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  1. #1
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    Default When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    "Open the Sides of the Broodnest" - Steps:

    1. Several weeks before swarm season, move each outside frame up into a new box and alternate them with new frames, directly above the Broodnest.

    2. Insert a new frame on each outside edge of the Broodnest. (So that a Brood frame is only on one side of the new frame.)

    3. Check them in 2-3 weeks and repeat if comb in the frames has been mostly drawn.


    When to "Open the Sides of the Broodnest"


    1. When daily maximum temperatures start getting to 15C /60F or above and the weather forecast looks good for the next week.

    2. When Drone brood is being raised.

    3. When you see a large number of young bees starting to do orientation flights in the afternoons. (Think - wax makers!)

    4. When a good deal of pollen is being brought in.


    "Opening the Sides of the Broodnest" is done when a beekeeper doesn't have spare drawn comb.


    Why do you need spare drawn comb?


    Swarm prevention is best done by giving a bee hive plenty of spare drawn comb and breaking up any solid bands of capped honey. The idea is to make sure that there is not a solid honey dome, as the bees want to set a boundary for the nest so that they can fill it up and swarm. Even the gap between boxes can be seen as a boundary, so frames they are using need to be moved.

    Typically swarm prevention is done by Supering early and Reversing or Checkerboarding.

    When bees are preparing to swarm, they don't make wax, but rather "save it up" for when they find a new home and need to build new comb.

    "Opening the Sides" is all about triggering wax production before swarm season and then maintaining wax production into the main flow. So the bees build more comb for raising brood and storing nectar and also use up incoming nectar to max the wax.

    As swarm preparation takes a few weeks, "Opening the Sides" is best done at least 4 weeks before swarm season. Several weeks beforehand is best.

    The new frames should have only a strip of foundation as a comb guide. I would have no more than half a sheet of foundation on a new frame at most. There must be a HOLE close to the broodnest. The hole in the broodnest is what triggers comb building, (to fill the hole).

    The "Sides" of the Broodnest/Cluster are opened up, rather than inserting frames into the Broodnest, so that the cluster is not forced to heat a larger area than what they are used to. Doing that can set back brood rearing and cause issues such as chilled brood if cold weather sets in at this stage of the season.

    Bees will often build mostly drone comb before swarm season if the frame is completely foundationless. But with the foundation strip it ends up being about 2/3 worker to 1/3 drone comb. (Comb support helps. Such as wire, fishing line, or in my case I use thin bamboo skewers.)

    Having some extra spare drawn comb will also really help with the bees moving into a new box quicker.

    The hive should have a few frames with some capped honey, at least on the top corners. I prefer not to feed, but if they haven't got enough stores you may need to, as they will use up all their stores trying to fill the hole(s) with comb. Make sure you leave them some stores close to the broodnest in case bad weather sets in.

    Also see: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-the-Broodnest

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Matt very well done and easy to understand steps. Will this prevent swarming on its own without any other manipulation .
    Second Year 4 Hives T USDA Zone 5b

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    I don't understand putting the new frames against the outside walls of the hive at that time of year, doesn't seem like it would help that much in removing the "honey dome" that you referred to. I think that if the weather is as warm as you say it needs to be to do this (at least 60 degrees every day), alternating one or two new frames into the center of the broodnest is not risky imo, and would do more to break the honey dome, give bees comb to draw, and give the queen more space to lay. I think a strong colony at that time of year can handle opening the broodnest like I suggested better than you think. A weak colony would have no need for you to open the center or sides of the broodnest, so we have to be talking about a strong colony here, with plenty of bees to keep the broodnest warm.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    ""Open the Sides of the Broodnest" - Steps:

    1. Several weeks before swarm season, move each outside frame up into a new box and alternate them with new frames, directly above the Broodnest."

    Which frames are the outside frames? The frames beside the frames of brood? All of them? Such as, 4 frames of brood and 6 frames w/out brood? Move them up and replace them w/ frames of foundation?

    Or are you saying the two outermost frames of brood? To move them and replace them w/ frames of foundation?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by laketrout View Post
    Will this prevent swarming on its own without any other manipulation .
    It has for me and I would think so in most cases.

    But it also depends on the strength of your flow. If the bees run out of room to store nectar and the queen has no where to lay eggs, swarm preparations may likely start. But if you haven't got that extra drawn comb, then there's not much else you can do. It will at least delay the process and may be enough of a delay to get to the main flow.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Maybe I misunderstood which frames you are talking about, please clarify.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    I don't understand putting the new frames against the outside walls of the hive at that time of year, doesn't seem like it would help that much in removing the "honey dome" that you referred to. I think that if the weather is as warm as you say it needs to be to do this (at least 60 degrees every day), alternating one or two new frames into the center of the broodnest is not risky imo, and would do more to break the honey dome, give bees comb to draw, and give the queen more space to lay. I think a strong colony at that time of year can handle opening the broodnest like I suggested better than you think. A weak colony would have no need for you to open the center or sides of the broodnest, so we have to be talking about a strong colony here, with plenty of bees to keep the broodnest warm.
    The new frames go beside brood frames, not outside walls. Encouraging the broodnest to be expanded outwards. Also, the two outside frames go above the broodnest and encourage the nest to be expanded upwards.

    I said when temperatures start getting to 15C/60F, not talking about when those temperatures are every day.

    It may be a climate thing, but we can have temperatures drop back down for several days at a time. So inserting frames inside the broodnest at this time can cause issues, such as chilled brood and/or Chalkbrood.

    So the thought is: why risk chilling brood when putting a new frame on the edge of the broodnest works just as well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Ok Matt, thanks for the clarification.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Which frames are the outside frames? The frames beside the frames of brood? All of them? Such as, 4 frames of brood and 6 frames w/out brood? Move them up and replace them w/ frames of foundation?

    Or are you saying the two outermost frames of brood? To move them and replace them w/ frames of foundation?
    The two outermost frames (one from each side of the box) are moved up.

    Then two new frames are inserted beside the outside of the broodnest. This is not the outside of the box.

    The idea is not to disturb the brood frames at all. Just put a new on each side of the broodnest.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Matt, how would you do it differently if you had drawn comb to work with?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Jmgi, wouldn't that be checkerboarding? And I'm trying to understand why one might choose opening the sides versus checkerboarding?
    Zone 7B. 8fr meds. 5 hives. 4 years. Still a beginner.
    (hr south of LR)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    i dont think you want to checkerboard that early in the season. you want to keep all the brood together for warmth. that early in the season there may not be enough bees to cover it if you spread it out

  13. #13
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Checkerboarding is done above the broodnest with boxes of frames containing empty comb and frames of honey, and alternating them, there is no moving anything around in the broodnest itself. Understand, I have never done actual checkerboarding myself as layed out by Walt Wright, but I believe this is the basic description of checkerboarding. What I do is open the broodnest with frames of empty comb, which is a different thing.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Yes, that is correct. Checkerboarding is NOT touching the brood nest. That's one thing I'm sure of about it.

    When you (jmgi) asked about using drawn comb, I assumed you were talking about moving the drawn comb up with honey, which would be checkerboarding. So... Re-reading this... You move the drawn frames from the SIDE of the brood nest UP with mostly new foundation (strips, not foundation) and just some amount of honey if available. I think I've got it!

    I would still like to know the advantages, or reasoning I guess, for opening the side of the broodnest versus checkerboarding.
    Zone 7B. 8fr meds. 5 hives. 4 years. Still a beginner.
    (hr south of LR)

  15. #15
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by VitaminBee View Post
    ... I would still like to know the advantages, or reasoning I guess, for opening the side of the broodnest versus checkerboarding.
    Opening the Sides of the Broodnest is done when a beekeeper does not have spare drawn comb.

    If you do have a few spare drawn combs, then you can alternate them with new frames in the new box above the Broodnest. It's technically not Walt's Checkerboarding because of the undrawn frames, but you could call it Checkerboarding.

    The more empty drawn comb above the Broodnest the better.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    Opening the Sides of the Broodnest is done when a beekeeper does not have spare drawn comb.
    Ohhhhhhhhh! (Picture light bulb going on!) Ok. Now I understand! Two different techniques to accomplish basically the same thing, your choice being resources. Cool. Thank you for sticking with me.
    Zone 7B. 8fr meds. 5 hives. 4 years. Still a beginner.
    (hr south of LR)

  17. #17
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    Default Re: When to Open the Sides of the Broodnest

    Just a clarification.

    1. Temperatures having reached 15C/60F recently and a good weather forecast for the next week, with a few warm days of 13C/55F or over forecast.

    When you add a new box and move frames around, you change the dynamics of heating the hive. So I think you should give them a few days of warm weather where they are able to break cluster and move resources around if they need to.

    For example, if the first couple of outside frames that are moved up have nectar or honey in them, those frames may be robbed out. (This may also stimulate wax making and brood rearing.)


    I should also add another point:

    5. Start to Open the Sides at least 4 weeks before your typical swarm season.


    This should probably overrides all the other points (even the temperature considerations), because once the bees have started Swarm preparations, they may not take any notice of new frames.

    If your typical Swarm season starts Mid to Late March then you should be Opening the Sides now.

    If they don't have much in the way of feed, please make sure you feed them. (But not too much, just enough to keep them going.)

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