It's great to see more people trying out "Opening the Sides of the Broodnest"
I wish I had known about this method when I was starting out! My tests so far indicate that it significantly reduces swarming, produces a larger population, I get some honey and get much more drawn comb than I did using other methods.
So to anyone trying out this method, please post details of the hive:
- Before the manipulation
- After what you did
- Result after 2 weeks (How the bees responded to it)
- What type of frames you used
Here's the updated steps.
"Opening the Sides of the Broodnest" - Steps:
1. A few weeks before swarm season, move each outermost frame from a brood box up into the middle of a new (undrawn) box, placed directly above the Broodnest.
2. Insert a new frame (with a "hole") on each outside edge of the Broodnest in the brood box. (So that a Brood frame is only on one side of each new frame.)
3. Check them in 2 weeks and repeat the steps if comb in the new frames in the brood box have been mostly drawn, but now alternate the drawn frames that are moved up, with the undrawn frames.
4. Check again in 2 weeks. The new box should now be mostly drawn. Repeat the steps again with another new box on top.
- You can start doing this as soon as Drones are starting to be raised and the weather forecast for the next week is warm.
- For the bees to move into a box, I have found it best to have at least 3 drawn combs together, in the middle of the new box. When there is less than 3 frames in a box, they usually get emptied out. So if you have a spare drawn comb, the more the better.
- This is for deep frames. If you use mediums the times will be more like 1 week.
- Best to use all the same size frames.
"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.
This method is for beekeepers who do not have enough drawn comb.
The new frames to trigger wax making should have no more than half a sheet of foundation. Cut vertically and placed centrally, as Laurie Miller does it, works well. There must be a HOLE close to the broodnest. The hole beside the broodnest is what triggers comb building, (the need to fill the hole).
The "Sides" of the Broodnest/Cluster are opened up, rather than inserting frames into the middle of Broodnest. This is important, so that the bees are not forced to heat a larger volume than what they are used to. It also doesn't split the Broodnest which could cause issues if very cold weather sets in. Inserting frames into the Broodnest can set back brood rearing and also cause issues such as chilled brood if cold weather sets in, especially earlier in the season.
Bees will often build mostly drone comb before swarm season if the frame is completely foundationless.
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.
Once wax making has started, the bees will drawn out foundation.
Only the first couple of frames beside brood need to have a "hole" to trigger wax making.
For more information see: