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In my second year all seems well, lots of bees:)

Brood boxes are full or almost ful of brood and honey in my second year so I added queen excluder and put on honey supers BUT the girls are not even building comb in the supers.:cry: The new supers have been on for about 3 weeks. Did I put the excluders on too early, should I take them off and let them start to build in the supers before putting excluder back? Should I even use the excluder and if I don't how do I keep the queen from laying eggs honey supers?

Thanks for advice!
T from SC
:s
 

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Everyone will have advice of sorts on whether or not to use excluders. Let's first assume that you DO use excluders. Bees seem to hesitate drawing comb above an excluder. Sometimes it helps to add a frame of brood above the excluder (obviously, without a queen along with it). This gets the bees up top. The brood hatches out and the super stays clean. If you have used but empty comb, that helps as well. Spraying with syrup might also do the trick. Once they get going, they're usually fine.

OK, now for using an excluder or not. I'm personally not a fan of excluders. They have their place and it's not always to keep the queen from laying in a honey super. I do, every so often, use an excluder to keep a very active queen down where I want her to stay. Note that not all queens get stuck behind an excluder. Some can pass through. They're not foolproof. The queen is very often reluctant to cross a honey boundary. Once you get a super of honey going, there seems to be a natural "excluder" keeping her from moving up further. So, if you find that your super is starting to get honey in it, the odds are on your side that you won't need an excluder and you can pull it off if you even had put it on. Finally, I don't mind a little brood in the supers or even darkened comb. I extract everything and I don't sell comb honey so appearance is not real important to me. Many folks claim that excluders reduce the honey crop as well but that's not been my experience even when I used them. Your mileage may vary. I wouldn't fret too much about it and I would suggest at least trying it without them while the bees pull some wax for you!
 

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try a top entrance above the excluder. good luck,mike
 

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Being my 2nd year also, I've noticed that what was said here is true, no comb above the excluder. I took them off late season last year and found they started up their reserves quickly. My experiences say, "Trust them to their jobs", and intervene only when things get messy. The bees practically invented the 5S. Let 'em do it.
 

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Using an excluder is just personal preference. I used them, then didn't and then started again. I never noticed a difference in the amount of honey I got. It took me about 10 years to decide what I wanted to do.

Now I use them. My flow stops in the middle of summer and I extract then. The hive is at maximum capacity for the number of bees. If I don't use them, I have to sort frames with and without brood.

What I found that was I need to let them start drawing comb in the first super of foundation. After they were working on a couple of frames, I would:

1. Shake the bees down to make sure the queen wasn't above the excluder.
2. Look for the queen to make sure she wasn't above the excluder.
3. Add the excluder and come back in a couple of days to make sure she wasn't above the excluder.

The honey barrier didn't see to stop my queens. I would find that they would move (use) honey from the bottom of the honey super frames and start laying or she would march up and start laying in a upper super.

So this decision will just be a personal preference. If you wait until fall to extract and have a fall flow, or don't mind sorting frames you can save the expense of an excluder for each hive.

To use the excluder just wait to put it on until they are working the super with foundation. Next year, just put the excluder on and add supers with drawn comb.
 

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I am starting my second year but had your same problem last year. I pulled the excluder and the bees moved right up but so did the queen. When I found brood in the super I made sure the queen had moved back down and replaced the excluder. Once the brood had emerged the bees stored honey in their place. But once the bees had moved up and started drawing comb in the super they continued to do so after I had relapced the excluder.
 

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http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders

The use of queen excluders has been controversial among beekeepers since the early days of their existence. I quit using them very early in my beekeeping. The bees did not want to go through them and they did not want to work the supers on the other side of them. They seemed very unnatural and constraining to me. I think they are handy to have around for things like queen rearing or a desperate attempt to find a queen, but I don't commonly use them.

The reasoning for using them:

The queen will be easier to find if I can narrow down the area I have to look. But I find the area I have to look is pretty narrow. I seldom find her other than where the highest concentration of bees is and that usually narrows it to a few frames. But this is a good reason if you need to find the queen often. In queen rearing this can be once a week or so and a queen excluder can save you some time.

Preventing brood in the supers. The only reasons I've seen a queen lay in the supers are, that she ran out of room in the brood nest, therefore she would have swarmed if she couldn't, or she wanted room to lay drones and there is no drone comb in the brood nest. If you don't want brood in the supers, give them some drone comb in the brood nest and you will have made great strides in this regard. Also, if you use all the same size box, you'll have no problem IF she lays in the "supers" putting those frames back down in the brood nest, and if you use no chemicals, you can steal a frame of honey from there to fill out your super.

If you want to use them

If you want to use an excluder, remember you have to get the bees going through it. Using all the same sized boxes, again, will help in this regard as you can put a couple of frames of open brood above the excluder (being careful not to get the queen of course) and get them going through the excluder. When they are working the super you can put them back down in the brood nest. Another option (especially if you don't have the same sized boxes) is to leave out the excluder until they are working the first super and then put it in (again making sure the queen is below it and the drones have a way out the top somewhere).

"Beginning beekeepers should not attempt to use queen excluders to prevent brood in supers. However they probably should have one excluder on hand to use as an aide in either finding the queen or restrincting her access to frames that the beekeeper must want to move elsewhere" -The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor
 

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The only reasons I've seen a queen lay in the supers are, ....or she wanted room to lay drones and there is no drone comb in the brood nest. If you don't want brood in the supers, give them some drone comb in the brood nest and you will have made great strides in this regard.
This is a great bit of advice- thank you! I have a few deep brood frames of new wax drone-size foundation, so I will be sure to put one in each brood chamber to let the queen lay her drone eggs and be happy. I'll likely rotate them out with new ones when still capped at least half the time, to keep the mite population down a bit. (or should i do that all the time- seems unnatural to take away every frame of drones)...?
 

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> I'll likely rotate them out with new ones when still capped at least half the time, to keep the mite population down a bit. (or should i do that all the time- seems unnatural to take away every frame of drones)...?

Every time you steal a frame of capped drones you force them to make another to replace that one. This costs a frame of honey, a frame of pollen and a frame's worth of water and enough workers that they could have made another frame of honey to feed those drones. So basically you've lost at least two or three frames of honey everytime you scrap a frame of drone brood. I consider that too expensive. I leave them. But if you're having Varroa issues, I guess you do what you have to. I'm not having any.
 

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When all your entrances are above the excluder and the brood is below the excluder, there seems to be no problem for the bees to access either the brood or the honey supers. They seem to only take down into the brood area the resources they need to support brood rearing and don't load empty cells in the brood nest with nectar. They also seem to readily festoon, build comb, fill it with nectar, and ripen it into honey in the honey supers above the queen excluder.

A big plus, is that predators have a harder time eating lots of bees from the bottom entrance, when there isn't any bottom entrance.

Configuration for honey
 

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Take out the excluder until they have some brood up there and then they'll eagerly pass through the excluder to tend the brood. The will not pass through the excluder to build onto empty equipment.
 
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