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Like everybody else, I’m doing my first complete inspections. Seven out of eight colonies survived. They are generally doing well, all but one with eggs, larvae and capped brood, despite the really terrible five weeks of cold, snow, and wet in February and early March. I gave all the hives Ultra bee in pattie form and additional sugar blocks yesterday. I have questions about three colonies but breaking them up into separate posts so as not to create a burden on everybody.

The strongest colony is scary strong and makes me feel lucky and worried at the same time. It's a 10 frame double deep full of bees. Quite a bit of eggs, larvae and capped brood—I’d say about 4 frames in the top box and three frames in the bottom. The queen is busy. They’re bringing in tons of pollen. Many of the frames still have honey and pollen (surprisingly, the top box is still quite heavy). With all the capped brood there is going to be a lot more bees in there in 10 days or less, and then it's not stopping with all the eggs and larvae. So, I decided to put a super with drawn comb on today to give them some room.

Last year my hives swarmed two weeks after my first check in March—this hive was one of the swarmers. I don’t want a repeat of that. One thing I learned and read last year was to be ready for the incredibly fast build up. I saw 1 queen cup, so maybe they're already thinking about it (or maybe it was left from last year).

But it seems early for a super. And early for a split. Temperatures are still getting down into the high 20s and 30s at night. The forecast for the next 10 days to 2 weeks is cool high temps in the 50s and 60s with some rain and lows in the 30s. This is one of the challenges of this area and elevation (3500 ft), but this year it's been especially weird. Any ideas? Am I re-acting too soon and too quickly? I was thinking maybe make a split with a snelgrove board to counteract the cooler temps?

Thanks.
 

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I think the Snelgrove is a good option to counteract the temps. I inspected my 4 hives yesterday and found my biggest already in swarm mode - numerous capped QCs, at least one apparently emerged QC, and I think I heard piping. So maybe it already swarmed - although it’s still quite full of bees (compared to inspection 2 weeks ago). We have some cool nights coming this week so sounds like we’re in similar weather pattern for now.
I setup another box above a Snelgrove. I filled the box with a couple frames with capped QCs, some resource frames of pollen/honey, one frame from another hive with open brood and eggs, and shook a couple frames of nurse bees in from a third hive for good measure. We’ll see how it goes - hopefully a successful split and if not I’ll rejoin the hives.
 

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If you want more Drawn Comb, don't want to Split and would like a Honey Harvest as well, then have a look at Opening the Sides of the Broodnest (OSBN)

It sounds like your hives are just at the right stage to start OSBN.

Essentially it's about keeping the Bees making Wax throughout Swarm Season, which makes more space for the Queen to lay in and more Comb to store Honey in.


Are your Supers the same size frames as the Brood Boxes?

With the Brood Frames being in both Brood Boxes, you could Open the Sides of the Broodnest in both Boxes and move 4 Old Frames up into a New Box.

I give the bees an unlimited Broodnest, but you can put on a Queen Excluder if you like.

Initially Partial Frames of Foundation are used beside the Broodnest to trigger Wax Making, but empty Drawn Comb can also be used to just give the Queen more room to lay and to help reduce backfilling.

You want to make sure there is no capped Honey beside the Broodnest and no Honey Dome above it.
 

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We are going thru and pulling frames and shaking bees out of our biggest and giving them to the healthy colonies that are not as far along. Equalizing helps us prevent swarming on the biggest colonies, and helps us have the same work to do to the whole yard when we do manipulations
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses and ideas. All three approaches would work under the right conditions.

MattDavey, I have thought about your method of opening the brood nest. The complication would be that I'd have to add a third deep to the colony, which isn't ideal. But I may be able to adapt the method by removing frames and adding frames on the side of partial foundation and partially open, which accmplishes part of your method and keep the bees busy.

Tennessee--your idea of equalizing is really appealing. Although I have heard this for later in the season it make perfect sense to do now. While it would make a couple of hives smaller for a while, it would increase overall health and production.

The weather has become an added complication. Looks like it will be cool and rainy (highs in the 40s, 50, and low 60s) through much of April. This is a very unusual pattern. But it means that making nuc splits and grafting queens--or even working with swarm cells--would be delayed. Which was the original plan. So equalizing might be the best idea, maybe combined with some open frames.

I'm keeping the snelgrove board ready, though, just in case.

Thanks.
 

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We are going thru and pulling frames and shaking bees out of our biggest and giving them to the healthy colonies that are not as far along. Equalizing helps us prevent swarming on the biggest colonies, and helps us have the same work to do to the whole yard when we do manipulations
I also equalize honey frames on first inspection as well. It also help me open the top of the brood nest with checker boarded empty frames to break the honey dome. The empty frames from weak hive goes to break honey dome of a strong hive and so on. I don't equalize brood until later inspections when it is really out of balance like you have in your case. The balancing game is only on for first 2-3 inspections (I inspect 2 weeks apart in early spring). After that everyone is on their own. If a hive is truly a DINK then it gets no help and gets split out at the tail end of the flow in to a double nuc with new queens.

PS: By the way, I use all medium frames so equalizing is very flexible. But even with deep frames, you should be able to do some equalizing.
 

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Thanks for the responses and ideas. All three approaches would work under the right conditions.

MattDavey, I have thought about your method of opening the brood nest. The complication would be that I'd have to add a third deep to the colony, which isn't ideal. But I may be able to adapt the method by removing frames and adding frames on the side of partial foundation an

Thanks.
This exactually what I would do. Take the deep from the dead out and add it under the 2 deeps of bees, pulling the sides off the current bottom deep and placing in empty's from the dead out. . if they have 20 frames of bees the space will be welcome. I would use that add on of the 3rd deep for a 2 week delay to get past the weather challenge. then do a fly back split with the queen on the old location in the bottom deep, add 1 new deep and the super. Set the current 2 deeps to the side. In 8 days split it 4 ways into 4 5 frame nucs. 2 weeks plus 8 days gets you past the weather issue. you may end up with 4 more queens from the early builder. My Dad over wintered in 3 deeps and did this type split setup often, he did 1 into 3 but the same idea. Swing for the fence.

GG
 

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I am adding boxes under the strong hives. Haven't lost one early yet. Once nuc production starts I put frames of brood sans bees above an excluder on very strong hives, let them repopulate the brood, then take them away for nuc production a day later.
 

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I am adding boxes under the strong hives. Haven't lost one early yet. Once nuc production starts I put frames of brood sans bees above an excluder on very strong hives, let them repopulate the brood, then take them away for nuc production a day later.
How much separation do you find is needed to produce a queen in the top above the excluder? Would 1 super be enough? some what the snellgrove method. This would be to produce the emergency queen cells with the OTS?
just wondering what folks do that have had good success.
thanks
GG
 

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How much separation do you find is needed to produce a queen in the top above the excluder? Would 1 super be enough? some what the snellgrove method. This would be to produce the emergency queen cells with the OTS?
just wondering what folks do that have had good success.
thanks
GG
How much separation do you find is needed to produce a queen in the top above the excluder? Would 1 super be enough? some what the snellgrove method. This would be to produce the emergency queen cells with the OTS?
just wondering what folks do that have had good success.
thanks
GG
I am using this method simply to provide bees for spring nucs. I have 3 (soon to be 4) out yards that have production hives. I do no queen rearing at these sites. I do take bees and brood from them to make up nucs in May and June. So the day before I make up nucs, I separate brood and bees from my outyards, to take to my mating yard. I assess which hives are the strongest, these I put an excluder on top, then an empty box. If there is an exluder already, then I don't bother. I go through the rest, take some frames of brood, shake off the bees and put them in the empty box. That way I don't have to look for queens. When done, I put a lid on them and leave them overnight and let the strong hive repopulate the introduced brood frames. The next day I come by and just take the top box of brood and bees and take them to my mating yard. So the nucs are made up of brood not directly related to the bees, and a queen cell not related to any of them. I get nucs that stay together and accept the queen cell readily it seems, not many make their own. I also try to avoid open brood in the nucs, but sometimes it can't be helped. This method also helps keep the swarming under control. Last year I had only one supply yard to 2 mating yards and it was hard on the supply yard. This year the ratio is much better.

In spring, I use snelgrove boards on hives I want to make queens from. Original queen is on empty comb on the bottom, queen excluder, 2 boxes of comb or whatever you have, then the snelgrove board. Then all the brood on top where the queens are made. I make sure all the foragers are piling into the section where the queens are being made. All medium boxes. I make a few cell builders later in the season and am putting together a mating nuc situation for that time of year to learn how to make queens for others. People are starting to want them.
 
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