what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?
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  1. #1
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    Default what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    As an anti-swarm measure, I have been doing OSB (opening the sides of the brood nest) since early February. The first four half-foundation OSB frames, two in each brood box, have been drawn with worker and drone (at foundation-less gaps) comb, filled with honey and capped, which is great. In contrast, in the second four OSB frames the drone comb was all drone brood, not honey.

    Was it a good idea to have cut out all the drone brood? Or should I have let the bees raise as many drones as they want while continuing doing OSB? I cut out all the drone brood off the OSB frames to avoid proliferation of mites this early in the season and ended up with two deep frames worth of capped drone brood of different ages, which feels like a waste of valuable resources considering that the bees will probably continue churning out drones.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    I'm about to do another round of OSB with 1/2-foundation frames, third since early Feb, and not sure what to do with the earlier OSB frames filled with drone comb and drone brood: not a single gap has worker comb in it.

    Should the frames with drone brood be moved to upper boxes or just cleaned of the drone comb and then reused? I have been cutting drone comb off so far to avoid proliferation of mites..

  4. #3
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Leave the drone brood and they'll quit building as much remove the drone brood and they'll keep building it. You can move the frames of drone brood above an excluder and then they'll fill it with honey once the drones emerge.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    I use 2/3-sheet sized pieces of foundation to reduce the amount of drone comb when using OSB. I use two of the 1/3-sheet off-cuts in every third frame. It seems to work as well as half-frame, with less drone comb and only modestly more expensive.

    I control mites by other methods (and in the spring after my long winter brood break mites are scarce in my colonies, anyway) and let the girls make as many drones as they want at that season. They will just keep doing it, anyway. But my spring season is very different from yours in CA, so YMMV.

    When I am able (which is probably less than 50% of the time), I gradually work these OSB frames out of use, scrape and ready them for duty the following year. The combs are never as uniform as full-sheet ones, so they wind up being those annoying frames. They do make good outside frames if you run 8-frame equipment, or 9-frames in a 10-frame box, because as outside frames in a roomy box their unevenness isn't such a big deal. But I have plenty of formerly-OSB frames in each hive, too. Since I mostly use Pierco all-in-ones, I can easily tell that any wooden one is likely to be an OSB frame. Otherwise I would mark them so I could tell just by looking at them that they might be lumpy - before I try to winkle them out of the box. 'Nuff said.

    And while OSB works pretty well to damp down the swarm urge, I don't rely only on that to make sure I don't lose any swarms, as I get into my prime swarm season I start looking at the underside of every brood box in every colony every five days to make sure they aren't hatching any travel plans. Because sometimes my sneaky girls will let me use anti-swarm tactics all through the spring and still want to go off on their own. But if I see cells, I can forestall that. Tipping up the boxes is far easier (on the bees and me) than pulling frames.

    Nancy

  6. #5
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Appreciate the feedback! Well, still not clear on what to do.

    I use 2/3-sheet sized pieces of foundation to reduce the amount of drone comb when using OSB. I use two of the 1/3-sheet off-cuts in every third frame. It seems to work as well as half-frame...
    Interesting. If 2/3 works as well as 1/2 (meaning no swarming) then only 2/3-sheets should be used for OSB because it reduces the amount of drone comb by close to 2x. The question then is how OSB works: by exhausting bees through forcing them into drawing loads of new comb, or by helping them to do one-time switch into spring comb drawing mode?

    I've read that after two or three rounds with half-foundation frames, OSB can be continued with full foundation frames -- will try that.

    I control mites by other methods (and in the spring after my long winter brood break mites are scarce in my colonies, anyway)...
    I have read stories (or wait was it me?) about people missing/miscalculating the "harvest" day for green drone frames. Of course, green frames are used close to the end of season, but, still, OSB frames is essentially the same thing and give a hive 3x more drone brood, which is a mite farm.

    And while OSB works pretty well to damp down the swarm urge...
    How far is it from 100%?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    I have found the use of foundationless in the brood chamber to be one of those Guru driven ideas that was just a nuisance for me. Use drawn comb or foundation and get a good supply of workers to collect honey.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    I don't use fully-foundationless frames to dampen swarm preps. In my experience they can only be drawn straight and even between two other straight and even frames, so it's too much of a hassle to try that during OSB. (I don't use much foundationless at all, since I find my bees seem to do better on foundation, and even better on Pierco frames.)

    I think OSB works by creating gaps in the fully-organized, ready-for-action, brood nest area that bees need to have before departing in a swarm. But that's just my opinion, based on my observations. I have never tested it in any way.

    I do not use green drone frames. The idea, though I'm sure it works if done on time w/o fail, seems unpleasant to me.

    I use OSB without any intention of destroying or altering the amount of drone cells produced (though I'd rather keep it to a minimum.) It is simply a means to keep the bees busy drawing additional worker-sized cells that need filling and tending. That early in the season a full frame won't get cells drawn, apparently it's something about having that hole in the brood nest that makes them turn to, early on. So for me, it's only an anti-swarm tactic, not a varroa-control measure. And as I mentioned above, in early to mid spring when I am doing OSB my mite levels are still at their annual low point. I always look over any inadvertently broken-open drone comb to check for mites, but I rarely see any in the spring.

    As for its effectiveness, OSB is only one of my tactics, which I start as soon as I can work the colonies in the spring (this year that won't be before the first or second week of April if the long-range forecasts prove correct.) I reverse boxes, checkerboard a la Walt Wright, early on. Then reverse a second time (I run three 10-frame deep brood boxes), checkerboarded again, if possible, meanwhile, I start adding in OSB, one side of the brood nest, in one box at a time, about every week, or so. Then in the second week of May, I start intense surveillance for cells by tipping up the boxes every five or six days. I would say that some of my queen lines are more prone to swarming - I am thinking of you Miss Peony, and all your itchy-footed daughters. But most years I may only have to forestall one or, at most, two potential swarms (by use of Snelgrove boards) out of about 15 strong colonies with old-enough queens. And I have never actually lost a swarm, since I catch 'em getting up to their sly tricks early on and slap a Snelgrove on 'em to put the kibosh on their plans. (All my queens are marked, so I'd know if one of them had sneaked out on me.)

    It's a lot of work, certainly the most intensive bee-work period of the whole year. Fortunately it happens after a long winter lay-off so I am eager to work with my bees again. By summer Solstice, though, the bees and I are pretty sick of each other because I have constantly been up in their business for months by then. But I would really hate to lose a swarm from a colony that I have been looking after for years. (My colonies are very long-lived, though of course after three or four years they make themselves a new queen, which I take care not to interfere with even though I am usually sad to lose an old friend.)

    That's just what works here, for me. Though my students who do what I do faithfully have the same results. My students who do not do this as thoroughly still have swarms.

    ETA: To secure the partial foundation pieces in the groove/groove frames, I just jam a bit of burr comb on either side of the piece, along the lower edge. I have read about people nailing them, or gluing them in with popsicle sticks, and other such efforts. Take a pile of frames out to the yard, and a pile of cut foundation. Grab frame, pop foundation in, and squish, squish, on either side of it along the bottom with burr comb and you're done. Couldn't be easier. I haven't settled in my mind whether to bother extra-waxing the foundation. It's one of the things I mean to test this year.

    Nancy

  9. #8
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    ... Use drawn comb or foundation and get a good supply of workers to collect honey.
    Would adding drawn comb inside the brood nest every few days be as effective for preventing swarming as OSB?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    ...
    I use OSB without any intention of destroying or altering the amount of drone cells produced (though I'd rather keep it to a minimum.)
    Well, I put new half-sheet OSB frames around brood in every box; if I hadn't removed newly drawn drone comb, most with sealed brood, then I'd have ended up with 12 1/2-sheet OSB frames, which makes 6 full drone comb frames in one hive -- I suspect this is a recipe for a mite-caused collapse in a few weeks time.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Quote Originally Posted by baybee View Post

    Was it a good idea to have cut out all the drone brood? Or should I have let the bees raise as many drones as they want while continuing doing OSB? I cut out all the drone brood off the OSB frames to avoid proliferation of mites this early in the season and ended up with two deep frames worth of capped drone brood of different ages, which feels like a waste of valuable resources considering that the bees will probably continue churning out drones.
    You answered your own question.

  11. #10
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    Default

    Explain to this Newbee what OSB and Bee-LT stand for?




    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz-kill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by baybee View Post

    Was it a good idea to have cut out all the drone brood? Or should I have let the bees raise as many drones as they want while continuing doing OSB? I cut out all the drone brood off the OSB frames to avoid proliferation of mites this early in the season and ended up with two deep frames worth of capped drone brood of different ages, which feels like a waste of valuable resources considering that the bees will probably continue churning out drones.
    You answered your own question.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    Explain to this Newbee what OSB and Bee-LT stand for?
    OSB and Bee-LT

  13. #12
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Do you always destroy all drone brood as a mite-control tactic? I let my bees raise whatever amount of drone brood they see fit and usually they get it out of their systems pretty quickly. They make whatever number of drones that they seem to need and then they slow DB production down to a very low level for the rest of the season. (And one of my queenlines is so boy-crazy that the colonies often allow some drones to hangout all winter long - without any noticeable difference in mite problems.)

    I am not clear how often you are removing the OSB frames, or cutting out the DB? Mine always have a good deal of worker brood on them on the foundation, so I let them stay in the hive. If you are cutting the DB out to keep them from hatching, why do you need yo keeping adding more OSB frames? In your case I might try snapping in pieces of foundation after cutting out the first round of brood and turning the frame into 100% worker cells, while sticking in another OSB frame just outside of it.

    I probably am misunderstanding what you are doing but it seems to me that you are doing more manipulations than neccessary to do the OSB and also cull drone brood at the same time.

    You won't have a problem with mite crashes due to drone brood if your mite numbers are kept low enough year-round. Did you treat for mites during whatever passes in your area for a winter brood pause? If you don't have one (a winter brood pause) then you'll just have to keep treating year-round, I guess. But while mites prefer drone brood, and have more reproductive success on drone brood, drone brood is not a crisis all by itself.

    However, under the circumstances I can see that going to 2/3 sheets of foundation would help you, no matter what you do about the drones cells, because there would be fewer of them.

    Nancy

  14. #13
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    Default Re: what stage drones are good for Bee-LT?

    Do you always destroy all drone brood as a mite-control tactic?
    Never. I've read that a single OA vaporization does a better job than drone brood removal (and is much less intrusive). I believe, however, that letting the OSB drone brood out of control will eventually kill the hive through proliferation of mites.

    If you are cutting the DB out to keep them from hatching, why do you need yo keeping adding more OSB frames?
    Well, initially the bees had been drawing comb very quickly -- four 1/2-sheet OSB frames in five days. I kept adding new OSB frames to keep them busy thinking that, with the three winter months warm and nectar flow heavy, they might switch into swarming mode any day. Then after a few rounds of OSB I started cutting the drone brood off the OSB frames and moving them around the hive.

    Did you treat for mites during whatever passes in your area for a winter brood pause?
    I never see my hives without brood. They brood all year round, and they collect nectar all year round. This is why my current (and the only realistic) tactic is not to help mite populations get out of control by farming drones.

    OAV doesn't work here. MAQS is a bad product: kills queens, doesn't store well.

    Apivar is out of question because it has to stay minimum 42 days, which is one and a half month, while bees never stop bringing nectar. I wonder how local beekeepers even consider using it. This June or July will try brood breaks followed by two or three OAVs.

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