Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest
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  1. #1
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    Default Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    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.

    Note

    • 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.



    More details:
    "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:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-the-Broodnest
    Last edited by MattDavey; 02-24-2015 at 07:02 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Please use the following notation:

    N = A new undrawn empty frame with no more than 1/2 a sheet of foundation.
    D = A drawn comb with some honey, nectar or pollen.
    B = A frame with SOME brood on it.

    So let's look at an example:
    I have made the frames that I expect the bees to draw out in Bold.

    Example of 2 Deep boxes. New frames have half a sheet of wax foundation.

    BEFORE
    (Bees emptied out the 2 drawn frames moved up to the top box previously):

    NNNNDDNNNN
    DDBBBBBBDD


    AFTER MANIPULATION
    (Expecting the bees to work on at least 4 new frames):

    NNDNDDNDNN
    DNBBBBBBND


    RESULT AFTER 2 WEEKS
    (Brood on bottom of frames in the top box, bees expanded in top more than expected):

    NDDBBBBDDN
    DDBBBBBBDD

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    RESULT AFTER 2 WEEKS
    (Brood on bottom of frames in the top box, bees expanded in top more than expected):

    NDDBBBBDDN
    DDBBBBBBDD
    Thank you Matt. Have you ever got this configuration after 2 weeks?

    NDDBBBBDDN
    DBBBBBBBBD

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    The Broodnest probably wasn't as wide as the example. But Yes, the queen likes laying eggs in brand new comb. So she may go outward or up, or lay in all 4 new combs.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Coming out of last winter I started this with only three brood combs in the center of one box. (My boxes are artificially reduced in interior space during the winter so they were only 5 to 7 frames accross to start with.)

    It worked quite well for me in two out of three hives. Neither of those two made any swarm preps at all, beyond a steady production of (mostly) dry queen cups. Since it was my first time encountering them, they made me anxious but I soon learned I could safely just let them be as the bees made them and tore them pretty regularly.

    I found I needed less than two weeks, once as few as five days, between adding combs on the side of the brood nest to keep the process going smoothly with a steady introduction of a fresh "hole" on the edge ofthe brood area.

    One colony went from five or six drawn frames at the start to forty deeps by the end of the summer. We had an exceptional honey year locally last year, but that's still a lot of fresh comb.

    The only down side was that I found it to be a lot of work and pretty intrusive into the hives. I would guess that my perception of that is colored, in no small part, by my anxiety about whether it would work and my general inexperience with doing it. This year with confidence that it does work and much more experience doing it, I think it will seem less demanding. The girls may not like it any more, though.

    I live in an unreliable northern climate and we can have spates of very cold weather during this period. (But did not have have that happen last year, after a very late start to Spring.) I plan on keeping my winter insulation panels on my hives to buffer any freezes that occurr after I've started opening the sides.

    Enj.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post

    It worked quite well for me in two out of three hives.

    I found I needed less than two weeks, once as few as five days, between adding combs on the side of the brood nest to keep the process going smoothly with a steady introduction of a fresh "hole" on the edge of the brood area.

    Enj.
    That sounds great. What time of year did you start adding frames and see wax being drawn?
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Ejn. you are a little more north than I am, but what do you say is a good guide as far as daytime/nighttime temps go when you start this process? I have never tried anything outside of plain checker boarding, but this seems to place a method to the madness so to speak.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Enjambres
    Every two weeks when you added two new frames what did you do with the two frames that had pollen or nectar or maybe honey in them.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    It worked quite well for me in two out of three hives. Neither of those two made any swarm preps at all, beyond a steady production of (mostly) dry queen cups. Since it was my first time encountering them, they made me anxious but I soon learned I could safely just let them be as the bees made them and tore them pretty regularly.
    Enjambres
    What happened to your 3rd hive where the technique did not work? Swarmed? What is the reason, if you know it, for this outcome?

    This year you say this technique you will give less work. Because you will rely more and not inspected as often swarming signs? Or the reason is different?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Hi Matt,
    I'm going to start next week as I can tell my hives are building. I've got a question, is it more effective to force the HOLE, or if I've got empty comb, use that? You loss the forced wax building, but have a bunch of new room to raise brood. I don't intend to continue to grow a lot of hives, 14 is about all I want, so I don't see an advantage to growing a lot of new comb.
    Thanks,
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 5 Nucs / 6th Year / T {OAV & MMK}

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    @Mike Gilmore & IsedHoohah:

    I started around the middle of April, which I think was late-ish. But last year the winter hung on and on and I was getting spooked that I might be missing a critical signal. (Reading Walt Wright's description of his take on the timing of storm preps and waiting and waiting for the expected floral cues to appear caused my doubts. I am, BTW, a professional horticulturist so I knew for certain that my 2014 growing season was delayed as I have lived and gardened on this farm for more than a quarter century.)

    Last year's other unusual factor was that after being late starting by about 10-14 days, Spring proceeded steadily with no backsliding temperature-wise. Generally we have a vexing combination of warm and then a return to frigid. For example, we can't safely plant out tomatoes until the last week of May, because of frost risk. (Your typical local tomato-planting time will help you compare my climate to yours.) By early summer things were back on track so the early part of the growing season, and flowering sequence (factors I think affect the bees a good deal) had been artificially compresed in the shortened Spring of 2014. I continued opening the brood nest clear through to the beginning of June - so eight or nine long weeks of work. (In the previous year, 2013, the year my three colonies arrived here as swarms themselves, they came between May 25 and June 17, so those were the known dates of very local swarming)

    @Wirenut:

    Well, my situation is a little peculiar because of my winter hive configurations. I winter with fewer frames than normal in my 10-frame equipment (last year 5 to 6, and this winter 7 or 8). In the space that is left over I have wooden follower boards and foam insulation panels inside the hive. This is obviously not part of Matt's technique, but what I did initially was remove one of the partially drawn frames from the outer edge entirely when I installed the first Opening The Side Of The Brood Nest (OTSOTBN) frame. (The frame like all of they early ones was, BTW, simply an empy deep w/ a starter strip nailed to the groove on top. Eventually I ran out of these and the latest ones were simply full sheets of foundation with the lower corners whacked-off diagonally,) I did one side at a time, not both, at least at first. After the first round I then removed one of the layers of foam outboard of the follower boards and slid the follower board, and the outermost honey/pollen frame outwards enough to make room for the next OTSOTBN. frame. Eventually I moved a couple of frames of brood and some honey/pollen frames on either side of them up to the next box, and waited for the situation to stabilize and then started performing OTSOTBN on that level, too. When all of these two boxes were filled with this pattern, so I started a third, and so on. What made it more complicated was that I felt that every addition or move upward needed some decision-making about whether it was the right time for each change. Matt's description makes it sound very cut and dried, and on a schedule. In practice I found it required a lot of on-the-spot evaluation. This is what I think will be easier for me this year as I was so uncertain about the process last year that I tended to worry I was making a fatal error. (And it was complicated because of my weird winter arrangements - because all the boxes must stay the same width top to bottom of the stack which is an added issue. Sometimes I just moved a partially drawn-out, but empty, comb up or down on the outside just to keep the boxes, with their follower boards and foam panels vertically balanced. In a less complicated system this would not arise.)

    Sometimes I just moved a frame that didn't fit with Matt's plan out of the hive temporarily, or parked it above. (Obviously not a frame with brood!)

    @Eduardo:

    Well, the fate of my third hive, my largest one though in fact not terribly big, highlights the other issue. While I was doing all of this brood nest opening I was also anxiously checking for evidence of swarm preps. I wasn't very clear, or experienced enough (and probably am still not experienced enough) at judging the brood patterns and cell usage pattern of the individual frames for signs of swarm prep, so I had to rely on watching for the presence of any swarm cells. This is an extra challenge with this system if you are flat-out determined not to have lose any queens to swarms, as I was last year. So in addition to making on-the-fly judgements about whether to add another OTSOTBN frame, and where, I was hunting for swarm cells. Queen cups worried the heck out of me. And then, finally, I saw a couple of queen cups with royal jelly, and maybe what might turn into an actual swarm cell, or two. I asked for advice here and got the usual mix of help and confusion inherent in trying to valid judgements about hives the posters can't see. I decided to go back in and see the next day - and impulsively performed a split (my first!). But my inexperience showed because I got the assortment among the two boxes of frames with eggs/capped brood wrong, and then my incompetence came into play when it became clear that I had somehow managed to screw it up even more by getting the queen in the wrong box. I wrote about this in my posts about my Muddle-Headed Split. In the end I wound up redividing the messed-up split. More embarassing drama ensued that I haven't chronicled, after that. But in the end, my bees made it all come out right: with my original Queen Buttercup set up housekeeping in a new hive and her daughter, Queen Anthemis, got cooked up, mated and taking over the old colony. Both were still with me day before yesterday, before we descended back into depths of another round of Arctic air (minus 17 F this morning!) Those two hives are now my (relatively) smallest being just 14 deep frames plus 14 medium frames apiece as they went into winter, snug in their insulated hives. That compares to the two which never made swarm preps and grew into huge colonies by the end of he summer, which are wintering in either 32 deeps or 16 deeps plus 32 mediums. Those two are undoubtedly already planning on traveling this Spring. We'll see about that!

    I plan to deploy all anti-swarm techniques: I will be removing any gross amount of uneeded honey left after winter to reduce the size of the stack, then perform a partial Walt Wright style checkerboarding if the bee have eaten enough combs empty to do that, plus Matt Davey's OTSOTBN frames as I remove their winter interior panels, plus I plan to use Snelgrove boards. I would be happy to to have one additional daughter queen from each of them, but I want to do that as late as possible so I have plentiful, well-fed drones and settled conditions to get the new queens mated as close to the Solstice as possible.

    I will, of course, also be watching Queen B and her daughter closely, in case I have misjudged their swarm plans, somehow. I don't really want to make increase from them this year as I only want to have about six hives and don't want to kill any queens or part with any excess colonies to stay at those numbers. I think I will just use Matt's technique on them, but just in case I wll have Snelgrove boards standing by.

    I will see if I can find a link to my series of threads on my Muddle-Headed Splits which will reveal all the timing details more accurately than I can remember. But remember, when it got too embarassing I was afraid to post about the continued cluelessness. I did- finally - get expert local help, though, to eventually put things right, which included a newspaper combine. Only after my mentor went through my other two hives frame by frame, did I feel reassured that I had passed safely through my first swarm season and we could just settle down for a bang-up honey year that only required me to keep slapping fresh boxes of empty comb on top every 10 days or so.

    Swarm management, to me at least, is the most complex and fraught part of bee-husbandry. Which makes sense because it is the one aspect where beekeepers and their bees are really at fundamental cross-purposes. That it comes directly after the prolonged anxiety and worry over winter survival, at least up here where winters are fierce and dangerous for tropical bugs, seems to me to be especially hard. I didn't feel secure again with my bees until mid-summer. I hope my experience is different this year, but with bees, ya never know!


    ETA: First mention of my anti-swarm activity - predictably a frantic plea for help:

    And more drama when it becomes clear that I have messed up:

    But wait it gets worse:

    But what I didn't have the moxie to write about is that some of the re-re-splits (got that?) never were able to cook up a queen (as I had feared), and eventually started to get robbed out. What a mess! But remember, in the end my bees faithfully saved the day for me (like the always do!) and I wound up with exactly what I hoped for: Queen B and one of daughters. But at some unnecessary cost to them due to my complete ineptitude, at least to Buttercup who was slow to recover from her travails.

    Also interesting is noting in passng that my sugar rolls during all this had them just on the cusp of needing treatment, but I deferred because of OTSOTBN program. But this year, I have OAV at the ready and could treat as needed. What a relief that will be.

    Enj.
    Last edited by enjambres; 02-24-2015 at 02:02 PM.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Thank U. If I see queen cups with an egg, even without royal jelly, and at the time of swarming, I split the colony. I do not give names to my queens, but you inspired me .
    Queens done near the solstice has resulted fine with me. As a rule these queens the following year do not give me concerns about swarming.

    I know you are having a hard time with the cold spell. I wish you that your bees overcome this challenge and the heat come quickly.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    enj
    You must type 200 words a minute. I know I am off topic but can't help taking my hat off to you. I enjoy all the comment and sometimes learn something.
    gww

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    enjambres:

    your links are bad, the have an extra "http//" in them.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    It really doesn't need to be that complicated (takes more effort to describe it than do it).

    This is what I do:


    • Pull out 2 new frames from the new box before opening the hive.
    • I typically only work in the top brood box.
    • Take out the outermost frame from the brood box and put it straight in the new box
    • Then slide the next frame out to the outer edge of the box.
    • You now have a gap between frames, blow some smoke in there.
    • Look for capped brood. If none, slide the next frame over and again look for capped brood.
    • Once you see brood, take out the previous frame before that and look for eggs or open brood.
    • You now know where the edge of the Broodnest is and you've only pulled out 1 or 2 frames to look at.
    • That is the only brood frame(s) that I look at. No need to look for queen cells, because if they are making wax and building comb they are unlikely to want to swarm.
    • Give them 2-4 new frames to work on. This helps to decrease the frequency that you need to go into the hive.


    If you only see 2-3 queen cells, DO NOT WORRY. This means they are superseding. As with Checkerboarding, the Broodnest can fill 3 brood boxes. The queen may be running out of stored sperm and needs to be replaced.

    @Robbin: Drawn comb can be used beside the Broodnest. As it makes room for the queen to lay in and gives them more storage room. But my aim with this method is to get them making wax throughout swarm season.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    It really doesn't need to be that complicated (takes more effort to describe it than do it).

    This is what I do:

    @Robbin: Drawn comb can be used beside the Broodnest. As it makes room for the queen to lay in and gives them more storage room. But my aim with this method is to get them making wax throughout swarm season.
    Thanks Matt, I thought that might be the actual goal, so I will go with that. Last year I got swarmed a lot, I really want to cut down on it this year and this seems like the easiest way if you aren't going to split. I am going to build some nucs this year, so I can use the extra brood comb in those. I've considered going natural cell size in the brood chamber, this is a good way to start toward that practice.

    Thanks!
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 5 Nucs / 6th Year / T {OAV & MMK}

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    @Enjambres: If you want to use a acronym, how about OSB ?

    I usually refer to it as Opening the Sides, but OTS is already known as On the Spot queen raising.

    In regard to raising queens and doing splits I would do these around the Summer Soltice, so after the main flow.

    As you often get 3 deeps with brood, I would take several brood frames from the top brood box and use those to make a large split.

    Either take the queen with the split, or raise a few queens using the OTS method in the original hive first. Do this 1 week before splitting. I found I need to move at least 2 notched frames up higher, away from the brood nest to help queen cells to be made. Make sure there is a frame of pollen next to the notched frames as well. So the 3 frames together.

    The split soon fills a full deep, and the new queen builds up a good population for winter.
    Last edited by MattDavey; 02-26-2015 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Added detail.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomson View Post
    As I am picturing this, you are putting in a frame with a 1/2 sheet of wax vert. in the middle next to the outer most frame of brood, where am I making a hole? Or is that just the opening where there is no wax on the new frame you are referring to?
    The Hole(s) is where there's no foundation in the frame.

    Placing a medium frame in a deep box will also create a Hole in the Broodnest.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Pics are failing to upload. I will post once i figure it out. I took pictures after a week and very good result are shown.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Results of Opening the Sides of the Broodnest

    Lots of good information here

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