Last summer, I had 3 top bars I was managing for honey production. These were overwintered, 20 bars filled with bees in late May, and each bar is the size of a Lang frame mind you. I removed most of their existing honey, in fact put it in the front (like 2 bars), put 1 bar of space in 2 places in the hives... and they made drone comb, and backfilled the brood nest with nectar and swarmed. I saw little comb drawn out except the drone comb. Which they actually already had on the edges of the brood nest from last year. They apparently just wanted fresh?
I found out from the school of hard knocks that frames with foundation but no comb are pretty unattractive to bees with drawn comb - they would rather draw on a bar. Nothin' personal, right?
Then in mid-late June, once the daughter hives were definitely established and I had moved capped brood to boost them, I tried to make honey again. Once again, I put a couple of empty bars staggered past the brood area - hoping to get honey not drone comb - and got some. Like 2 bars from 3 hives. And they filled the brood nest and swarmed again!!! @[email protected]#@%@[email protected]$!!!!!
I'm wondering if my part of OH has pretty "shallow" nectar flows. I wonder if that would explain the firm tendency to fill existing comb but never getting "full" enough to draw out fresh.
Also the bees once again chose to draw a full comb and fill with half capped honey when they did bother to draw out comb. The other have would just be uncapped, sitting there, mocking me, for several inspections in a row, until I gave up and harvested anyways.
That also makes me wonder if our nectar flows really will provide better honey with drawn comb... or if I have swarmy bees. I blame the father(s). I think that is actually part of the problem, so I will be requeening my fall swarming stock.
So... thoughts? similar experiences with poor comb drawing with a strong hive and an apparent nectar flow? It's not that I'm a crappy beekeeper, right?!?! or that there is a deep flaw in using top bar hives - that is my fear, really, deep down. So I prefer to blame the father(s) at this point....for swarmy stock... and relatively poor but consistent nectar flows.