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Pretty much ALL bee parasites and deceases are rooted in brood.
Why do we need so much brood?
Why do we need to have brood continuously?
Does not more brood the more worker bees and the more honey production? I have been toying with a brood removal or similar brood break in order to keep varroa down. It doesn't seem to work as a total control for varroa but neither is OAV , or, for that matter, many of the other methods.

I found the blue angled excluder interesting and wonder if the theory that then the queen can move across the frame with the bees as they consume honey is correct. It certainly is something to think about.

ETA
As crofter mentioned it would depend, as all beekeeping does, on the area as to when to have a brood break. Up here having one mid to late June just before our canola bloom (the second week of July), might be the best time. That is the time bees here swarm, and if the queen was still in the hive and was able to ramp up her laying right away, unlike a virigin queen who would need more time, I would assume it would not affect the number of winter bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Does not more brood the more worker bees and the more honey production?
You see - this is statement needs qualification.
But people take it virtually as if "true" at all times and in all conditions.

But indeed this statement is ONLY true if it is very well timed in anticipation of 1)good flow conditions or 2)pre-winter build up.
Otherwise it is actually counter-productive because brood production is very expensive in all resources (all the while directly correlated with the pest infestation).

Now, if you are in package/queen production and/or pollination business - you have totally different program dynamics.
But you, Black Bear, are neither in package sales or in pollination business.
You don't migrate either.
Why should you care about their priorities? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
caging the queen is not magically a plus.
Caging a queen very much a location-dependent (AND business model dependent) technique.
But it seems to work if done properly.
I keep track of two beekeepers who have been caging for many years with good results.
 

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But you, Black Bear, are neither in package sales or in pollination business.
You don't migrate either.
Why should you care about their priorities?
No, I do not do either, nor do I care about their priorities. I was just offering the standard defence against brood interruption that I am given by local beekeepers regardless if they are hobby or commercial. The aim seems to be to get as much honey as they can and while I understand that from a commercial point I don't so much understand it from a hobby perspective.

I do have a great brood break for the winter. I am going to do one this summer, if my bees survive, and see how it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
No, I do not do either, nor do I care about their priorities. I was just offering the standard defence against brood interruption that I am given by local beekeepers regardless if they are hobby or commercial. The aim seems to be to get as much honey as they can and while I understand that from a commercial point I don't so much understand it from a hobby perspective.

I do have a great brood break for the winter. I am going to do one this summer, if my bees survive, and see how it works.
Yes - that "standard" defense. :)
Heard that before.

One needs not be caging the queen either.
Standard splitting techniques can do the same.

But in late summer (August-ish) the splitting maybe less desirable/feasible - but queen caging is a fine option.
For example, in my location, first 3 weeks in August could be a good time for this technique so to implement a very effective mite control (brood-less treatment). After that the queen is released to generate a batch of healthy winter bees (post-treatment).

Basic premise here is that in some specific locations at some specific times certain cohorts of bees are more liability than asset.
 

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If the flow was over for a while it would be just as well to limit brood rearing. Carni bees will do this without caging their queen but in any case excess brood rearing would not be an asset. In such a summer dearth area there would be plenty of time to raise the required 2 or 3 rounds for the winter surviors.

I have usually a slow steady flow so I think it is not as promising for me; had not given it much thought but I can see where the idea could be sold!
Had a fair bit of exchange with WWW from Ohio and he described a similar scenario. He did have terribly poor queen mating success tho at that time so you would have to either keep the old queen on low idle or have earlier mated queens ready to go. Caging could be one solution.
 

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GregV - I am close to you, and on multiple occasions seen the queens shut down laying for the year the last week of August. Please explain to me how you get enough winter bees if you caged her for the first three weeks?

Crazy Roland
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
GregV - I am close to you, and on multiple occasions seen the queens shut down laying for the year the last week of August. Please explain to me how you get enough winter bees if you caged her for the first three weeks?

Crazy Roland
My queens kept laying straight into October (including three second year queens).
So I don't know about your queens but I have no such problems.
Possibly this has to do with my particular ways (all Layens-modified equipment).

Sounds like this is not for you (like I already said). :)
For sure this method does not scale well if you are a big boy - that is given.

BTW, the beeks who practice caging are saying that after the break queens just resume.
I have not done this method myself but very well just might try out as a mite-control technique.
 

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Those "multiple occasions" where the Queens stopped early, are spread over 40 years. My point is that although it may work well for 19 years, it would be easy to kill all of your hives every 20 years.

They are your bees, so do as you wish. I can not afford to take that risk, and instead use a different non chemical method that does not require another piece of equipment.

Crazy Roland
 

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I would add that the assumption that more brood means more foragers is only correct if all bees develop in linear manner and live the same length of time. Meaning, if the bees live 6 weeks and mama is caged for 3 I should have reduced my forager force by half. But if there are other factors, if being brood less promotes longevity, say, it could have little effect on forager population. I don't think this is the case but have not tried to manipulate in that direction so don't have my own experience here. Eg if foragers don't die during brood less period and others bees become foragers earlier because nothing else to do, mathematically you could have a bigger foraging force. Again, I am not suggesting this to be true. I am suggesting that the bees, being living things, respond in ways that may be different than expected.
Bernhard Huevel posted info several years ago about a beek running 3 queens per colony (each on approx 6 med lang combs) in 3/3/3 over 3/3/3 with excluder and supers above. Fellow suggested removing all brood 1 to 2x per year in spring and early summer. And said that there were the same number of bees in the colony whether brood was removed or not. No mechanism for this was described but I assume the remaining bees must have been living longer thus keeping the population the same. Fwiw....
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
This is one of those beeks I mentioned about.
He only has his queen3 free for about 4 months out the whole year (long winter break and short-mid summer break).
This amounts to queen working for about 3 months in spring and 1 month in later summer.
Eastern Ukraine; about USDA zone 5.
Lack of bees is never an issue - this is indeed about long living bees.

Regarding:
They are your bees, so do as you wish. I can not afford to take that risk, and instead use a different non chemical method that does not require another piece of equipment.
Clearly - you don't switch things globally until you tested them out on a small scale.
As well as the queen isolation is a hassle in itself and may not be worth it to you.

A bigger point is this - mite control is the most effective on brood-less bees.
However you achieve this is your own choice under your own circumstances (if you even care).
 

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No, I do not do either, nor do I care about their priorities. I was just offering the standard defence against brood interruption that I am given by local beekeepers regardless if they are hobby or commercial. The aim seems to be to get as much honey as they can and while I understand that from a commercial point I don't so much understand it from a hobby perspective.

I do have a great brood break for the winter. I am going to do one this summer, if my bees survive, and see how it works.
I caged queens (5 hives, 3 nucs) this year in early August; caged x 2 weeks, then OA dribble 7 days later. Mite counts by alcohol wash were 1% or less a few weeks later. One thing I noted was that queens took about 7 days after caging to start laying again, so I may try shortening the cage duration to maybe 10 days next time.
 

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I've been caging queens using the commercially available cage from Italy for about 2 years now. I've caged at least 100 times and only had bad results less than 5 times. You can import the cages yourself, you don't need a supplier to do it for you, but they are a lot cheaper the more you buy. I got them for about $4 each when I made a large order that the local beekeeping club joined in on. Or try making your own. The queens do a lot better when workers are allowed to flow through the cage freely. They spread her pheromones, can groom her normally, and they can even build little sections of comb in the cage sometimes and let her lay a few eggs.

Here are some things I learned through experience with caging the queen.

Caging in combination with OA dribble works really well for varroa control. You can do it any time of year in mild climates, like over winter where there is no broodless period. Caging right at the end of the main nectar flow will increase honey yield because there are no larvae to feed, so the incoming nectar goes into the honey comb instead. This is with the same amount of foragers obviously! It really shows how expensive brood rearing is for the hive. If you wait until AFTER the nectar flow to cage the queens, then beware! This is the natural time that queens are superceded usually. I've come back into a hive to release the queen after caging for 3 to 4 weeks and found her dead! But actually, the bees had just made a new queen while she was in there. I often saw a virgin too, and after waiting another week, she was laying eggs. So even though the original queen died, the hive didn't skip a beat!

I really encourage beekeepers to actually try this method! Lots of talk, but no action, lol! Yes it's a little nerve racking puting your queens away for that long, but the chances of something bad happening are a lot lower than having a queen die from formic acid treatments or the hive dying from mites in the long run.
 

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If you wait until AFTER the nectar flow to cage the queens, then beware! This is the natural time that queens are superceded usually.
I wonder if the practice of caging a queen has any impact on the swarming abilities of a hive. If you timed it right could you also make it less likely that a hive would swarm?

I know that swarming reduces the honey production level of a hive and so would this process, especially if you caged the queen for 2 weeks. Yet, if you are a small keeper who does not want to deal with splits, swarms etc. might this be another weapon to mitigate swarming or am I just tilting at windmills. I know beekeepers see splits as a bonus, but around here there are not many people who want nucs or bees so I am looking for ways to keep my hive numbers small and be a responsible beekeeper who does not let them swarm into other people's yards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
I know that swarming reduces the honey production level of a hive and so would this process, especially if you caged the queen for 2 weeks.
Not so.
Consider:
  • swarming means loosing the immediate workforce in random fashion;
  • caging means loosing some of the future workforce in pre-planned fashion.

Loosing some of the future workforce timed so that the loss is directed to limit the future workforce when is actually a liability (NOT an asset) actually increases overall output (through savings).

So the idea of shaving off the future, excessive workforce must be understood.
Excessive workforce during the not favorite time results in honey being burned and bees raising (expensively!) extra rounds of brood (progressively mite-infested too).

Here is an approximate quote from one of local emails here that illustrates -
"I opened my hive in August and found it full of bees and no honey left. Where did all the honey go????"
The author of this email annually complains how her only good flow is locust and nothing after that for the rest of the summer.
Mid-summer caging could be a good option for her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
14 days to eliminate drone brood.
No need to wait this long.
Drone brood can be butchered at any time at will - as soon as they are capped (UNLESS you want them for some reason).
And the unhatched worker brood can be moved away IF it gets in the way.

But I agree - cage the queen for 2 weeks/14 days/ 2 weekends apart - just for the logistical convenience of it and to add few extra days so not worry too much..
That would be my approach, for the mite control purposes.

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Also for multi-queen projects (including wintering).
Hadn't thought of this exactly, but I did a bit of research on banking queens over the winter. The general conclusion was that donor nurse frames would be needed to feed a large number queens through the winter. Since mine are already broodless, this was not an option. But something like this could probably suffice to keep a few queens on separate frames (assuming you could keep the cluster near).
 
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