Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method
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  1. #1
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    Default Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Opening the Sides of the Broodnest - OSBN

    Main points:


    • Develops comb building before swarm season, which helps to reduce swarming. Due to extra comb for nectar storage and using up of nectar to make wax.
    • Enlarges the size of the Broodnest when the bees would usually be reducing it by backfilling, because the queen lays in empty comb as it is being built.
    • Can be done at colder temperatures than Opening the Broodnest.
    • Does not touch the Broodnest, so it doesn't force bees to heat a larger volume than they are used to heating. Which can cause chilled brood. (Especially with Carniolans).
    • Does not split the Broodnest, so if cold weather sets in there is no possibility of having the cluster split and emergency queen cells made by the queenless cluster.
    • The bees still have direct access to the frames that were beside the Broodnest, but now they are above instead. Not a problem, when heat rises.
    • The bees can build the comb in their own time, but the empty space (Hole) gives them an incentive to build comb.

    What you will need:

    At least 1 box of new undrawn frames, which are the same size frames as your brood box. (If a few of these are partially drawn, empty frames, this also helps.)

    Conditions:


    • No feeding
    • Frames are all the same size
    • Start about 3 weeks before you usual Swarm Season (or when you see Drone Brood).
    • Do every 2 weeks until bees are drawing out multiple combs in the New Box.
    • New frames have a Hole large enough for the bees to want to fill it.

    Purpose:

    OSBN is a Swarm Prevention method for Beekeepers who have enough Bee Hives
    (IE, when you don't want to do Splits and make more Bee Hives)
    AND for New Beekeepers or Second Year Beekeepers especially those who don't have any spare, empty comb coming into spring.


    Aim:

    To get the bees building comb in a New Box/Super before swarm season starts, to help reduce swarming and to get a honey crop.

    Objectives:

    1. Develop Wax Makers well before Swarm Season.
    2. Maintain wax making throughout Swarm Season and into the Main Flow.
    3. Encourage enlargement of the Broodnest until the Main Flow.


    OPENING THE SIDES OF THE BROODNEST


    Steps:


    1. About 3 weeks before your usual Swarm Season, move each outermost frame from a brood box up into the middle of a New Box (of undrawn Frames), placed directly above the Broodnest. (So that 2 Frames have moved up.)
    2. Insert a New Frame (with a large "hole") on each outside edge of the Broodnest of the brood box. So that Brood frames are only on one side of each new frame. (2 new frames inserted.)
    3. Check the Hive in 2 weeks and repeat the steps if comb has been at least partially drawn on the New Frames in the Brood Box. (2 Frames moved up, 2 Frames inserted into the Broodnest.) You will now have 4 Drawn Frames that have been moved up into the New Box.
    4. Check again in 2 weeks. The New Box should now be mostly drawn. You can repeat the steps again with another New Box on top.


    PLEASE NOTE:



    • The New Frame can be empty drawn comb or foundation, but should have a large "hole" that is equivalent to at least 1/4 of the frame. You can just cut off the bottom corners off the comb or foundation.
    • The Hole will be filled with Drone Comb.
    • If the outermost Broodbox frames are moldy, you may wish to remove them completely and not put on a new box until the third step.
    • If you want the bees to use the honey on slightly moldy frames, then move them up to a new box, but have at least a few frames of foundation between them. The frames will usually get emptied out.
    • You can start doing this method 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 or 4 drawn combs together, in the middle of the new box. When there is less than 3 frames in a box and not together, they usually get emptied out. So if you have a spare drawn comb, the more the better.
    • The timing of 2 weeks is for deep frames. If you use mediums, the times will be shorter and can be more like 1 week.
    • Best to use all the same size frames.
    • As a guide for when to start Opening the Sides of the Broodnest. I would start around half way through the period between Cherry blossoms and Apple blossoms. The period between these blossoms is quite long where I live, as much as 2 months. If it is around 1 month for you then you may initially need to use drawn comb instead of a partial frame of foundation. (Some areas still have snow around at this time.)


    I have been working on this method for several years now and wish I had known about it when I first started out beekeeping. Give it a go and let us know how it goes for you.
    Last edited by MattDavey; 02-07-2019 at 06:16 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Thanks so much for this! I will be trying this on some of my hives this year (3rd year in).

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    I should also add that it helps to scrape the capping of any capped honey on the Old Frames that are moved up to the New Box.

    If you still want to use slightly moldy frames, then cut off the capping off any capped honey like when you are extracting. Move them up to the New Box, but have at least a couple of frames of foundation between them.

    These frames will often get emptied out, so it can simulate a bit of a flow.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    good job matt, many thanks for the bump.

    that the bees will draw comb to fill up empty space much earlier in the season but just ignore foundation until it really warms up and the strong spring flow arrives is something that i proved for myself a few years back. i used frames that were completely foundationless.

    and yes, that comb tends to be drawn out almost exclusively to drone cell size, (which is a good thing if one is rearing queens). the partial foundation is something i did not try, but several here on the forum are reporting the effect is the same, i.e. the initiation of early wax making which appears to help thwart swarm ambition.

    if i were going to try this i would probably do something like lauri does here:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...mes-experiment

    also, i think for those in southern latitudes it's possible to get away with placing foundationless frames a little earlier the a few weeks before prime swarming. we are about 2 months from that time here and just now starting to have the first substantial pollen and nectar flows, albeit they are intermittent as good flying days are cycling with cold and rainy days.

    surprisingly, i transferred a nuc from 5 frame to 10 frame equipment a couple of weeks ago and moved it to another yard before the frames became propolized. the move resulted in the frames shifting a bit and when i checked a week or so after the move i found some new comb being built in the empty space.

    it's important to remember that the hive has to be exactly level left to right when placing foundationless frames, otherwise the comb started at the top bar won't hit the bottom bar as it tends to be drawn plumb.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Matt, I have worked a similar system with a queen excluder over the second medium brood box. I then manipulate mostly capped brood to above the excluder and bring empty comb or heavily waxed plastic foundation down into the brood boxes. This opens up the brood nest for the queen and also draws workers and nurses up above the excluder I also have holes in the handle area of the 3rd box so a second entrance becomes available. The reason I went to excluders is that many of the Carni type of queens I have would work upwards into the supers and when checking for queen cells one had to check every box. With the excluders on all supers are lifted off and only the brood boxes need checking. Also using Lauri's half sheet of waxed plastic foundation I try to have a couple on the outsides of the lower brood boxes so that drone cells are drawn in the spaces which I find prevents a lot of drones being made between frames.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Matt,

    This a such a clear recapitulation of your method. Thank you!

    As you know I do your method, after I've done Walt's method, and before I start in on Mike Palmer's tilt-box instructions. My bees wouldn't dare swarm after all that! And most year's I don't have any issues, though I always ready with Snelgrove boards to head them off, if needed. Since I don;t want more hives this is how I manage to keep my apiary under control.

    I adopted Lauri M's partial frame ideas, too. The frames the bees make on the outside of the broodnest are usually not added to my permanent store of drawn comb. They are not as nice as the combs my bees make of full sheets of foundation. Instead, I work them out of service by mid-summer, scrape the face of the foundation and cut off the combs in the voids left by the partial foundation and render all the nice, mostly fresh wax for use in adding extra coats to new foundation.

    I rarely use more than 3 to 4 OSBN partial frames per colony, so I just have a set of partial foundations frames that use each spring.

    I use 2/3 of a foundation sheet per frame, just whackiing off roughly a third and then combining two off-cuts in another frames.. I snap them in and smush a piece of wax in each lower corner of the foundation which is mostly centered in the frame. Takes only seconds to do.

    In my area I start Matt's OSBN by the last week of April/first week of May in an average year, and I only do one side of each box with active brood at a time. I rarely have to do it a third time. It takes about 10 days for the bees to make enough progress on the first frame that opened the side, and to need another OSBN reminder. The reason I don't do two sides at once is that at that time of year I am still experiencing nights that will dip into the 20s F. In climates with a steadier warmer-up, I would probably do both at once, too. I have never seen any sign of chilled brood - and shortly after I start this I begin checking under each brood box for signs of swarming on very short intervals, 5 or 6 days, so wouldn't have missed any chilled brood. I think I am starting earlier than between cherries and apples; we don't have sweet cherries here and I think this is just barely at sour cherries, and not quite wild black cherry, either.

    I don't fuss with moving frames into another box - I just pull a frame out to make room for the new one. Often I have frames that i want cull anyway. Or if I have wintered on less than a full complement of frames, I just shove them over to accommodate the added OSBN frame. And then in turn, when I've had enough of often odd-ball partial foundation frames (uneven with fat drone on either side of normal worker, which doesn't play well when you want to keep the frames as close together as I like) as I approach the mid to end of June, I just work them out of brood production and replace them with full sheets of extra-waxed foundation, which they draw out eagerly. And that's how I get the comb rotation I like, or extra combs to share out for splits, etc.

    This idea really works, so don't hesitate to add it to your anti-swarm repertoire. I wouldn't give up doing regular swarm-prep checks, though, just because you read about it on the internet. You need to discover whether your proposed timing, your bees, your typical flows, your hive config, etc., all react in the same way. So ADD this, but keep watching closely, too.

    Nancy

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Thank you all for your comments.

    I have also been using Lauri's style of frames with half sheets of foundation. They are alright if you are not planning to keep them long term and are happy to cut out the drone comb. You really need to make sure you have a comb guide on the top bar where there is no foundation, otherwise the comb can end up curved or even a separate comb made at a different angle. I've also found some hives, if they don't have a starter strip along the top at least 1 inch in height will rather widen existing honey comb on the frame beside it. Even building new comb on top of capped comb.

    So now I make sure there is at least a 1 inch of foundation across the whole length of the top of the frame. For best results with foundation, I would just cut of each bottom corner diagonally. Think of the frame in thirds, left, middle and right. Cut from 1 inch down on the left section to the bottom left of the middle section. Do the opposite on the right section. So it looks a bit like this:

    \_/


    I'll make one and post a photo.
    Last edited by MattDavey; 02-10-2019 at 07:02 AM.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Matt, I'll add my voice to those thanking you. I appreciate the updated version, I've been reading quite a lot about your method trying to keep up with the current practice, it's great to have it here in one place. I'm definitely giving this a go this spring.
    Thank you,
    Lee
    5 Production colonies, 1 side by side 5 frame nuc for support- 7 working queens is all I want.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Would this approach be appropriate for my situation?

    Two hives - 1 with 3 medium boxes, 1 with 2 medium boxes
    Both hives have mostly drawn comb
    I have no extra drawn comb
    I am using plastic foundation
    I have 10 new boxes with undrawn plastic foundation
    I plan on making one split in the April time frame based on queen delivery and also hope this is a swarm preventative.

    Why use this method instead of snelgrove? Is it just to draw foundation which I need?
    Will the split alone be enough to prevent swarming? Can I do both?
    Since I have plastic foundation I have no whole that is mentioned in this method. Should I us a dremel and cut a whole? How big?
    FYI - In our area brood really ramps up in March. I think April is our swarm season.

    Thank you,

    Anthony

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    I usually use Wax Foundation for this method as bees will more readily draw it out than Plastic Foundation.

    But I had some Plastic Foundation and thought I would try cutting it to show you ways to cut foundation and get a good result.

    I just used Tin Snips to cut the plastic and it worked quite well.

    There are basically 3 types that I reckon work well.
    1. A modified version of Lauri's which is more of a Wide T shape.
    2. The Trapezoid which will give the best resulting comb.
    3. The Wedge which is the most efficient as it can be used to create 2 frames by using the off-cuts as well.


    Most people will probably go for the Wedge shape because you can make 2 Frames from it. See bottom 2 photos.



    Modified Lauri Style, Wide T Shape:




    Trapezoid:




    Wedge:




    Wedge from Off-Cuts:


  12. #11
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    @Anthony

    The question is do you want more hives?

    The Snelgrove method is basically a Split on top of the existing hive, so you end up with 2 queens.

    It like comparing Apples and Oranges, completely different approaches.

    OSBN just involves cutting some foundation and placing New Frames beside the Broodnest for a couple of Fortnights during Swarm Season.

    Snelgrove method requires you to make a special board with multiple entrances, find the queen and do a split. Then come back and open and close entrances every 5 days or so. You get 2 queens, larger population of bees because of 2 queens. Then decide if you want to make 2 hives or kill the old queen. You also need to watch that the top Broodbox doesn't get honey bound.

    You could always try both methods, one with each hive and see what your results are.

  13. #12
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    Default

    Thanks Matt , that helps me a lot. This was above and beyond cutting your plastic foundation when you normally don’t use it for this

    Thank you,

    Anthony

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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    A number of people have asked about Plastic Foundation so thought it was worth doing. I'll use it anyway.

    From now on I will be recommending that if using Partial Foundation then use the Wedge shape, and have at least 4 Frames per Hive.

    That way 2 Frames can be made with 1 Sheet of Foundation.

    It is would also be worth gluing the foundation in the groove of the Top Bar, especially with making a Wedge shape with the 2 Off-Cuts.

    Turn the Frame upside down, put a line of Wood Glue (PVA) in the groove of the Top Bar, then place the Foundation in position. Wait until it is dry.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Mathew I want to ask your permission to translate the op post to portuguese and put it on my blog to make known to my compatriots beekeepers. If you are in agreement how should I refer the credit to you?

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    One of the Objectives is to "2. Maintain wax making throughout Swarm Season and into the Main Flow."
    I haven't really explained how to do that in the Steps, so will add one last Step:

    5. Ensure that there is at least 2 Undrawn Frames, either beside or in the Box directly above the Broodnest throughout the Swarm Season. This is to maintain Wax Making by getting the bees to draw out new comb. (These Frames can be full sheets of foundation.)


    The reason I add this is the experience I had with one hive.

    It had completely drawn out the New Box and I had moved 2 Drawn Frames up into another New Box (3rd Box).
    They had started to drawn out the Foundation in the 3rd Box, but then stopped and started Swarm Preparation.

    The reason this happened was because they had completed the Honey Dome around the Broodnest.

    Do not allow the bees to complete the Honey Dome around the Broodnest!
    Think of the Broodnest like a watermelon shape. Where the Red part is Brood and the White part is Honey.

    You want to maintain a Hole in the (White) Honey part.

    So throughout Swarm Season ensure there is always at least 2 Undrawn Frames beside or in the Box above the Broodnest for the bees to work on drawing out comb. Keep them working on building new comb until well into the Main Flow.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    @Eduardo

    Thank you for asking.
    Yes, you may translate and use the content of the OP, this Thread and my Web Page.
    Please refer to my Web Page as your main source of information, as it has all the details in one place.


    The Web Page for Opening the Sides of the Broodnest is:

    http://daveybees.wikidot.com/openingthesides


    For Credit, please use the following:


    Opening the Sides of the Broodnest
    Matthew Davey
    Victoria
    Australia

    Web Page: http://daveybees.wikidot.com/openingthesides

    The content of this web page is licensed under:
    Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post

    For Credit, please use the following:


    Opening the Sides of the Broodnest
    Matthew Davey
    Victoria
    Australia

    Web Page: http://daveybees.wikidot.com/openingthesides
    Very grateful Matthew . I will do as you say.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    This will be our first year to try this method. Last year 7 of our 8 hives swarmed, so we did a lot of research to find options to prevent that. Using Walt Wright's guidance, we identified the end of January as the time we should start manipulations - kind of scary since we still have nights in the 20s here in East Texas. However, we reversed brood boxes on several hives and used the frames with 1/2 foundation cut out at the sides of the broodnest - which was (after reversal) in the bottom brood box. We also added a medium super above the top brood box containing two lightly pulled foundations in the center and then filled with heavily waxed plastic foundation.



    Twelve days later, we were amazed that the bees had filled most of the openings left beside the broodnest, and often pulled out the foundation area, and already had capped larvae in the area. Not only that, but they have moved up into the honey super and began heavily pulling comb in that area, as well. This happened in all three of the hives we checked yesterday and we assume the others are equally busy. As fairly new beekeepers, we have very little pulled comb to use and are ecstatic to see them pulling comb so readily a full 6 weeks before we will have a strong honey flow!



    Questions: 1. As we add additional medium honey supers to the stack, should they be added above the one the bees are pulling? Or below and just above the brood boxes?
    2. We are trying to reconfigure our hives to using only one deep brood and then using mediums above that. In an effort to build up sufficient brood comb in medium supers, we did our second manipulation by simply adding a medium frame beside the brood (not cut out - but since it is short, it leaves an additional gap below the frame.) We did that on only one side of the broodnest. Comments?

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Example of the OSBN Method:

    So let's look at an example using the following notation:

    P = Partial Frame of Foundation (OSBN Frame)
    N = New Frame with Foundation.
    D = Frame of older Drawn Comb with some honey, nectar or pollen.
    B = A frame with some Brood on it.

    Frames that have been moved are in Bold.



    BEFORE


    NNNPPPPNNN (New Box, 4 Partial Frames)



    DDBBBBBDDD (Single Brood Box, 5 Frames of Brood)




    AFTER 1ST OSBN MANIPULATION


    NNNPDDPNNN

    DPBBBBBPDD

    Expecting the bees to work on at least the 2 New Frames in the Brood Box, as these are the Holes in the Broodnest:



    RESULT AFTER 2 WEEKS

    NNNPBBPNNN

    DBBBBBBBDD

    Partial Frames have been mostly drawn and have Brood. Brood on the bottom inbetween the Old Drawn Frames in the New Box, bees have expanded into the New Box.



    AFTER 2ND OSBN MANIPULATION


    NNNDBBDNNN
    PBBBBBBBPD


    Expecting the bees to work on at least the 2 New Frames in the Brood Box, as these are the Holes in the Broodnest, and also start drawing out New Foundation Frames.



    RESULT AFTER ANOTHER 2 WEEKS

    NDDBBBBDNN

    BBBBBBBBBD

    Partial Frames have been mostly drawn and have some Brood. Brood on the bottom of the Old Drawn Frames in the New Box, bees have become established into the New Box and drawing out New Frames of Foundation.



    What I do:


    • Pull out 2 New Partial Frames from the middle of the New Box before opening the hive.
    • Take out the Outermost Frame from each side of the Brood Box, check them for eggs or brood. If none, scrape or cut off any honey cappings and put the Old Frames straight into the middle of the New Box
    • In the Brood Box look for capped brood on the next outer frames. If none, pull out the frame and look for eggs.
    • If no eggs or brood, slide the frame over and look for eggs or brood on the next frame, etc.
    • Once you see eggs or brood, you now know where the edge of the Broodnest is (and you've usually only had to look at 1 or 2 frames).
    • These are the only brood frames that I look at. No need to look for the queen or queen cells at this time in the season. If there are eggs you have a queen. If she has space to lay, there won't be queen cells. (And if they are making wax and building comb they are unlikely to want to swarm.)
    • Give them at least 2 (or 4 new frames in a double brood box) to work on. This helps to decrease the frequency that you need to go into the hive (compared to just adding 1 frame.)
    Last edited by MattDavey; 02-16-2019 at 06:51 AM.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Want Swarm Prevention? Try the OSBN Method

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    Example of the OSBN Method:

    So let's look at an example using the following notation:

    P = Partial Frame of Foundation (OSBN Frame)
    N = New Frame with Foundation.
    D = Frame of older Drawn Comb with some honey, nectar or pollen.
    B = A frame with some Brood on it.

    Frames that have been moved are in Bold.



    BEFORE


    NNNPPPPNNN (New Box, 4 Partial Frames)



    DDBBBBBDDD (Single Brood Box, 5 Frames of Brood)




    AFTER 1ST OSBN MANIPULATION


    NNNPDDPNNN

    DPBBBBBPDD

    Expecting the bees to work on at least the 2 New Frames in the Brood Box, as these are the Holes in the Broodnest:



    RESULT AFTER 2 WEEKS

    NNNPBBPNNN

    DBBBBBBBDD

    Partial Frames have been mostly drawn and have Brood. Brood on the bottom inbetween the Old Drawn Frames in the New Box, bees have expanded into the New Box.



    AFTER 2ND OSBN MANIPULATION


    NNNDBBDNNN
    PBBBBBBBPD


    Expecting the bees to work on at least the 2 New Frames in the Brood Box, as these are the Holes in the Broodnest, and also start drawing out New Foundation Frames.



    RESULT AFTER ANOTHER 2 WEEKS

    NDDBBBBDNN

    BBBBBBBBBD

    Partial Frames have been mostly drawn and have some Brood. Brood on the bottom of the Old Drawn Frames in the New Box, bees have become established into the New Box and drawing out New Frames of Foundation.



    What I do:


    • Pull out 2 New Partial Frames from the middle of the New Box before opening the hive.
    • Take out the Outermost Frame from each side of the Brood Box, check them for eggs or brood. If none, scrape or cut off any honey cappings and put the Old Frames straight into the middle of the New Box
    • In the Brood Box look for capped brood on the next outer frames. If none, pull out the frame and look for eggs.
    • If no eggs or brood, slide the frame over and look for eggs or brood on the next frame, etc.
    • Once you see eggs or brood, you now know where the edge of the Broodnest is (and you've usually only had to look at 1 or 2 frames).
    • These are the only brood frames that I look at. No need to look for the queen or queen cells at this time in the season. If there are eggs you have a queen. If she has space to lay, there won't be queen cells. (And if they are making wax and building comb they are unlikely to want to swarm.)
    • Give them at least 2 (or 4 new frames in a double brood box) to work on. This helps to decrease the frequency that you need to go into the hive (compared to just adding 1 frame.)
    Fantastic explanation mate cheers! Ill give this a fair shake this spring!

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