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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm curious if this sounds useful. The concept is that when it is time to checkerboard, take the outside drawn frames from each box (assuming mediums) and use them for checkerboarding, replacing them with undrawn frames to create 2nd year colony behavior. This would provide drawn frames for checkerboarding while encouraging early wax making and boosting early honey production. Here is why:

Walt Wright, in his POV article "Colony Age Effects" said:

"The second year colony emerges from winter with the ability to continue in the establishment mode from the first year or act like fully established with swarm ambition. Actually, they can do both. The colony that senses that establishment was not fully accomplished in the first year emerges from winter with wax-making capability. If they did not completely fill their cavity with functional comb in the first year, that’s their second-year first priority. They may have provided enough stores for wintering, but fringe areas were not completely filled with combs of stores. After completely filling the cavity with functional comb with the aid of early wax making, they can pursue reproduction. With enough calendar time to the seasonal time limit, they can generate a reproductive swarm.

The colony that senses full establishment was accomplished in the first season does not develop wax-making capability until other established colonies (third and subs) at the beginning of the “main flow”. They both come out of winter with reproductive ambition, but the colony that was not quite fully established in the first year has the added advantage of early wax-making ability.

Regardless of whether or not they swarm, the second year colony has a couple of operational differences that are unique. Some beekeepers are aware that second year colonies make more honey than established colonies. (Last year’s swarm starter is this year’s best producer.) The reason second year colonies produce more surplus is that they will add nectar overhead during the lull in overhead storing of established colonies – that period between the “early flow” and the “main flow”. The nectar is stored raw or undried but it gets the second year colony ahead of the established colony a couple supers or more locally because the established colony is storing very little overhead through that three week period. The beekeeper, wishing to take advantage of this trait should pay attention to supering with drawn comb on the second-year colony during the lull of the established."

It would seem to me that replacing drawn outside frames with undrawn might put even an older colony into "establishment mode". Additionally, the drawn comb would be useful for checkerboarding if you don't have enough.
 

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I've been doing this for a couple of years now and it works very well. I call it "Opening the Sides of the Broodnest"

Walt Wright and I have talked about this method on numerous occasions and Walt has even endorsed the method.

It does cause the colony to revert to a second year establishment mode and wax makers develop well before swarm season. The key is to maintain wax production well into the main flow by adding new frames.


I don't move all the outside frames because of the temperature fluctuations at this time of the year, and it also helps with comb building that there is a drawn comb on each side of a new frame.

Here's the method:


"Open the Sides of the Broodnest" - Steps:

1. Several weeks before swarm season, move each outermost frame up into a new box and alternate them with new frames, directly above the Broodnest.

2. Insert a new frame on each outside edge of the Broodnest. (So that a Brood frame is only on one side of the new frame.)

3. Check them in 2-3 weeks and repeat if comb in the frames has been mostly drawn.


When to "Open the Sides of the Broodnest"


1. When daily maximum temperatures start getting to 15°C /60°F or above and the weather forecast looks good for the next week.

2. When Drone brood is being raised.

3. When you see a large number of young bees starting to do orientation flights in the afternoons. (Think - wax makers!)

4. When a good deal of pollen is being brought in.



Here's links to more information:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?290784-Opening-the-Sides-of-the-Broodnest

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?290814-Swarm-managment

http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...mple-Effective-Swarm-Management-for-Beginners
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Matt, that sounds great. The only difference is that I was thinking about doing it earlier in the season--by the time we reach the markers you indicated, it would be too late for checkerboarding to be successful. It would still probably work for enhancing wax production, but for people in their early years of beekeeping who can't checkerboard because they don't have enough drawn frames, this would provide the frames they need. I'm glad to hear that it does cause the colony to revert to establishment mode as that should increase the honey crop. Here in the Nashville area we have a very short flow compared to most other places, and the bees seem to miss the first half of it ramping up their production.
 

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3. When you see a large number of young bees starting to do orientation flights in the afternoons. (Think - wax makers!)
For us newbees what does an orientation fight look like? How do I tell it from a bee returning to the hive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bees returning with pollen or nectar are very purposeful, flying straight to the landing board and going in.

The young bees orienting look like a small, lazy swarm flying around in front of and above the hive. They will hang out, usually in the afternoon, for maybe an hour, then all go back in the hive. They seem to be curious, kind of checking things out, and frequently turning and facing the hive. I think they are getting their bearings, learning landmarks, etc. They seem to start out close to the entrance and expand over the next hour into a larger space. I have one hive that consistently does their orientations around 2:30, another that seem to come out when this one goes back in--kinda funny. They also tend to be fuzzy because they haven't flown much, if your eyesight is good enough to see that.
 

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I was thinking about doing it earlier in the season
Wow! I had a look at your temperatures for the last 2 months. You've had some crazy temperature fluctuations. Like a Max of 18°C/64°F to a Max of -8°C/17°F in 2 days at the end of January!

http://www.weather.com/weather/monthly/USTN0357

The earliest I would Open the Sides or Checkerboard would have been this last weekend (16th February) in your area. Temperatures reaching 15°C/60°F and a good forecast, with at least a few warm days (13°C/55°F or over) for the week. How does that compare to what you thought I had said?

When you add a new box and move frames around, you change the dynamics of heating the hive. So I think you should give them a few days of warm weather where they are able to break cluster and move resources around if they need to.

For example, if the first couple of outside frames that are moved up have nectar or honey in them, those frames may be robbed out. (This may also stimulate wax making and brood rearing.)
 
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