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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Maine Bee keeps etc.

Ongoing Conversion Question: Any advice about moving bees up from bottom deeps to the upper mediums?

I have been following Michael Bush's approach to go to lighter equipment so I took one of my colonies in the early spring that was a deep Langstroth configuration but with naturally pulled comb, and moved the queen up to mediums placed above a queen excluder that was placed over the deeps. Things have been well with the colony all summer. Only problem I have with this approach is that I am 5'2" and the hive is like 6'2". This has made it inconvenient to check for progress. But those bees are doing well to the best of my knowledge. The current configuration is (from bottom up) 2 deep, queen excluder, 4 mediums. The bees are still in the bottom deeps. I believe Michael mentioned the bees will move the honey up and they will move up into the mediums as the weather chills but I am not certain of this. I do wish of course to remove the bottom deeps and queen excluder before it gets too cold.

My Early Autumn report:

Things continue to go well with my colonies. My mite counts are still low and so far this summer I have only run into one problem that is threatening my bee colonies. I had my original hive, (the original strain of what appear to be resistant bees) went through supersedure successfully but it was during the crazy heavy rains we had so I think the new queen never mated properly. The colony went to laying workers. The numbers are good in the hive with (yes) too many drones but still a strong colony in numbers, so I am placing frames with open brood from other colonies and crossing my fingers that they will be able to produce a mated laying queen before it get too cold here in Brunswick. Life is never dull with the bees.

Thank you and I do hope everyone keeping bees naturally have experienced some fun and had success this summer.

Marcy
 

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I would personally remove your queen excluder. I seem to have better luck without it. The queen will lay where nature tells her to, the bees know best.

Just my .02c!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would personally remove your queen excluder. I seem to have better luck without it. The queen will lay where nature tells her to, the bees know best.

Just my .02c!

Thank you and I do agree. But the purpose of this is to convert a deep colony over to one that is housed on medium boxes. The queen is currently up in the mediums and has been there for months, so the only question is how to get the worker bees to stop using the bottom 2 deeps which the queen is excluded from.

Marcy
 

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Hi Marcy,
I have a question.
When you put the queen up over the excluder, did you check under the excluder a week later? And have you checked under it much lately? I'm asking, because it might be possible for the bees and brood left under the excluder to make themselves a queen down there. It is possible you have 2 queens, one up above and one down below the excluder, if you've not been keeping an eye on them. If there is no queen or brood down under the excluder, then they should get those boxes emptied out by spring at the latest, but hopefully by the end of October. As the night time temps start falling in the fall, they start concentrating more on moving honey up over the brood for winter storage.
 

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Hi Marcy,

I've not had to deal with your scenario precisely, but here is what I would do at this point. Temporarily you'll have an even taller stack.

day 1 - remove the two deep supers shaking any bees inside into the medium boxes and remove the QE.
day 3-5 - place an empty box on top of the inner cover and the two deeps on top of that. Place outer cover on top of deeps.

What should happen is that the bees will not perceive the deeps as part of their hive and remove any stored pollen/honey and put it in the mediums. The bees should clean out the deeps in a week or less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Marcy,
I have a question.
When you put the queen up over the excluder, did you check under the excluder a week later? And have you checked under it much lately? I'm asking, because it might be possible for the bees and brood left under the excluder to make themselves a queen down there. It is possible you have 2 queens, one up above and one down below the excluder, if you've not been keeping an eye on them. If there is no queen or brood down under the excluder, then they should get those boxes emptied out by spring at the latest, but hopefully by the end of October. As the night time temps start falling in the fall, they start concentrating more on moving honey up over the brood for winter storage.
Hi Ray

I did check to see if there was brood and a queen down there about 3 weeks after placing mediums and the queen up top. I was sorry to see none as as I would have done another split. I checked one more time later but not since oh I am guessing late June/early July. And yes I am thinking the temperature would likley cause them to move the honey up.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Andrew

As usual your thinking cap is larger than mine :) I bet that would work.. I will in the process double check for queens and brood in the deeps of course. Now I have one question and an observation.... How do you keep such a contraption from falling over and do you know how silly a leaning tower of bees looks at in my field??? LOL

Hope your beekeeping this summer has been rewarding Andrew.

Best
Marcy

PS also hope Michael Bush does stop by here as I would love to have his opinion. The process was simple to this point but a bit of a pain when you consider doing this to all of the colonies.
 

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Hi Marcy,

The stack won't be as tall as many in big honey producing parts of the country. If that doesn't set your mind at ease you can always pass a ratchet or lashing strap around the cover and the hive stand. I fairly routinely have lashing straps on mine but have them go under the bottom board and the outer cover - skipping the attaching to the hive stand bit, My logic is that I want the hive to stay together and if a bear gets in and tries to do some damage I'd rather have him/her have a toy to play with instead of an obstacle to over come.

And yes I imagine it might look silly. How close to the coast are you? Do we need to be hyper concerned about wind? And there was some AFB reported down your way this summer - any impact on you?

Regards,

Andrew
 

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A few thoughts. A hive taller than you is daunting, now I'm older and less fit I find that myself. However it could be the top box or two does not have much honey, you could prise them up & check, they may be easier to get off than you thought & then be able to do a full inspection.

3 weeks is not enough time for them to have raised a queen if they chose to do that, but if it's been 6 weeks or more since you placed the excluder and there is still no queen below then there will not be one.

A slight aside, the deep frames can still be used if you want to go medium. Just remove all bees and (preferably) take the combs home to your workshop. Using a saw cut the bottom off the combs to make them medium depth. If they are wood frames re-nail a bottom bar on, if they are plastic just saw the bottom piece off and leave it at that.

Likewise the supers can be cut down also.
 

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A few thoughts. A hive taller than you is daunting, now I'm older and less fit I find that myself. However it could be the top box or two does not have much honey, you could prise them up & check, they may be easier to get off than you thought & then be able to do a full inspection.

3 weeks is not enough time for them to have raised a queen if they chose to do that, but if it's been 6 weeks or more since you placed the excluder and there is still no queen below then there will not be one.

A slight aside, the deep frames can still be used if you want to go medium. Just remove all bees and (preferably) take the combs home to your workshop. Using a saw cut the bottom off the combs to make them medium depth. If they are wood frames re-nail a bottom bar on, if they are plastic just saw the bottom piece off and leave it at that.

Likewise the supers can be cut down also.
Now there' a bit of Kiwi inge......ingenui......cleverness!:lpf:
 

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Now there' a bit of Kiwi inge......ingenui......cleverness!:lpf:
I have been cutting my boxes and frames down for awhile now......I thought it was just anyone with half a brain could figure it
out.....I'm proof! If you do not plan to extract, there is no need for a bottom on the wood frame either.
 

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>I took one of my colonies in the early spring that was a deep Langstroth configuration but with naturally pulled comb, and moved the queen up to mediums placed above a queen excluder that was placed over the deeps.

In my expereince a queen over the excluder with no brood is often abandonce completely. With open brood on both sides of the exlcuder, they almost always raise a queen on the other side of the excluder. But if you remove those combs three weeks after you put the excluder in you'll still have them mostly free of brood (a few drones might be left to emerge) and you can pull them with no big sacrifice on the part of the bees. Odds are (assuming you remove the excluder before winter sets in) they will move up by spring anyway and the bottom box will be empty come March or April. You can pull it on a warm day if there are no bees in it.
 

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Thanks Marcy, for asking this question, and lovely gurus for your answers.

I got my first two nucs at the beginning of June. Late, I know, but that was when my northern-raised, open-mated, TF bugs were ready after our long winter. They came on deeps. Feeling unequal to the task of switching them out of the gate as a newbeek, I plan to do this next spring.

Thanks for the help, gang!
 
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