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Gave up on it.
If you are foundation-less - I say forget that notching thing - waste of time.
The bees will do what they want, where they want it, and however they want it done.

Heck, once they chewed from the opposite comb side and released a queen from under the cage (took me a while to figure this one out).
So the natural comb (especially fresh comb) has not much of a stopping power from the bees.

If you are on plastic foundation (exactly what Mel D. does - just watch is pics/videos) - then maybe.
The plastic really messes the bees up, IMO.
Bees can not chew through the plastic and so have to resort to life hacks, aka "notches".
 

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Discussion Starter #102
If you are foundation-less - I say forget that notching thing - waste of time.
The bees will do what they want, where they want it, and however they want it done.

Heck, once they chewed from the opposite comb side and released a queen from under the cage (took me a while to figure this one out).
So the natural comb (especially fresh comb) has not much of a stopping power from the bees.

If you are on plastic foundation (exactly what Mel D. does - just watch is pics/videos) - then maybe.
The plastic really messes the bees up, IMO.
Bees can not chew through the plastic and so have to resort to life hacks, aka "notches".
I use plastic foundation in all of my brood frames and plastic foundation in my extracted honey frames and foundationless in my cut comb honey production. I don't believe you understand the purpose and technique for notching that Mel uses for Nuc production. It's done to produce queen cells on 3 or 4 frames so that he can put those frames in Nucs. If done right it produces a very nice spread of queen cells that can be divided up into Nucs. I've seen no indication that plastic foundation coated with wax messes up bees. If it did then there's a lot of messed up hives in this country.
Bees draw supercedure cells in the middle of the comb all the time. Notching just helps them build a better queen cell.
Notching is just part of my overall scheme.
Have a good day
Jerry
 

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I use plastic foundation in all of my brood frames and plastic foundation in my extracted honey frames and foundationless in my cut comb honey production. I don't believe you understand the purpose and technique for notching that Mel uses for Nuc production. It's done to produce queen cells on 3 or 4 frames so that he can put those frames in Nucs. If done right it produces a very nice spread of queen cells that can be divided up into Nucs. I've seen no indication that plastic foundation coated with wax messes up bees. If it did then there's a lot of messed up hives in this country.
Bees draw supercedure cells in the middle of the comb all the time. Notching just helps them build a better queen cell.
Notching is just part of my overall scheme.
Have a good day
Jerry
so just to toss a few comments in here.
notching has a couple purposes.
main one is to get queens started on several frames for better "frame" splitting, IE just split using frames.
Second is that for E queens the bees would "either" chew away the cells and start the queen from a cup they build around the egg OR float the larvae out on a pool of RJ and make it outside the current cell structure. If you have new white combs, (Alley and Miller methods) then the chewing is easy, the best use is on older comb with a lot of cocoons.
The process is that when the bees fix the broken area and find they are queen less they then just make a couple there.

there is not really any stuff in the notching, it is mostly in the timing of what you do and forcing the brood breaks.
the actual notching is to "place" the cells where you want , and to break down the old comb/cocoons.
one could use the timing protocols and do walk away, as well for example.

As well IMO the "Mel OTS" is a treatment and one could just as well do a dribble or VAP so just depends on personal preference.
I am glad to have this tactic in the tool box, so many folks can use it if needed.
As far as its effect on honey production, I do not see any reason One could not re-combine 2 small into 1 normal size dispatching the poorer Queen or use a 2 queen hive, for the production, or super NUCs.

GG
 

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I use plastic foundation in all of my brood frames and plastic foundation in my extracted honey frames and foundationless in my cut comb honey production. I don't believe you understand the purpose and technique for notching that Mel uses for Nuc production
And that is exactly my point, again - you use plastic foundation.
I don't.
Many others don't use plastic either - and that undermines the purpose and the technique of the notching (bad or good).

Notching on foundation-less frames does not work well (if at all) as bees will ignore your notches (no matter how beautiful your notches will be and how ideally spaced they will be).
They might use some of the notches, but more readily they will produce the QCs in the spots of their choice (not your choice). Besides, notching without hard plastic foundation backing is technically hard to do (nearly impossible on fresh combs).
:)

PS: but the mitigation of the foundation-less issue is available - you simply cut the chunks of the comb with the QCs and distribute them anywhere you wish (because you can) - with plastic foundation nearly impossible to do without damaging the QCs.
 

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How did your hives fare this year? What configuration did you settle on for summer and fall?
Jerry:

My apologies for the delay- I've been away from the computer. It sounds like you've got a good plan for 2021, with plenty of opportunity to yield a dividend for your investment of sweat equity.

I could take a lesson from you on setting reasonable goals... I feel like I spent most of the past year in reaction mode scrambling to put out the hottest fires.

As it is, most of the colonies set-up shop in the very top box at the first onset of cool weather and so most are comprised of three (3) 8-frame Illinois hive bodies as follows (from bottom up):

#1 - Mostly empty with some stored pollen and open nectar.

#2- Mostly full with a mix of open and closed nectar.

#3- Mostly full and mostly capped. 23 of 25 colonies have set-up shop in this box.

We'll see what Spring brings but I currently have two colonies in this number that are on life support at present.

I'll look forward to talking bees with you this Winter. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Russ

p.s. I reread your reply and decided that maybe I didn't answer the question you were asking... I ended up retaining 1" diameter upper entrances and 1" insulation above the inner cover as the Winter set-up. I intend to experiment with closing-off the upper entrance in conjunction with moving the broodnest down early in the Spring build-up to see if this impels the colonies to set-up their nest in a more conventional manner. It seems based on my experience that the only two things upper entrances (might) be good for are:

1. Allowing for cleansing flights during marginal weather days.
2. Potentially assisting with condensation control once brood rearing begins in earnest.
 

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notching has a couple purposes.
I would argue the main purpose was (and it fails at it ) to direct the bees to raise cells on proper aged larva as that is the #1 factor in raising quality queens
: On-the-spot queen rearing utilizes simple techniques as explained in my booklet I.M.N. System of Queen Rearing to direct colonies to rear queen cells anywhere on any frame where there is a 36-hour-or-younger larva
https://www.mdasplitter.com/docs/FrequentlyAskedQuestions.pdf

I find it absolutely amazing how little scrutiny Mels claims/concepts have been put under... I guess there is no $$ in proving or disproving it
 

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Discussion Starter #107
Jerry:

My apologies for the delay- I've been away from the computer. It sounds like you've got a good plan for 2021, with plenty of opportunity to yield a dividend for your investment of sweat equity.

I could take a lesson from you on setting reasonable goals... I feel like I spent most of the past year in reaction mode scrambling to put out the hottest fires.

As it is, most of the colonies set-up shop in the very top box at the first onset of cool weather and so most are comprised of three (3) 8-frame Illinois hive bodies as follows (from bottom up):

#1 - Mostly empty with some stored pollen and open nectar.

#2- Mostly full with a mix of open and closed nectar.

#3- Mostly full and mostly capped. 23 of 25 colonies have set-up shop in this box.

We'll see what Spring brings but I currently have two colonies in this number that are on life support at present.

I'll look forward to talking bees with you this Winter. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Russ

p.s. I reread your reply and decided that maybe I didn't answer the question you were asking... I ended up retaining 1" diameter upper entrances and 1" insulation above the inner cover as the Winter set-up. I intend to experiment with closing-off the upper entrance in conjunction with moving the broodnest down early in the Spring build-up to see if this impels the colonies to set-up their nest in a more conventional manner. It seems based on my experience that the only two things upper entrances (might) be good for are:

1. Allowing for cleansing flights during marginal weather days.
2. Potentially assisting with condensation control once brood rearing begins in earnest.
Russ I agree with your assessment that upper entrances might assist with spring brood rearing but the effects an upper entrance during cold winters can be detrimental. These ideas coincides with Randy Olivers ideas in scientific beekeeping- The Winter, and Hive Design. The idea of having an upper entrance for cleansing flights during warm spells is something the bees seem to need. But the escape of warm air out an upper entrance instead of rotatating down the sidewalls is it's contrary to what the bees are trying to accomplish - Using the least amount of feed to keep the cluster warm and continuing to perform the necessary winter activities. The problem with just a bottom entrance only is it's a long ways down an it has the potential to become clogged with dead bees.
I've compromised .When I put my med.-deep-med. configurations together last spring and summer I spent a lot of time mulling (maybe anguishing) over entrance placement and went with 1 3/4 inch hole at the top of the bottom med. So far the bees seem to love them. No robbing this fall and now during this cold weather the bees were quick to get out for cleansing flights during warm spells. This entrance placement closely resembles the natural entrance to a hive in a tree. The entrance is close to the brood nest but not so high that you have heat loss during the winter.
Time will tell and I'm excited to what march and april will bring. I will be rotating the pollen box with the top med. as my first move when weather permits.
33 of 33 still going. First real winter this week. 15 degrees this morning
Have a good day!
Jerry
 

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Russ I agree with your assessment that upper entrances might assist with spring brood rearing but the effects an upper entrance during cold winters can be detrimental.
Jerry: It is interesting to read about your experience and also your commentary regarding Mr. Randy Oliver's input. There is a hearty debate currently underway over at Bee-L concerning upper entrances and it has been interesting to read the opinion of several experienced beekeepers and researchers (including Randy) regarding the relative advantages and disadvantages of upper entrances. After reading all of it, I am left to conclude that, 'it depends'...

First real winter this week. 15 degrees this morning
Same here- reminds me that beekeeping is a regional exercise. While we are starting to hunker down, our low last night was a balmy 24 degrees 🥶.

Let's keep the esoteric conversation going this Winter- a good time to let some ideas stew before considering how they might fit in our respective operations.
 

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Discussion Starter #109
Jerry: It is interesting to read about your experience and also your commentary regarding Mr. Randy Oliver's input. There is a hearty debate currently underway over at Bee-L concerning upper entrances and it has been interesting to read the opinion of several experienced beekeepers and researchers (including Randy) regarding the relative advantages and disadvantages of upper entrances. After reading all of it, I am left to conclude that, 'it depends'...



Same here- reminds me that beekeeping is a regional exercise. While we are starting to hunker down, our low last night was a balmy 24 degrees 🥶.

Let's keep the esoteric conversation going this Winter- a good time to let some ideas stew before considering how they might fit in our respective operations.
I'm looking forward to hearing from other beekeepers who are using alternative hive openings. There are people out there that are using just tops. Michael Bush comes to mind - with just a top and no bottom. That would eliminate the cold air stove pipe effect.
This is my own experiment after years of mediocre wintering percentages. I'm seeing what I'd hoped to see so far.
One of the things that I believe will be a real aid in this closed hive system is having the hive closed and not opened after the heavy Oct. feedings. Give the bees time to seal all the air leaks and don't reopen until you need to - if they get light or March arrives.
 

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Discussion Starter #110
Hello everyone. Hope the winter is being kind. A few inches of snow here but there's a lot more to the south of us.
Bees are doing some house cleaning here during warmer spells and the group as a whole seems to be in pretty good shape. The real test will be if the cold they're predicting for the end of the month comes through.
I'm in the process of building some more Nucs this winter. I'm going to use a couple of them for drone colonies. I'm going to start building a couple of drone colonies with new genetics (boughten queens) every year to add diversity to my apiary. There aren't a lot of other beekeepers in my area and I'm hoping putting some beneficial traits into my whole collection will have a positive effect through the years.
One of the reasons why I think this could benefit me more than some beekeepers who tend to hang on to their queens for as many years as possible is my hives all get a fresh newly mated queen every year in May or July after a brood break.
If anyone has any experience putting drone colonies in their mating or Nuc yards - I'd love to hear about the challenges of keeping these colonies putting out drones for the season.
Keep them bees buzzing!
Jerry
 

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Hello everyone. Hope the winter is being kind. A few inches of snow here but there's a lot more to the south of us.
Bees are doing some house cleaning here during warmer spells and the group as a whole seems to be in pretty good shape. The real test will be if the cold they're predicting for the end of the month comes through.
I'm in the process of building some more Nucs this winter. I'm going to use a couple of them for drone colonies. I'm going to start building a couple of drone colonies with new genetics (boughten queens) every year to add diversity to my apiary. There aren't a lot of other beekeepers in my area and I'm hoping putting some beneficial traits into my whole collection will have a positive effect through the years.
One of the reasons why I think this could benefit me more than some beekeepers who tend to hang on to their queens for as many years as possible is my hives all get a fresh newly mated queen every year in May or July after a brood break.
If anyone has any experience putting drone colonies in their mating or Nuc yards - I'd love to hear about the challenges of keeping these colonies putting out drones for the season.
Keep them bees buzzing!
Jerry
Hi Jerry nice conversation,

I have seen the bees drag our debris including dead bees in the spring.
How will your entrance work on the top of the first medium?
If the bees need to lift the debris seem like it would be more work.
So then do you plan a "spring" visit to tear down and remove the junk off the bottom?
Seems a 3 inch drawer may also help.

BTW I do deep , deep, medium, somewhat similar to your set up,, bottom box has more pollen stores so I allow a bit deeper space, often put "cull" comb there for a year or 2. ones with lots of drone or broke out spots..

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #112
Hi Jerry nice conversation,

I have seen the bees drag our debris including dead bees in the spring.
How will your entrance work on the top of the first medium?
If the bees need to lift the debris seem like it would be more work.
So then do you plan a "spring" visit to tear down and remove the junk off the bottom?
Seems a 3 inch drawer may also help.

BTW I do deep , deep, medium, somewhat similar to your set up,, bottom box has more pollen stores so I allow a bit deeper space, often put "cull" comb there for a year or 2. ones with lots of drone or broke out spots..

GG
I do med. - deep - med. (Walt Wright configuration) with entrance in the bottom of the deep. No top hole. Bottom box is pollen box. Mediums are rotated May 1st. CB done April 1st. So far so good
 

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I'm going to start building a couple of drone colonies with new genetics (boughten queens) every year to add diversity to my apiary. There aren't a lot of other beekeepers in my area and I'm hoping putting some beneficial traits into my whole collection will have a positive effect through the years.
Jerry:

Happy New Year- and glad to read that all is well in your apiary thus far.

FWIW (not much I might add), I think your idea of carefully importing a little new genetics each year is a sound idea, particularly if it comes from reputable sources and offers the prospect of augmenting the traits you are trying to select for. Given that heterozygosity tends to confer vitality in bees, and this (according to Brother Adam) is the most important trait, it seems prudent to me to always have avenues to impart some 'hybrid vigor' into the base stock, albeit with some caution about unsuitable crosses and outbreeding depression.

I do hope you'll update us from time-to-time on your progress. Sounds like you are making great strides.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #114
Jerry:

Happy New Year- and glad to read that all is well in your apiary thus far.

FWIW (not much I might add), I think your idea of carefully importing a little new genetics each year is a sound idea, particularly if it comes from reputable sources and offers the prospect of augmenting the traits you are trying to select for. Given that heterozygosity tends to confer vitality in bees, and this (according to Brother Adam) is the most important trait, it seems prudent to me to always have avenues to impart some 'hybrid vigor' into the base stock, albeit with some caution about unsuitable crosses and outbreeding depression.

I do hope you'll update us from time-to-time on your progress. Sounds like you are making great strides.

Russ
Hi Russ- Yes I am conscious of introducing to much genetic change if things are moving in the direction someone is happy with. My thinking is a couple of drone colonies using mn. hygenics this year. One in my mating yard and one in my home yard. I'll also be putting drone comb on the outsides of my brood chambers. In the hives with queens that I want to promote (wintering strength and Spring build-up) I'll let the drones hatch. In the hives that were mediocre or poor I'll destroy drones for at least most of the season, then I'll let them fill those frames with honey later in the year. I haven't ordered the mn. hygenics yet I might just use the very best of my own stock for the drone colonies.
I would love to put some of the mite resistant traits of the Russian bees into my bees but I don't think with what I'm doing ( I need early Spring build up for Nuc sales) that's the right bee for me.
Maybe we'll miss that extended colder spell this year. I sure hope so!
Happy New year to you too!
Jerry
 

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I haven't ordered the mn. hygenics yet I might just use the very best of my own stock for the drone colonies.
To be honest, I am a little out-of-touch with the current status of the Minnesota Hygienic program- it almost sounds as if Dr. Spivak would maybe suggest you work with your own colonies that demonstrate hygienic behavior if you asked her opinion:

"We are now returning to our original goal of having queen producers and interested beekeepers select for this trait from among their own, tried-and-true stocks of bees."


Not trying to steer you in a particular direction, just thought you might appreciate this perspective if you weren't familiar with it yet.

As of yesterday I saw both Eastern Bluebirds and Robins in abundance, about a week earlier than last year. If the 'polar vortex' doesn't materialize later this month, I wonder if we might be about ready to turn the corner?
 

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Discussion Starter #116
To be honest, I am a little out-of-touch with the current status of the Minnesota Hygienic program- it almost sounds as if Dr. Spivak would maybe suggest you work with your own colonies that demonstrate hygienic behavior if you asked her opinion:

"We are now returning to our original goal of having queen producers and interested beekeepers select for this trait from among their own, tried-and-true stocks of bees."


Not trying to steer you in a particular direction, just thought you might appreciate this perspective if you weren't familiar with it yet.

As of yesterday I saw both Eastern Bluebirds and Robins in abundance, about a week earlier than last year. If the 'polar vortex' doesn't materialize later this month, I wonder if we might be about ready to turn the corner?
Russ- Not as out of touch as I am! When I read your response it prompted me to call the people I know from the Minn. Bee Club and they confirmed what the article inferred. Glad you pointed it out to me.
The supplier I was thinking about getting the drone mother queens from has been using Mn. Hygenics - open mated in S.E. Minn. for several years - then selling queens from that local stock. He told me that for the last couple years that he has been using the best of his own queens for queen mothers. He's only 50 miles north of me . With the way he's been running his breeding program I'm not so sure he wouldn't have a good fit for a slow mix with mine. Have to think about it a spell. It's that or just stick with using the best of my stock.
Thanks again for the info. Snow coming tomorrow.
Have a good day!
Jerry
 
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