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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all!

During last year or so, I've been reading the management methods proposed by Michael Bush and Dee Lusby but I'm still having troubles understanding when to add supers and when to remove them, in order to keep the tipical hives with 4 - 6 stories.

The piramyding method for opening the brood nest is clear (or at least, I think it is):

For hives with only 1 story (1 langstroth body with no suppers), just add a second story if almost the 10 or 11 frames are capped brood, putting in the upper story 2 or 3 frames of capped brood.

Ok but, when is supposed one must to do it? Early in the spring? In the middle of the spring? Late in the spring?
I think that too early in the spring could chill the brood, but doing that later could be too late.

When I have to add the second story keeping in mind that I'm adding foundationless frames and until mid-Appril, the night temperature could drop to 5ºC (41ºF)?

Ok, if the hive isn't astonishingly strong, building the combs of the entire second story and filling it with brood could take an entire month or more, isn't it?

So, When adding the third story? When almost all of the frames of the second story were built and filled? Will there be nectar enough to keep this comb-building work?

Ok, knowing that, when adding the next foundationless suppers to keep 5 or 6 stories tall hives? In Summer? Early Fall? :S

On a youtube video about a trip to Lusby's bee yard, Lusby is doing the early spring inspection after winter.

All her hives are at least 5 stories tall, and usually, the fourth and fifth stories are empty drawn combs, so I understand that the extracted combs were returned to their hives BEFORE the winter, isn't it? But, Isn't that creating a lot of empty space above the brood nest and increasing the heat loss during the hardest winter months?

Could anyone let me know the answer of these questions please? :)

Thanks in advance!


Beestrong
 

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I don't know how to add them like Dee Lusby or Michael Bush. But what I do is add them when the bees are ready for them. This means that when the hive is getting towards full and don't have much spare room left, you add the box. It is no advantage to add the boxes before the bees are ready and in fact it can be a bad thing for several reasons. So it's not about what a calendar says the date is so you have to add another box to the hive. You do it when the bees need it.

I too have seen the Dee Lusby video you talk about. What she does leaving the boxes on the hive all year is just the way some people do it. For her, it probably saves having to store the boxes somewhere, and it is probably less work, to just put the boxes back on the hives then forget about them. For her, she does not care if the queen lays eggs in the top supers she just lets them do what they want then pulls any spare honey at the end of the season.
 

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All her hives are at least 5 stories tall, and usually, the fourth and fifth stories are empty drawn combs, so I understand that the extracted combs were returned to their hives BEFORE the winter, isn't it?
Apparently she doesn't have SHBs or wax moth concerns. Must be nice. If I did that here, I wouldn't have a hive left.

JMO

Rusty
 

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When the flow starts in early spring most honey goes into brood, very little surplus is made unless you overwintered a big cluster, if you had a big cluster they can make surplus of maple. Typically in late April/ Early May I add an empty honey super ontop of 2 deeps even if they don't need it at that exact moment. Here the main flow from locust, poplar and clover hits so quickly if you arn't ahead of them they will swarm out. They need the extra room for drying. Once they draw out 50% I add another. Usually most of frames are drawn out but only to 50% depth
 

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Beestrong

You will be well served to listen to the "Oldtimers". I find it commendable that Dee Lusby has managed to keep bees in the heart of AFB genetics but I wouldn't go so far as to follow her management techniques. I have never seen any pictures of Michael Bush's bee yards posted on here (but I probably missed them). Adding supers to colonies centers around the condition of the nectar flow and the strength of the hive as much as anything. That knowledge will come to you the more you keep and observe your bees and landscape.
 

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I've been keeping bees foudationless & TF for 4 years in heavy SHB wax moth territory and I'm very happy with the health and strength of my colonies. I'll answer inline below.

Hi all!
For hives with only 1 story (1 langstroth body with no suppers), just add a second story if almost the 10 or 11 frames are capped brood, putting in the upper story 2 or 3 frames of capped brood. That's the right idea.

Ok but, when is supposed one must to do it? Early in the spring? In the middle of the spring? Late in the spring?
I think that too early in the spring could chill the brood, but doing that later could be too late. The general idea is to stay ahead of them and make sure they have enough room overhead at all times. You can add a super and pull up a couple brood frames up in early Spring. I'd put them right next to each other in the center.

When I have to add the second story keeping in mind that I'm adding foundationless frames and until mid-Appril, the night temperature could drop to 5ºC (41ºF)? If you're worried about chilling the brood you can pull up an empty frame or a frame of honey up into the 2nd story.

Ok, if the hive isn't astonishingly strong, building the combs of the entire second story and filling it with brood could take an entire month or more, isn't it? Correct.

So, When adding the third story? When almost all of the frames of the second story were built and filled? Will there be nectar enough to keep this comb-building work? Yes there will be. Especially if the main spring flow is still on. But even if a flow is not on they will build whatever comb they need provided they have additional empty space overhead to do so.

Ok, knowing that, when adding the next foundationless suppers to keep 5 or 6 stories tall hives? In Summer? Early Fall? :S In Spring as soon as they need the additional space.

On a youtube video about a trip to Lusby's bee yard, Lusby is doing the early spring inspection after winter.

All her hives are at least 5 stories tall, and usually, the fourth and fifth stories are empty drawn combs, so I understand that the extracted combs were returned to their hives BEFORE the winter, isn't it? But, Isn't that creating a lot of empty space above the brood nest and increasing the heat loss during the hardest winter months? In cold weather the bees cluster tightly in the brood area. Even if there's empty space above it doesn't matter. They're down below clustering around the brood staying warm.

Could anyone let me know the answer of these questions please? :)

Thanks in advance!


Beestrong
 

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I have found that in my area I do better by leaving one medium honey super on the hive all winter. I winter my hives with two deeps and a medium. The reason for this is because When I have really good strong hives coming out of winter,with two deeps. I was always a step behind the bees every spring. The flow will come so fast sometimes that if you wait until they need the super before adding it they will go into swarm mode really quick. Especially if you dont have drawn comb to put on them. So I have found that by leaving that one super on the hive helps me to keep one step ahead of them. We have some little flows before the main one starts. Ive found out by leaving the super on all winter that I will actually have hives that put up almost a super of honey early. They will fill a super before most beeks in this area even relizes there is anything out there for them to work. I will keep a close eye in the early spring on the stores the bees have. Sometimes i will feed a little syrup but I only feed them just enough to keep them healthy. If they have honey anywhere in the hive I wont feed them nothing. Only if they are right on the verge of running out of stores completely. When I first started it was very hard to control swarming nothing worked. Because I would have the brood nest so full of syrup that when the flow started it would come so fast they would go into swarm mode every time. Even if I added supers. So now I keep them strong but lean then when the flow hits i can stay ahead of them on the swarming. I probably loose some honey production doing it this way, but it sure makes easier for me. Leaving at least one super on all winter has greatly helped me out with the swarming. I will add a second and a third super as they are needed some of them wind up with four supers. But I will always leave at least one on for the winter. Even if its empty i will leave it on the hive. But they will usually put some honey up in the super in the fall and i just leave it on there for them. This last winter was the first winter that I have left a super and this is the first spring that Ive had where the swarm control has been fairly easy. It could be that im just getting better at it the longer I do it. maybe it just seems easier. Lots of folks winter with two deeps or three mediums and do fine with it. I think ive found a new way that I like and will continue to use it. It probably depends on the area of the country you are located in as well. I keep an eye on that super early in the spring and as they start filling it I will add another super but I always add the new super on top of the brood box and move the filled super up. i dont use excluders and if there is a little brood in the center of the super when i move it up and put a new one below it it will stop the queen from laying up in the supers most of the time. Sometimes I will have one that I will put an excluder on for a short period of time if I cant get the queen to stop laying up there. Ive had better luck adding the new supers right on top of the brood box and move the filled super up on top. I know other Beeks just add the new one right on top but its always seemed to work better for me to move the filled super to the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
First of all, thanks for all your replies. All of them have really useful information for me.

I would like to recapitulate the most important points I understood:

1. One have to be ahead of the bees and ahead of the main flow to avoid swarming due to lack of space or congestion of the brood nest. Okay, it is relatively easy to accomplish wintering in at least 1 deep body and 1 super (2 stories). It won't fully prevent the swarming but will leave us some extra time to react to a sudden flow.

2. As Richard Taylor said, it is very desirable to overwinter very huge and strong colonies with plenty of stores in order to get an astonishingly spring build up, able to produce a super of honey in the first blooming month. Ok, I've got it.

3. If cold weather is not likely to happen, adding a super or doubling the space is recommended in order to avoid the swarming and achieve strong colonies by opening the brood-nest. If some nights would be cold, so, add only 1 super with 1 - 2 frames of capped brood.

4. How fast they will draw-up all the foundationless frames will depend on the strength of the colony and the intensity and duration of the flow, but if I don't misunderstood, little but continuous flows of pollen and nectar during the major part of the season will keep they building and filling the frames. Isn't it?

5. In my area and after the main flow (in March) there is a minor but continuous flow of nectar and pollen even in mid July - August. A second main flow happens early in the Fall, between September and November, so Would I assume that even having extra room will the bees keep building the empty frames although slowly?

6. When an intense flow happens the bees tend to build up big-cell combs in order to store the honey. Won't it interfere with our intentions of getting well-built small-cell combs in a 11-frames Langstroth bodies?

7. And for last and as Michael Bush said, the bees start the season with the intention of build the colony up drawing brood combs. At this moment the nest brood can be opened, empty frames placed in, and be sure that the frames built on that will be brood frames. Ok. Can I do the same when the bees have turned their mind to a "storage and thrifty" way? Or what I have to do on that time?

Thanks to all in advance!! :D


Beestrong
 

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Good to see someone who can read all the posts, understand, winnow them out, and come to all the right conclusions. :)

In answer to you point 6, yes, it's hard to get small cells drawn right in a heavy flow. If they are in the honey boxes, virtually impossible. They really have to be drawn centre brood nest.
When I was getting a lot of small cell comb drawn, I had to work the hives intensively, constantly rotating new foundation through the brood nest then up into the honey supers after it was drawn. I also preferred the bees to raise one cycle of brood in each comb, if there is no cocoon in each cell, then you put the combs in a honey super, the bees sometimes rework well built small cell comb into bigger cells.

The way I did this was to use a queen excluder. I fed new foundation into centre brood nest, and removed established built combs with brood, to above the excluder, so that as the brood hatched it would be used for honey storage. I also had 2 or even 3 permanent drone combs in each brood nest so the bees did not feel the need to rework small cell foundation into drone comb.
Probably a lot more intensive than a lot of people would be comfortable with, but it did achieve the aim of getting a lot of quality small cell comb built in a short time.
 

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Please pardon this off topic question:

Apparently she doesn't have SHBs or wax moth concerns. Must be nice. If I did that here, I wouldn't have a hive left.
Rusty, you have wax moth problems in occupied hives? I have never had this problem in an untreated hive, no matter how many boxes of drawn comb I have on top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Hello!

All the information is taking form in my mind but I'm still trying to understand all the concepts.

I'm interested on how to add supers because all the supers I've added haven't been filled :S, so, something wrong MUST be on my management (or at the time I did the management) that is keeping the bees off from build and fill the supers.

Perhaps I'm going against a basic concept not known by me until few days ago: the bees start building up (and of course building combs) with a "general hive's size in mind". :eek:

I think I read this concept on the Michael Bush site, but yesterday I read it again on the site parkerfarms.biz and suddenly I had one idea: the bees start building up with a "general hive's size in mind", so if they are in one simple body and the building process starts, all the bees' efforts will go toward maximizing the efficiency of building up within this space. Once they have built up and the main flow ended, adding supers would have no sense because "all internal" configuration have been perfectly designed to optimize that space, and not to optimize the new one :(

If this reasoning is valid, it will explain why I'm not having success adding supers. However, one more question arises:

Can one add a super once the bees have built up, IF THE beekeeper moves some combs of the single body to the second one in a way that simulate the "distribution" that bees had chosen if they had had that space at the start of the season? ie: putting some capped honey and little capped brood on the second story, and keeping the main brood nest in the lower story?

Is this perhaps the "crux of the question"?

Can the space be increased and the brood nest opened when the main flow ended but a little flow of nectar and pollen still going on?

Thanks in advance!


Beestrong
 

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Is this perhaps the "crux of the question"?

Can the space be increased and the brood nest opened when the main flow ended but a little flow of nectar and pollen still going on?
You can open up the brood nest right after the main Spring flow. The main thing is to make sure there's enough time and resources for the colony to get everything built out again before Winter.
 

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Please pardon this off topic question:

Rusty, you have wax moth problems in occupied hives? I have never had this problem in an untreated hive, no matter how many boxes of drawn comb I have on top.
If you leave to much room on the hive in TN, you will have SHB and Wax Moths running a muck. I'm assuming it's the same or worse in AL.

I've tried a few times to open the brood nest during/before a flow. But most of the bees just like to draw out giant bulging honey sections around the brood and leave the neighboring comb un drawn.

Only appears to be an issue with uncapped honey, but then I don't really want capped honey in the brood nest. *shrugs*

Still a work in progress. I carry a knife with me an randomly cut off the fat sections into a bowl. Not sure if that is the "answer" but it lets the frames fit where I want them.
 

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Kevin you using plastic foundation?

I have recently started using plastic foundation & found this build the existing one fat, leave the other tendency, much worse, than with wax foundation. But now I'm waxing my own plastic frames, they get more wax than the bought pre waxed ones, and there is much less of a problem with bees being willing to work them.

There are still other issues with them I am trying to get my head around, but plastic is what my customers want. (sigh).

By the way, you are quite correct pointing out local differences in wax moth problems. There are southern parts of my country with cold winters and negligible wax moth issues, but where I am, with a near sub tropical climate, you have to be thinking wax moths all the time in comb management practises, or you'll get them. It's local, like much around beekeeping.
 

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Please pardon this off topic question:



Rusty, you have wax moth problems in occupied hives? I have never had this problem in an untreated hive, no matter how many boxes of drawn comb I have on top.
I'm sorry I missed this, Solomon. Yes, I can have wax moths in occupied hives if the hives have too much space for the bees to handle. And SHBs can overwhelm the hive in a very short time if they get too much space. As the SHB kick in, the moths get very bad indeed and the combination quickly overcomes the bees, who will abscond rather than deal with them. I keep my boxes a tad overpopulated and keep oil pans on all my hives to help combat this. Also I use screened inner covers so I can keep a close eye on what's going on inside the hives without having to disturb them too much. I add boxes only when needed and pull them off as soon as they are full, and extract them--all to help keep the moths and the beetles under control. After I extract, I spray all my comb with BtA and that helps to prevent them infesting the empty comb, since all my empty frames will not fit in my freezer.

I would say these two are a bigger headache for me than mites ever were.

JMO

Rusty
 

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Kevin you using plastic foundation?.
I run all frames... Last year I ran all wood/wax. This year I'm running wood/plastic and some one piece. I had Wax moths get into my wax super stack and made one heck of a mess. Only the plastic ones were salvageable.

It's definitely more of an issue with plastic than wax, but they do it right next to a fresh sheet of foundation. Just came back from checking on the girls. One hive cut the foundation to shreds to allow the next frame to swell out to over 4.5-5 inches wide. Little knuckleheads...

It's still a work in progress, but I'm only a few years into this adventure.

On the plus side, they have drawn out every single half-length mating nuc frame perfectly... I'm taking that as a sign that they want me to make more queens.
 

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If this reasoning is valid, it will explain why I'm not having success adding supers.
I think you're getting the right idea.


Can one add a super once the bees have built up, IF THE beekeeper moves some combs of the single body to the second one in a way that simulate the "distribution" that bees had chosen if they had had that space at the start of the season? ie: putting some capped honey and little capped brood on the second story, and keeping the main brood nest in the lower story?
There's a concept Dee Lusby used called "pyramiding up" which does something similar. It's essentially taking a full box or two and rearranging it into three or more boxes, forming a vertical core of brood with honey above which resets the bees' organizational dynamic so that they expand outward from that core, filling more boxes. I have used it to substantial success. If you start with one box full, take the outside two frames, put them in the middle of the top box, take the next four frames from the outsides and put them in the center of the middle box, and leave the last four frames in the middle of the bottom box.


Can the space be increased and the brood nest opened when the main flow ended but a little flow of nectar and pollen still going on?
It can, but you'll have diminishing returns if any. Management like this wants to be done before or early during flows for best results.
 
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