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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Following a suggestion by a well respected forum member, I "expanded" the brood nest as we transistioned from Winter into Spring by inserting new foundationless frames into the middle of the brood nest. My understanding of the process is that inserting new foundationless frames would provide new space in the brood nest for the bees to build out, thereby occupying young bees with comb building, and further preventing crowding, all in an effort to forestall swarming, without the potentially detrimental affects of dividing the cluster. This made alot of sense to my simple understanding of brood nest dynamics.

Accordingly, as our weather warmed up, I started inserting new foundationless frames into the center of the brood nests of my larger and more active hives. Many of these brood nests spanned two deeps, and thus I inserted two frames, one aligned atop the other, in the center of such hives. I did this up to thee times on some of the hives, meaning in some instances a hive received and built out a total of 6 new deep foundationless frames in about 8 weeks.

I quickly discovered that almost all the new comb built on these inserted frames in all the hives I did this too was built out as drone comb. So, rather than building out worker comb and raising worker bees, as I had expected, the hives used this new space to build out drone comb and raise drones. These hives now have *huge* amounts of drones! Just an "eyeball estimate" from looking at frames covered with bees, but I would guess the hives are now made up of between 30% - 50% drones. And, the brood nests now have a significant amount of drone comb right in the middle. (I know I can move the drone comb to another place in the hive, but that is not the point of my question).

Drone production is now winding down or has stopped, and, the bees are now filling these drone cells with nectar.

Does backfilling drone cells in the center of the brood nest with nectar have any special significance? Specifically, what does backfilling drone cells indicate? Or is this a case of backfilling the center of the brood nest, which just happens to be drone cells in this case? Or, has the hive shifted into honey production mode, and the bees are simply using the space they have to store what they are bringing in and it is nothing special? Any other explanations?

TIA

--shinbone
 

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Yes to all of the above. The drone comb needs to be at the outer edge of the brood nest. Frames two or three and eight or nine. The bees will raise drones until they get their quota and then these will become honey storage.
In a totally foundationless hive the bees will build their drone cells at the outside of the broodnest. Meaning every frame has the ends drawn in drone comb with worker cell in the center. When using foundation they build it where they can.

Move those frames to the edge of the nest and everyone will be happy. They will start expelling drones when they don't think they need as many.

If you were looking at a 3-D natural broodnest it would be a somewhat roundish ball in the lower center of the hive. Worker in the center and a layer of drone around that. Honey and pollen outside the drone cells.
They prefer big cells to store honey in. Storage cells can be as big as drone but are often somewhere in between.
Woody Roberts
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Wolfer - thanks for the reply. Are you suggesting that, if the bees had already had drone comb elsewhere in the hive, they wouldn't have built out these new foundationless frames as almost 100% drone comb? For example, if I had first inserted the plastic green drone frames into the sides of the brood nest, new foundationless frames inserted a week or two later into the center of the brood nest would have been built out mostly as worker comb?
 
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