Replace Frames in Same Order Question
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Hello, and thanks for taking the time to look over my first post. It seems to be an awesome forum / resource, which I hope to use a lot.

    I'm interested in becoming a hobbyist beekeeper, so I've been reading and watching as much as I can before I take the plunge. Plus my neighbor already has an active hive from another friend who use to come by and care for them, but the friend has moved away, so there's the two of us embarking on this learning adventure together, as there's nobody to care for the hive. The hive has not been checked in over a year, but there are bees still going in and out.

    From what I understand we'll need to inspect the hive for a couple of things, mainly focusing on the queen or evidence of a live queen. Other things too which I'm aware of, but I do have a question of replacing the frames in the same order. I tried googling the question, but I was chasing the wrong things.

    Can somebody briefly explain why and what most likely would happen if you mixed them up? I'm guessing it has to do with how the queen is working her magic, but I wanted to know how important it is for my own knowledge and I would number them if necessary.

    Thanks, and again- awesome resource!
    b1rd

    PS- And I do have a bee suit, smoker and hive tool on the way.
    Last edited by b1rd; 06-30-2019 at 03:03 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Niagara Co., NY, USA
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    131

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Welcome and good luck. No need to number them, in time you will need to rearrange them, probably. The bees have everything arranged nice and orderly, just the way they want it. How would you feel if you came home and your bed was in the kitchen, the living room stuff was in your bedroom, and the kitchen stuff in the living room?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    4,849

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Hello b1rd; you are off on an interesting journey!

    One reason for replacing the frames in the same order and orientation is that they very often have many humps and hollows on the comb face that fit together in such a way as to still have bee space between them but if changed around the humps and hollows no longer match. Drone comb is deeper and will clash with other comb faces and crush bees as you pull or replace frames. One of the bees killed could be the queen

    Also nectar and pollen storage is usually arranged close to open brood for handy feeding and willy nilly changing would mess up the bees arrangements.

    There are manipulations of frame positions that can serve a purpose at different times of the year but you will not be ready yet to effectively improve the bees game by moving their furniture around.

    I would suggest pulling one of the frames next to the outside wall of the hive body so you can slide each succeeding frame away from its neighbor before lifting it. The first instpection does not need much more than to confirm there are eggs or at least young larvae with milky feed. That tells you you have a queen. #1 importance.

    It would help if you would update your location in your profile page so people could judge best what local conditions you might soon be facing.
    Frank

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Thanks for the replies and I did just update my location in my bio, thanks. (San Diego, Ca).

    A quick follow up question:

    As far as the initial frame removal, I understand that when I first open the box and remove the lid and then the top cover, then the queen could be anywhere. However, somebody said that initially you'll want to look for where the most bees are congregating, then avoid that/those particular frames at first, because there's a higher chance the queen might be on one of those frames. He suggested removing the frames furthest away to make room for the possible frame with the queen. Is this sound advice as being an indication of the queen being on one of those frames? (and I understand it's not 100%. I'm also aware of some of the other things to look for once you have the frame out and I've been looking over some of those Queen Spotting practice sites. Not easy- yet

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
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    183

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Crofter is correct, remove an outside frame 1st and yes a congregation would usually mean the queen is there. In an old hive brood area, check to make sure it is not nectar/honey bound. The queen needs empty cells to lay or they will swarm.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Thanks again for the replies.

    A lot to learn for sure.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    I remove the two part lid, setting the cover upside down and leaning the inner cover against the back of another hive.

    Then off come the supers, which are set down on the upside down outer cover's edges at a slight catty corner.

    Then if I am using a queen excluder (I don't in my own hives, but I do at work )I will pry it off and set it upside down on top of the supers. This makes sure not to transfer the queen or drones to the supers.

    If there is more than one brood box, I first loosen the top one, tip it up to look for swarm cells (in season) and then lift it off and set it down on top of the QEx. And if there are several brood boxes, I repeat this setting them down in order, or on separate bases of their own if that is more convenient. Each temporary stack always has a lightweight cover on it, except when adding or removing a box. I use political signs for this.

    When I have only one box left on the stand, I start the inspection there.

    I usually pull out the second from the outside frame not the outer one. The outer one is likely to have little wax bridges along its outer face which can make for a messy pull out. It's usually stores, anyway.

    I first shove it as far outward as possible using the hive tool as a lever.

    Then I loosen the ends on the second-in frame by inserting the flat end of the tool between it and the box.

    Then I separate the second in frames from the third one by making a crack between their ears on each end.

    Then I remove any significant bridge comb between the second and third comb because those little bridges will scrape at the face of the comb as is it comes out.

    Then I use my hook-end tool make the initial lift of one-half to three-quarters of an inch, and get my fingers under the end; repeat on the other end.

    With fingers supporting each end of the frame and shoulders over the frame, I pull it gently and slowly straight up and out.

    Once I've looked at it enough to gather what info I can from it, I set it down inside a quiet box and slip a cover on the quiet box to keep the bees on that frame calm and relaxed. I never hang it from the side of the hive, and only very rarely ever lean it against the stack.

    If I need more working room, I will repeat this with a second frame, adding it to the quiet box as well. With two frame out you have plenty of room to loosen each of the next frames before sliding them slightly toward you and up and out for a peek. Then return the frame to the box along the inner side of the box, preserving your working space for the successive frames. If I find the queen on a frame, I will stow her on the frame in the quiet box so I know where she is. And more importantly where she is not, i.e. on any frame left in the box.

    When I've seen enough, I move each frame back into position, making sure that all the brood frames are pushed close together.

    When inserting the final removed frame (the second-in one) I just ease it in under control, if the bees are crowding along the edges, I will go very slowly and let them move aside.

    I check to make sure the queen is not left behind in the quiet box and tip the rest of the loose bees in the QB back in.

    The last thing I do in every brood box is use my hive tool as lever to press the frame ends together tightly and more or less divide the extra space left over on each side evenly. This last step is an investment in an easier inspection next time because I'll have room to work with at the start.

    When that box is completed, then I move the second box back on to the stack and inspect that, and so on, until everything is re-stacked in order. I don't do much inspection of the supers beyond judging their weight and checking to see if there is harvestable honey. If the outer frames are not capped, I may move them inward to give the bees a hint to finish up.

    For hive maintenance, I scrape the meeting surfaces of the comb sides or the frame rest surface, but not both in the same inspection. And I do the right hand surfaces if it's an even numbered date, and the left hand ones if it's an odd number date. By spreading it out I can avoid having the hive open for too long. If there is considerable burr comb between boxes, enough so that I might mash bees when re-stacking, I'll smoke 'em off the top of the frames as the last thing and then quickly scrape off the biggest lumps, before placing the next box down.

    I do not look at every frame, only enough to gather whatever info I am interested in, which is primarily whether the colony is queenright and the brood pattern (both open and capped) looks healthy and of expected size. If there is a new, unmarked queen I will try to find her to get her marked, but usually I will wait until I happen to spot her. I like to see stores (honey and pollen) appropriate for the season and moist larvae. I also like to see a frame with room to lay.

    I do a sugar roll on the uppermost brood box (or which ever one I have found and removed the queen from) last thing before replacing the supers. I do that once a month on each hive, on a rolling basis.

    A couple of times during the season I will remove the lowest box and scrape off any debris on the floor which needs to be removed.

    Lifting off the boxes and then beginning the inspection on the bottom one and working upward through them minimizes the rumpus, finds queen more quickly and reduces the amount of disruption for the bees. They spend some quiet time in reverse order (and covered), then one by one they are returned , inspected and then not disturbed again while they set about to fix the problems I have made for them. Only very rarely, and for particular reasons, will I begin at the top box.

    Other people may do it the other way, but this works best for me and my very tall stacks. I run three, 10-frame deep brood boxes and use only deeps for supers so my stacks right now are 4 to 6 deeps high because we are still in our honey flow. I winter on three deeps, which in your warm climate would be overkill.

    Hope this is helpful. You'll figure out what works for you, too, if you pay attention to when you have easy inspections and when you don't and figure out why it happened that way.

    Nancy

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    3,253

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    You know - replacing the frame/combs in the same order - this is only a general, common sense recommendation.
    Best effort type project.

    People above are technically correct - but, no need to loose your sleep over it.

    Else - you will never be able to do even a most simple split/combine project and agonize forever over every little frame move.
    You WILL eventually mix frames - pretty much have to, if to get anything done.
    Don't be scared bugs out of you for doing a little step to the right or left and start breaking the "so-called rules" a little.


    Do your best to NOT squish the bees or the queen regardless of what you do.
    That's the main objective of keeping the frames in same order - think of that first, not keeping the pretty frame faces.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Thanks again for everybody's help.

    Nancy, that's very informative. I have been watching hive inspections on YouTube, which is a big help, but this was the first time that I've heard of a "quiet box." I thought those hanging frame holders were the way to go, but that quiet box seems safer.

    My plan is to help my neighbor with his hive, then after I learn a bit more, then perhaps delve into my own hive. It just seems too interesting not too.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Can you contact the original keeper and ask what he's been doing and needing to watch for? He may help in that. Has he needed to treat for mites, how and when? Do the bees like to swarm. etc. I would first put everything back in the same order generally, until you understand why you would move a certain frame to another location. Don't do anything if you don't know why you are doing it. (easier said than done) You should basically look to understand the bees and identify the different aspects of the colony an dget comfortable pulling frames and looking right now.

    Bees do work a certain way and put everything as they want it, but, bees don't work to build a 6 ft hive and store up 200 lbs of honey. They start in the spring to build up enough to afford a swarm to propagate the species. The queen leaves with a bunch of bees, then they recover and start that process again. When the season gets late enough, they work to store up for winter, but if they get too crowded doing that too early, they could swarm again.

    Your goal will be to learn how to convince the bees they are never ready to swarm and they don't yet have enough honey. Then you will keep your bees and have lots of honey to eat or sell. It's going to take you a while to learn all that. Take one issue at a time and figure it out, like what do I do about mites? How do I keep them from swarming? What to they need to winter? How to know you have a queen or not, etc. Each question is going to lead to more questions?

    Pay attention to details. Enjoy it.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
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    4,034

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Danial
    I see you are still giving good advice. Hope all is well.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #12
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    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Thanks for the kind words gww. My hands haven't fallen off yet.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Your goal will be to learn how to convince the bees they are never ready to swarm and they don't yet have enough honey.
    I meant to comment on this earlier.

    This one sentence seems to sum things up nicely, making things a little easier to understand, thanks.

    PS- And no, we won't be able to contact the original bee keeper. She went MIA a year ago per my neighbor.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Easier said than done though b1rd, or I have a lot more to learn. Sometimes, they seem to just want to go. Another thought that could go with it, It's easy to over react and hinder or set them back, especially in the beginning of keeping bees.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Hillsborough, Central NJ
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    128

    Default Re: Replace Frames in Same Order Question

    Super helpful thread folks for a newbie like me.....thank you all who contributed!

    Alan

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