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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm finally a bee keeper yay.

I hived a couple of 4frame nucs on the 24th.
The nucs looked pretty good as far as bees,brood,stors.
I placed the 4 frames in the centre of a 10 frame langstroth with the rest foundation.

My bottom board is modified with a screen and a pull out so I can monitor.
On one bottom board, my modification left a small gap under the reducer say 1/8" oops
The medium 2" hole is lined up in the reducer.

We have had some pretty cold nights down to 4c. I swore I saw eggs when I hived them but my one week check most of the eggs were gone. Still have capped and not capped brood. I'm thinking maybe the eggs may have got chilled and cleaned out. There was some cloud that day so maybe it was just my aging eyes. I have since shoved some material in the 1/8 gap to keep the night time cold air out.

Just wondering what the norm was for reducing their entrance to keep them warm in their first weeks after enlarging their space?
How does one know when to remove it? I do see a bit of fanning mid day when it 25c out not a lot 4 or so bees. Both hives look active lots of coming and going.
I do have feed on them but there is a pretty good dandy lion flow right now.
9c and rain tonight, bees had a good day at 25 today dandelions are just starting to go to seed.
Thanks for any help.
Stephen
 

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Give the hive what they can defend...and I will also say, I refuse to use screened bottoms, even here in Florida. (I tried...but the solid bottom hives out performed SBB EVERY time). Keep the slide in count boards in...unless you must remove. (Just MY opinion...others may vary!) No disrespect, but 4 or so bees are not "fanning". If you see a traffic jam on the outside of the hive, open it up. If not, let them bee. Remember also, it is not a matter of smallest entrance vs wide open entrance...I have several reducers I cut in half. I open them up some, make sure they can defend, and when I see the start of another traffic jam, I open it up a bit more. Once they are strong in a whole deep, I consider 100% open. Just watch the bees...yes, even from the entrance, and they will tell you what they need. I can't really speak to the "keep them warm" part (I am in Florida)...except to say, I run almost all solid bottom boards, and reducers, or not, as the bees tell me. Screened bottoms were hell, for ME...but I am in the Small Hive beetle capital!
Sorry...back to the original question...if you see a traffic jam, open it up some. You don't have to go from 4% to 100% at once. Use a fine saw as you see fit (and keep all the cut off pieces). HTH!!!
 

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I worked up in Calgary for a bit in the (19)80's, and recall Calgary being about a month behind Denver in the spring, but otherwise similar. Sorry, I still struggle with c vs f, lets see 5/9 c + 32, I think... anyway your lows in the upper 30's F (?) Yes we had 10" of snow, 3 weeks ago Sunday. My Pkgs came 2 days later. It was in the 30's err I mean like just above zed.

I had them on the small hole for the first two weeks (now at 3 weeks), and they are still on the large (reducer in). It's really a play it as you see it. When I see fanners lined up out toward the edge of the bottom board, it's time to open it up some.

We broke 90*f for the first time this year, yesterday, so lets see, um (f-32)/9x5 is uhh - 32c - right? ( it was hot :). ) Anyway, I was contemplating popping the reducers out, but didn't. Today was still 30c's, in the AM, then is clouded up, rained and hailed, and dropped to like ~ 10c, so I was glad I didn't.

Regardless, I must also be vigilant about chilled brood - even in June. Those first cycle brood nests really need to conserve their heat! I'll probably be giving them the middle 3/4 X 3-4" within the week. 2nd brood cycle, and all that...( in Millennia speak, bee-math (?)):cool:

Hope this helps?:scratch:
 

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Reducing the entrance has more to do w/ giving the bees an entrance that they can defend from potentially robbing bees from other hives than it does w/ keeping brood warm. Your colony will keep what brood they have warm themselves. Generally speaking there is nothing you need to do to help them do that.
 

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I'm in northern NY, so somewhat warmer than you by now, though I've had nights in the low 40s F as recently as last week. To prevent swarming this year I've been doing fairly aggressive opening of the sides of the brood nest, including moving a few of them up to a new box, pretty regularly. I started this back in late April/early May when the truly warm period was the exception, not the rule. And nights were still cool.

I am coming out of my first winter and I still had some of my winter insulation on (rigid foam panels of varying thicknesses) so after I did my manipulations I made sure the box sides were again covered with the insulation panels at least for the first week to allow the nurse bees to reorganize their coverage. If you have access to some suitable scraps of insulation you could bungee-cord some of them aong the sides if you're concerned about cold nights.

I also still have my quilt boxes on above the upper-most box which is something you could set up now even though you don't really need it during the summer once they get going to any size and the temps warm up as high as they will go. However I note you are feeding and a quilt box and a top feeder won't work together (both are top-level equipment, not part of a stack) and I think your bees probably need feeding more at this point. (Though liquid feeding in temps below 50F is sometimes a very slow proposition. Some of the "fanning noise" you're hearing may be the bees trying to manage the increased intra-hive humidity that liquid feeding at low temps creates within the hive.)

I have the wooden entrance reducer stick still placed in front of my main entrances, but inserted on a slant (i.e. only partially blocking entrance). Although my hives are big (5 to 7 boxes) and I'm not really worried about robbing at the moment, I will sometimes close it a bit if the temps are unusually cool. I have the opening facing away from the prevailing winds. I also have top entrance holes above the highest boxes and these are wind-baffled by push-pinning a small rectangle of corrugated cardboard on the windward side of the hole.

I only have a four(!) colonies so I can afford to pay close attention to them. If it seems extra warm and they are doing a lot of fanning at the entrance I will open it up more. Conversely if I hear much more internal noise than usual and it's cool, I may experiment by closing it up some and see if that quiets it down a bit. I also have a second, screened, upper ventilation hole that I will put my hand on to feel how much heat is being shed through it and adjust accordingly.

Your bees will probably do fine either way - they are pretty tough bugs. And kudos for setting up a varroa monitoring capacity, Have you started looking to see what you've got? You can also watch the progress of the frames as they build them out as you will find sparkling flakes of wax below the frames they are working on. You should also watch for any evidence of small caterpilars/larvae that may appear on the board, or clinging underneath it. These could be Small Hive Beetle or Wax Moth larvae, both of which should be dispatched on sight. (I think you may have little problems from either of these two up where you are, however.)

BY the way, a small handful (up 4 to 8, or so) of fanning bees at the entrance with their backsides pointing outward may not be fanning for temperature control, they may be fanning to spread the hive's scent to orient returning foragers. I find this is particularly common after I've been messing around in the hive.

As for the disappearance of the eggs: good for you having seen them (I couldn't see them for months after I started), but I wouldn't worry too much. There are many reasons the bees may have cleared out the ones you first saw in preparation for the next round. Perhaps they were damaged before you even got your nuc. I bet you'll see some changes when you check again at two weeks, which should be coming up this weekend, right? I have old eyes, too, so I keep a magnifying glass at hand when looking at frames. It helps minimize the amount of time I have to spend searching for eggs, which also keeps the egg-frames exposed for a shorter time.

Enjambres
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the help.
I've been reading, reading and more reading on the net all winter while waiting for my bees to arrive. Pretty much find most but not much on reducer stuff. I know reducers are mostly for reducing the area they have to guard but also reduce the amount of air entering the hive.
Sorry I didn't actually state I'm in Alberta Canada.

The fanning I am talking about is usually when it's at the days peek temp.
4 or so bees half in the hole holding on and flapping their wings like mad. Could be spreading sent but my gut tells me they are cooling or bringing the humidity down.

There is a gall in out club that checker boarded her 4 brood frames in a 10 langstroth. Then removed the reducer after a few days. She stated she has lots of dead brood being dragged out.
Our nucs came from BC they stated it has been on the wet side and we may see some chalk brood. She says, man I have lots of chalk brood. After she told us of her setup and showed us some picks. I said you may have chilled brood to put the reducer back on. Should she put the frames back together? I think they are bare foundation.
What do you think?
Stephen
 

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If your observations tell you the fanning is for environmental reasons, then go with that. I think a lot of beekeeping skill development comes from really paying attention to your hives. And you can also experiment by making small changes and observing them in place. For instance, if you think it's too warm, or too humid, make a change that you think might ameliorate that. Stand by and watch for an hour. Did it make a discernable difference, or not?

Regarding checkerboarding the brood nest: there is a lot of confusion surrounding this and a lot of confusing terminology as well. And it makes it pretty hard for new beeks to sort out.

What I did (after long study - and very cautiously at first) was insert a single undrawn, foundationless frame on the warmest, most protected side of the brood nest, with a full frame of (highly insulating as well as nutrition-supply) honey outboard of that. (IIRC, I think I started this around the second or third week of April in a horticultural Z5/Z4 area.) I did this first on my biggest, most populous hive as a trial. The girls got it in one go and promptly drew out the frame and filled it with brood (mostly drone, at first). So I repeated this on the other side and in my other hives. This caused them to expand the brood nest laterally - and it is believed to be an anti-swarming technique. As the brood nest expanded to fully fill the box, I raised a few frames (3 or 4 in one go) to a higher box, added an empty frame on each side of this newly re-positioned bunch of brood combs, with honey or open nectar and pollen outboard of that. The girls continued to draw and fill the empty foundationless frames but now with whole, flat, frames of worker brood. As it got warmer and they raised more bees, the pace picked up and now sometimes I would slip a single undrawn frame in the middle of a group of four or five solid frames of brood. They'd draw and fill that one, too. At this point I might have a pattern that looked like this: Empty frame (mostly a placeholder for the time being)/Honey/Empty stub frame to be drawn/ Brood/Brood/Empty stub/Brood/Brood/Empty stub/ Open nectar & pollen/ capped Honey. So it might look like "checkerboarding" and even be termed checkerboarding, but it's not the same thing as checkerboarding the supers.

Checkerboarding the supers, (also an anti-swarming technique promoted by Walt Wright - read about his ideas in the Resources section on this site) which I have not really done, requires alternating filled and empty, but always full drawn frames, in the super area, not the brood nest. Being a very new beekeeper (only started in 2013) I had only a few spare drawn frames so couldn't try that this year.

The downside of opening the brood nest is that it is highly intrusive to the bees, with all the kill-the-queen or prompting of supercedure risks of messin' around deep in the hive every week or two for a couple of months. It can set them back if ill-timed. In my experience this year, however, it grows bees like mad, but that in turn raises your risk of crowding as prompt for swarming, too. It seems to have worked as intended in my second year colonies (that may be different in third year colonies). I'm not sure I would repeat it as intensively as I did this year, but we'll see.

Walt Wright's scheme is to add unfilled (but already drawn) honey storage capacity (as opposed to unfilled brood space capacity like I did this year) early on. I think both ideas are based on "tricking" the bees into believeing that they have not got the requisite numbers of bees, brood, stored food, or something else, that is vital to their assessment of whether they're good to go for swarming. Swarming is their biological intention so prevention of swarming (which is in the beekeepers' best interests, if not the bees') is to some degree to deliberately frustrate their innate biological goals. Is it good or bad for the bees to stay in one spot? Certainly bees that stay hived in one place are more likely to survive, but then they also stay living with all their comensal diseases and parasites. And bees that swarm don't make honey for beekeepers after a whole year's effort on the beekeepers' parts. (In my case I am just too fond of my queens to want to part with them.)

Walt's scheme, because it doesn't require going down into the brood area (he just plumps checkerboarded supers on top) is less labor intensive. And it works in his Mid-Atlantic area where Springs are different and longer lasting than they are in the North. If I have the wherewithall (enough drawn but empty combs) I will probably experiment with it next year as I was worn out doing the brood nest opening manipulation and constantly aware I could create a disaster.

His most useful insight (to my mind) is in noticing that the swarm "go/no go" decision is made weeks before the swarm might occur and that it could be delayed by preventing the bees from having the sense that they had done "enough" swarm preparations. And further, that delaying it past a certain point (his Reproductive Swarm Decision Point) might eliminate it from consideration for the year. Since I am barely there (the Reproductive Swarm Point) in my local season, it's too soon to know if that pans out in my area.

Now, new beekeepers might read about either of these techniques and try to apply them in the establishment year when the goal is to grow as many bees as possible and make and store as much honey for the first winter. But doing them, would be a mistake in the first year (unless you are in the Tropics where the first year doesn't end in winter's pause). At the very earliest, they might work with a strong wintered-over colony and then only cautiously. Anybody who truly "checkerboarded" (meaning alternating emptyframes/single brood combs) in the brood nest is probably asking for trouble. And in the North or Canada, that would go double. There are reasonable people who believe that any disturbance, at any point in the colony's history, to the brood nest pattern established by the bees is really bad beekeeping practice. You'll have to decide on this for yourself, in conjunction with observation of your bees, in your locale.

Chalkbrood is fungus that develops when brood is chilled. So it is an infection that needs the "right" environmental conditions to be expressed. The dormant spores are likely around in many hives, and certainly in areas which are typically chilly and damp for long periods, it's a risk, particularly if your nuc producer is saying it's a possibility. Keeping the brood nest warm will prevent it appearing, but not eradicate it, I think.

Probably more info than you needed to read. But I remember being intensely frustrated last year when trying to absorb what I needed to know to get through my first few months. Hope I haven't added to your confusion.

EDITED TO ADD THIS: For your friend who checkerboarded her nuc frames: Yes, move them back together, ASAP. There probably aren't enough bees to cover that much checkerboarded brood territory to keep it warm enough. I wouldn't wait for the next "scheduled" inspection point; it seems that urgent to me. Hopefully she hasn't lost so many bees-to-be that the colony is at risk down the road.

Enj.
 

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Thanks for the help.
I've been reading, reading and more reading on the net all winter while waiting for my bees to arrive.
Sorry I didn't actually state I'm in Alberta Canada.

There is a gall in out club that checker boarded her 4 brood frames in a 10 langstroth. Then removed the reducer after a few days. She stated she has lots of dead brood being dragged out.
Our nucs came from BC they stated it has been on the wet side and we may see some chalk brood. She says, man I have lots of chalk brood. After she told us of her setup and showed us some picks. I said you may have chilled brood to put the reducer back on. Should she put the frames back together? I think they are bare foundation. What do you think? Stephen
In a recent thread on "..integrity of the brood nest", my hope was to raise awareness, consideration, and discussion . There appears to be a fair amount of misunderstanding going on amongst newer beekeepers. While we didn't go into brood cycles specifically, it was part of the underlying context.

Most new hives start from a "zero point" with a small nucleus (brood nest), and therefore little heat. It's a sphere that generates heat to rear brood, to build the nest, to generate more heat, to build a larger nest, and so on. Swarms and packages go through 1st, 2nd and 3rd brood cycle phases. Splits and divides have something of a jump start right into the second cycle. Into about the 3rd brood cycle, it normally begins to resemble a full sized colony.

One critical consideration when manipulating a 1st cycle brood nest is chilled brood/conservation of heat. The brood nest is relatively small, contains only so many nurse bees, and can support a relatively small amount of brood. Manipulations at this time are best done with understanding and consideration. Splitting the small 1st cycle brood nest in half is splitting the heat in half and appears to be causing more harm than good, unless other provisions to maintain brood temps are made. Nurturing a 1st cycle brood nest from the sides, rather than the middle, deserves consideration. As the nest grows, concerns lessen.

As the cycles progress (and the brood nest grows) other manipulations become more workable. However, I wish anyone considering "checker boarding" would go back to the text. He is NOT referring to within the brood nest !!!! here's a quick wiki link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkerboarding_(beekeeping) see Bush for a more detailed discussion. A large brood nest is much more "receptive" to the manipulations of any beekeeper with the necessary understanding and experience. It can be very beneficial, under the right circumstances, but is often misunderstood and results may be anywhere from setback to disastrous.

Bottom line, every normal hive has a brood nest, and nurturing it will most often benefit the end result. Splitting a small (1st cycle) brood nest in half with out the proper understanding and consideration is not generally advisable. Maybe be akin to lopping a heart in half with an axe, hoping to attain the same results the skills some experience bee surgeons accomplish doing an open brood triple bypass.:)

My vote is she puts them back together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ya I contacted her. Was 3c this morning. Chance of frost tonight. Great!
I think she is going to winter wrap it till it warms up enough to get in and get the frames back together. Should happen this weekend. Probly not life threatening but will set them back I'm thinking.

Thanks again for all the help everyone.
Stephen
 

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Buzz - does she have them up over a double screen? That's the best defense against brood chill. Gives the lower a little ventilation, and provides the new broodbnest with the ideal constant temp. 10c (50*f) and falling tonight, heavy cold rain right now. My requeen splits from today are cozy above their DS', over two strong hives. Make that dime sized hail.

Enjambres - 'looks like your on the right track - build a solid base broodnest sideways and then use that to warm the subsequent upper brood. Once it gets big enough, you can begin to massage it with favorable results, and less concern.

Have you considered timing to your flows? A bumper brood nest can go either way - capitalizing on a well timed flow, or collapsing from starvation via ill-timed (mother natu
 

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It can be as simple as putting screen on both sides of an inner cover hole, or as elaborate as full sized 1/8" hardware mesh in a skeleton frame, similar to the inner cover. Anything that allows warm air to rise from lower to upper unit, while preventing the queens from getting to each other (two screens).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok I see 2 hives one on top of the other seperated by a screen thanks.
Got to -2.5c last night. Had to cover the tomatos.
 
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