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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    etowah,Alabama
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    457

    Default Reversing Brood Boxes?

    With the mild winter here my bees are bringing in lots of pollen. One Sunkist hive with their entrance reduced to a half inch they were at least thirty bees waiting to get in. Is this a sign of early build up? Should I go ahead an reverse the boxes?
    BB's Honey
    www.bbshoney.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Bryant, AL
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    64

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    same question here... Still have Feb ahead of us but supposed to be very mild march april

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,375

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    When does your first spring flow start? When do your bees usually start swarm preparations...I mean when do you normally see swarm cells being started? And is it that flow that gets swarming started?

  4. #4
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    michael, i live pretty close to sonny and guy. looking at last year's notes, swarming started in earnest in late march, peaked in mid april, and was pretty much played out by early may.

    it was mainly the locust and tulip popular flow, along with lots of other stuff too.

    however, we were a couple of weeks early on everything last spring.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,375

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    But locust and poplar can't be the first good flow. What about early spring plants like hen bit? If swarming started in earnest in late March, what flow is happening during the first half of March?

    I would super for the earliest flows, and reverse just as the earliest cells appear. That way, you are allowing both upward movement of the cluster and overhead nectar storage...when they need it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    what i do may not apply to reversing double deeps. i have one deep with a medium above and below that are checkerboarded on the early flows.

    the ornamental, (lots of bradford pears around here), and regular bearing fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears, plums), are early along with red maple, dogwood, and redbud. these are accompanied by lots and lots of wildflowers of many varieties. my bees having been mixing these nectars with last fall's stores and using that for their spring build up. toward the end of the early flows, and at the beginning of locust and popular is when they usually swarm.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 01-27-2013 at 04:28 PM. Reason: UNQuote
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    etowah,Alabama
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    457

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    what i do may not apply to reversing double deeps. i have one deep with a medium above and below that are checkerboarded on the early flows.

    the ornamental, (lots of bradford pears around here), and regular bearing fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears, plums), are early along with red maple, dogwood, and redbud. these are accompanied by lots and lots of wildflowers of many varieties. my bees having been mixing these nectars with last fall's stores and using that for their spring build up. toward the end of the early flows, and at the beginning of locust and popular is when they usually swarm.
    Square,
    I didn't include that I was feeding semi heavy syrup. I don't do,a lot of measuring. I just keep mixing with the DEWALT. Adding more sugar or water to make it look right. For the most part around he it's hebit and dandelion. Watching a Bradford pear in the front yard with the buds getting longer every day. I love seeing the earth waking up from winter.
    BB's Honey
    www.bbshoney.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    yep. i don't feed except if i run out of capped honey to give 'em, so mine depend on the flow for timing their swarming.

    since yours always have a flow, they may not be relating to the natural flow at all. i'm guessing they could swarm anytime they are more bees and 'forage' than room in the cavity.

    probably best to keep an eye out for swarm cells, and considering splitting your good queens out before they take off.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    Reversing double deeps is not as applicable to the southeast as it is to northerly locations. In the SE, the colony normally starts winter with the cluster in the lower and the upper filled with honey - the bees eat their way into the upper during the spring broodnest expansion.

    In northerly locations, the colony winters in the upper, and come buildup time, the lower is basically empty - Brood and cluster are already located in the upper. Reversal of the deeps puts the empty lower back in service as a brood box.

    Won't go into all the ways these two different situations affect swarm prevention, but will say that timing of reversal in the southeast is more a function of colony status than seasonal timing. When the colony is expanding into the upper, there is a point in population growth where splitting the brood nest does not result in brood chilling. Remembering that the colony typically stops short of using all the honey at the top of the expansion dome, the broodnest WILL be divided. Tough judgement call.

    Swarm prevention is given an assist by removing that band of capped honey at the top. Reversal does help, and adding drawn comb immediately above may be all that is required, if done at the same time. The colony "wants" to store nectar immediately above brood.

    Walt

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Fall Branch TN.
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    I am curious about how your medium on the bottom is working out. I have been meaning to ask about who was trying that and how it was working out. I have read Walt's pollen reserve papers and was planning on trying this out this spring.

    I also love the early flow timing conversation. I am learning to watch closely that "waking up from winter" at my house, not what the books or calendar says should be going on.

    Rye

  11. #11
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    i still have a mix of drawn and undrawn frames of foundation in my bottom mediums, as they were added after the main flow last year.

    one obvious and immediate benefit of putting those bottom mediums on was that it stopped the bearding that i was getting on the hot summer days. i guess they acted like slatted racks.

    when the plants start to 'wake up' i will move the bottom mediums up to the top, and replace any foundation frames with drawn comb.

    after i harvest the spring honey, i'll gather up any medium frames that have brood in them, put them in a medium box, and move them to the bottom again. i expect this will help with cooling and give the bees a place to store pollen in anticipation of the fall brood up for overwintering bees.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Griffin, GA USA
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    97

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    Last year my hive swarmed March 15-17... I have been wondering the same thing, trying to watch them closer this year. 2 weeks ago, the top was still full of honey, felt like it weighed 60-75 pounds....the bottom empty except for bees, there are brood in there too, but not a lot.....and my bees have been bringing in pollen since the first week of Jan. Though we just had a colder snap, yesterday it was 44 and they were just doing cleansing flights seemed mostly, but I did see some bees searching through weed flowers around the yard. I am wanting to swap my deeps too....

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    i don't have any experience with the double deep configuration, so take this for what it is worth.

    walt's observations suggest that when there is a solid dome of capped honey overhead the bees will work up through it, and at some point when conditions are favorable they will swarm.

    he has found as have others, that having empty comb overhead for nectar storage can prevent swarming.

    if all you have is the one hive, and no additional drawn comb on hand, there are a couple of things you could try.

    you might extract a few frames of honey from your upper deep once you see that nectar is coming in, and checkerboard the empty drawn comb back in. or, you could put those honey frames out in the yard, 75 - 100 yards away from the hive and let them get robbed out and put the empty comb back in.

    you might pyramid the brood comb from the bottom box up into the top box, opening up a break through the solid honey, while keeping the broodnest together vertically.

    you could try adding foundationless frames in the broodnest in order to make room for the queen to lay and allow the broodnest to expand.

    if you want a second hive, you could split the one you have before it swarms.

    from what i have read about reversing, it has to be done just right or it can do more harm than good. there was a good discussion about it recently on bee-l.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Griffin, GA USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    Actually I have thought about splitting, as I lost a hive to beetles last summer and want another. But not sure when I should do that....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Reversing Brood Boxes?

    i hope mike bush doesn't mind that i keep sending folks to his website.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

    i had excellent results from following his directions for the 'cut down split'.

    you have the swarm date from last year, which may have been a little sooner than usual because of the early spring. did you record what was blooming at the time? you definitely need drones flying.

    you might want to order the manuscript from wcubed.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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