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Discussion Starter #1
We are coming out of a harder winter this year than average. Spring has not sprung here so I'm notworking bees yet, but still contemplating how to better prepare for next winter.

Beekeepers typically add boxes to the top of a Langstroth hive when giving a colony more room to expand.
Which makes sense, after all, lifting a colony to add boxes under is not convenient or easy on the back.

If we take a look at the proverbial bee tree, a fixed sized cavity, a swarm will move in and start at the top. The bees then work downward. As more comb is built the brood nest shifts lower and lower storing honey above as they travel. In the winter the cluster eats their way up into the stores. Next spring they build down.

I wonder if replicating this downward building would benefit those trying to establish first year colonies. For myself, I'm talking specifically about establishing 2 story nucleus colonies to be overwintered. They weight less and the inconvenience isn't as great.

The primary benefit I see is a colony building downward will leave capped honey combs above before moving downward. In the fall, any short comings of the colony will result in unused space at the bottom of the hive, yet the used part will be perfectly set up for winter: the stored honey above is continuous and solid making cluster movement easier in the cold.

Conventional wisdom tells us that bees work faster up than down. Theoretically, if comb building is taking place at the bottom edge of the brood nest, this area is already kept at good comb building temperatures and the entrance where resources are coming in is much closer. Sounds efficient to me, but probably not noticeable without a significant sample size, far bigger than the one colony I tried this on last summer.
 

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Absolutely correct. We get away with adding a box above because the broodnest is established in the first (lower) box and the colony "wants" to add honey above.

Don't expect to change anybody's mind with rational thought.

Walt
 

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Discussion Starter #3
the broodnest is established in the first (lower) box
We have assumed the broodnest is suppose to be at the very bottom of colony because that's where it ends up. We start it there and we keep it there by adding boxes on top. In the spring, if it is not in the bottom box, we put it in the bottom box. Maybe the process of starting high and moving down is beneficial to the colony.

Honey supers of course still have to be added on top since one wouldn't want the broodnest to travel down through them, but in a colony where the goal is only trying to get sufficient stores for winter it might be worth doing.
 
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