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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so I've been ranting about adding a third deep for almost a year, partially for early season swarm protection (on top of packed, overwintered double deeps) along with building some deep comb stock for helping out splits and swapping out old comb for trapping and maintenance. The weather, as we hit the Spring Equinox is now predicted to go from upper 20's at night over the last week to into the 60's and low 40's at night for at least the next 10 days-hopefully winters gone. My first thoughts were to remove the quilt box, throw on the big top feeders and slide the deep between. The hives are still insulated with 1" foam so...(your thoughts please)

1. I'm thinking at least in the short term, insulating both the feeder and 3rd deep-should I leave the vented quilt box on top to help with moisture management?
2. What about placing the 3rd deep on the bottom as the bees do like to build down. It should be warm enough, I need to do a full inspection and clean/replace the bottom boards.

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Ok, so I've been ranting about adding a third deep for almost a year, partially for early season swarm protection (on top of packed, overwintered double deeps) along with building some deep comb stock for helping out splits and swapping out old comb for trapping and maintenance. The weather, as we hit the Spring Equinox is now predicted to go from upper 20's at night over the last week to into the 60's and low 40's at night for at least the next 10 days-hopefully winters gone. My first thoughts were to remove the quilt box, throw on the big top feeders and slide the deep between. The hives are still insulated with 1" foam so...(your thoughts please)

1. I'm thinking at least in the short term, insulating both the feeder and 3rd deep-should I leave the vented quilt box on top to help with moisture management?
2. What about placing the 3rd deep on the bottom as the bees do like to build down. It should be warm enough, I need to do a full inspection and clean/replace the bottom boards.

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Sure, go for it.
That's how you learn what to do and when to do it in your location.
 

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As things warm up condensation becomes less an issue plus brood rearing conditions require humid conditions. Insulation is a benefit in easying the heating effort for brood rearing and comb building. I will leave my shavings boxes on and actually cut back on the venting. Relative humidity is what is importand; good to have it high but insulate to keep above cluster areas from becoming condensation planes. In short, I think insulation rather than ventilation is the more efficient avenue to moisture management. Food for thought perhaps.
 

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I over winter in 3 deeps with a reservoir style top feeder using heavy syrup. Some of my hives have quilt boxes, some don't. I also have a notched inner cover with a screen over the opening to keep robbers out. On the hives without quilt boxes, the condensation occurs on the inner cover where the cold air comes in and the water harmlessly drips down into the feeder. Both ways work fine. I knock them down to 2 deeps in the spring for honey production, then put the 3rd deep back on after I pull honey.
 

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one thing to watch with the 3rd deep if you are wanting to draw it out for brood frames, is if/when they get a really good flow they treat it as a honey super and draw more drone comb, not always but depends on the year and hive, just so you can watch for it.
 

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As things warm up condensation becomes less an issue plus brood rearing conditions require humid conditions. Insulation is a benefit in easying the heating effort for brood rearing and comb building. I will leave my shavings boxes on and actually cut back on the venting. Relative humidity is what is importand; good to have it high but insulate to keep above cluster areas from becoming condensation planes. In short, I think insulation rather than ventilation is the more efficient avenue to moisture management. Food for thought perhaps.
Excellent advice! I do not insulate mine in winter but I do in the spring for precisely this reason: to kick start brood rearing. I even cover the vent to increase moisture inside.
 

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I used to run 3 deeps all year. It didn't prevent any swarms for me and probably caused me to miss queen cells. Sometimes the queen would lay in all three, but they stored nectar in most of the frames. Last year, I started reducing to two deeps in spring and adding back a deep in the fall for them to fill with honey for the winter.
I am going to do the same this year. It was much easier to inspect two deeps and employ various swarm prevention methods. When I reduce them around dandelion, I add two medium supers.
You can certainly have them draw out an entire deep to build up your inventory. I do think they would draw it more quickly if you swapped out existing comb on the sides of the broodnest for new foundation. Move up some brood to the middle.
Whatever you do, do not break up the broodnest with an entire box of foundation in between. Do a column of brood in the center. Frames closest to brood should have nectar/ honey, pollen/ beebread. Also, not sure about your climate, but don't jump the gun too early. Personally, I do not do any major manipulations until my insulation and quilt boxes come off. That is a matter of convenience for me. If it is warm enough to do major manipulations, it is warm enough to pull them. However, leaving insulation on will help with build up. J
 

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I used to run 3 deeps all year. It didn't prevent any swarms for me and probably caused me to miss queen cells. Sometimes the queen would lay in all three, but they stored nectar in most of the frames.
If the hive is strong and you have a flow on (still seems early there) then go for it. I doubt it would reduce swarming as bees, well, swarm - but could get you some drawn out comb for splitting back down to singles or doubles. I've entirely switched to singles for the ease of management and am getting more honey out of those hives than doubles in the past, but experiment and go from there.

I've always found my bees like to build up. They see it as empty space needing to be filled by order of the bee police. They will move down through a nest as they fill the top with honey, but only then will they do so.

I'd personally wait until the flow starts, move all the brood to the bottom box, then your empty box in the middle, with honey and stores in the top box. I never break up brood - especially if you're getting nights in the 40s. This should draw out the frames rather quickly and get you ready for some splits rather quickly.
 

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However, leaving insulation on will help with build up. J
But don't leave it on too long. I used to pull the insulation in late March or April, but through procrastination I discovered that insulation left on through May (here in central ME) resulted in better build-up than hives where it was removed earlier. By the same method, I discovered that leaving it on into June results in huge swarms.
 
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OP Moisture management is no longer an issue after bees can clear their bowels! A populous colony can certainly ventilate their space if allowed to by not having gadgets for ventilation impairing their ability to do so. If your fruit and dandelion bloom is not on, I heartily concur a third box is in order. As far as insulation on a hive, I used to remove my insulated wraps when 80's were in the forecast. Then came the terrible day when temperatures got into the nineties with my wraps still on and my small 1" diameter entrance vent being the only opening to the hive. Absolutely nothing happened to the bees! That low temperature is the limiting factor for most spring brood nests IMO and my wraps stay on until night time temps are at least in the forties and all danger of frost is over.
 

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But don't leave it on too long. I used to pull the insulation in late March or April, but through procrastination I discovered that insulation left on through May (here in central ME) resulted in better build-up than hives where it was removed earlier. By the same method, I discovered that leaving it on into June results in huge swarms.
As I said else where, I do not insulate mine in winter but I do in the spring for this reason. Great observation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for the responses. My primary idea is to build up a supply of drawn deep frames as an early goal for this season. With the girls flying and the weather improving (forecast is for 60's F as highs for the next 10 days with low's in the 40's) I'm going to try to get a jump on it. We're just seeing the crocuses and snow drops blooming and just a hint of red on the maples so I know it's early yet. All of my hives are scheduled for splits as it appears that we made them all through the winter and they're packed with workers. While we had some serious cold and a lot of snow this year, I don't think the Momma Girls stop laying in any of the hives all winter. As of a week ago we had 7 plus frames of bees on the top boxes and they have only become even more active as the weather improves. I am concerned about stores, they have been finding pollen and bringing it back on warm days but the hives are lighter than they were a week ago. Today the top feeders are going on and then in a few days I'll add the thirds deep and insulate the whole stack. I'm figuring if the weather holds (never ever believe the forecasts) I may be able to do some manipulation of frames over the next two weeks to make some room. I'm hoping for some F1 VSH queens later in April and will split all of the hive at that time based upon availability. I am also hoping that I can rotate out some of the black comb that came with the original nucs two years ago. Hopefully that can be used in some swarm traps later in May. I'm hoping to get 2 or 3 splits out of each hive so they'll all end up as singles for the start of the season and build them out to doubles as we go-we'll see f I get any supers on by June.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
OK, got the two hives at the house done today. Temps were just above 60 and both of these hives were flying bring in pollen the whole day. My lack of experience is telling me these hive are well past just cleansing flights, they were on full foraging. Both of the hives here, are packed with bees, brood and still a few frames of capped honey. Apparently my girls did not get the memo about bees not building comb in the winter-there was a lot of new comb, both burr and honey all though the hives since my last inspection-including up on the screen of the quilt box. The inspection board of the SBB had about a quarter inch of wax and other debris, piles of dead SHB. I also did a quick OAV but with all of that debris, could have been 0 or a million mite drop-spring cleaning-washed the inspection board down with boiling water-no survivors. Went for the third deep and top feeder, 2-1/2 gallons of syrup and a dash of Honey-Bee-Healthy (following manufacturer's directions). The bees were pretty easy to work with, only had a slight issue, scraping off the un-eaten winter patty kind of annoyed them briefly. Closed up the hive with a piece of 1" foam under the outer cover and reinstalled and extended the 1" foam on the exterior. I'm not trusting winter isn't over. My plan is to give them 5 days-weather has highs in the 60's for the next 10 days, open them up and check where they're at. If it looks good, we'll do the other hives then. SPRING!!!.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wanted to update my Third Deep Thread. As of this past weekend, I got into the hives to se what was going on with the third deep and it appears after a week, I'm having some success with the third deep. We've have pretty consistent temps, 60's/40's F and the flowering trees are blooming along with the early ornamental stuff. The girls have bee working it and a ton of natural pollen is coming in. The inspection boards are loaded with wax flakes from emerging workers. I went through some of the frames of the third deep(s) and they're built comb every where-and I mean everywhere. Looks like the center frames are at 15-20% started.

IMG_0707.JPG

One of the problems (rookie mistake) is I didn't compress the bee space in two hive and left a gap. Got a bunch of bridge comb in those spaces-some much wasted effort but heck, they're building.
IMG_0713.JPG I still am not seeing any drones but the lower boxes are loaded with worker brood-where are the drones? Still too early?

i did remove this bridge comb and compressed the frames for proper bee space. Guess I got some more scrap comb for the swarm traps-still a month away.
 

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They look salvageable.
great you are getting comb drawn.

next visit in a week or 2 you could take frame 1 and 10 from the second deep (original top box)and drop the 2 most built frames into the center pushing the other 4 frames out both ways. Add the full honey frames (the 1 and 10) back into the 3rd deep, would add some empty cells in the brood nest. or wait she will go up in time any way.

Some times I have hives really good at comb building, could also shake out the new deep and give them a new one, use the new built one for splits, at the point it is 2/3 built.

fun stuff.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yes Sir, this is the fun parts-shake off the winter blues and start bee keeping! This is from the other hive, very interesting pattern, like a wave.
IMG_0715.JPG

Keeping in mind there was still a good amount of bees out foraging at this time and the lower frames were covered, we did have quite a few wax makers. i am planning on another inspection Sunday or Monday. Need some suggestions on manipulation geometry for 3 deeps. Probably not necessary but I'd like to remove some of the original nuc frames that are 3 or 4 years old on the bottom, may use in traps. Smarm season here is usually the firs part of May so I may have some time on my hands. Lot of Spring blooms, plenty of pollen and they've got a couple of gallons of syrup up top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, got back into the triple deeps this afternoon and it appears that things up top are going well. Time constraints kept the inspections to just popin' the top, moving off that (darn overfilled and heavy) top feeder (never gain except in fall) and pulling a few frames in each. The wax building is going very well (pictures to follow) and it looks like 4,5,6,7 are 60-80% built out with some skimming, 20-30% on 3 and 8. It did appears that the Big Girl made it up and had a look around with new worker brood on 40-50 % (lower) on 5,6 and 7, maybe a few days old. The bridge comb looks loaded with drone young pupae (no eyes) which is good but then I think that lights the fuse for swarm season and splits! I'm going to need to go in Saturday morning and do a deep dive, manipulate frames and figure out how and what to split. Got that going for me, just found out my nuc's are coming tomorrow and I'm going to Wilkes Barr to pick up 2 pallets of supplies from Mann lake. I should load up on Bengay. Well, at least the weathers good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was looking at the triples to day, they look monstrous next to the 5 frame nucs that arrived last night. I have ever used an upper entrance, the hives are health, populations pretty big and a flow of dandelions seem imminent, tress are busting open. If I do an upper entrance, where, what size hole, do I get a plug if needed later? The triple deep experiment looks fruitful and I think in a week or so, I may have to start supering if I don't split right away and I'm hoping to get some new VSH queens. They've grown out to a point if I do a 2 for 1 split, they'll produce honey this year or if I go for population, 3 for 1 (or more) may not be out of the question if I go for colonies. Any thoughts? I'm up to 20 now with the new nucs before any splits.
 

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be careful your triples do not rob out your new NUCs

you "could" pull 2 5 frame NUCs out of a 3 deep super it up and let it go into production.
the field bees would go back and then would be 2 . 5 deeps of bees, and the 5 frame splits should keep enough nurse bees to survive.

just would need some queen cells to pull it off.

GG
 
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