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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been doing more testing with Opening the Sides of the Broodnest with three of my hives that each overwintered in a single 10 frame deep.

First year beekeepers usually don't have spare drawn comb, so this appears to be working well in getting comb drawn before swarm season.

Swarm season has started here, my wife saw one fly past at her friends place yesterday. But my hives are still in expansion mode.


Opening the sides of the brood nest:

Essentially it involves two steps.

1. Move both outside frames up into a new box (make sure there are no eggs or brood) with a new frame inbetween them.

2. Insert a new frame inbetween the outside of the brood nest frames and frames of honey/nectar/pollen. On both sides.


More detail:

When daily maximum temperatures start getting to 15°C /59°F (After cherries have flowered) go into the hive and move the two outside frames up into a new box in the centre. I've found that a new frame in between these two drawn frames works well (make sure there are no eggs in these frames.) Then find the outside edge of the brood nest. Insert a new frame on each side the outer edge of the brood nest.

So the bees now have three new frames that they will work on. The new frames I use only have a strip of foundation. This is because an empty space encourages comb building much more than a sheet of foundation.

Before
HHBBBBBHHH

After
EEEHEHEEEE
HEBBBBBEHH

Give them about 3 weeks, at most 4 weeks to draw these out.

Then go into the hive and again move the outside frames into the top box. Then find the outside of the brood nest (The queen may have now laid eggs in the top box as well.) Insert new frames on the outside edges of the brood nest (in both boxes.) You can now effectively checkerboard the frames that are only nectar/honey. The new frames will be drawn out over the next few weeks.

Before
EEENBNEEEE
HBBBBBBBHH

After
HENEBENEHE
EBBBBBBBEH

But if I waited longer the hives were more like this, so I put on another super:

Before
ENNBBBNNEE
NBBBBBBBNH

After
EEENENEEEE
NNEBBBENNE
EBBBBBBBEH


So you can repeat again putting frames into a super (assuming you use all the same size frames.) They should now have a number of frames that only contain mostly nectar. You can just move a few of these up into the super. Always move at least 2 frames up into a new box with a new frame inbetween them.

E - Empty New Frame
B - Mostly Brood
H - Mostly Honey
N - Mostly Nectar

My area has a fairly slow spring buildup, so it may not work as effectively if you have a fast buildup.
 

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Matthew, I want to try and point out some distinctions I have noticed. I always get stuck on your 4 weeks wait after the first manipulation. I realize it may be very true for you and that you have a slower build up. I have seen much faster results with pretty much the same process. I have a couple of thoughts on what might influence that.

I start with a 5 frame nuc. But one of the things I make sure of is that the 5 frame nuc is very strong. threatening to swarm strong. I have read and believe I have seen for myself that the addition of empty space can be over done. resulting what I call demoralizing the bees. Demoralization can be recognized by lack luster drawing of comb. I believe you may be seeing eh difference for yourself in the examples above where you say you leave the bees a little longer and return to find two full boxes drawn.

What do you find two boxes of bees are able to do when you add the third box? is there an improvement in there rate of drawing comb?

Since I work with 5 strong frames of bees being added to a 10 frame box I start with this

EEEHBBBHEE

Not so much for you but for others. It was almost immediately apparent to me that regardless of all those empty frames. the bees did not recognize anything beyond those outside frames of honey as there hive. They may at best start drawing a small shallow area of comb on the side of the empty frame facing the honey frames. and they would do that very slowly. So I now place the frames in the 10 frame box like this.

EEHEBBBEHE

I want to make another point I observed here. notice the brood nest is favored to one side of the hive. I think this makes a difference. I noticed in all my hive last spring that during early build up they favor one side to another. certainly in regard to East and West. By observing full size hives I am able to determine which direction to favor for the nuc. Last spring it was to the East.

I also find the bees need only a week to draw out these two new frames. They will only be partially drawn but I will often find brood in them in a matter of days. In one week it is common for me to find.

ESHBBBBBHS

In the above S equals a frame they have started drawing comb on. At this point I arrange the frames as

HSEBBBBBSH

I have been criticized for this last manipulation because some think I just separated the brood from the honey. Since I have seen the bees do this themselves it does not concern me. as well as the fact that each frame of brood contains it's own supply of honey and pollen.

Those two fraems to the West side of the hive are always the last to be drawn and they seem to be lethargic about it. SO in another week I typically will find.

HBSBBBBBBH

That last S frame can be almost anything from just slightly drawn cob to partially drawn with some brood in it. the bees will often fill it with nectar. So depending on what the bees do with it I will either leave it on the following week or or move it outward toward the honey frame.

Also it is at this time I consider this box 80% filled which is my requirement before adding any other boxes. I then add a box on top but it is a med depth. This is where I run into trouble with the moving up. Since I do have some drawn fraems i am able to place two drawn fraems with an empty frame between them in the center just as you describe. again paying attention to which side of the hive the bees tend to favor.

In this case I would have
EEEEDEDEEE
HBSBBBBBBH

D equals drawn empty frame. I know I break the rules. Otherwise I would stick with deeps and move up the honey frames as you describe. With this escweption or at least care taken in this detail.

EEEEHEHEEE The same
HEBBBBBBEH Notice empty fraems had to be added to lower box. place them inside next to brood nest. It does not matter that once again you separated brood from stores. the bees will do it themselves. You may find in fact somewhere in all this the bees split the lower brood nest.

This results in very short order I get
HEESBBBSEH
HBBBBBBBBH
Notice the bees have now started to define their hive footprint to the outside of the box as they move up. I notice they do this on their own. they now have the lower box to help guide this recognition is the best i can figure it. The expansion is still primarily from the center outward. Also at this point most frames are in some sort of condition of only partially drawn partially used and what they contain will be very random. The brood nest will still be mostly in the center. It is also common to now find the bottom box is actually brood from wall to wall. With only the outside faces of the outer frames containing honey.


At this point I am about 4 to 5 weeks into expansion By week 6 or 7 they will be ready for the next box. What the two boxes look like becomes even more random and specific to each colony. Btu In all cases the brood nest has moved up. pollen is starting to be stored below it honey over it and it has transformed into what I consider a colony. no longer a nuc. It is now ready and capable of production to a small degree.

It is complex now because the bees start arranging thing. but brood frames can become honey and visa versa over the nest 3 to 4 weeks. but typically I will be able to make the next box added as you have describe above. a full checkerboarding of frames with honey. I do not like to move any brood up to the third box. So depending on just how much honey is being stored I may do a full checkerboard or some slight modification of the center out side expansion again. By this time the hive should be clamoring to swarm.

So far I have done this with 3 nucs with consistent results. it is also the model that I use although modified to the swarm to expand 12 swarms. One I sold as a full size hive 30 days after capture.

I will have 11 nucs next spring provided they all survive and am very interested in continuing to track results of this build up method.
 

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I am interested to know if anyone has used follower boards (in Langs) as a means of reducing the cavity-size during the early stages of this kind of manipulation. I observed the "discouragement" noted above when there's too much extra space on the edges. When I added boards, and removed some ignored and surplus empty outer frames, the pace of comb-building seemed to pick up. (Many other variables may have been in effect at that particular point, as well, of course.) Naturally if you're reducing the cavity intentionally one has to stay on top of the hive's expansion lest you inadvertently promote swarming due to overcrowding.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What is your typical time interval between manipulations?

Crazy Roland
I've been going in about every 4 weeks. Each time I found that they had drawn out more comb than I had expected. So Daniel is correct in that it could be done more often.

Every 3 weeks may be a better number, but if you have a faster buildup it could even be every 2 weeks.

Either way you should be able to have a full box of deep frames drawn before swarm season.
 

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Very enlighting. So you are watching for daily temperatures to hit the 59 degree range before starting this. Do you think this is about the same everywhere for bees to start building (assuming food and supplies are available.).
 

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I usually do similar manipulations but not to this detail. The difference is I took a honey frames from the outsides but slid the other frames over one space and added foundation comb in the very center of the brood nest. Is adding them between brood and honey better?
 

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Try 14 days instead. You can keep a better eye out for queen cells. We manipulate frames alot, and find that 14 days sets up a different brood turnover. We are using only one deep, then an excluder, and have gone so far as to alternate foundation and brood in the bottom box.

Crazy Roland
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So you are watching for daily temperatures to hit the 59 degree range before starting this. Do you think this is about the same everywhere for bees to start building (assuming food and supplies are available.).
The temperature is a guide to when you can go into the hive. It's when the bees are able to forage every day and fruit trees are flowering. But it's also the stage that the hive is at that is just as important. With a 10 frame deep box, I'm looking for at least 5-6 frames of brood and at least 3 frames with a decent amount of capped honey. If they don't have a good amount of stores, you are just going to stress them and if bad weather sets in, even cause starvation because they will use up the honey making wax. If they don't have that you should wait. Also, as Daniel said, (thanks Daniel for the detailed response) the hive should look full, with bees covering all frames. Look at the weather forecast for the next week. A few days of good weather will enable them to forage and get more stores in, whilst the wax makers get busy.

With different overwintering configurations you have different conditions to look for. In general I would say 2/3 brood, 1/3 honey.

5 frame Nuc - 3 frames with brood, 2 with honey
8 frame (double) Nuc - 5 frames with brood, 3 with honey
10 frame deep - 6 frames with brood, 3-4 with honey
Double deep - several frames with brood, 4 or more with honey

I believe this could be applied in many environments, that have winter temperatures below 13°C/55°F (this or below bees will cluster.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I am intentionally not moving frames with brood on them, or inserting new frames between brood for two reasons. Avoiding queen cells being built and avoiding chilling of brood.

I've found, as Roland stated, that Opening the Broodnest can unintentionally cause queen cells to be built.

This is because a group of Nurse Bees can become isolated from the Queen because of the empty frame inbetween them. Even if it's for a few hours, it causes them to start building emergency queen cells/supersedure queen cells because of the reduced queen pheromone they experience.

Inserting new frames also forces the bees to have to cover a larger area in order to heat the Broodnest. So if bad weather sets in you can have chilled brood.
 

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Very enlighting. So you are watching for daily temperatures to hit the 59 degree range before starting this. Do you think this is about the same everywhere for bees to start building (assuming food and supplies are available.).
I can't say for everywhere. I have lived in enough places to know that cold in Kansas or Missouri is not the same thing as cold here in Nevada.

I can say this. Last spring my bees where under way when outside temps where still in the 40's low 50's But we have bright sun every day so hives woudl be much warmer on the inside. A bright sunny day in Kansas woudl still be bitter cold high humidity sucking any warm out of the air and probably windy enough to cancel out any solar gain.

Basically 40 that feels 40 probably means 40. but we can get 40 that feels like 55 if you stand in the sun.
 

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I usually do similar manipulations but not to this detail. The difference is I took a honey frames from the outsides but slid the other frames over one space and added foundation comb in the very center of the brood nest. Is adding them between brood and honey better?

I have been told not to split the brood nest. I have also seen the bees do it themselves. I tend to listen to the bees. I will say that for me if I place the empty foundation next to the brood nest I am more likely to see brood laid in it. the queen will actually be laying eggs in the comb as it is getting drawn. If I place a frame in the brood nest it is often filled with nectar.

It has seemed to me that the bees do have a definite reaction to the placement of the frame. I describe it as the bees hate an empty space in their nest. and they will fill it with a vengeance. So much so that I am cautious about just how far I push it. I fell I could disrupt the entire hive. I believe they would starve themselves to get that space filled. Due to this I carefully monitor the stores during this time. You want to see a honey build up. it may only be slight but you want confirmation that they have what they need to work plus some.
 

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I've put empties in the brood nest and had them laying eggs 3 days later. Also had them leave it untouched and move to one side or the other and abandon the other side.

I believe it was camero7 who said it when it sunk into my head; feeding pollen sub makes wax when you would not expect it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Purpose:

A method for new beekeepers who don't have any spare empty comb coming into spring. To get at least a full deep box of comb built before swarm season, to help reduce swarming and to get a honey crop.


Objectives:

1. Develop wax makers well before swarm season.

2. Maintain wax making throughout swarm season and well into the main flow.


Main points:

  • Does not touch the broodnest, so it doesn't force bees to cover a larger area than they are able to cover.
  • The bees still have direct access to the frames that were beside the brood nest, but now they are above instead. Not a problem, when heat rises.
  • The bees can build the comb in their own time, but the empty space gives them an incentive to build comb.
  • Develops comb building before swarm season, which helps to reduce swarming. Due to extra comb for nectar storage and using up of nectar to make wax.
  • Enlarges the size of the brood nest when the bees would usually be reducing it by backfilling, because the queen lays in empty comb as it is being built.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here is a example of a new frame of comb being drawn out:



As you can see it is mainly worker cells and there are several cells already with pollen in them. It's hard to see with the quality of this photo, but it looks like there are a few patches of very young larvae in the middle section. (The cells look cloudy in the bottom and there are groups of bees on them.)

This was a new frame on the edge of the new box that was added on top of an overwintered brood box. It had brood in the frame next to it.

Below is a frame from closer to the middle of the new box. It was one of the first frames drawn out, so it has more drone cells on it.



 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just a note on Pollen.

It seems that all frames that have EVER had brood in them get a good deal of pollen in them. (With my bees anyway.) Even old brood frames moved up into a super get pollen stored in them. (I use both bottom and top entrances, not sure if that has an effect.)

At the time of year I do these manipulations (early spring) there is a lot of pollen coming in.

Also, all frames in the brood box have had brood in them at one stage. This is because of moving the outside frames up until the whole brood box is filled with brood frames. So by default they have a good amount of pollen in them going into winter.

So any frames moved up into a new box, also have a good amount of pollen on them.

 

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Going back to why you guys add frames to the side of nest instead of center: Would sides not encourage drone comb vs center all worker. Is this an effect of timing with flow?
 
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