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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ive been reading alot lately of people not reversingboxes. What are your thoughts? This is my first winter with bees and I planned on reversing as I though once the bees move up, they will not move back down. Ive read alot where people add a super but they never mention what happens to the bottom hive body once the bees move up.
 

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I normally reverse them but it's out of habit. This year I'll be doing it on 1/2 of my hives to see if it makes any difference. Some here swear by it and other swear at it as unrequired additional work. That's one of the great things about beekeeping, you get to do what fits how you want to keep bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah I figured it was okay either way, but if you don't reverse will the bees work back down to the bottom box?
 

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MSbeekeeper,

Bear with my little story, and eventually I'll get to the point.:popcorn:

I'll pass along what an older beek told me. I always get a kick out of this one particular fellow. He keeps telling me I over think these things and to remember, we're talking about a creature with a brain smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence.

Background: 'Ol George claims, the bees are like cats, always looking for a warm spot. All the colonies he's found in trees have an area above and below the entry/exit hole, and believes the bees move up and down inside the tree following a temperature gradient. Just like us beekeepers, it's easier to work honey and wax when it's warmer. So if the bees have a choice, they will put their capped stores higher in the tree cavity. As it gets warmer through the summer, it gets a little hot and stuffy at the top of the cavity so they work their way into the cooler lower cavity. As fall and winter come, up they go back up into the warmer cavity where it just so happens they're food stores are. If all goes well, the colony will have enough stores when the spring flows start, allowing them to do what almost every other creature on this earth does and that's reproduce when the most food is available. So they issue a swarm and leave the parent colony with enough provisions (food and bees) to comfortably continue the cycle.

Like the tree, our double deep Langs, have somewhat that same stratification of heat as the tree cavity. Unfortunately we can't duplicate the higher R values or moisture absorbing properties of the tree cavities using our 3/4" pine Lang walls. The colder the climate, the worse the problem. In the winter it's colder and we get condensation on all the interior cold surfaces, making our hives more like a cold, damp dungeon reducing survival rates. He claims, more ventilation is a necessary evil to keep them dry. The bees do the best they can, clustering in the center to warm each other and climbing trying to find warmer conditions. Adding warmth, i.e. wrapping with tar paper, wind/snow breaks, etc., increases the condensation point which reduces the dampness and the warmer bees expand their cluster ultimately reaching their honey stores. The problem being the more active the bees are and the more they can eat the more moisture they produce and that vicious cycle continues fanning the wrapping argument!

Now to the point (sorry it took so long, but that's what happens when your brain is bigger than a dot...I'm not saying it's a good thing!) According to 'ol George; especially if you keep the hives wrapped to gather more solar gain in the early spring, the upper box will understandably be the warmest and draw the bees and brood operations up there like a cat to a sunny window sill. Food helps, but they know if they look pathetic enough, we crazy beekeepers will feed them just like a new found stray puppy (about that brain smaller than a dot - yet another dumb animal!) Doesn't matter if you reverse the boxes or not - they want warmth like all of us - and they'll try to make the upper box home. As the season progresses, flows begin, brood hatches, and the bees will eventually be forced to "expand" into the lower box if, and this is the big IF, like our tree, our lower box warms up and the upper box is hot enough to work the wax and honey into capped stores. Of course, during this progression, if the colony feels there are enough provisions for the parent colony so they can swarm safely...bye bye!

I hope some of you enjoyed my 'ol George story. :sleep: If nothing else, it gives an entertaining perspective on yet another controversial manipulation. This same line of thinking supports his mid-entrances and supering...but that fodder for another thread!!

Enjoy,
Steve
 

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Your question was about the bottom box. Last year I did not reverse. They filled the bottom with pollen and food stores and never moved down with any brood. The formed swarm cells early and I made splits. I will start the season with a reverse this year. It will be 60 deg today my plan is to reverse and add some honey frames felt from a few hives that did not winter well. The biggest thing for swarm controll is, Keep broodnest open for the queen :)to lay in.
 

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When i did my inspection Thursday afternoon, the queen was back in the deep box, and laying again in the deep, almost 6 frames worth. She had also done the medium above it, with again, the same results. She goes wherever and whenever she wants IMHO. Their may be a plausible situation where some do and some do not, but i can take pics and show ya that she did indeed meove back down. When i found here, she had her butt in a cell on frame #4 in the lower deep almost completely at the bottom. The bees have already started storing nectar above her. For me, in my situation....i see no need to reverse. But again, thats just me and my situation.....
 

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tnmx - just out of curiosity;
1) Did you use top or bottom entrances?
2) Did you feed syrup?
3) What was the location of the feed?
 

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tnmx - just out of curiosity;
1) Did you use top or bottom entrances?
2) Did you feed syrup?
3) What was the location of the feed?
1) I have double deep lang hives with bottom entrance. when I am not feeding I use a cover with a notched top entrance also.
2) I do feed with 1:1 syrup.
3) I use a top feeder.
 

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tnmx - thanks, trying to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. I have the same set up. Still too cold here to open the hive to check cluster position. So much to learn...but having fun.
 

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Be careful about reversing with cold nights if the cluster is partially split between two boxes. Sometimes this can spread brood too far apart when it gets very cold they may not be able to cover all the brood if it is not contiguous.

All situations are different, even advice that works great one year may be the worst the next year. Listen to the bees and understand the conditions within which you and your charges are operating. Some years the swarm impulse will be stronger and such manipulations will have more benefit than other years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I went out for an inspection today. And too my amazement I had a weak hive that wintered in one deep as I had bad problems with it last year. They were laying a perfect brood pattern and bees were occupying all frames with only one frame not touched. So I moved that frame to the middle and I added a medium. My bigger hive that I am referring to in the original post is a deep and a medium. The deep (from what I can tell just looking down in it) was looking really good with brood. The medium is filled, I mean filled with honey and the very bottom of those frames have drone brood. So I am not sure a reverse would be in order here. Im guessing, since the queen and brood is down below, but this hive is packed too! So because of this I am lost. I think I am going to split this hive though, just need to figure out when? And I got to taste some honey for the first time as when I pulled a frame up it tore a chunk of comb out, and my wife and I stuck a chunk in the mouths to chew on and HHHHHMMMMMM was that amazingly good!!!!
 

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Fantastic! Plus the sweet taste of success!:applause:

My humble suggestion - Keep on your toes to control swarming in your bigger hive, full boxes and those drones cells throw up a red flag (of course I wish I had such a problem to worry about!) Were you able to open it up to see if the brood nest was being backfilled with nectar/honey or able to see any queen cells? If either are true, that may force you to split that hive immediately before they do it themselves, i.e. swarm. If not, maybe inserting another medium of empty frames comb or foundation under your medium of honey and above the brood will make the colony believe they lack stores for the parent colony to swarm. Might buy you some more time (and honey!) Oh, another 'ol George tip - quit feeding them - they think times are good with plenty of food coming in and they're more likely to swarm if they think food is plentiful.

There are all kinds of ways to handle your bountiful situation to avoid swarming, I just threw out an easy one that's worked for me before, but might not for you. Hopefully, others closer to your climate will chime in with their suggestions.

If you haven't, might be worth your time to read Walt Wright's articles in this forums POV, especially about some of the signs of impending swarming and bee "swarm thinking" that you can apply to your own swarm prevention/control management. There's also a parallel thread currently going on in this forum about reversing to check out if you haven't already.

Good luck.
Steve
 
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