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During the past two seasons, we have added a Queen Excluder onto our brood supers. Since we never got any surplus honey (nor drawn comb for that matter), we always assumed that it was due to being too late in the season -- after the peak of the honey-flow.

Now -- after reading through the always-excellent blog at http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/ -- I am starting to think it may have been been caused by two other reasons:

* We should've used already-drawn comb up above in the honey supers.

* The excluder itself (Yes, I am aware that some people refer to them as "Honey Excluders")

So, the issue now is that I don't have enough drawn frames to use in two medium supers. The blog above seems to suggest that I should add empty supers above the brood without the excluder (at least initially) because that may encourage more workers to travel up and draw comb in them.

Hopefully, I am also hitting the right time of the season this time around. Thoughts?

Thx for any advice.
 

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What does your brood chamber consist of? Place your foundation directly above the brood nest without the excluder. After the bees have the frames drawn out well and have plenty of nectar and honey in those cells/frames you can put your excluder in place(at least 3 weeks before the end of the honey season). Make sure the queen is down below by using bee-go/bee-quick to drive her and the bees down. You can also just shake the bees off the comb in the honey supers on top of the brood nest before putting the excluder down. Make sure she(queen) goes into the broodnest and not on the ground. There might be brood in the honey super so leave an escape for drones. Now after doing that the bees will go through the excluder and continue working in there.
 

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After keeping bees in San Mateo county for 40 years, it really surprised me how late the flow in Monte Sereno comes, like June and July.

Yes, no excluder will help until you have drawn comb.
 

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I cant say why your bees didnt draw comb, but I am one of the ones that always use an excluder on my hives and have never had a problem with the bees going through and building new comb or storing honey.
 

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If a hive is not moving up this time of year in Los Gatos, it is probably determined to swarm. Are you trying to draw out deep frames or smaller, for brood or for honey supers?
 

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We use excluders and try to put one or two frames of drawn comb in each super with the rest being foundation frames. I think it helps "bait" the bees through the excluder they move up to start polishing and fixing the wax while waiting for the blooms to pop.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the article -- but it doesn't really address my issue, which is how to get the honey supers drawn with comb fastest.
 

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Thanks for the article -- but it doesn't really address my issue, which is how to get the honey supers drawn with comb fastest.
Actually, for the past four years I've used a variation of the configuration mentioned in the POV thread Queen Excluder or Honey Excluder?, so, from my own perspective that article is quite - on point.

Once the hive populations are strong, and a major honey flow begins, I haven't had any issues getting the bees to draw comb and fill them with honey (this was magnified, in a good way, when I made it easier for foragers to unload in the honey supers -vs- brood supers), but without lots of bees, plus a heavy honey flow, or feeding, it is nearly impossible to get bees to build comb.

So when the hive is populous and a strong honey flow is in progress, configuring a hive so the main entrance is between the brood supers and the honey supers and with a queen excluder between the foragers and the brood, with easier access to the honey supers; in those conditions my bees build comb like crazy, I even mix PF120's, foundationless and some foundation starter strips without any issues.
 

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I now have 5 hives, am moving to top bar, harvest cut comb honey and extract by crush & strain.

For my first harvest I followed the advice of Bill Draper and started without an excluder and fed. Then after they built comb I added the excluder and stopped feeding. The thinking is once they invested the work of building comb, they ignore the excluder as if it wasn't there. I harvested ten beautiful fully capped medium frames with 50 lbs of the lightest and most enjoyable honey. Got me hook line and sinker.

The next year they came through winter with good stores and I plopped the excluder and dropped the supers on top. They swarmed and I near gave up. When I got around to looking, the one hive packed a shallow super above the excluder. The other didn't touch theirs but packed the deep below it.

That same year I meet a newbie who did the same as me and the girls ignored his supers completely.

Last year I only put the supers on but was lazy and never installed the excluder. I also use pierco plastic frames in the deep brood chambers but don't have any drone comb. As cautioned by Mike Bush, with nowhere else available, her highness climbed up into my cut comb supers and turned them into an unattractive mess with drones. We had a wet year that didn't help and the harvest was pitiful. I cut around the drone cells and got only enough for me.

This year I'm going back to what worked the first time, but I might forgo the feeding. I find that having multiple hives lets me try different things and lets me learn more from one year to the next.
 
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