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Honey bound AND back filled

3837 Views 16 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  MikeJ
Because (I assume) the hive went so long without a queen the hive is really bogged with honey. The second chamber is pretty much just honey (70lbs?) and their even starting to cap.

I have no extractor and no way to get to one - I had planned to either crush and strain or just rig up a quick homemade extractor (for our own consumption). But I do not want to damage the brood frames.

I just did this - probably a bad idea?
I moved the honey super (which is basically empty) down over the first brood chamber with a queen excluder between. I then put the inner cover on and placed the brood chamber with honey on and a lid. I was hoping they would move it down to the super. Problem is also they are trying to swarm (AGAIN!).
I cut all the queen cells (I hope).

Will this work and how long dare I leave it like this (I mean it is sure to force a swarm).


As a second note/question...
Another hive is backfilling (I have now pulled the feeder). But they have built a ton of drone cells all over (like half frames - both sides). There is probably 3 frames worth of drone cells.
Do I have to cut this off or will they eventually cut it down and rework it?

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Ive never worked with an inner cover (we dont use them here in FL) so I cant speak to that method. A few questions; are you sure you have a queen? have you checked to see how clogged and bound the bottom deep is? If the bottom deep is also bound with honey you need to create some space for her to lay, putting the excluder on just forced her to stay in that bottom box, why not remove the excluder and see if she will move up to the super. I would put the excluder under the deep full of honey so they continue to filll and cap it. Its all about space they will continue to swarm, and eventually die without proper space to lay brood. The second hive sounds like you may have a failing queen, no queen, or laying workers. That sounds like a lot of drone brood for 1 chamber. Look for eggs and a queen, they are backfilling it for a reason, usually a queen that cant/wont keep the pace or no queen at all.
I just requeened both hives 2 days ago (before that they had gone a while without a laying queen). Saw both queens today.

I don't have a way to extract the honey so I was hoping to get it moved into the clean super comb.

find your local bee club and try to borrow an extractor. even if you have to take your frames an hour away, that sounds like the best idea. my guess is you can find someone /club to help. good luck,mike
I think that trick works better when there's no or low flow going on. If you've got a decent flow going on, they will not pull the honey down thru the inner cover as well, because they are too busy making new honey coming in and will store it in the super over the brood nest, thru the excluder, instead.
If it's just a few frames, cut the caps off and let it drain sideways into a tray or pan. It's slower but it gets done.
I think the closest club will probably be Bangor (2hrs one way).
I think I'll post and see if any beekeepers up my way have one.

I may end up going with the idea of letting her lay in my honey super while I drain the brood. It is kind of sad lol. First honey crop and no good way to get it out.

your first crop, i'd just cut it out. eat it comb an all, they'll make more. the majority of beekeepers start that way. contact the club in bangor, they may know of someone near you. do you have a state apiarist? someone in the ag department may steer you to some help. good luck,mike
Do you have some extra frames? If not, I would order enough to fill at least 2 of those deeps. Put the honey in the freezer for now, until you can get access to an extractor. Then put the new frames in; if they're filling everything you have they will probably draw new comb also. You have no choice but to make room for the queens to lay. BTW, the bees are not going to rework your drone combs. Place it in a deep above an excluder and let the brood emerge. Then use those drone combs for honey storage or for varroa control.
your first crop, i'd just cut it out. eat it comb an all...
:D And just swallow hard? What about the cocoons? The honey is in used brood frames (or at least a good bit of it :D

Thanks all for all the information. I will try the state apr. and look into the bangor club (though I don't know if they will let me since I am not a member).

I will probably cut out the drone comb then. They built it on a lot of the foundationless. Maybe I could wire it into one or two frames so it is solid drone cells. Then use it like you said for varroa.

Again thanks

P.S. err.. almost forgot,
If I place more foundationless frames in there will they continue to draw drone cells? I think their doing it because there is a nice flow running.
:D I of course did none of the above :doh:

I had a shallow super and a shim that extended it (making it deeper than a deep by about 1 1/2"). So I put that above the first chamber with 10 foundationless frames. I then put a queen excluder in, then a entrance shim and a honey super and then the brood chamber that is packed with honey.

So original chamber|foundationless improvised chamber|q.e.|2nd entrance|honey super|backfilled brood|cover... Really looks great :rolleyes:

I doubt this will stop them from wanting to swarm - I hope to go in on monday to destroy any new cells and see if they are working it.

If the queen is below the excluder and you have put empty frames (foundation or foundationless) above the excluder the odds of the bees going up and drawing comb is very slim.

Reread you reply again and I don't think you did what I described. But if you did exactly the opposite of what I said above, you may have a mess putting in 10 foundationless frames all at once. If you don't have any foundation you might want to just put 2 or 3 frames and see how they start drawing out the frames. They can do crazy things when there is so much space in a box. They can make a mess of the comb. Basically putting 10 foundationless frames in a box is like putting 9 frames of foundation or foundationless in a 9 frame setup for a 10-frame hive.
I don't like foundationless. :pinch:
I put all the foundationless frame in the brood chamber above the first brood chamber (queen excluder above these).

I had to go with it since I don't have foundation. I should have checkerboard the frames at that time but didn't think of it.

I am planning to go into it tomorrow. If they haven't made a mess maybe I could remove all the frames and checkerboard enough to get both chambers mixed well? I am a little worried trying that though. The nights are 49 to 56F. They do have a lot of bees though.

If they have made a mess, but have drawn a lot of comb and the queen is laying in it, maybe I will just leave it. Get the old brood box cleared of honey and replace it (moving the messed up box above an exluder to allow all brood to emerge).

Note for next year: I do not want to be waiting for a queen to emerge when a flow is starting, the bees will just backfill the brood chambers waiting for her to mate and start laying.

All this sound logical?

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Sounds logical to me. If they have made a mess of the comb, you might try to cut it out as neatly as possible and put it in a frame or two. Hold the comb in place with rubber bands. Make sure the comb cells are pointed up or the bees will not work the comb. I have did this before.

I have even take some really new comb that I cut out and glued it to the top of 1 or more frames as starters. Bees took to them as if they put them there.

If you have some frames that have comb extended underneath the frames you could cut it out and glue or attach the comb into your frames.

You made a good point about the brood chamber. The rule is "never" put smaller frames in larger boxes. I can't tell you how many times I have done this in desperation. Usually because I needed to transfer some eggs or queen cells to another hive and doing a split. As M. Bush has said when you do this you never remember to go back and swap out the frames. Thats pretty much the truth. Though I have done it a few times. But here is my take on it. If I put a medium in a brood or a shallow in a medium that I will be using for a brood box because I need to to start or sustain a hive, I will do it. They will start making comb below the frame(s). You can't stop it without removing the frame(s). Usually at that point I don't have the time or resources to replace the smaller frame (especially if it's now full of brood). So if there are in my brood area I just forget about it. I leave the brood area alone. If they are happy, I am happy. Why worry about something that really doesn't matter. Now if they are connecting frames together that is another story. The only problem I have with doing this is when I add a smaller frame to the second box of the brood area. Many times they will draw the comb down completely to the top of the next set of frames. Usually scraping it off and cutting it back stops the problem.

As a footnote: I try to use a high and medium for my brood area/chamber. This goes for 10 or 8 frame hives. I have both but will gradually change everything over to 8 frame. Once I get to the point where I am positioned to be 100% 8-frame, I will cut down my 10-frame equipment to 8-frame. I have already done that on some boxes and bottom boards. Will not cut down a 10 frame OC as I don't see the need. No big deal if it hangs over a little farther. Becomes like the eaves on a house.

Enough rambling.
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Went into the hives today (I should now be able to leave them alone for a while).

I didn't use smaller frames in the second chamber - that would be logical - I of course used a LARGER frame in a smaller chamber (I put a shim under the chamber to extend it the depth needed).

The hive in question appears to be clearing some honey out of the lower chamber. Found th equeen. Tons of drone cell (but she seems to not want to lay in them much). No idea why they drew so much drone cell.
Nothing had been started in the upper chamber so I checkerboarded the hive pretty even (didn't do a perfect checkerboard). I will put the sbb drawer in at night and reduce the entrance to help keep them warmer.

More honey is appearing in the honey super (clover smell is everywhere).
I moved the honey bound chamber above an inner cover over the honey super. I didn't want to remove it till they cap most of it -or- they have moved it to the honey super.

All other hives seem to be going good. Looks like the original split may even be ready to make an autumn honey.

Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions - helps to hear from experienced keepers to get it straight in your head what is going on in the hive.

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