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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I understand that checkerboarding is done in the supers, and that Walt uses one shallow or medium full of honey under the deep, then one empty on top of the deep, then alternating empty and full frames on top of that. But here is what I don't understand...

1. If this is done somewhere between Feb and April, where does all this excess honey come from? When my hives fill two or three supers of honey in the summer, I extract it. Otherwise I could end up with granulated honey in the comb. Besides that, It would really suck to go a year or two without a crop in order to use it the next year.

2. What do people mean by overwintering with honey on top? I use two deeps to overwinter. I live in Indiana, and the bees use the honey thats left on for them.

3. If I where to checkerboard, I would be seperating the broodnest from the overhead honey by placing the empty super between them. Could this cause starvation? Remember, our flows start later, but I believe brood rearing starts in Feb.

4. If I were to feed the bees in January - Febuary, can I use frames of capped syrup in place of the honey (as long as I mark the frames to aviod extracting it with honey)?

5. It would seem to me that It would take three years before a hive could be checkerboarded. If I start with a nuc, they build fast enough to survive the winter. Then if they do, the next year I can super, but not checkerboard because of a lack of excess drawn comb and honey per hive. Then the next year, I let those frames sit (and probably mold), and start with foundation again. Then the next year I can finally start checkerboarding? Is there a better way to get a hive ready for checkerboarding after the first year?

6. If you have a lack of drawn comb, and a lack of capped honey in feb - march, where do you start?

7. Because I live in the north, I have to ask, if these hives become very large and strong, how much more honey do I need to leave for them? If they are large and strong going into fall, would this not negate the extra honey produced because you would have to feed it to them in winter?

8. Can I let the bees fill a single shallow super in spring, then checkerboard it after it is drawn and filled? Or would I see no bennifit at that point?

Thanks
 

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There was a recent discussion on this very topic. I'll see if I can find it for you.

Our set ups are in similar northern climates and here is how I understand "checkerboarding" in our situation.
Checkerboarding is to be performed in very early spring on the super of capped honey "above" the brood nest. As you mentioned, in our climate when early spring comes there may not be a super of honey left above the brood nest, certainly not if you are only using 2 deep boxes as you and I are. I think that for checkerboarding to be feasable there must be some type of 3 box set up with a box of capped stores above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow!!! That was interesting, but didn't answer hardly any of my questions.

The debate seemed to be mostly about what checkerboarding really is, and a debate about foundation vs empty comb. I already know what checkerboarding is. It seems that the only way to do this would be feed like crazy in late fall to get them to draw out comb, and fill a few extra supers with syrup. That way I can use to the syrup for feed over the winter, and then use the honey for checkboarding in the early spring. Then the following fall, use the old honey for feed.

Another question...

If I feed a lot in the late fall, would this cause the bees to rear more brood, and use up their pollen?
 

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I may not be understanding exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

I don't believe that "checkerboarding" is a practice that you want to create and ADD to early spring management. I think it is a method for "breaking up" EXISTING overhead honey stores to entice the bees to begin to work up in early spring.

With a two deep set up in our regions we will probably never see this happen as the bees will be working the center of both boxes... thus the discussion on "reversing" and "opening up the broodnest".

If you fall feed or the colony itself puts up 80-90 lbs of honey in the 2 deeps for winter, thats all you need. Springtime, just add empty supers and keep the brood area open.

If for some reason you really WANT to try checkerboarding, then put a super of honey in the freezer in the fall and come early spring place it back on the colony checkerboarded.


> "If I feed a lot in the late fall, would this cause the bees to rear more brood, and use up their pollen?"

Only if you feed them too thin a syrup, which could stimulate brood rearing. You want to feed them a heavy 2:1 syrup in the fall.
 

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> 5. It would seem to me that It would take three years before a hive could be checkerboarded. If I start with a nuc, they build fast enough to survive the winter. <

I think you may be underestimating how quickly a nuc will build up for you. Starting with a nuc this spring you will probably end up with 2 deeps drawn out, plus a super or two by the end of the year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"I think you may be underestimating how quickly a nuc will build up for you. Starting with a nuc this spring you will probably end up with 2 deeps drawn out, plus a super or two by the end of the year."

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Thats good to hear. I've never used nucs before. I was planning on giving them a try because I was told that a nuc simply has a better chance of survival. The one thing I really love is swarms. Every time I've gotten a swarm, I ended up with no honey from the mother hive, but got three shallows of honey from the swarm (if caught in mid to late May). However, I do start swarms with a deep of foundation, and a shallow of drawn comb. Maybe that gives them an advantage.

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"I may not be understanding exactly what you are trying to accomplish."

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I'm trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of having honey available in late winter too early spring for the purpose of checkerboarding. If I plan to checkerboard lots of hives, it would be impossible to freeze multiple supers of honey over the winter. I think I would just have to leave it on the hive and hope that the bees don't eat it. I considered feeding in late fall to have them fill some supers with syrup. Then use the frames of syrup in the spring for checkerboarding. The only thing I worry about is the bees moving it, then having syrup mixed with the honey when I extract. Who knows, maybe I'll find a way to do it.

[ December 24, 2006, 10:19 PM: Message edited by: IndianaHoney ]
 

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> "Every time I've gotten a swarm, I ended up with no honey from the mother hive, but got three shallows of honey from the swarm"

That's what the "checkerboarding", "reversing", "opening the brood nest" is all about. If you could have kept that colony intact and prevented it from swarming, you may have gotten "5" supers from the one hive. That's our main objective.

I hope you have great success in your endeavors.
 

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Hey IndianaHoney,

In your opening post you mention that you "understand that checkerboarding is done in the supers, and that Walt uses one shallow or medium full of honey under the deep, then one empty on top of the deep, then alternating empty and full frames on top of that."

I want to make sure that you don't misunderstand what checkerboarding, or nectar management really is.

First, the shallow or medium full of honey under the deep that you mention is not a part of Walt's nectar management. He does move a shallow of brood below the deep during the buildup, and calls it a "pollen box." This is not really part of nectar management, and nectar management can be accomplished without doing this. What we have found is that the bees often fill this box with pollen, and use this pollen in the Fall. they seem to overwinter better this way.

Second, Nectar management does not involve putting an empty above the deep. It does involve exchanging (or checkerboarding) every other frame of honey in the super above the brood with an empty comb. That leaves every other frame still containing honey. Then you checkerboard another super with empty comb and the honey frames you pulled, and place it on top. Empty comb goes above this box.

The goal is to keep the brood nest expanding through the build up, which results in large populations and big honey harvests.
 

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Hi Rob,
Do I have it wrong? A super of honey is not a prerequisite to start NM but having drawn comb is. If there is no honey left at time of manipulation for NM you place on a couple of empties of drawn foundation 6-8 weeks before white wax. And then stay ahead of the bees by adding as they fill the supers. If you have frames of Honey when you start then you alternate them.

Indiana do you have a copy of Walt's manuscripts?
Now is a good time for me to reread mine. Would like to see any additional studies or info posted. I have been patiently waiting :D .

[ December 25, 2006, 07:27 AM: Message edited by: sc-bee ]
 

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Merry Christmas sc-bee,

I think you have it right! If your brood nest goes to the top with no honey above, there is nothing with which to "checkerboard". At that point Walt would recommend, just as you said, to place empty brood comb above and stay ahead of them.

While this is not nectar management as described by Walt, it is what he would recommend that you do.

If you have frames of Honey when you start then you alternate them.
Exactly!
 

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This is exactly why I have stated that CB'ing will NOT work for northern beekeepers.

It will work fine for southern beekeeps because you use a different wintering configuration for your hives, your winters are not as severe, and you can get into the hives at the right time to achieve the whole goal of CB'ing.

Now everyone is confused about how to get this done in the north.

If you really wish to checkerboard this is what you will have to do:

First, you will need to leave an extra full super of honey on your hives: that means about 95#'s of honey (if you leave on a deep) that you will NOT be able to harvest, at retail price of $2 per #, that is alot of money you won't make.

Second, you will have to hope that in a 3 deep hive, that the bees will be able to survive in this expanded environment.

Third, you will have to open every hive in late winter to CB your hive, and add an additional box to the hive, and while this shouldn't disturb the hive much it will increases the amount of space the bees have to control.

OR:

You can harvest the extra box of honey, and reverse or open up the broodnest in the spring, all the while having the bees in a space they have a chance of controling.

In MHO, it would be extremely difficult to preform NM via CB'ing if you are a northern beekeeper, and if you could, the gain would not be worth the loss in honey and in the extra labor involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is where I got my information:

http://www.knology.net/~k4vb/Walt's%20BIO.htm

I was under the impression that the empty box on top was so that the bees do not see a wall of honey above the brood nest, and that by seeing this empty space they would be stimulated into foraging. And that the checkerboarded supers above that was to draw the bees up into the supers, and they would start filling the empty frames with nectar.

I just read some more of the articles and got a better understanding of what I need to do. I have to disagree with you Peggjam, NM can be done very easily in the north as well as the south. If I'm understanding the correctly NM or CB has these simple steps and goals in mind.

The basic goal is simply to pre-occuppy the bees with recovering the honey used while overwintering, and keep them from swarming by providing space for nectar above DIRRECTLY above the brood nest DURING THE BUILDUP AND SWARM SEASON ONLY.

This effect of this is a ever expanding broodnest during this period, causing a very very very strong hive for the main flow. The side effect is far more bees, which produce far more honey.

The simple steps to this is:

1. If the broodnest is in the bottom super in late winter, with honey overhead, you simply checkerboard the remaining honey into enough space for at least two shallow supers worth of space (if you use shallows to overwinter). To look like this

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|eeeeeeeee| --empty shallow
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|fefefefef| --checkerboarded shallow
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|efefefefe| --checkerboarded shallow
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|BBBBBBBBB|
|BBBBBBBBB| --Brood
-----------

If they have no honey, simply put on two supers of empty comb.

If you use deeps and you have honey it should look like this:

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|eeeeeeeee| --shallow, or medium
-----------
|fefefefef| --Deep (had to use two lines)
|fefefefef|
-----------
|BBBBBBBBB| --Brood
|BBBBBBBBB|
-----------

Most likely the above would not happen in the north.

However, if your cluster is in the top deep in late winter, you would do this.

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|eeeeeeeee| --shallow or meduim
-----------
|eeeeeeeee| --deep
|eeeeeeeee|
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|BBBBBBBBB| --Brood
|BBBBBBBBB|
-----------

Again, the goal is to continually provide empty space above the broodnest. When the bees start filling the box below the top one, add another. Walt states that you must always maintain two supers worth of space during the swarm season. In the above example, I start with the empty deep and empty shallow on top of the broodnest. When the bees start working the top deep, add another shallow so that I will have two shallows on top. When they then reach the bottom shallow, add another one so that I always have two supers worth of space that is not being worked. This keeps the brood nest expanding because they can't backfill it with nectar.

When the swarm season is over, I just super as needed. Then in September, I can split the hive and feed if I want to expand. This should easily work for northern beeks. If we have honey left, they would not starve because you are leaving at least 4 or 5 deep frames of honey above the broodnest. This keeps from seperating them from the food supply. Also, the bees being in the bottom deep most likely means they still have honey down there. If they are in the top deep, it doesn't matter, that would most likely mean there is no honey in the bottom. And if there is honey in the bottom, so what, you're just putting a food supply above them by reversing. Thats what they like anyway.

As far as warming the space goes, you are only adding one shallow or medium worth of space. That's not that much. If its still too cold in Feb or early March, wait until late March. It should be warm enough on most days to allow flying time.

[ December 26, 2006, 12:52 AM: Message edited by: IndianaHoney ]
 

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Gee IndianaHoney, when you put it like that, must be any local beekeep can do it...........I won't be doing it, MB doesn't do it(or at least hasn't tried it), in fact I can't think of one northern beekeep that is even going to attmpt it. But you all just go ahead and do it......and keep us posted on how that works out for you ;) .
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Peggjam, no offence was intended... I just simply disagree with you (if I am understanding NM correctly). And I understand your reluctance, especially if its untested in the northern states.

Don't mistake my previous comments as me stating that heating space can not possibly be a problem.
I am even apprehinsive enough that I will not be using this method with all my hives. I plan to try it on 2-4 hives first. It would be irresponsible of me to take a chance with more than that. An easy method of solving heating space may be to feed pollen patties and thin syrup in late Jan to early Feb to increase the size of the cluster before you add the extra space.

I'll try this method with two hives. I'll feed two pollen and syrup, and leave the other two alone. Then use the NM approach starting in early to late March. I let you know if they survive it, and how they preform.
 

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IndianaHoney,

I spoke to Walt today and confirmed that the picture at the site you posted where the empty super of comb is placed above the brood and below the checkerboarded honey was a mistake.

He said he would try to clear it up when he has a chance.

[ December 26, 2006, 10:38 PM: Message edited by: ikeepbees ]
 

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"Peggjam, no offence was intended"

None taken. Sorry if I sound huffy on this subject, I don't mean too....it just seems like nobodies listening. Let me know how it works, nobody would like to be able to do this more than I would, but it just doesn't seem feasible.
 

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I am not going to save filled honeycomb till spring for checkerboarding. That's extremely inconvenient and problematic. Last year I simply checkerboarded as they filled frames with honey, and kept the brood nest open. Wont this accomplish the swarm prevention and population build up that we're looking for? It did prevent swarming in the one hive I tried it on, but I didnt checkerboard till midsummer so that doesnt say much.
 
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