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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have four hives that have been backfilling like nobody's business. Even my beekeeping neighbor, who has a lot more experience than I, has not seen anything like it. One swarmed yesterday due to crowding (fortunately my 19 year old son was home and managed to catch them...I'm a proud father). I supered them all early as my weight chart was showing a weight gain and I needed them to draw out some frames. I was so freaked out about the swarm that I removed the queen from my most productive hive and started a nuc before they swarmed as well. Inside I could tell the queen was moving all over the place finding clear comb to lay in. Larvae were scattered about the frames.
So...why are they doing this? How does one "control" it? I've been seeing my weights gain and when I check the supers there is not much going into them. The majority is going into the brood boxes. I have talked to several other beeks who are having the same problem and have not seen it happen this bad before.

Thanx
 

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Sounds like an awsome nectar flow!
Expand the broodnest. If you have drawn comb slide one in the broodnest area. Take the frame from the outside out as these are generally all nectar/honey anyhow. You may put two "empties" in there just make sure you put them in alternating spaces. Foundation would work also especially in such a strong flow.
 

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I had a monster hive this year as well, but I stacked on all the drawn comb I had, plus a partially drawn super. No signs of swarming, but I plan to extract a couple boxes as soon as I can and put them back on, keeps the bees busy and the brood nest empty. Not that I'm in imminent danger of a filled brood nest, I have two and a half mediums and a deep full of brood right now...

I plan to handle all my hives the same way next year.

A "cut down" split should work well, too -- remove the queen, two frames of stores, and two frames of emerging brood and put them in a nuc box with an empty drawn frame or a frame of foundation, along with some extra nurse bees. Queen will have that nuc booming in no time and the big hive will not swarm while they replace the queen, but should do a wonderful job of stuffing all the drawn comb they can cover with honey.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanx guys. I already did the cutdown split to prevent a swarm due to overcrowding. My real question is why are they backfilling so much? What makes them decide to backfill instead of going up to the supers to deposit their nectar? This has never happened before and its going on in all my hives. This is not a pre swarm symptom, but there must be a reason for it. I started out w/o excluders, but the queens went into the supers looking for a place to lay. Had to give them the first supers, add excluders and then super. To me, this is not a good thing. I'd like to be able to control it next Spring, so I'm looking for some answers.
Peter...I thought how nice it would be to "Pre-extract" like you did to free up some comb. This is the year I'm buying an extractor, but I'm a couple of weeks away from that.

Thanx all.
Thanx
 

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I think we have a gonzo flow this spring, and my observation is that the bees will fill open drawn comb before working foundation, at least in my hive. I'm going to need a ladder to check them this weekend, I can't lift the top box, it's too high!.

If you have drawn comb anywhere, put it over the foundation, it's more likely they will use it. I would put the excluder UNDER the super they put brood in if you are using one, that way the brood will emerge and the queen won't lay in it. Need an escape for the drones, but a notch in the inner cover will work for that. Put the undrawn foundation under that super of brood, hopefully they will draw it out and open up the brood nest. You may need to pull a frame or two out of the deeps and put in some foundation there, too, to keep the queen busy.

I let them brood where they wanted this year, and ended up with six boxes with brood at one point. Obviously they wanted an enormous brood nest, and although I prefer not to have brood in the supers, it's just for storage reasons and I can sort it when it's empty easily enough.

I suspect when the flow slows down they will backfill everything but the normal brood nest, in my case a deep and a medium of narrow frames, give or take a bit. That means they will be backfilling two full mediums of drawn comb as the brood emerges, plus at least two frames in the deep -- all ten frames have brood, even on the outside faces, something I've not seen before.

Peter
 

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I had the same thing happen to me last weekend. My best producing hive swarmed because of the back filling. I have 3 supers on it and they're filling those too. Not sure why they do it. I had to accept it as a teachable moment and learn from it. I've been pretty hands-off since I started adding supers but from now on I'll be checking for backfilling during a heavy flow.
 

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Same here.Noticed one of my hives this afternoon seem like they may be going to swarm.
I've not seen that hive for a week.I did do a split from it about 4-6 weeks back.
Went & looked at it after dark & they are on the landing.Real noisy for it being dark.
Did set up a swarm box just in case I miss them tomorrow.Maybe I'll get lucky.Mark,,,,,,
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It really has been a heavy flow this year. I weigh and plot the hive weights. Thought you might want to see a graph to see how quickly they're filling up.
Weights 1.jpg
 

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There are some who think the reason they back fill more easily on hives with frames is that they have their normal tendency to expand the brood nest blocked by the 1 1/2 inch cell-less gap of the top bar-bee space-bottom bar. They are expecting to move the nest up and out as they expand but they are blocked by this area of no cells. So in response they stop their work there and expand the stored honey down and out and we call it "back filling". They are just trying to do what bees do - Start at the top and work down.
 

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I am just starting into my second year. I have nothing to compare to but can say most of my hives are filled with nectar. They have drawn comb they over wintered with and still have capped honey left. They are not pulling out any foundation I have added. I presume they have swarmed as there is no open brood or eggs. There are open Queen cells. I hope a virgin makes it back well mated. If not I guess I add some eggs and open brood if I can find any. Other hives appear to be superceding.

I had no idea that hives that over wintered well could be so problematic in the spring!

Not knowing exactly when the Qc emerged how does one determine how long to wait for a virgin to come back and start laying before giving up on her?

Hopefully this spring is not the norm for those in the future.
 

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Not knowing when the virgin emerged is hard to determine when she will come back and lay.
It takes 1 month to make a new laying queen. You can give them a frame of egg/larvae to see if they will make some new queen with.
Every week go thru a hive check to try to find some new eggs and look for the virgin/mated
queen too if you can. Not that easy though. After she emerged it will take 7 days for her
to harden and then another 7 days for her mating flight. Are you willing to add eggs for another month or 3 weeks?
Let's say that this is a 2 boxes hive then you can make a split. The hive without the new mated queen will make some
when you put a frame of egg/larvae for them. The hive with the virgin will lay if she return from her successful mating flight.
Either way you either have a laying hive or both hives will make new queens from the frame of added egg/larvae.
 

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Not knowing when the virgin emerged is hard to determine when she will come back and lay.
It takes 1 month to make a new laying queen. You can give them a frame of egg/larvae to see if they will make some new queen with.
Every week go thru a hive check to try to find some new eggs and look for the virgin/mated
queen too if you can. Not that easy though. After she emerged it will take 7 days for her
to harden and then another 7 days for her mating flight. Are you willing to add eggs for another month or 3 weeks?
Let's say that this is a 2 boxes hive then you can make a split. The hive without the new mated queen will make some
when you put a frame of egg/larvae for them. The hive with the virgin will lay if she return from her successful mating flight.
Either way you either have a laying hive or both hives will make new queens from the frame of added egg/larvae.
You think this is doable?
 
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