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late season management of queen excluderes

599 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  kilocharlie
I used QEs this year for the first time and was very happy with them. All went well. However, I'm not so sure about how and when to remove the QEs at the end of the season. We still have some flow here albeit small , and then there may be the fall flow, weather depending. I want to leave enough room for the bees to collect late nectar without crowding the brood nest. Reason for leaving them on now is to prevent the queen from moving up into supers remaining on hives. I didn't remove all supers at harvest time as some do, as I did not want to have to feed the bees and there seemed to be a continuing trickle of nectar and didn't want them to get crowded.

Should I wait until after the fall flow when I'll ultimately remove all unneeded boxes for the winter? If the bees start reducing population then maybe they'll naturally start packing any late nectar into the brood nest and then it will become obvious that I can remove any partially filled supers above QEs.

Input welcome!!
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I haven't run QE yet maybe next year. So take this for what it's worth. My mentor runs 2 deeps with supers above no QE. We just had a bee meeting at his home yard and he added a third deep above his packed deeps. He said he needed more room for the big amount of bees, But he also wanted to get a head start on drawn frames for next spring when he did splits.
Karen, I think your instincts are correct. I took mine off last week because the broodnest is clearly shrinking, so little danger of her laying in the supers. However, I always dread an August swarm, so she can move up if need be. If that happens, I will put the QE above that super to prevent her from going further. Eventually I will get her back in the deeps and move the QE down and eventually off . J
Fall nectar flow is always a gamble and an unknown until it happens. I gave one severaly cramped colony a partially filled super above the broodnest today, and moved the filled super that was cramping the single deep to above the QE. Hope I didn't give too much space at this time of year. We'll see.
KarenArnett ? "QE. Hope I didn't give too much space at this time of year. We'll see."

I standarized my "brood" chamber last year. I use it year round and keep it that size by using QE when putting supers on. Nice clean supers and honey now. My "brood chamber" is a medium +deep+medium ( not to much space). It is capable of holding a lot of bees and the 80+ lbs of stores I want in there for winter so it will support Spring build-up. I remove and extract super frames during the season to keep them loose with adequate room or to draw out frames. I had to buy and assemble more mediums again to keep up as the hives, nine, seem to be getting bigger and becoming better foragers.

Treating for Varroa and giving the Fall flow to the brood chamber drives when I will take all the supers off. Then I weigh the hives and sample OAV treat a big hive to see the Varroa Dead Drop Count (VDDC) onto my sticky board. Weighing about every two weeks tells me a lot about the flow and when to feed. Tracking VDDC post OAV tells me when a hive is being invaded, cleaned out and who may be in trouble - my VDDC numbers are driven by Fall horizontal spreading and robbing. Around here, this starts about the 2nd week in Sept. and finishes by 1st week in November. If I have to I can feed into December as I heavily insulate my hives, year-round now. The annual cycle ends with a winter OAV treatment in early Jan, twice if needed. This year due to sugar issues I will keep some honey in frames until I know I can attain winter weight for each hive. Two years ago a Fall dearth here forced me to feed 600 lb. of sugar to 10 hives - many lost hives before Christmas. Michael Palmer's weighting advice got me started and it saved my hives that winter...............Sorry more than you wanted to know, I know but it also helps me to review what I am doing.
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A medium super full of capped honey works quite well as a queen excluder. She generally will not cross a wide dome of honey to go up and lay drones (or workers, for that matter) in the supers if there is a full box of honey in the way.

Queen excluders are necessary when using a 2-queen system, and must remain in place until time to separate the colonies to different boxes on different stands.

I've usually removed queen excluders at the end of Summer honey harvest, added robbing screens, treated for mites, and set all the brood close to the entrance and all the honey as far up and back in the hive as I can to make things difficult for robbers.
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