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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey all,

Just coming out of 1st winter-- both hives seem to have to made it. Today was in low 60F's so decided to clean out the one that had loads of dead bees at bottom. My arrangement over winter: 2 deeps, honey super, and then feeding board with quilting box on top. I reversed the deeps (bottom was totally empty, top deep has brood/eggs) and noticed that the honey super has outer frames of honey still but center frames are solid brood.

I was quick with rain on the way so I didn't look for the queen- but with all the eggs and uncapped brood in the top deep (which is now on bottom) I'm betting she's in that box. What do I do about that brood in the super? I don't want her to keep laying up there- hopefully now that I reversed the deeps she'll stay lower?

I'm thinking that next inspection I'll find her and make sure she's in one of the deeps, then stick an excluder on top of deeps under the super. My hope being that they can finish raising the existing brood and then clean out for honey.

Does this plan make the most sense? Any other suggestions?

thanks

brad
 

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Your over winter set up is the same as mine. I do not mess with the brood nest, however. So It sounds like now you have put an empty deep in the middle of the brood nest, hopefully they will be able to keep the brood all warm. I would think they contract out of the top super and your next inspection will be as you expect. I generally use the top super as a brood box and think of it as 3 brood boxes even thought 1 is smaller. If I was motivated to offer open brood space above the current brood nest, I would have placed the empty on top leaving the brood nest more or less intact. If you cannot find the queen you can gently shake the super frames into the 2 deeps and then put on the excluder and put the super back on top. For me stuffing an empty deep in the middle of a brood nest would be, June when the nights are warm, In Michigan we still have some snow lingering. Good luck.
Only issue I can think of is the box with out the queen may sense lack of Queen Pheromone and start queen cells. I would give a check in 9-10 days so if there are Q cells you can do a split or what ever you would want at that time.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
thanks GG-- helpful. Of course-- total rookie mistake (splitting up the broodnest). It's still 62F now so I just went back out and put that empty deep up top- so now from bottom to top it's: deep w brood, super w brood, empty deep and then sugar board. Like you mention once it's warmer and I have more bees I can move them around again and get that super up top with an excluder for them to clean it out and use for stores.

another question: They still have honey stores frmo winter, and sugar board, but should I now get 1:1 on there? They are bringing in loads of pollen but I'm guessing there's not much nectar yet

thanks
 

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Why are you feeding? Always feed with a purpose. I would suggest 1 frame of nectar/honey for every frame of brood. If the hive has 5 frames of brood, and more than 5 frames of honey, and only 1 deep of bees, then they are fine and let them use up that dang honey. It's just in the way when nectar is coming into the hive, and the queen is laying up a storm. The bees won't move honey in the brood nest around, unless it is already leaking out - which you can help along, if you want, with an uncapping scratcher or metal pet comb. Better to just move those honey frames into the second/top deep!

But why get THAT brood nest honey anywhere other than into baby bees? You may or may not have treated over the fall/winter with OAV or Apivar so that the honey is tainted; you definitely fed so the honey is tainted with sugar from sugar water! Which is what we are supposed to do, not a diss at all.

Again, always have a good answer for the question: what goal is being met by feeding? More sugar this time of year puts the accelerator on the hive population - if it rises faster than they can build more comb for storing nectar, resulting in them reducing the queen's open cells for laying, then they will just swarm. if you are planning a split, or feel the numbers are low (looking down right upon opening, you see only 1/2 the visible frames covered, is an example of relatively low numbers), then feed until you get to 2 full boxes of bees. You just don't want to get there too fast!

We get into a mindset that we want to take care of the bees... but we can make their lives (and ours) harder come early summer if they got a "nectar flow" message too early and then swarm early in the summer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ok- I get that.. makes sense- but I've had several much more experienced (than me) folks tell me I should be giving some syrup now to boost their numbers. But like you say, if the frames get filled with syrup nectar then Q runs out of room. To your point, last year when I started I WAY overfed, both in spring and in fall. And.. they swarmed in summer and fall. I guess it's a really fine balance between supply and demand. And, perhaps that sense just comes with experience. I'm opening my other hive tomorrow so I'll try to get an idea of #frames honey: brood.

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Somewhat concur with Trish,
If the bees are way low on stores then you would want to feed. with 8 deep frames and 8 super frames of bees, I would think 1 full deep frame of honey (or 2 at 1/2 3 at 1/3 etc) would be enough to get to when the nectar is comeing in. with the sugar board on you also have some rainy day feeding that can happen in a poor weather spell. I would pull the sugar board off when the dandelions bloom, at that point they will start filling cells with nectar. Feeding is something folks either do or do not do, has less to do with experience. My self I do not even have a feeder. If you want to have an early spring build up for splits or grafting then the feed is an early stimulation for brood rearing. However early expansion can lead to swarming. :) If your "plan " was to do a split in 3 or 4 weeks then some 1:1 and a pollen patty would make sense. You stated pollen is comeing already, in so the real thing is better. with a frame or 2 of honey you sound in good shape. I would look into "pyramiding", and "opening the brood" nest as a couple topics to help with swarming issues. I try to have a super of combs on for the dandelions, to keep the honey out of the brood nest. If you only have foundation or foundation less frames to add , then take the first 2 combs off each side of the "super" you stated you have on now , shake the bees off, place new frames in the occupied super and the drawn, partially filled in the center of the 2nd super, adding new to the outsides of the 2nd super as well. place the new 2nd on top. Give them 3 weeks or so then go in and put all the frames back to where they started at. Shake the new frames, and place your excluder if you use one between the original wintered super (or what ever the top or 3rd box is) and the 2nd one . most of the frames should have been started. be a good time to move the original super back to the top if you like it there. If many of the new frames have honey a 3rd super may be needed soon after. then you are off to the races. With your super in the middle as it is now I somewhat described opening the brood nest. if you extract, and the 4 old frames do not have "feed/syrup " in them then the second step of putting them back is optional. You basically are placing 4 emptys at the side of the brood nest to be drawn, and 4 drawn combs up in the first super of the year to draw the bees up to start working the 2nd super. once they are started then the frames can go back, can,, no hard and fast they can stay as well. If you extract and have lots of comb then this would only be swarm prevention. I am somewhat presuming you do not have several supers of comb. sorry if you do, I am then being somewhat redundant. As I super 3rd 4th etc. I take the outside 2 (partially built) from each side and move them up, and center them, from the end view somewhat a pyramid shape of worked comb. 3 boxes from the top would be 4,6,10 of built comb centered. The bees at times will not readily move up if you have foundation or foundation less, drawn comb has less of this feature. At a deep and a 1/2 of bees today, you would want to have 4 supers ready at a minimum. I often run out so I am trying to give you time to get prepared. In July when they are in the flow they can fill the 3rd one or 4th one in 7 to 10 days. the lots of bees line crosses the lots of nectar line. In the pic. The hive I am standing next to was a package, grew to 2 deeps 1 medium, and 5 supers in one season. And yes I was up all night building supers. :) good luck , have fun
GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for that really helpful reply. Ok- that's the thing-- I DON'T want splits until later in season for purpose of swarm prevention and then plan to recombine late fall. Last year (my first season) some local folks with much bigger setups kept telling me that the mantra is "make splits"-- but I actually don't want a backyard filled with hives. I just really want my 2 hives and use splits for buffer when needed. So- no- I don't want to fuel them hard now, so I think I'll sit tight on feeding now and just let them do their thing.

I'm not sure I follow everything above re. details of the frame movement/swapping etc- but I get the concept I think.

Again, thanks for the help all.

Brad
 

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SWARMING ITS CONTROL AND PREVENTION, by L. E. Snelgrove (free PDF. download)

I am using this method for the first time this year, so I can't swear by it. I can tell you the bees don't like it. The entire colony has to be dismantled and rebuilt. The bees in the top box perceive themselves as Queen-less and act accordingly.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this in an urban setting. I suppose it would depend on the temperament of your bees and neighbors.

Alex
 

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thanks for that really helpful reply. Ok- that's the thing-- I DON'T want splits until later in season for purpose of swarm prevention and then plan to recombine late fall. Last year (my first season) some local folks with much bigger setups kept telling me that the mantra is "make splits"-- but I actually don't want a backyard filled with hives. I just really want my 2 hives and use splits for buffer when needed. So- no- I don't want to fuel them hard now, so I think I'll sit tight on feeding now and just let them do their thing.

I'm not sure I follow everything above re. details of the frame movement/swapping etc- but I get the concept I think.

Again, thanks for the help all.

Brad
Hi Brad,
The "split" is the way most folks build up hive count, at 10-15 hives it is common to loose at least 1 or 2. The big strong healthy ones are the ones to split /propagate for husbandry reasons. the "Split" takes the wind out of the swarm impulse, as well, allowing both halves to be in your yard as apposed to one 1/2 flying off, often your "best" queen flys off as she was able to build the fastest. the fly back split would keep her in your yard and pull the field bees out of the swarm equation. to swarm the bees need 4 things Queen, brood, lots of bees , lots of stores. the fly back split puts the brood and stores on one stand and the queen and the field bees on the other. The split also offers a brood break to 1 half while the new queen hatches. the brood break helps with Varoa cycles. IF you did a split, you could evaluate the new queen and choose the better of the 2, dispatch one and recombine. Having a new queen for winter has better odds of surviving the winter. So the split recommendations are being made as to have options. re queen, propagate the strong, brood break , swarm prevention, increase.. If you need none of those then you are somewhat lucky and just need to go for a good crop. You could also consider another yard somewhere on a family members farm or something. or build a NUC or 2 and sell them to someone to recoup some costs.
 
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