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Hoping Matt and others with OSBN experience will weigh in on this.

I'm in SW Ohio and my seven hives are all bringing in nectar like mad right now, though there have been and are forecast to be a lot of days with rain and we had a lot of late cool weather recently. Been trying the OSBN method this year for the first time. Inspecting my hives on a five day frequency to keep up with their spring buildup. Yesterday I found that all my hives were in the pre-swarm stage: mostly capped brood (and lots of it), very little open brood or eggs. Lots of backfilling with nectar. I think maybe the bloom of things like black locust has hit bigtime all of a sudden. Some trees were zapped by the late freeze and others , by the highway and in warmer spots, are blooming away. The wax drawing impulse has not been strong in my colonies and they haven't up til recently had a lot of nectar to work with to draw on a large scale.

So, I only saw a handful of scattered queen cups with no development in each of the hives. Swarming not imminent but they're almost there. So I found myself with a brood management dilemma: needing to give plenty of space to cut off the swarming impulse, I moved a bunch of capped brood only frames above the QE, and had to put something in its place: foundation and drawn comb. But Matt (I hope you're reading this, Matt) suggests that giving too much comb will lead to too big a summer population, after the main flow. I see the logic of this, but what alternatives do I have? I experimented on one very strong colony with reducing it to two medium brood boxes from three, and moving one of the brood boxes with all capped brood and backfiling above the QE. I gave that colony about 8 frames of foundation. But it's a dilemma: what to do to give the bees room and something to work on, without encouraging a bigger colony? I couldn't leave only full frames of capped brood below the QE - that would give no space at all.

Suggestions? Criticisms? This is a big learning process for me. I'm finding that those who say you can do the math and see that one deep (or two mediums) is plenty of space for the queen to keep laying and not run out of space. I find that not to be the case - all of this capped brood seems to contradict that arithmetic.

Thanks!
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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Hi Karen,
these 2 comments are somewhat oposite.
Yesterday I found that all my hives were in the pre-swarm stage: mostly capped brood (and lots of it), very little open brood or eggs. Lots of backfilling with nectar.
what to do to give the bees room and something to work on, without encouraging a bigger colony? I couldn't leave only full frames of capped brood below the QE - that would give no space at all.

First IMO 3 mediums is not a very strong colony, for you perhaps ,but 2 deeps is "normal" for me. And it seems you want to control the egg laying to prevent too big and take brood and place above to give empty below, are not these opposites?

BTW depending on the race of bee scattered cups is also Normal. so I would not worry, if they have larvae and are starting to be drawn that is another thing.
Also plenty of space will not always stop the swarm impulse, bees naturally want to reproduce.

So if the comb you are adding is the same frame size and I here assume it is, placing empty comb over the brood nest will also give space for nectar and honey.
Also I presume you are checking the frames you place over the excluder for the Queen or shaking them first, getting the queen up over can also be a mess.

So do the OSBN like it is explained, add the foundation to the nest area to get drawn, place the brood up as you were to "bait" the next super, and keep doing the same thing till post solstace. Sounds like you are on the right track, set the self doubt aside for a while and just do the OSBN plan and see how it goes.
If you have 7 hives and did not see a Queen cell capped or started, I would think you are on the right track.
Also consider the cold snap may have had the bees pause in brood rearing due to reduced flow, they will when the weather warms up restart. The bees have a mind differing from yours.

BTW if they really wanted to swarm you would see the cells by now, I am And I am 3 hours at least north of you, So I would think you are fine.
An added super of comb over the brood nest is also help full for space, they can store nectar there.

GG
 

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Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement. Yes, I started in beekeeping learning that two deeps was a normal size for a brood box. But a commercial beekeeper near here who runs over 1000 colonies (trucks them for pollination I think) told me recently that two deeps was too much space and that's why my bees always store way too much pollen. And that I should work with one deep. Others on this forum and elsewhere have kind of echoed that. So I'm trying a smaller brood space this year. Some here have pointed to the arithmetic calculations to show that a colony can do find in three mediums or even two, because the queen won't lay more than the number of cells available in that amount of frames. On the surface it makes sense, but it practice I'm finding it isn't so easy .

But I'm trying a more limited brood space, so with OSBN, my options could be to move the QE down and have all ormost of the capped brood go above the brood chamber. But if they aren't left with open space below, then what? So that's really where I'm confused.

And you're right about the swarming - people have been reporting swarms all over , around here. I think it's partly this crazy weather and partly that there are many new beekeepers who have no idea what they're doing. Live and learn. My second year i watched five swarms emerge from my two hives. It's a starting place to learn how to manage the hive. (And currently I have 7 hives.)
 

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Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement. Yes, I started in beekeeping learning that two deeps was a normal size for a brood box. But a commercial beekeeper near here who runs over 1000 colonies (trucks them for pollination I think) told me recently that two deeps was too much space and that's why my bees always store way too much pollen. And that I should work with one deep. Others on this forum and elsewhere have kind of echoed that. So I'm trying a smaller brood space this year. Some here have pointed to the arithmetic calculations to show that a colony can do find in three mediums or even two, because the queen won't lay more than the number of cells available in that amount of frames. On the surface it makes sense, but it practice I'm finding it isn't so easy .

But I'm trying a more limited brood space, so with OSBN, my options could be to move the QE down and have all ormost of the capped brood go above the brood chamber. But if they aren't left with open space below, then what? So that's really where I'm confused.

And you're right about the swarming - people have been reporting swarms all over , around here. I think it's partly this crazy weather and partly that there are many new beekeepers who have no idea what they're doing. Live and learn. My second year i watched five swarms emerge from my two hives. It's a starting place to learn how to manage the hive. (And currently I have 7 hives.)
Do not let the "commercial" decisions impact yours, "for leasing in CA on Almonds the 1 deep works for him, is the complete sentence.
You are in Cinnci and are doing your own thing. Do not let folks tell you.... you feel the need the bees have a react to "your" bees. Races can also be different.
As far as math , I do not put store in that . How many cells have pollen? how many Honey? ok so the queen cannot use those. the pollen is stored for the bees to start brood on in feb, short them that and you have weaker hives in the spring.

IMO gut instinct, shrinking the brood nest will not "reduce" swarming, you do what proves to be true, for you. I would not move the QE down, commercials often do.
I think you are on the right path at 3 mediums.

The OSBN is not a brood limiting process. IMO the hive will swarm when, they have the nest complete, have lots of bees and/or are crowded, have wax secretions that go nowhere.. So by taking the top corner out of the nest (end view) is causing an incomplete nest and place for wax excreations. the bees get busy to finish this last thing to then swarm, BUT you repeat and open another corner, they then complete again, soon the solstice is past and they they start winter preps. As well you may get 3 or 4 sets of 2-3 combs built.

So you are de optimizing the nest which seems to delay the swarm impulse.
So 3 medium and 2 deeps are some what the same. I think you are on the correct path. Even if 1 or 2 swarm you still get a crop and some comb build.
Do you extract? If Yes then the brood you put above the excluder hatches and the comb gets filled with honey, so extract will work there. I would be afraid to winter in 2 mediums, doable but not optimal. Even 4 medium for a big colony is not unreasonable.

start now with "feeling" gut instinct what to do next . Always consider "what are the bees telling me, what are they doing, why, what then can I do to assist them and get what I want.
realize "winter prep" starts in the spring. work on your mite program. think about either catching swarms or splitting for increase. I would think not every hive makes the winter there. So go in to winter with a couple extra, learn to harness the instinct to reproduce. and make your keeping more like rafting down river, steering at times from the obstacles, rather than swimming upstream and getting hit with logs coming down.

and of course have fun

GG
 

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Karen: Are they working the OSBN frames? When did you put them in? I am also doing that technique also but I was late getting them in, but they have been drawing them out. They have not been drawing foundation as well but we had a very cold, wet spring like you had. I think my situation is similar to yours in that the population exploded in early spring, but foraging and wax making was difficult. Like you, I am going smaller this year but in my case from 3 deeps to 2 deeps for the brood chamber and 2 medium supers above a QE. I had heavy bearding of young bees in cool weather for a week even overnight in foul weather. The day after a big storm, I inspected and the 2 deeps were packed, but few bees above the excluder. I shook some nectar from some deep combs onto some medium frames and removed the excluder. I also flipped the inner cover to provide the upper entrance. Within a couple hours, the bearding stopped. I peeked in the next day and there are plenty of bees in the mediums. Tomorrow I will put the excluder back on. My concerns about them swarming any day have been put to rest, for now. I am a user of the QE, but sometimes they need coaxing. You should try one frame of brood above your excluder to bait them.
I agree with GG. I am struggling with population issues with 2 deeps. I don't know how I could manage 3 mediums. Not saying it can't be done,but I would give them more space. J
 

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Hi Karen,

Now that the Main Flow has started, the bees focus changes from reproduction to bringing in and storing as much nectar as possible before Summer. Swarming from now is much less likely and the Broodnest naturally reduces in size due to the incoming nectar. You want the Broodnest to be reducing now, otherwise you end up with a large population to feed in the Summer and into the dearth (if you have one).

As long as the hive does not run out of space, any Queen Cells will usually be Supersedure cells.

Eggs laid from now on will likely not get to be Foragers before the end of the Main Flow. It takes 6 weeks to go from egg to a Foraging Worker. (21 days from egg to emergence, then 21 days as a Nurse Bee and Wax Maker/House Bee).

As the capped brood emerges, those cells will likely be filled with nectar. So putting those above the Queen Excluder should work well. I'm assumining you put 4 frames of foundation around the Broodnest and 4 above the Excluder? Also, all those emerging bees will be great Wax Makers in a week or so.

I believe Wax Making starts to happens when House Bees don't have enough empty comb to put the nectar, so they have to store nectar in their Honey Stomach. You should see much more comb getting built from now on.

Once the Main Flow starts, I do not add any new frames to the Brood Boxes. I only work in the Supers from then on. Making sure to maintain 2 Frames of Foundation per Super.

Remember you are putting "Holes" in the existing Nest with the Foundation. Don't focus on the Top Super, this is just a bonus if it also gets drawn out.

The booming hive I mentioned that drew 40 frames of Foundation, did not get given any drawn comb. I just focused on maintaining 2 Frames of Foundation in each Super during the Main Flow. So those House Bees were kept very busy.

With the number of boxes for the Broodnest, it should be unlimited during Swarm Season.
I would put the Queen Excluder on once the Main Flow has started. For best results the bees should already be working on at least 4 or more frames above the Excluder. Having a frame or two of capped brood above the Excluder also helps. I have Top Entrances for better air flow.

Also, leave one box of honey above the excluder on the hive for the dearth and/or winter.

I used to winter with 2 Deeps, but after trying a Single Deep found that the hives came out of Winter much better. No issues with condensation or mold. (We only get serval days a year below freezing and winters are wet). Your issue will likely be how much feed do they need for winter.

So do experiment a bit, try 2 Mediums for a Broodnest from the Main Flow.
 

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Thanks Matt. I think our main flow and swarm season overlap here , at least at the beginning of the flow. I have the impression swarm season lasts a while longer here than it sounds like it does in your area. I could be wrong about this. This is a good learning process. And I have run out of frames to put foundation into, so that's a limiting factor.
 

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Hi Karen,

We still see swarms in the Main Flow but the cause of these is usually because of the hive running out of space.

If you've run out of frames you may be able to start extracting. Soon you should be able to get a few capped frames of honey (at least 2/3 capped) from each of the hives.

If you don't have an Extractor, see if you can borrow or hire one.
 
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