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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a booming second year hive that had 2 deep hive boxes and 1 fully capped super. About 2 weeks ago, I added another medium super on top. They have pulled comb on all frames of the new super, so today I went out to add another super and found that the queen had laid 4-5 frames in the top super. I checked the super below it that was full of capped honey, and they have moved or eaten the honey out of the center 3-4 frames and there is brood in those too. I did not go into the deeps because I didn't want to risk rolling the queen this late in the year. This is a top entrance hive with a small lower entrance btw.

So why did the queen move above the honey barrier? I don't have a queen excluder and from what I've read, I'm not sure I want to use one anyway. What is the proper course of action now? will they refill the supers once the brood hatches? This will be my first year taking honey. Is there any issues with extracting honey from cells that have had brood in them? I added another super of foundation today so they have more space. I am in Southwest Ohio and I assume the flow is over now even though the clover is still blooming (amazing for being the first week of august). Anything I should worry about?
 

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I am new at this, but would wonder if there is too much honey in the deeps.

remember also that you do not have to harvest by the super full. you can re-arrange frames and or take a couple of honey and replace with new.

brood in super is a risk of not excluding but again, you can make a full box of honey from the two with brood later.

one benifit of using all mediums is more ability to shuffle frames etc. and I am giving this consideration going forward.
 

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This is why an excluder is used in honey production. Can't speak for all locations but in 80 % of all hives the queen lays eggs in all supers given to her. Right up to the top.

This is why: the queen lays eggs in a spiralliing pattern, from the center of a comb to the outside and from the center of the broodnest to the sides, jumping comb by comb in a spiral. When she finished the outsides she starts over again from where she just started in the beginning.

Most modern beehives have too large combs, the combs are to broad - the diameter of a typical tree cave is 20 cm/ 8 inch -, leading to too much cells. The queen starts in the center and is spiralling a long loooong way to the outsides. When she comes back to where she started she will either find:

a) a freshly emerged and cleaned brood cell or
b) a cell that is blocked by pollen and nectar.

When does she find case a? When she comes back exactly 21 days later after the first egg, the brood will be emerge 21 days later. So when her laying path is finished in exactly 21 days, she will be right there to fill that cell with another egg. Egg by egg, cell by cell, in one row and path. In case b she come back too late, say 23 days, and because bees hate empty cells they stuff it with pollen or nectar. (Whatever is available, during springtime it is usually pollen.)

The mastership in beekeeping is to tune the number of available brood cells to the length of the queen's laying path in 21 days. That differs from queen to queen, but if you give the right amount of cells, you end up with a well tuned broodnest that doesn't backfill, that produces a huge amount of healthy bees. (Because a compact broodnest better keeps the warmth and temperature inside the nest, warmer bees = more intelligent and more healthy). Very low swarming tendencies, because the broodnest doesn't backfill.

If the available cells makes the queen spiralling a long way through the hive, she comes back too late and can't keep up with the bees which fill the cells with stuff. So she has to look for other free cells somewhere else. The queen is not spiralling anymore but jumping boxes for free cells. She cannot keep up, so more and more cells get stuffed and blocked. A queen in a three brood boxes tower does have less available cells as in one box! And even one broodbox of any modern system has too much cells, like a ten or twelve frame box. She can't keep up, broodnest flooded, broodnest wrecked.

Use a queen excluder, give the space she needs or a little less and you are perfectly fine. Bees need not much brood cells, 21 days by 2,000 eggs per day = 42,000 cells. Depending on comb size and cell size there are 5,000 cells per comb = 8 combs needed. Some queens need more but usually eight combs is about right. The rest is pollen and honey comb. Give them a lot of space, a lot of space above the excluder.

Confusing bees with too much brood space always ends up with brood all over the hive. An excluder solves this, if you exclude at the right place. (Above two deeps an excluder is pointless.) Note, that the length of the laying path varies during the season.
 

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You have a kick butt queen! We can't run withOUT excluders down here, or we'd have nothing but boxes of brood. Sounds like you have a "good Momma" and you may have no choice but to use QE if you want clean honey. May be too late in the year for you though...I have no clue about your flow times, so follow local advice on the timing. The Queen moved above the 'honey barrier' because she wanted to, and had room there to lay.
Personally, I wouldn't try to harvest honey from frames with brood. No matter what the method, you will end up with 'larvae juice goop' in your honey.
Find the queen, put her below an excluder, let the larvae hatch out, and they should refill with nectar/honey. Destroy any drone brood above the QE, as they will be trapped there, or drop any frames containing brood to below the QE or to the freezer.

Sounds like you have a rockin' queen...sometimes barriers ARE needed. JMO!
 

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You will need to get the queen below the excluder. The brood will hatch and you will have frames of honey with the centers open (I just had a hive do this). As noted the amount of time it takes for the brood to vacate will be when you can extract. You also need to take a look in the deeps and see the status. The queen I had up in the supers had a deep with nothing. No brood or honey, they almost abandoned it and moved up into the shallow supers. I put her down below and she went right to work and filled them up. If you have all honey in the deeps I would not put her down there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice guys, I have read bad things about the "honey excluders" and wasn't going to buy any. I guess there are times when a queen excluder is necessary. I was reading an article a Bush Bees site that talks about Unlimited Brood nest. Since I'm only collecting honey for personal use this year, I think I'm just going to manage this hive with the UBN method this year for the experience. When I get ready to pull honey, Ill just pull those that are all capped honey and rearrange the rest for winter.

Of course they did this on the hive that I run deeps and mediums (My other hive is all mediums!). It will make it harder to rearrange going into winter.

I do have a question for Bernhard, If you limit the queen to 1 or 2 deeps, what prevents the workers from still backfilling the broodnest anyway so the queen has no where to lay when she gets back around in the 21 day cycle? Will the excluder cause the workers to put all the honey above it? Or will I just increase the risk of a swarm by using an excluder?
 

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Before you put the excluder on you need to know that she has enough room below it to lay. That means that she has at least 8-10 frames that are empty or have brood in them, but not honey or pollen. Actually the pollen seems to go pretty fast for me, so I don't worry as much about that, but if you have two deeps mostly full of honey below the excluder you are asking for trouble. I use excluders on all of my production hives now and haven't noticed any decrease in honey production, but you have to know how to use them properly.
 

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I use one deep only for brood and queen. 8 frame boxes. Once the box is full of brood the queen will be there if there is a broodcell emerging, no worries. Do not add empty comb, because all the cells are too much at times. Do no take brood combs, especially capped ones. Because those combs are the future brood cells, the queen needs those cells, emerging one by one, step by step. Egg by egg she can fill it as they hatch.

In early Spring you need to remove all combs that aren't populated. Or the bees will start to backfill with pollen. Too much pollen is collected in the presence of empty cells and absense of nectar. Bees do not need much broodnest in early Spring until end of Spring, do not add combs or foundations to the broodnest. Do add a lot of supers ahead of time. Bees will take the supers and fill them like crazy. With the right use of excluders you make honey even with smaller hives.

Most people give too much combs for brood. If you tune it to the queen's laying speed you have a lot less work and less swarming tendencies. Even with the box pumped with brood and bees, the bees will go intonthe supers and the compact broodnest is like a "honey-pump", the honey gets drier quicker and I reckon a lot more is stored this way, because a good compact broodnest with lots of brood sort of satisfies the bees.
 
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