With spring soon to start in the northern hemisphere I'm looking for people interested in setting aside a hive or two to test the following method. I have previously referred to this as "Maintaining a hole beside the brood nest" but looking for something less than a mouthful have decided to refer to it as "Opening the sides."
What you will need:
One box of new undrawn frames.
No queen excluder
Frames are all the same size
Start after Plums have started flowering
Do every 2-3 weeks until the box is all drawn comb
1. In early spring (when plum trees are well into blossom), move an outside frame from the brood box into the centre of a new box so that it will be directly above the brood nest.
2. Find the edge of the brood nest and place a new undrawn frame beside the brood nest. There must be brood on one side of the new frame and drawn comb, or the edge of the box on the other side of this new frame.
3. Repeat this process every 2-3 weeks, alternating sides. (The previously added frame should be at least 2/3 drawn.) After the second time, you could even put a new frame on each side of the brood nest at the same time. Once there is brood on the edge frame(s) of the brood box, remember to make sure when you move it up that it is centred directly above the brood nest.
4. Once the frames in the top box are completely drawn comb you should be able to just concentrate on the supers. If there is no brood in the top box, you could checkerboard this box with the frames of a new super to go on the top.
- 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 and helps deter swarming.
- Enlarges the size of the brood nest when the bees would usually be backfilling, as the queen lays in comb as it is being built.
Please post results in the following format:
Week 1 - [Date started]
Added Frame A
Brood on 6 frames.
Frame A, 2/3 drawn
Added Frame B
Brood on 8 frames.
Frame A, 80% drawn
Frame B, 2/3 drawn
Brood on 9 frames
Added Frames C and D, brood was on the right edge frame that was moved up.
Then if you wish, discuss any observations.