Single brood box colonies
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Havre de Grace, MD, USA
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    Default Single brood box colonies

    I’ve been reading about single brood box colonies and really like the idea of having only 1 brood box to inspect and treat. I see that it requires a bit more watching but as an older, not particularly strong woman, less boxes to move around is appealing. One thing I’ve not had answered though is can this system work with 8-frame equipment or do I need 10 frame boxes. Based on the math I suspect 10 frame is needed. Anyone run 8-frame single brood box colonies?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Park County, Montana, USA
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    505

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    I overwintered an 8 frame single deep this year. They look good. I think swarm control would be your biggest challenge. I made sure they had sugar all winter and I insulate three sides of the boxes here in Montana. I'm with you, one box would be half the work of two if it can be done consistently well. University of Guelph does nothing but singles however they have a league of students to train so swarm control is easy, just sic the students on it.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3m...4bxbxps_Gh5YPw

    Lee
    5 Production colonies, 1 side by side 5 frame nuc for support- 7 working queens is all I want.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kansas
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    51

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Almost all the 'single box' management that I've seen still requires multiple brood boxes at certain times of the year (pre-swarm build-up). It's just that by winter, everything has been managed back down to a single, overwintering brood box. It also usually involves heavy feeding of that single box later in the year because all of the honey stores (2nds) are taken. For a couple years my strategy has been to overwinter in doubles, then about this time of year (for me) go out and take away the empty bottoms (usually the cluster has moved to the top and has started brood rearing), rearrange the frames in the empties to accommodate splits and then add them back when the hive needs space. These tops can then be stripped as splits (swarm control) if desired. With the correct timing of split removals, you can pretty much manage the bees to use the next second box that is put on as a honey super, which will be my winter feed. Additional space in the form of honey supers helps prevent swarming. It's hard to explain in words, but much of this was gleaned from info from Ian Steppler's videos and then customized to my own style.

    Regarding your post though...I haven't tried single 8's, my equipment is 10 frame. I do overwinter double stack 5-frame nucs, where essentially all of the stores are in the top 5 frames, so I think with judicious bees in my climate I could get an 8-frame box through the winter. My approach does allow for single box treatments in the spring and a period of single box inspections (during spring build-up), unless the hive is particularly large and I elect to leave them in 2 boxes. However, I don't think that single brood box management in any configuration is going to be any less lifting or box moving...FWIW

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Newtown, ct
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    72

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Dona,

    Like Grins said Paul Kelly had become a fan of the single deep (10) frame. It would require more diligence but if you stay on it. I have kept 8 frame colony's as a resource colony. It was very easy to quickly pull a frame of bees or brood from a single deep box. Going into winter I then stack two (2) colony's with a snelgrove board (opposite entrance) to help both colony to survive winter. The only pain is adding protein or fondant in the early spring.

    Since you have the equipment give it a shot.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    4,213

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    My Great Grandfather ran a mix of 8 and 10 frame deeps until the '20s. He most likely used some dark German bees, whicj=h may have had smaller clusters. My Grandfather phased out the 8 frames in 1938/1939, and used more Italian bees.

    With frame manipulations preceding swarm season, there is no reason you could not use 8 frame deeps. Be prepared to inspect every 10-12 days, and not 14 days.

    Crazy Roland

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Cass, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    I also like the idea of a single brood box but I'm thinking of trying a deeper frame in them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    No need for a deeper frame if you do more moving of the frames.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
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    367

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Ive tried it both ways, in 10 and 8 frame equipment. As said above, I usually end up adding another box to both when the flow hits as they ALWAYS become honey bound. I've tried a number of different queen excluders but always find them to be honey excluders. They will pack the brood chamber full of honey and not even touch the super. I always end up adding another brood box and removing the excluder. They seem to get the hint and use the supers just fine this way.

    I've tried it for multiple years now with bees from different sources. Metal and plastic excluders and always run into the same issue. If it's a light flow they seem to figure it out, but a good flow and they just don't seem to bother wanting to squeeze through the excluder with a full stomach.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    1,247

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    I am with mtnmyke on this one. I use mostly 8 frame deeps for brood boxes and come swarm season, if I am not using 3 deep boxes, you can pretty much guarantee that they will swarm. The bees will fill up a deep box with nectar in just a few days. In my area they also won't even look at the supers and place all the nectar in the brood boxes. In the really good nectar years, the same happens with 10 frame equipment and I need a third box for them too. I never use excluders except for queen rearing. I also over winter several colonies in single 8 frame boxes every year.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Havre de Grace, MD, USA
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    11

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    ” It also usually involves heavy feeding of that single box later in the year because all of the honey stores (2nds) are taken.”

    I’ve seen this comment a couple of times and have wondered why one just wouldn’t leave a honey super on for the bees instead of harvesting all.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    You can leave a super, but beekeepers can have more income by selling the honey and feeding back sugar syrup at a lesser cost. Management of your colonies depends on your purpose for keeping bees, the area where the bees are kept and the nectar flows there, and how much effort you are willing to put into their management.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  13. #12
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    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    1,842

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by DonaB View Post
    I’ve seen this comment a couple of times and have wondered why one just wouldn’t leave a honey super on for the bees instead of harvesting all.
    We use medium honey supers. We will get around 40lb of honey extracting a medium box. We sell honey for 10 dollars a bottle and our cost for bottle, label and lid runs about a dollar, so we will put about $360 into the kitty after packaging costs. To replace that with syrup dried to 17% means we supply about 34 pounds of sugar, give it to them in 2:1 in the fall and by the time it's dried to capping levels, it'll be 40 pounds of 'syrup honey' for the bees to winter on. 34 pounds of sugar is about 17 dollars.

    Some other reasons for this to be good overall, besides just economics. In an area where the bees get confined for months without the ability to do a relief flight, fall honey will likely have to much particulate and the bees wont winter well on it. Sugar syrup on the other hand, properly made, has no solids at all, so the bees wont end up with the runs.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Newtown, ct
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    72

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    mtnmyke,

    have you tried putting an upper entrance above the queen excluder?

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadofMeadow View Post
    mtnmyke,

    have you tried putting an upper entrance above the queen excluder?
    All my hives have upper entrances for moisture control. It's mandatory in my humid climate.

    Makes no difference.

  16. #15
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    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Horse Hockey on the swarming. I bet, with proper frame manipulation, I can run a 8 frame deep brood chamber with excluder and NOT have swarm issues. We run single deep 10 frames and see no swarm problems. It will just be a matter of speeding up the inspection schedule.


    Crazy Roland

  17. #16

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    8 framers are fine. In a bigger box you can a) inspect much more comfortably and b) you winter the bees better in it. A big brood box with deep frames is good for summer and winter.

    Swarms and honey binding is not much of a problem, IF you keep on supering very early. I put on another honey super once there is a drop of nectar in the top super.

    Most people are not aware, that nectar is not honey. And honey is not nectar. The difference is the moisture. And thus the: volume. 100 pounds of nectar makes 50 pounds of honey (roughly). The nectar has to be buffered somewhere. If there is no buffer available, the bees will make it. Either by drawing wild and burr comb in the deep floor, between combs and boxes, under the lid...everywhere. Or they backfill the broodnest. Thus leading to a shutdown of the broodnest, which in turn kicks off swarming issues.

    All this can be avoided by adding more honey supers early.

    You can "open up" the broodnest by shuffling brood frames around, or adding more broodboxes, or shuffling brood boxes and frames...but to me this is a rather helpless method by not understanding the underlying biology behind the bee hive. It is laborious, too. And a lot of labour is a good hint, that something is not right...

    Add supers. Problems gone. Provide the buffer the bees need.

    PS: You need good queens, too, that continue to lay eggs and fill the brood box with brood. Continues to lay eggs even if there are swarm cells. With this queens the supering is successful. If you have queens, like a lot of Carnolians do, that stop egg laying when the first swarms cells appear, and shut down the broodnest, the broodnest always get backfilled. So it is a question of selection and breeding. The easiest way to become an easy-beekeeping-beekeeper is to work on your selection. And it is easy to select, too. Just watch how the queen reacts to swarm cells: shutdown of the broodnest? Or continues to fill all combs with eggs?

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Dundas, ON, Canada
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    63

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post

    All this can be avoided by adding more honey supers early.

    You can "open up" the broodnest by shuffling brood frames around, or adding more broodboxes, or shuffling brood boxes and frames...but to me this is a rather helpless method by not understanding the underlying biology behind the bee hive. It is laborious, too. And a lot of labour is a good hint, that something is not right...

    Add supers. Problems gone. Provide the buffer the bees need.
    +1. Exactly my experience over the last 2 years- I never add second brood box, queen excluder + super box goes on as soon as nectar starts flowing and stays there until early fall. The queen never runs out of space to lay.
    The greatest challenge for me is reducing 3 deeps worth of bees into a single deep at the end of the season when supers get removed. They simply have no physical space and can't leave honey supers even if they wanted (they don't...). For that I add a temporary empty box between supers and brood box, but have to time it right otherwise they will build comb in the temp box within couple of days. After they are reduced to a single box, most of them will hang outside and then either die or go somewhere. Overwintering success so far has been 100% using this method (knock on wood) in our northern climate.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Lake County, Illinois
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    166

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Roland
    I had a tough time last year with singles and swarming. Can you recommend a swarm schedule or procedure to help reduce swarming?
    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    Horse Hockey on the swarming. I bet, with proper frame manipulation, I can run a 8 frame deep brood chamber with excluder and NOT have swarm issues. We run single deep 10 frames and see no swarm problems. It will just be a matter of speeding up the inspection schedule.


    Crazy Roland

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Bernard - with respect- We acknowledge that we are investin more labor, but believe the higher brood production more than pays for the added labor. We average 6 minutes a hive.

    Dekster - that is what bee blowers where invented (by my father) for. Blow out the supers in front of the hive. They WILL all fit in.

    Planner - With 10 frame deeps, inspect and rotate in empty comb every 14 days.

    Crazy Roland

  21. #20

    Default Re: Single brood box colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    higher brood production
    Also with respect...I just want to you overthink certain aspects. For example:

    Do you really think that a queen can lay more eggs that she is physically capable? Adding more combs will physically stretch her ability to lay eggs? (no...)

    Do you run faster in bigger shoes? Using bigger running shoes makes you run faster? (Of course not...)


    I reckon the queen has a physical limit to lay eggs. So adding more combs beyond the queens physical ability to lay is useless.



    My thinking on this is: you run best in the shoes, that fit perfectly to your feet. If your runners are in your size, not too small, not too large, but fitting perfectly, you walk more comfortably and without pain. You are able to achieve your best results.

    Same is with the queens and the broodnest. You don't get more brood with more combs. By adding lots and lots of brood combs you make more brood possible than would be in a small hive with much less brood space. But you can't get over the queen's physics.

    By adapting the broodnest to the queen's ability to lay eggs, you achieve two things: optimal running of the queen (optimal performance). And second: much less work.



    All living things are different sized. Look in a room with a bunch of people: although they are all humans, they all differ in size. That is true for most living things. Why is that? Genetics, circumstances of growing up, nutrition, epigenetics, who knows what. Fact is, you as a living thing grow into your body organically and most of the times the size you are in, is the best size for you as a living thing. (not true, if malnutritioned of course.)

    Same is with the bee colonies. You would need to build a different sized brood box for each colony. Of course you don't do that. By using standard sized frames and boxes, you try to get close to the size of the colony. But in almost all case there is no standard hive, so what happens the bees live in either too big shoes or in too small shoes. Which makes them perform only half as good as they would in optimal sized broodnests.

    Solution to this comes with the follower board in a huge brood box. As was used/invented by Brother Adam. You easily adapt the broodnest to the queen's and the colony's size and from there the colony runs in perfectly sized shoes. Which makes them perform optimally.

    It produces a lot of unnecessary work to work around problems you create by using not-adapted boxes.

    Before you answer, wait a little. I post another post on how this works.

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