Place the first two medium frames into the top deep, beside the outer brood frames. The two outer deep frames that you remove can be kept in a freezer. Or placed into the top of 2 medium boxes on the top of the hive, (so the the deep frame actually hangs down into the lower medium box). You just need to check the medium frames in less than a week, as they will likely build comb underneath the medium frames. It's easy to cut this off.
What I saw last night:
Starting to think maybe I left them with too much stores? My goal is to grow bees this year, I don't care much about a honey crop at the moment.
Last edited by jwcarlson; 05-14-2015 at 09:47 AM.
All that sounds fine. Several queen cups in a hive is not unusual, even when they are not interested in swarming.
Even though you don't care if you get a honey crop, I would tend to do splits around the time of the Summer Soltice. (End of June for you.) So you may be able to get some honey and do splits as well.
I would do large splits of at least 7 frames, and at least 3 of those frames having mostly capped honey. The stronger the split the more likely it will survive and won't need a lot of attention, such as feeding.
Queens raised at that time of year tend to lay more eggs in the Autumn (fall), so build up a bigger population for winter.
Depends on if you are near the end of the swarm season or not, the Broodnest will likely get reduced once your into the main flow.
If its mainly the drone comb getting back filled I wouldn't be too concerned
As long as the queen has space to lay (you mentioned plenty of empty polished cells). They may just be moving the broodnest if the queen is laying in that new comb. Ensuring that they continue to build new comb is a big deterrent to swarming (as they need to save up wax making in order to build comb when they swarm.)
Open brood and eggs is the other thing to check.
Ideally you want to see something like 33% open brood and eggs, compared with 66% capped brood. That is the proportion for a stable population.
So look at those percentages as a guide to determine if they are expanding or reducing the broodnest. If reducing, get them building comb.
Picture of her pattern from a couple weeks ago... 5 or so frames like this everytime we checked (plus more frames of eggs/uncapped):
Now it's filled in in the middle with edges capped.
Like you mention, it's possible that they are just shifting it down some and I've caught them in a bit of a transition period. I would say there were only enough empty polished cells for one decent day of laying for her, but I have just recently started being able to recognize when they're polishing cells. So maybe that is a normal amount. Regardless, there is certainly not an abundance (any) empty combs, but the newly drawn combs at the edge of the broodnest have been relatively empty before moving them up and replacing.
Looking back on possibly an "opps"... the hive next to this one ended up with a drone layer so I shook them out and they joined this colony. I then took the combs from the old colony, slashed them with a knife, and put them out 30 feet from this hive. They ignored it when maple was going, but in the recent cool/wet weather they have really hit it hard and emptied most of the syrup. I was hoping they would treat it like a flow and start drawing comb (and they have to a certain extent), but they have also backfilled a lot.
In my head I know that the number of open cells I saw is not "enough"... I'm just banging ideas around in my head through the keyboard. I thought after our first full inspection coming out of winter (showed five frames of capped brood) that we were going to struggle to keep this hive from ending up in a tree. It looks like that is the case. The good news is that the rain is going to make for a heck of a sweet clover flow here if we get good flight weather. Wish I had more drawn comb. :P
Another thing that I guess I struggle with (because I'm new) is how large of a brood nest to expect. I have my frames shaved to 1.25" and they are all foundationless. She has brood on both sides of 10 of those frames. Smaller patches on the outside one. And she's just starting to lay in the medium that's on the bottom. She did that on maple/early stuff flow. And coming out of winter before virtually any flow (except me adding pollen sub patties), she had about 5 frames.
Last edited by jwcarlson; 05-15-2015 at 10:10 AM.
Wow, great frame of brood in the picture.
What about the frames from the drone laying hive ? Can't you use any of those, or put another box on the hive from that?
The good thing is that they are drawing comb, so keep them working on that with a new frame on each side of the Broodnest. Check weekly if you can.
Are you sure that there haven't been eggs in the newly drawn comb? It's harder to see the eggs because the comb is light in colour.
If I do that and I have some empty worker sized combs from the other hive that might help quell the impulse for now with less bees and more open space.
I appreciate this thread, Matt, and your 1-on-1 responses to many individuals within it.
Thanks, my pleasure.
It sounds like feeding them syrup is the issue here. Adding feeding to the equation just makes it more complicated.
Another option is to extract frames of syrup to get more empty comb, but if they are top bar frames you don't have that option...
I recommend not feeding unless the bees look like they are going to starve.
Have fun with the grafting.
I have another question for you. Since I run double deeps with medium supers and have no drawn comb should I pit in medium frames and then put the drawn frames in my super or should I use deep frames and stack a 3rd hive body on top and then right before the flow pull the third body and force all of the bees into the two hive bodies therefore forcing in them into my in supers with only foundation to draw? My thoughts are that by doing the latter I would better expand the amount of brood space available until the flow and then when the flow hits there are 3 deeps of bees packed into 2 deeps with foundation supers it will better force them to draw It.
They will likely go into swarm mode if you suddenly remove a box from them.
Also, if you remove frames as they are drawn, you may be removing eggs from them. As the queen often lays in the new comb.
Better to just put a couple of mediums frames in the deep for a few days. Then once they are mostly drawn, put on the medium super and put those frames in it.
Thank you! I am really wanting to try Wrights Nectar Management but do not have the combs. Hopefully this will help As well as prevent swarming. I think since I am going to use Walts CB I will do what it looks like he does and overwinter my new colonies I am establishing right now with a single deep , a super of honey on top and a super on bottom for pollen.
Quick question in your experience can I get a medium frame drawn a week till the main honey flow?
During swarm season you can definitely get the bees to drawn one medium per week, sometimes more depending on the flow.
You can get them to draw one medium frame per week, but you would need to keep putting an empty frame beside the Broodnest each week. Moving an outermost frame up into the super.
They won't necessarily fill those frames or the super with nectar within that time.
Ah okay, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the explanation.
On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.
That is awesome. The reason I ask is that since I plan on checkerboarding if I can overwinter my hives with one deep body and a medium super on top with stores if I do not have that second empty medium with drawn comb perhaps I can get them to draw enough comb during swarm season to slowly checkerboard each week. Or if I'm lucky and I have that second super of drawn comb perhaps I can checkerboard the two supers of drawn comb as well as get them to draw comb before the flow to give them a head start for the main flow my placing that comb with foundation less on top of my two checkerboarded super... as soon as I get Walt manuscript I am going to ask him if that would be feasible.
Yes, I effectively Checkerboard outermost drawn frames that are moved up with new undrawn frames and these also get drawn out very well.
You may get some fat and some thin combs, as the bees tend to extend comb with nectar into the space. But you can move the honey frames around to even them out. You get more honey from fatter combs and they are much easier to work with.
Well, my queen has officially laid brood in all 11 frames across in the main deep. And a few of the frames in the medium below. I'm starting to wonder if this yard will be boom or bust depending solely on the alfalfa getting a chance to bloom or not. I shook five frames of bees into a cell builder and took four combs as well (but had 4 combs to give after rehabbing the drone layer).
So I moved another frame up from outside about 3/4 drawn with worker sized comb that had been laid up. So now there are in the main deep: one empty frame and 10 frames consisting of mostly brood (backfilling seems to have slowed). There are more bees in the top deep now for sure, starting to work it pretty well. There are now two frames containing brood in the top deep with about three frames on each side ranging from mostly empty to mostly full. I pulled four of their mostly pollen/mostly honey frames into the cell builder and replaced with mostly empty combs. It doesn't seem like I have taken any bees from the hive to be honest... still a bunch. And they're still plowing through pollen patty pretty quickly. I am nearly out of patties that I made so I think they're about done getting new.
Saw the queen walking around the upper deep yesterday looking in cells (that were full or partially full) of honey. There are other empty frames up there, I hope she found them after I closed them back up.
Considering moving my started cells onto the top of my big colony above excluder this afternoon (48-hours after graft), but I REALLY don't want to have something goofy go wrong and loose that queen. And it's my first swing at queen rearing, so the chances of that happening seem pretty large right now.