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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has probably been addressed more than a few times, but I'm not very good at doing searches on the forum (I end up down endless bunny trails).

I went into winter with my hives set up as two eight frame deeps under a medium. I added the mediums as a place for the bees to store syrup for winter. They were pretty much solid phoney honey all across by mid October. I plan to start feeding fondant and pollen patties in mid February to get the bees to build up for the spring nectar flow that we get in Maryland. My assumption is that the cluster will be in the medium so I will be feeding on the top bars of the medium. I really want the bees to keep the brood in the two deeps (so I'm not having to go through 24 frames on deep inspections). I suspect that by the time April arrives, the bees are going to be concentrated in the top of the hives where the medium currently resides.


How do I get the bees to move the brood rearing back down into the lower brood boxes? Seems to me that relocating the queen under an excluder placed below the medium is a bit of a risky and draconian approach in April when we can still have cold nights. Just reversing the medium to the bottom of the stack does not seem to get my medium back for honey during the flow. Am I painted into a corner or is there an approach to get the bees where I want them?


Glen
 

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I don't know how cold your winters are but I bet brood rearing will start in your location before it does mine and I start getting brood As early as January some years and always by March. I guess My strategy would depend on when your neighborhood is warm enough to smoke the bees down out of the medium and place an excluder; or if your bees can currently break cluster on some days, in which case I would just move the medium to the bottom board and put mountain camp supplemental feed on top. The eternal problem with adding a medium super to fill full of syrup is how do you get that sugar removed or consumed so you can use the super for honey production. In the future I would consider not leaving a medium on top or just considering it part of the brood nest if you do. If I don't need three deep this far North, I seriously doubt you really do. Merry Christmas.
 

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You are spot on Vance. Our bees most never go broodless and buildup starts in January. The OP is 350 miles N of me but his wx is greatly influenced by the Chesapeake Bay. It gets cold and some snow but rarely does it last very long. I run double deeps and mediums for honey. I would think the brood is in the bottom deeps and if the medium is full of sugar water honey then the deeps are too and would be enough resources for the winter. The next warm spell you might want to check that medium. If there is no brood takes it off and you can use the full frames of sugar water honey to feed back to the hive ABOVE the inner cover (outside the hive). Bees will move it down as needed.
 

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Your bees will likely place their first rounds of brood in the medium as long as it is in the top position. This is annoying from a management point of view. It will also likely extend down into the uppermost deep below as they get going on the build up.

When you make your first inspection, do not break up the brood cluster, keep the medium and the deep below it in the same position relative to each other (it's OK to break them apart, just put them back together as they were.) To do a reverse, simply bring the bottom deep up to the top position. They will continue to brood upwards into it. Make an additional reverse when they have moved up into the top deep. Depending on where the brood is at that point you may wind up with the medium in the lowest position, with two deeps above it for a short period. Or sometimes they have moved completely out of the lower boxes and into the top deep (the one you moved on the first round). If this has happened simply remove the medium from the stack, and move the empty deep to the new top position.

This cycling of deeps with drawn comb to the tip position is a fairly robust anti-swarming tactic (though I wouldn't rely on it alone). You might look for Walt Wright's writing in the Resource section here for good ideas about the comb arrangements in these boxes.

Although it looks peculiar to beekeepers to temporarily have a medium sandwiched between two deeps, and then on the bottom under two deeps, the bees don't seem to get hung up on that. However, having two different sizes of active brood combs offers some management inconveniences in terms of the interchangeability of the combs from one box to another. And also a medium doesn't fully contain a spring build-up depth-wise, so you usually have to keep the two uppermost boxes paired up as a single unit. These two reasons are why I stopped using a medium as the uppermost box in all but emergencies. I use three deeps for my winter stack. That way the brood is all in one box, and all frames can be moved around in every box and I have two boxes below from which to choose the best combs to put in the first reversed box.

I had such an emergency this past fall, and I am dreading the PITA of having a few mediums on the top. And I am sure that I will curse myself for not managing last October to avoid this situation. It always boggles me to read that some beekeepers plan on having a set-up like that.

Nancy
 

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gcolbert>> leave the medium on. The bees will likely brood in it and consume the stores, then the spring flow will start pushing them down. When the weather warms a bit (dandelion time probably) and most of the brood nest has migrated down into the deep, knock the queen into the deep and put a queen excluder over the deep and under the medium. Operate as usual.
Winter with only the 2 deeps next year, that is all that is necessary.

I winter in story and halfs, deep and medium. I like to run a single brood nest so in spring if the medium is on the bottom for winter (the way I prefer) I reverse and put it over a QE . If the medium is on top I knock her down into the deep as described, place a QE on the deep and then the medium brood box on that, supers above.

I guess that Palmico Sound in NC behaves differently than the more northern bays and sounds. My spring is much later than inland areas due to the cold bay water acting like a unwanted air conditioner in the spring. Sure extends the fall though giving off all that heat from summer.
 

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Just reversing the medium to the bottom of the stack does not seem to get my medium back for honey during the flow.
Glen
After about a week of warm weather, place the medium at the bottom. In about 3-1/2 weeks all the brood will have emerged and you can either leave it there (some claim the colony will pack it full of pollen in the fall) or move it back up to the top.

Or do both....leave it at the bottom, and add a new super (or 2 or 3) of drawn comb or foundation at the top.

You DO have extra mediums ready to go, don't you ???
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Your bees will likely place their first rounds of brood in the medium as long as it is in the top position. This is annoying from a management point of view. It will also likely extend down into the uppermost deep below as they get going on the build up.
Thanks all. It was nice enough today to do a quick peek, partially lifting the center frame in each hive. Looks like at least two of the three hives have brood started in the top medium already. We only have one good nectar flow in the area and it runs from mid April to early June. I think what I might try is reversing the medium like Nancy suggested in my early spring reversal, then in mid-May (assuming night temps dependably above 50 F.) just move the medium up into the other supers with an excluder over the two deeps. I'm afraid that this is going to result in a lot of my honey being committed to a brood box and a reduction of available brood space after the move:( I don't have enough mediums with built-out comb to super any of the three hives and will need to use foundation. About now, I'm wondering it I might not be better off splitting one of the hives into a couple medium nucs for late May sale and moving one each of the deeps to the other hives for honey supers (don't have either the space or the desire to use them for increase).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
HUmm… Or like Clyderoad suggested. Just leave it on top and put the excluder under it in May. I may be overthinking the bees.

Glen
 

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Overthinking and lack of patience are traits of new beekeepers, myself included. Keep in mind that it takes several seasons before you can have a decent amount of drawn comb and more drawn comb gives you flexibility and opportunity to maximize your honey production. Now is the time to set down some goals and make some decisions for next season. Having them draw out more frames is a good one. Splitting one or more hives will help with this. Catching a swarm is the best way to get foundation drawn quickly. Perhaps consider a different configuration for next winter. Finally, honey is never wasted. You can leave it to the bees, or take it for yourself, even deeps. So, you could follow Clyderoad's advice and go with one deep and medium next winter. You can extract a box of deeps and have that drawn comb for splitting and swarm management. J
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Honestly, I would not do a thing. As the bees brood up in the medium, they will consume the phoney honey leaving the comb ready for the flow. There should be pollen stores in the deeps below and the bees should move down to the pollen. Once they do, you can put the qe in if you want. You really though should just be concetrating on getting drawn mediums for the 2020 honey season. Three hives will still produce enough honey for you to have plenty for your family this coming year.

Making a walk away split using frames that still have brood in them is a fast way to clear them as the brood will be gone in three weeks and any remaining sugar syrup will get eaten. Just get them out before the queen returns and starts laying.
 

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It probably would have made more sense spelled as faux honey. Same idea, not real. Actually, phony does not have an e in it. I carried that through from the OP because it resembles the word honey, but isn't, sort of a play on spelling.
 
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