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Finally... I've had a hive survive the winter. I just inspected it today and found it to be pretty strong with lots of bees. Saw the queen, some capped
brood on both sides of one frame, larvae.... some honey in the frame's corners, etc..... This hive has 2 deeps and all the activity is going on in the upper deep.
In the bottom deep there were some bees there but otherwise nothing going on there....just empty frames... no activity at all. When the dandelions start to bloom I'd normally
reverse the brood boxes. But I'm wondering..... why not remove the bottom bottom deep now and put a new deep on top with either built out or bare foundation?
(I suppose it's pretty much like reversing the boxes).... but any comments would be appreciated.
Thanks!
 

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I would definitely not put a cold empty box on top that will take needed heat away from the brood nest. I am at least three weeks away from Dandelion and fruit bloom and my hives have an insulated wrap. I imagine you are a warm weekend away from the spring flow. I would probably go to a single and restrict the entrance to keep your bees as warm as possible and watch your bees like a hawk for overcrowding.

If you don't mind a honey crop, as soon as the dandelion and fruit flow starts, put on an excluder and a super or two. The bees are not as able to start backfilling without a lot of room to move down. At the same time, I will find the queen and take the frame she is on and another of brood and move it into a hive body with your empty frames and put another excluder on top of the super and the split above with their own entrance. The queen will not slow down laying and will have heat from below and nurse bees attracted up to the brood. The hive below unable to swarm will raise and mate a new queen. Make sure that you super them as needed! After four weeks you should have a queen laying in your bottom box. Kill the queen above or split her off again for increase. She will soon be superceded and you will have two young queens. You may need to super above and below your top excluder if honey flow allows.
 

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I would consider reversing the boxes, soon, but not adding a deep with only undrawn, frames for at least a month, or two. I don't expect them to make much wax until late in May, at the earliest. I winter in triple deeps and some time in the next few weeks I will pull the top box (where all the brood is) off and putting it on a temp stand, covered. Then I will rummage around among the two lower boxes and make up a box of alternating drawn-with-some-stores (pollen or honey) frames and drawn ,but nice-quality empty brood combs. The remaining frames will go in the lower box, for now.

The original bottom box (with all the left-over frames) is placed in the lowest position on the stand. And the original top box (the one with the brood) goes in the middle position, and the newly-assembled checker-boarded box will become the new top box. tTe bees will rapidly brood up into it as they expand the size of the brood nest and use up the conveniently-placed stores. If I had only two boxes i would wait until closer to dandelions to do this because you'd be moving the brood box down to a lower, colder, more exposed position. In my case the third box occupies that location, protecting the middle box's brood.

I am somewhat north of Albany, NY,so probably a bit cooler than Brewster MA, as I am so far inland compared to you (Z4b/Z5a). For reference, my frost-free date is about the third week of May.

If my goal is primarily drawing more comb (which lately, for me, has been almost constantly), I will add a box with undrawn frames (but carefully extra-waxed) around the time that locust blooms. I will place it just under the super(s ) they are using. This is mid-late June here. Before then, they just don't have the huge surplus of nectar needed for massive, comb-making without feeding syrup. (And I don't want to feed syrup then, because they also making honey.) In good conditions in June they will drawn and fill with nectar a 10-frame deep in about 10 days. Sometimes, in good years, I can give them another 10-frame deep and they will drawn and fill (with honey) another 6- 8 frames before fall. I always under-super new boxes without drawn comb.


Nancy
 
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