After a week I went into my new packaged hive to see if all was well and mark my queen. She was supposed to come marked but wasn't. Started them with one box capped honey outside, empty frame next, part drawn frame then full drawn worker frames. Glad I went in as everything was drawn out, eggs and grubs. Found queen on 3ed frame. She's a runner but got her marked. Queen in my established hive would stand on an empty frame with her finger in the air!lol Added another box. This time capped honey outside frames then checkerboard empty and drawn good straight frames. I figure they will have these drawn out in 2 weeks or less. So my question. I have all ways kept adding empty frames and boxes to keep my Carnies from swarming. This is the first year I have had drawn comb like this. Obviously I can out expand the physical hive faster than the amount of bees. When they get close to drawing out the 2nd box should I just add an empty 3ed box and swap out an empty frame for a pulled frame from the box above like I normally do or more checkerboarding? I had 3 full boxes of good comb from a dead out over the winter. Just don't want the hive physically to get so big that the small amount of bees now can't defend or warm it. Still need to keep them busy so they don't swarm.
I don't think there is a limit to how much drawn comb vs foundation to use. You just want to keep adding more space and combs to keep them busy, but not overwhelmed. It's important to match the colony size to the space in order to keep SHB from getting the upper hand. (And this is also something to consider later in the season when the bee population starts to retract from its seasonal max, too.)
Getting foundation-less combs drawn straight and true between two drawn combs is always a good idea. But I don't, as a rule, find it's a good idea to alternate undrawn foundation with drawn comb. This results in fattening the drawn combs and leaving the foundation lumpy, and not fully drawn. I like to add foundation in a centered group, surrounded by drawn combs on the outside, or even during a strong flow at just the right point in the early summer, just a full box of extra-waxed foundation.
When I "checkerboard" in the spring I am using an alternation of drawn-empty and drawn-with-stores frames, never just foundation unless its just a place holder temporarily in the outside position because I failed to bring enough frames out to the yard.
When inspecting, I make notes (on the tops of the frames themselves) of which combs are less-desirable and mark those to be worked outward and replaced when I can by fresh opportunities for the bees to get it right. Less desirable are combs that are not almost perfectly even in width throughout, or somehow not fully filling the frame up. My bees don't seem eager to finish up a frame that's missing drawn comb in one corner, for instance.
I have also found that full sheets of empty foundation are much less effective as swarm-prep deterrents than partial sheets of foundations in otherwise empty frames. (A combo of MattDavey's ideas about "opening the sides of the brood nest" and Lauri Miller's modification to get fewer drone cells when you do.) But in AR, your swarm season must be nearly peaking, or almost over soon.
Are your bees making lot of white wax? Up here that's when I know we are nearing the end of the riskiest period, and the pressure (assuming they are not feeling cramped) for reproductive swarming will start to ease soon afterward.
My goodness Nancy when do you have time to work bees as your always hear trying to help us!!lol I have one true Warre hive in dimensions, quill box, ect and 2 more that are Warre diameter but Lang deep. All are full framed foundationless. The first hive I bought, then made the other two and since you waste a lot of cedar pluse have to cut and splice the side bars making frames I thought it stupid to make boxes shorter to Warre specs. The bees could care less and the weight and size is still comfortable to fool with. Like the rest of the country it has been much cooler hear and everything is behind but the comb is quite white they are pulling new. I guess what I'm trying to ask is when do you quit adding the old comb period? As you said to much real estate and not enough bees to tend to it all creates problems but if I don't keep their little minds busy they off they go with my fat little queen. The pulled comb doesn't keep them busy. My thinking is to leave the hive as it it's now and when they draw out most of the now empty checkerboard frames add a complete undrawn box below. At that point she should have plenty of laying room and the girls to start storing honey and the 3ed open box should keep them busy till the summer dearth hits. Right now I have a great problem of not having any bad comb. Everyone in this hive is almost perfect. The Italians that pulled it were amazing. Now my established Carnies are a different story. I'm constantly moving comb that looks like a drunk made it or drone to the top boxes. Hopefully they will fill them out with capped honey and I'll get them out of the system. BTW you replied to me about when to smoke (vap) this new package last week. It was 7 days today. I get off work at 4am and there will be smoke coming out the top by 4:45! Thanks