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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Bay Area, Ca
    Posts
    28

    Default Brood in supers, now what?

    I have been a beek since last April when I brought two packages into the suburbs of the Bay Area, Ca. I split them and lost one hive over the winter to wax moths. I ended up getting a decent harvest from my two parent hives. My mentor called queen excluders "honey excluders" and recommended that I not use them. FYI I am running double 8 frame deeps with 1 deep as a super. I cruise the forums and read a bunch so I thought that I must be an expert right? Wrong.

    About three weeks ago I noticed an incredible amount of activity with my hives. It have been 70 degrees everyday for a month now(sorry Midwestern guys). I decided to super up and take atvantage of the early flow. 3 weeks ago I put my drawn out deep frames on two of my hives and the other got a shallow for comb honey. No queen excluders of course. The first week was just a little capped honey and 25% filled. I skipped next week's inspection...not smart.

    My inspection yesterday revealed the outer frames capped with a clear sweet honey. When I got deeper I found perfect brood patterns in my honey supers. Every box was just stuffed full of bees. Saw some capped drone brood for the first time. I wasn't sure what to do. I had one queen excluder that I put under the comb super. I made sure the queen wasn't above it. Will it still be edible after brood has been in it? I know it wont be perfect.

    The other two hives I broke down and examined the brood chambers. It was invasive and the bees did not like it. I didn't care. I wanted to see why they choose to nest in what was supposed to be my portion I found the bottom box to be very dark and stuffed full of pollen, nectar?, with some larva. Not a real true moon pattern. Wish I had snapped pics now. The box above it was a typical moon pattern that was looking strong. I lost a bunch of larva in the burr comb, not really sure how to clean that out to save the wax.

    I reversed my bottom boxes on the supered hives and added on more deep to the strongest hive bringing it up to 4. I know I need to do some swarm prevention measures and I have read this is a good step. How many more before I need a top entrance? That officially is all the woodenware I own. I feel that I might be time for another order. My mentor told me that the new recruits in my honey supers will be utilized for the main upcoming flow. They will then fill in with honey. Should I just keep adding boxes till I have a skyscraper in my backyard? Order some excluders and do the same thing to my other hives?

    Thanks in advance for any tips guys. I am learning that this is a hobby that forces you to learn from your mistakes. I still have plenty more to make.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    I have no issue harvesting honey from frames that once held brood some of the more squeamish might

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
    Posts
    635

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Leave the excluders off and add more supers. As the flow increases the queen will be forced lower into the bottom boxes. Any brood left in the supers can be moved to the lower boxes in fall if you use all same size boxes.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,132

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    EDIT - Started writing before the other answers appeared, apologies for covering some of the same ground.

    Probably nothing wrong with the advice you got, but just there is not "one rule fits all" in beekeeping. Which is why people argue over things like queen excluders, they can be right, or wrong, depending.

    Firstly, your honeycombs that now have brood in them, can be used for honey again. However they will be darkened by the brood cocoons, which can also leach into the honey and darken it, but still perfectly edible.

    Management wise, if you put a box of drawn comb over a brood nest without an excluder, if the bees do not fill it with honey fast enough, the queen will move into it, queens always move as high as they can. So the natural order is honey top, brood immediately below the honey, then below that empty comb, and pollen.

    If you continue to stack more boxes on top, the queen will continue moving upwards, unless the bees can fill them with honey faster. So this is dependant on the nectar flow in your area.

    Your mentor presumably has local knowledge, and if he says the bees will get enough honey to force the queen back down into the lower supers, then presumable he is correct. However, if you don't want the queen going into the honey supers in the first place, use a queen excluder. I do, and have not noticed those who don't harvesting any more honey than me. Just, use wire excluders not plastic ones, the plastic ones are too restrictive.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    As you have already heard your honey will be fine. A lot of my honey is dark and highly flavored, and my customers love it. If you want to be able to harvest honey without dealing actual brood at that time just add an excluder a few weeks before harvest. The brood will emerge and the comb will get back filled if the flow is still on. Be sure and check for queen cells above it a few days after adding the excluder though, because you are likely to find some.

    If you want to avoid using an excluder you're going to have brood in the honey supers sometimes.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    When making comb honey you do need a queen excluder. If the queen lays in the comb there will be cocoons left behind .It's not a good idea to sell comb honey with the cocoons in it. If she already laid eggs in the comb you can hold it up to a light when it 's time to cut the comb or chunk honey out. This will help to see where the brood was at.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,812

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    And now you know why excluders where invented. Use as you see fit. We think highly of them, and do not see any detriment in their use.

    Crazy Roland

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    More brood = more opportunity to create new colonies/splits -- yeah.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Bay Area, Ca
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm not really much of a honey salesman, even though I am hounded by co-workers to buy my honey. Gotta create demand right? I must of lucked out last year as I didn't have any brood in my supers. I really like Dave's idea of adding excluders when I plan on harvesting. Great tip about watching for queen cells.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Always check for queen cells at the time you add an excluder and 4-5 days after, because the brood on the other side of the excluder (there almost always is a little even if you don't think so) may be built into queen cells because of the supercedure impulse. Apparently the queen tracks pheromones with her feet, and the absence of those on brood might indicate that the old girl isn't getting around like she used to. That's how I understand it anyway.

    If it's a strong hive those are likely to be very good cells - worth raising if you are inclined.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,571

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    All beekeeping is local....

    We almost never get brood in the honey supers around here, but then we are using two deeps or a deep and two mediums for a brood nest. Occasionally a large hive will put a row of drones in the center of a couple of shallows on the bottom of the stack, usually no more than one partial row in the middle four frames or so. Only happens during buildup in the spring, after that the queen stays down in the brood nest making bees and they put only honey upstairs.

    Obviously, you have a different climate, so will have different results.

    You might want to think about using a shallow underneath your brood nest for a pollen box (see Walt Wright's articles) and checkerboard in the spring. The bees will use the bottom box for pollen most of the year, and the gap between that and your deep might keep them from expanding the pollen stores up into where you want them to keep their brood nest.

    If they won't stay down, though, time for a queen excluder -- it's a tool, use if it works for you. Every hive is different, and some may want lots of empty space underneath.

    Peter

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    >I split them and lost one hive over the winter to wax moths.

    Not really. Wax moths just take over after they have failed...

    > I ended up getting a decent harvest from my two parent hives. My mentor called queen excluders "honey excluders" and recommended that I not use them. FYI I am running double 8 frame deeps with 1 deep as a super. I cruise the forums and read a bunch so I thought that I must be an expert right? Wrong.

    I don't use excluders.

    >My inspection yesterday revealed the outer frames capped with a clear sweet honey. When I got deeper I found perfect brood patterns in my honey supers. Every box was just stuffed full of bees. Saw some capped drone brood for the first time. I wasn't sure what to do.

    The main reason they put brood in a super is to get drone brood. Old brood comb is difficult to tear down, while wax foundation is easy to rework. They reworked some of the wax, made some drone comb, and brought the queen up there to lay in it. If they had some drone comb in the brood nest they would not have done that.

    >I had one queen excluder that I put under the comb super. I made sure the queen wasn't above it. Will it still be edible after brood has been in it?

    Yes.

    > I know it wont be perfect.

    It will be as perfect as if there wasn't brood hatched in it.

    >The other two hives I broke down and examined the brood chambers. It was invasive and the bees did not like it. I didn't care. I wanted to see why they choose to nest in what was supposed to be my portion I found the bottom box to be very dark and stuffed full of pollen, nectar?, with some larva. Not a real true moon pattern. Wish I had snapped pics now. The box above it was a typical moon pattern that was looking strong. I lost a bunch of larva in the burr comb, not really sure how to clean that out to save the wax.

    I don't know what you think you need to clean out. They seem to be doing well. If the queen could find no where to lay, she needed the room. The pollen is stored to get through pollen dearths.

    >I reversed my bottom boxes on the supered hives and added on more deep to the strongest hive bringing it up to 4. I know I need to do some swarm prevention measures and I have read this is a good step. How many more before I need a top entrance?

    I like just a top entrance, but why do you think you will "need" a top entrance?

    > That officially is all the woodenware I own. I feel that I might be time for another order.

    Good luck. A month or two ago would have been a better bet...

    >My mentor told me that the new recruits in my honey supers will be utilized for the main upcoming flow. They will then fill in with honey.

    Yes.

    >Should I just keep adding boxes till I have a skyscraper in my backyard?

    If need be.

    >Order some excluders and do the same thing to my other hives?

    I wouldn't bother with the excluders. If a comb has brood in it, then it has brood in it. Don't harvest it. If it has only honey in it, then harvest it.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesulbn.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Well, regardless of what other people say, I wouldn't want to eat comb honey with cocoons. I know that I can tell what part of a frame has cocoons in it when uncapping with a hot knife. It sounds like paper tearing when I get to those areas. For liquid honey, cocoons aren't a huge deal, but I like pure wax better.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    Well, regardless of what other people say, I wouldn't want to eat comb honey with cocoons. I know that I can tell what part of a frame has cocoons in it when uncapping with a hot knife. It sounds like paper tearing when I get to those areas. For liquid honey, cocoons aren't a huge deal, but I like pure wax better.
    I have to agree with you, maybe others don't mind having cocoons in there comb honey,I Know I don,t like it. I also will not use thin foundation for comb honey,I think bees make the best foundation for comb honey.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    No, you don't want cocoons in comb honey. But it doesn't hurt he honey, just too chewy. But if you let them have drones in the brood nest there is no reason for them to put them in the supers. If you're using foundation, then use 7/11 from Walter T. Kelley. With adequate drones in the brood nest and 7/11 in the supers, the queen almost never lays in the supers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,132

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    She'll always lay immediately below the honey. If that's in the supers, that's where she will lay. Drone comb or no. She does not understand what we might call supers, or brood nest, to her, it's a hive.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,151

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    My tiny bit of experience is brood will be raised where ever, when there is no honey cap or dome. Two years ago I had a hive that had a perfect brood pattern in the supers. I believe my mistake was I put supers on too fast and did not establish a honey cap or dome. I don't use excluders and I could care less if brood was once in the super. I can't see or tell any difference between honey in a brood cell or a clear wax cell. Obviously I am not interested in comb honey.
    One advantage of a brood cycle in natural cell is it makes it stronger for the extractor.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Obviously I am not interested in comb honey.
    But it seemed that the OP was.

    ......got a shallow for comb honey.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,416

    Default Re: Brood in supers, now what?

    If you had the excluders in there and she was out of space to lay, then they would have started swarm preparations. That to me is the main reason for unlimited brood nest, reduced swarming. Once the flow is on, the bees will back fill the supers and force her down. Unless you specifically want cut comb, there is absolutely no harm.

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