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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I am starting my second year. I have a colony that someone gave me last year that was a 1 year old swarm in 2 supers with frames no foundation. They built wacky comb. I tried to cut the comb out and rubber band it into medium frames but my mentor got worried we were damaging too much brood. So I put a hive body on top of the two supers with the swarm hoping they would move up last year. On top of that I put a medium in case they did with a few frames of brood rubber banded. So the current configuration is super, super, deep, med, impre shim , inner cover. Well they did not move up last year but produced me 7 gallons of honey. They have always been a huge colony and productive. 2 weeks ago I got into them and the medium which is on top was full of bees and honey, the deep above the 2 supers and below the medium was a brood chamber and every frame had brood. They were starting to lay brood on the burr comb between the medium and the deep So I felt that I needed to reverse the deep and put it on the bottom the first chance I got. So today I went to do that and opened it up and it was jam packed full of bees and they were laying brood and making comb on top of the frames and to the inner cover( I also had an impre shim below the inner cover to put on sugar patties). I think now I got brood chamber from the deep all the way up. They must have built the comb under the inner cover because they have no room from the deep up. I have not been able to get into the bottom two supers to see the situation. I suspect it is empty. I took the medium off and they had brood in the burr comb between the medium and the deep. I lost my nerve and buttoned it all back up. So what do I do from here. I had planned to split this hive at least once maybe twice when the weather got to where it did not get into the 30's at night.


 

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well im not going to tell you how to handle the cross and brood comb issues because i dont want to give bad advice. what i can say is with my experience,in those situations ive had to just get in and handle it. in my opinion, i dont think you will have a problem (like ur nrighbor said) about sacrificing too much brood). laying and raising doesnt seem to be any issue with this colony hahaha. but, that cross and burr is only going to get worse and be a nightmare in the future. if it was ME...I would (as soon as u have warmer leveled temps) get in there and split it up. on the bright side it sounds like you have a wonderful survival stock that produces really well,to breed from.

just dont tear into it until the temps are warmer overnights. you have waited this longe...a couple more weeks and we should all be out of the winter... I HOPE !!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wish there was a way to save the brood on the burr comb. There is at least a few hundred bees there I could use on other hives.
It is going to get worse no doubt. This thing exploded in two weeks.
 

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What tommy said. I think I would go ahead and split it when possible and divide it as even as possible with brood and honey. As long as you have fresh eggs in both you don't need to find the queen. if the bottom two are empty I would put those on the top to give them something to move up and into. I do find it odd that they are doing that well this time of year. You must have mild winters.
 

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One of my hives is like that (wish all them were). A month ago they were bursting out of two deeps. Usually I would just sit an empty super on, but this time I wanted to experiment. Since they were so many bees I thought I could get away with busting up the brood nest. So I took two empty deeps and started at the bottom deep alternating an existing comb then an empty frame, I did this throughout the colony until I ended up with four deeps. Today I lifted the top and took a look, I was surprised to find two frames of brood and eight frames of capped honey. I took an empty deep and alternated the frames in the top deep, I now have five boxes on. But with your hive the way it is I would just keep stacking supers until I got ready to split, if you don't they will swarm real soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What tommy said. I think I would go ahead and split it when possible and divide it as even as possible with brood and honey. As long as you have fresh eggs in both you don't need to find the queen. if the bottom two are empty I would put those on the top to give them something to move up and into. I do find it odd that they are doing that well this time of year. You must have mild winters.
This has been the coldest longest winter I have ever experienced. It got down to 5 here for several days and has been getting below freezing at night it seems like for months. We have had snow twice, one time 8". Now for all you Northerners stop the snickering. Single digits and any snow above 2" is a big deal here. The milk , eggs, and bread aisle gets cleared out if they sya the word snow/ice. The 8" snow shut the school system down for 4 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
One of my hives is like that (wish all them were). A month ago they were bursting out of two deeps. Usually I would just sit an empty super on, but this time I wanted to experiment. Since they were so many bees I thought I could get away with busting up the brood nest. So I took two empty deeps and started at the bottom deep alternating an existing comb then an empty frame, I did this throughout the colony until I ended up with four deeps. Today I lifted the top and took a look, I was surprised to find two frames of brood and eight frames of capped honey. I took an empty deep and alternated the frames in the top deep, I now have five boxes on. But with your hive the way it is I would just keep stacking supers until I got ready to split, if you don't they will swarm real soon.
I had a medium with foundation in my hand and almost did that but I got so freaked out I just buttoned it back up.. I think I will go ahead and do that ASAP
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One of my hives is like that (wish all them were). A month ago they were bursting out of two deeps. Usually I would just sit an empty super on, but this time I wanted to experiment. Since they were so many bees I thought I could get away with busting up the brood nest. So I took two empty deeps and started at the bottom deep alternating an existing comb then an empty frame, I did this throughout the colony until I ended up with four deeps. Today I lifted the top and took a look, I was surprised to find two frames of brood and eight frames of capped honey. I took an empty deep and alternated the frames in the top deep, I now have five boxes on. But with your hive the way it is I would just keep stacking supers until I got ready to split, if you don't they will swarm real soon.
Have they started swarming at your latitude?
 

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I would lay the whole hive backwards on the ground. take the bottom board off and put it back on the blocks. pry off the bottom two shallows. If your lucky they may bee empty. then pry the next supers apart. If you have a queen excluder put it between. then I would put another super on top. then in a week see which of the two bottom supers have eggs. the queen will be in one of these. the goal is to get the queen crowded enough that she goes into the top super. when she is up there use a excluder to keep her out of the bottom two. In three weeks the brood should be hatched out of the bottom two so you can work them. remember bee tend to work up. get rid of the spacer under the cover. scrape the burr comb off the cover to clean that up. now you should have the correct bee space. hope this makes sense to ya. good luck If the bottom two shallows are not empty put them above the queen excluder. the queen will probably not be in them.
 

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Hi Ramdino
I'm outside of Lincolnton with 12 hives and none of mine are doing nearly that well. I'm impressed.

If the bottom 2 shallows are empty, you could take them off and get rid of that cross comb.

You'll probably have to sacrifice the brood comb in the imerie shim. If you really want to save the brood you could put an excluder below the shim and wait until the brood emerges to scrape oot the comb. But they will probably build more comb in there until then and it will be a real pain doing hive management while it's there.

There may already be swarm cells. You may want to use them to make up nucs. Have you seen drones in the hive?

I'd definitely split ASAP and do what swarm prevention you can: Open the brood nest and checkerboard.

Are you treatment free by chance?
 

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>I would lay the whole hive backwards on the ground.

Good idea. Easy way to get off bottoms if they are empty without disturbing the brood chamber.
 

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I am very impressed. That is a lot of bees! You may want to checkerboard. They may be able to fil the void in a few week with the amount they have. This would give you even more bees for your split!
 

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As soon as weather permits, shake the entire colony into a new hive. Add a queen excluder flip the old brood boxes upside down on top, cover and let the brood hatch out. As soon as they have no brood shake the rest of the bees out in front of the hive remove the boxes and clean them out. Let Mother Nature do the work for you and you end up with a clean colony, less labor and no waste of brood. If you have two brood boxes make two of these setups and you effectively make the split too.
 

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You were on the right track with intent to reverse. But it is a little tricky in this situation. You are probably correct in that the bottom 2 shallows are empty with some scattered pollen. The sticky part is that there is still some wacky comb there that will make them tough to separate, maybe. Suggest you handle them as a unit still stuck together and plan on removing the capped honey in the honey house in the crush and strain mode. You might tape them together so you remember to break the joint below.That will be unwieldy from a weight standpoint, but better than scattering honey in the beeyard. Have someone help you when shuffling boxes of the hive.
What I would plan to do, promptly:
Set the boxes off separately, such that they can be restacked in reverse order, Medium from the top on the bottom board; then the deep of brood; then the pair of shallows. The rationale being that the brood will not be separated from their honey reserve, and the pair of shallows, with scatted empty comb, will be like an empty deep reversal or a checkerboarded pair of supers. Expect them to expand brood into that growth space. (Its already had brood in it before.) Add a super of drawn comb at the top for nectar storage, if you have it. And maintain empty comb at the top until the new wax of main flow.

During main flow, super below the (grunt) pair of shallows to build wintering honey just above the deep brood nest. (your choice of size and how many)

I see no reason to cripple the hive by multiple splits or equal division - when you have a good chance of good production. Is honey not importent to you? If Expanding the genetics is your goal, that can be done after main flow harvest.

Walt
 

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My approach would be to separate the boxes with the bottom two boxes as one group and the deep with super as the second. Then clean out the bottom two boxes and put frames with foundation back in them and set them on top for honey. It will be very messy. But can be done.
 

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The milk , eggs, and bread aisle gets cleared out if they sya the word snow/ice. The 8" snow shut the school system down for 4 days.
:D:D:D And now it is all gone...

You certainly have pollen coming in and maybe nectar. If the bottom two supers are empty I would say you have a normal hive just taller. What you do will depend on what you have in equipment and resources. You could for instance split the hive between the deep and the supers if you have three or four honey frames to put on top of the bottom supers. If the queen ended up in this half of the split you will end up with two hives. The question is are those bottom two supers really empty. I would be hoping for that because it will likely swarm if not. If you split they both need to be super-ed.

For me working alone it is easier to just pry boxes apart and then just lift slightly and twist to separate boxes one by one. Once you lay it down it is hard to do any twisting.
 

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Nice Hive!

Lots of ideas here....with different ideas for end results. Seems to me that at this point, you still need a little information on the bottom boxes. It looks like you have a decent weather window coming up with low 60's on Wed. and better yet into the weekend and can finish your inspection with decent temp's. It would be good to have your plan and an alternative plan so that you can make some decisions based on what you find when you get into the bottom boxes.

If you go with Walt's approach, I'd think about setting up a new stand and bottom board right next to the hive and do the reversal in one move, easier on your back and on the bees. It seems that they are building comb everywhere and anywhere because they don't have anywhere else to do it....

If it's packed top to bottom (including the lower boxes), I'd be most concerned about trying to do something to minimize swarming....

Checker boarding, reversing, splits are all options depending on what extra equipment you may have....or need to get and what your goal for the hive is. Honey? Increasing?

good luck! Let us know what you decide and how it turns out....

J
 

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What tommy said. I think I would go ahead and split it when possible and divide it as even as possible with brood and honey. As long as you have fresh eggs in both you don't need to find the queen. if the bottom two are empty I would put those on the top to give them something to move up and into. I do find it odd that they are doing that well this time of year. You must have mild winters.
make sure you have drones first
 

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FYI The extra burr comb and cross comb is the result of having too much BEE SPACE, more than 3/8". Get rid of that Shim! If you give them space like that, they will fill it with cross comb and burr comb. Good luck with your hive, hope it works out for the best. A good problem to have this time of the year.
 
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