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Honey stores and brood?

1592 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Grasshopper
I've come across something that I thought I might get some thoughts on. About two weeks ago, I checked my strongest colony and in the third deep they had 8 frames of honey/nectar in various stages of capping. There was also about a half baseball sized patch of capped brood centered in the bottom of frames #3-#6. It looked to me like the queen had been up there and managed to lay in those small areas before bumping up to the honey band. I assumed that the brood would emerge and they'd backfill each cell with nectar and eventually cap it. This evening, I had a chance to take a look to see what progress they'd made on honey production, with the thought of taking whatever was mostly capped. I was surprised to find that they'd expanded the brood nest into each of the #3-#6 frames. The honey has been consumed and each of those frames appear to be classic examples of brood frames. I didn't have time to go all the way through the two bottom deeps, but they are pretty light and full of bees. Our flow has been strange this year. I've been seeing lots of white yard clover blooming everywhere. Up until this last week, we'd also had rain about every couple days. Usually somewhere between a half to a full inch. Our temps rose this week and the rain dried up. I still see lots of clover and have noticed the bees working it more. In a normal year, we pull honey once around the 4th of July and maybe again in the fall if there's a substantial flow prior to the goldenrod bloom. I've read that clover produces much less nectar with cooler temps and regular rainfall. I'm wondering if the lingering winter has pushed back the flows and my colony is just going with what's available or if the flow will continue and my harvest will be pushed back accordingly. The bees are in great shape and I'll have to start looking at splits in the future. This queen was a late July Supercedure queen that overwintered well. She started slow this spring, but has been laying pretty good patterns all along. Will all the new brood they're raising translate into honey production in a few more weeks?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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it sounds like they need more space. add a box, if you are short of boxes take some honey out... if there are too many bees and no space the swarm committee will start meetings.
Actually, I did a more in depth inspection this afternoon and was surprised to find that they had plenty of room. The lowest deep was all but empty comb loaded with bees, but just a little nectar stored. Went through and found the queen. Caught her in a queen catcher and then set about moving frames around to get the brood nest back down into the bottom two deeps. I'm not sure why they would ignore that bottom box though.....

I also had an medium super of 1 frame of drawn comb and the rest foundation on top. I worried about room about a month ago. Hence, the super..
If that were my colony I'd reverse the upper and lower deeps and if I had an excluder I'd find the Queen and confine her from my honey super. Just long enough for the brood in the super to hatch out and honey stores to begin in those cells and then remove the excluder. If you don't have an excluder move the frames with brood to the outside edge of the super.
The lowest deep was all but empty comb loaded with bees, but just a little nectar stored.
Thas is what I was thinking.

The bees are doing what they should be doing filling from the top down. You can pull the bottom box or you can leave it until fall to pull it if they don't get it back filled. What do you want to leave the bees, summer honey or fall honey? If you leave the box they will get fall honey if you pull it they will get summer honey.
Thanks for the thoughts. I ended up taking the empty frames and consolidated them into one box and took the two boxes of brood and placed the one with the most brood and pollen in the bottom box, then placed the next box with most of the stored honey with partial frames of brood on the bottom in the next spot. I took the empty comb and placed it into the uppermost spot. I'm hoping the honey band will keep the queen in the lower two deeps or that they'll consolidate the honey into the top box to clear room for brood in the second box. Time will tell how it goes.
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