincts direct adjusting population to be propotional to cavity size and stores available in the fall. To do otherwise could be fatal. Too many bees could result in over-consumption and starvation. Too few bees and natural winter attrition could lead to poor wintering, slow buildup, and/or failure to reproduce in the spring by swarming. Most colonies get it right and have a winter cluster sized for the cavity volume and stores. But you knew that?

    We mentioned in the fall (earlier posts) that the combine had too many bees for the anticipated wintering configuration of a deep and 2 shallows. But we didn't want to push them into an overcrowding swarm in the fall and left the extra honey in place. Better too many bees than too few. We could feed in late winter, if necessary. Not mentioned in the fall posts was the presence of a deep of brood in early November. Not good. Normally, the broodnest is backfilled by that time and full-time clustering starts in early Nov. but not this season. The colony was foraging off and on into Dec (Christmas week). Also not reported in the fall posts was the adding of a medium of 1 to 1 syrup at the top in early Nov to assist in backfilling the broodnest at closeout. The medium of permacomb was dried in a week and removed. Second mistake:Two gallons was not nearly enough. Overwinter, they relocated the cluster off the empty deep and up into the first shallow of honey. Had they backfilled the deep, they would have wintered there.

    (Big) Mistake #3: In early Feb. went in to checkerboard with 2 of the now empty supers of comb extracted in the winter. Finding the deep at the bottom basically empty, put the lower shallow of brood below the deep - wanted to put the deep back in service as the basic brood nest. (standard in my management scheme) The shallow at the top had a small arc of brood at the bottom of a couple frames. I expected to lose that small amount of brood to chilling by isolation from the cluster by the empty deep, but to get the deep back in use was worth it to me. What we didn't know was that we were headed into six weeks of poor foraging weather. When the temps supported breaking cluster it was either raining or threatening skies. Stopped colony developement in its tracks.

    We have a firm commitment against any brood nest disturbance. The results of this exception, only make it firmer.

    We are now waiting for the start of "main flow." It's 2 weeks late and counting. Will go into more detail on the spring season on the next post.

    For now, we just want to report that between me and Mother Nature, we blew the experiment. We are going into main flow with a weakling for this time in the season, and we don't expect to come close to my usual honey production.

    Walt

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Finding the deep at the bottom basically empty, put the lower shallow of brood below the deep - wanted to put the deep back in service as the basic brood nest. (standard in my management scheme) The shallow at the top had a small arc of brood at the bottom of a couple frames. I expected to lose that small amount of brood to chilling by isolation from the cluster by the empty deep, but to get the deep back in use was worth it to me.
    It is your management scheme to be using deeps not the bees. If you don't look at what you did as mistakes and give up on the idea that they won't cross the bottom bars you could have just left them the way there were and they would have been fine. JMO
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Walt: In hindsight can you really say that your decision to reverse your boxes was a "big mistake"? When I have some decision I made turn out to be the wrong one I try to look back and ask myself if given the facts as I knew them at the time, was my decision really a bad one. Unless you chose to ignore a weather forecast promising you 2 weeks of unseasonably poor buildup weather I might suggest that given the same set of facts and with your knowledge of the buildup history of your area that you would go with the odds and do the same thing again......or maybe not.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Ace,
    Have never said they "Won't" cross the interbar space. Most do, some don't - under a wide variety of circumstances. Do you understand the word reluctant? Almost all hesitate - some more, some less. Bees are adaptable. They use what they have to work with - whether they like it or not.

    jim,
    Was aware of the risk. But at the time considered them possibly too strong for my supply of drawn comb. And yes I would do it again under the same circumstances. It was a mistake from the standpoint of objectives of the experiment - to get good production in the second year.

    Walt

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Walt, I love your experiments, very detailed. I have also been running some regarding your CB technique as well as simply monitoring the amount of new drawn comb (critical for somebody expanding or just attempting to keep up).
    First weather: breaking records for heat and end of winter. Blackberries are in bloom here, my logs put them a solid 4 weeks early. That is our last flow of the summer and summer has not yet arrived.
    Swarm season was also about 4 weeks ahead and I put two in the trees (April 25th and April 27th) and captured them both. One drew 9 frames (I added a drawn to anchor them) in about a week. I was shocked. Second is just now getting to 10 frames in 4 weeks, (all on wax foundation)
    Of my overwintered nucs, two have now filled a double deep and has started a shallow, and a third has just started a second deep (all on wax foundation).
    The CB hive (no pollen box) did not swarm and although it had constant activity it did not build as expected. It may have superseded rather than swarmed. It has a medium drawn that it has not touched, still filling in the CB shallows.
    I think it is obvious that the weather has played havoc on my experiments, but I wanted to document my records for drawing comb to this spring. I label every frame I build and document each box I put in the field in an excel spread sheet but this post is already too long.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    End of flow update:
    The reversal of the shallow of brood and the nearly empty deep accomplished its goals. Went to the bottom last week to check. Although you were not told all the reasons why in the discussion above while results were pending, the reversal produced the desired effects. The shallow at the bottom, formerly brood, is now filled with fall, long-term-stored pollen. (bee bread) The deep is now the basic broodnest. Two features we consider importent to good wintering, and the driver for the reversal.

    As noted above, the combined colony was under-strength at the start of "main flow." Poor weather conditions did not support colony growth after CBing. At the start of main flow, two weeks late, the cluster in the deep didn't even fill the deep - maybe 5 frames. Did not look good for production of honey. They had retrieved the honey in the CBed supers earlier and been fed to keep them going. However, they continued to gain strength during the flow, and now have concentrated bees to the top - a deep and 5 shallows. Last week, they were starting to store honey in the top shallow. Today, the top shallow is about 1/3 filled to the uncapping depth, but they are no longer making new wax to extend cell depth. Flow trail off.

    "Main flow," as seen through this one colony, started 2 weeks late, and has run 2 weeks longer than normal. Periodic rain has maintained the shallow-rooted white clover longer than normal. It's our winding down source, and is weakening now. So, we can report that the test colony did not do as bad as expected. We worried that they might not put up enough for winter, but their growth though the flow has produced at least 2 supers of surplus. Not bad, considering. And we have a couple hundred acres of soybeans starting to bloom within reach.

    The excessive population of broodnest growth through the early main flow period has not escaped their notice. At last week's inspection, the broodnest was almost shut down and filling with stores. Just a few random cells of worker capped brood. Unusual. Locally, the broodnest is reduced gradually through the flow and the summer doldrums, but can't remember any season where they completely stopped rearing brood.

    Experiment conclusions:
    In spite of all the problems involved, we think the basic concept was validated. By starting 2 colonies in different configurations, we did acquire more supers of drawn comb. Actually, the extra supers were generated by the colony started in the all-shallow config. The colony started with a deep and shallow did not contribute much more than the deep brood nest, and that was not completely drawn.

    This technique, or some modification of it, could provide enough drawn comb to get swarm prevention and increased honey production in the second season by the beginning beekeeper.

    Walt

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    pretty much the same down here walt. there is some bright yellow pollen coming in during the first few hours of the day, but after that i think water is about all they are foraging.

    interesting that you mentioned the brood break. i think saw this happen in my strongest (by numbers and production) colony that superceded in late april rather than swarm. i thought this colony was queenless a couple of weeks ago as there was nothing but a little capped brood and i could not find the queen, but it may be as you observed in your hive. i'll be checking this one carefully next week.

    very cool idea about using two hives to get enough comb drawn and then combine. looks like you save a whole year and reach full establishment for the second season. i found a similar result when recycling frames of drawn comb from winter losses last year into my second year hives.

    i can see why some will say that drawn comb is the most valuable resource. for our area, it looks like there is less than two months per season that you can get it drawn when relying on natural forage only.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    At last week's inspection, the broodnest was almost shut down and filling with stores. Just a few random cells of worker capped brood. Unusual. Locally, the broodnest is reduced gradually through the flow and the summer doldrums, but can't remember any season where they completely stopped rearing brood.
    Could this be preparation for a swarm?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #52
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    Aug 2009
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    Livingston County, NY
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    543

    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    "Acquiring drawn comb" being the focus of the experiment, I had considered mentioning Matt Davey's post about dual queen colonies, then Matt was in your conversation. Surprised that he didn't mention it.

    When I was reading his posts, part of what appealed to me was that he stated that the dual queen colonies were drawing out comb very fast.

    Walt love the way you write & explain method & purpose. Ever consider the dual queen colonies. I would love to read a side by side comparison for the purpose of drawing comb.

    Interesting post. Thanks.
    Rmns 1:16/Prv.3:5,6/ Beegan BK May 09/ Zone 5b
    I have NOT failed. I have only found many many ways that do not work!

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    I was previously asked:

    Roland, when you've alternated frames of foundation in the brood nest, knowing that you put capped brood frames above a queen excluder, have you also alternated frames of foundation with the remaining 5-6 frames above the excluder?

    No, they are grouped in the center of the deep, to conserve heat. In buildup, spreading, but maintaining a compact cluster is imperative. It is a fine line to walk, enough open space, but not too much.

    Crazy Roland

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Roland:
    The beginners don't seem to understand that in the early season, with hard cluster overnight, the bees only work within the warmed cluster interior. As the cluster expands with population growth, the work area is enlarged, generally upward into heat rise. That's the basic reason that overwintering honey to grow into is stored above. It's also the reason for the hesitation at box joints in upward growth. The warmed cluster interior has to span the break in functional comb of an inch and a half (wood frames) to start work in the next higher box.
    As I understand your procedure, timing is critical for the first frame raised. The colony has to have enough population to infold that first frame. After that timing gets less critical. You are adding population all the way. Yes?

    Acebird...preparation for a swarm?
    Not likely. Swarm preps are initiated on increasing field nectar - not trailoff. They have been at this survival business for a few generations and "know" the difference. Of course we can distort their judgement by feeding.

    Walt

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Of course we can distort their judgement by feeding.

    Walt
    Yeah, this is the dilemma a newbie faces when feeding without experience.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Ace,
    Is American English your primary language? Read that again with you as the bashee.
    Omigosh!
    Maybe it's not that he's a a̶t̶t̶e̶n̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶ show off, or doesn't u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶ get the concept of ̶e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶ having seen as a̶u̶t̶h̶o̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶ knowing about what happens in a h̶u̶r̶r̶i̶c̶a̶n̶e̶ ̶ big wind and rain storm.

    Maybe it's not that he doesn't u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶ get physics or common sense.

    Maybe he really isn't the sort of guy that would tell you sky is green and grass is blue just to be noticed.

    Maybe he's not a native English speaker and simply didn't fully u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶ get the all of things being said.

    That makes so much more sense than what I'd thought all this time!
    Why didn't I see it before?

  17. #57
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    781

    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    I checked an outyard in a little apple orchard yesterday and the bees did not touch the shallow supers on either of the two double deep hives there. I thought it was odd since the top deep was 8 frames honey and two small sections of brood. The lower deep was over half full of bee bread. The second hive was similar except the bottom box was all plastic, pulled with some serious holes in the centers of the frames. The Corbett area is higher in elevation and the flow is still in progress (although trailing). I noted Walt’s observations on the post here and was wondering if he had any theories as to what is going on. Both hives look like they are shutting down for winter in the first week of July.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    Walt asked:
    You are adding population all the way. Yes?

    Yes. Two goals from one task. By providing adequate, but not superfluous open comb, we maximize the queen's ability to lay(she spends less time looking for a hole), and minimize swarm tendencies.

    Crazy Roland

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    roland, do you generally put the open comb to the outside of the broodnest when moving a frame back to the bottom box vs. putting it in the middle of the broodnest?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Experiment 2012/13 - Acquiring drawn comb

    I was asked:

    do you generally put the open comb to the outside of the broodnest when moving a frame back to the bottom box vs. putting it in the middle of the broodnest?

    Yes. We do both. First, when it is cool, the new frames are placed on the outside of the remaining brood downstairs, creating a vertical brood nest that is easier to heat. When things get going and it is warmer, the new frames can be interspersed or what ever you feel like. At that point, it does not matter. the bees can cover it all.

    Crazy Roland

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