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Matt,

I have 4 hives and for the FIRST time in my 4 years of beekeeping I had ZERO swarms with your method. Every 7 to 10 days I was adding half sheets of foundation or starter strips. They drew a lot of drone comb (which I cut out after it was capped), but never made the first swarm cell. It sure is nice to see the same queens in the hive and the honey harvest will be double at minimum compared to most years. I wish I would have found this method some time ago. Thanks for the thread and the knowledge you shared.
 

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Update. My first hive the parent colony of a split I made 6 days ago loaded with Capped swarm and emergency cells. The queen from this hive was moved with the split so the parent colony could make a new queen. So I left all cells. Will they still swarm if there is no queen?

The other one we have been discussing loaded with queen cells and capped queen cells. And also emergency cells. I made a split. Not sure what to do with the cells that I left in the hive because I can’t find the queen and there’s no eggs. I don’t want to tear the cells down if there is no queen. There were eggs four days ago but they are backfilling the brood nest. Don’t even know if she is in there. One of the biggest problems with this hive is I can never find the queen she is very hard to find she was marked but the bees cleaner off. Any suggestions don’t really want more bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #144
Hi Sickdog,

Yes is likely they will Swarm if there are multiple Queen Cells. Called After Swarms which have Virgin Queens.
If there are no eggs or sign of the Queen, they may have already swarmed when the first Queen Cells started to get capped.

I would remove all but the best looking 2-3 Queen Cells within the next couple of days.
 

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If I tear them down will that prevent after swarms?

The other hive they didn’t swarm because the hive is packed full of bees. Should I tear those down?
 

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I will go in tomorrow and tear down all the swarm cells. Leave a couple of cells in my queenless hive so they can re-queen themselves. And then we’ll see what they do. Next year I will definitely start the OSBN method a lot sooner. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #148
Jason, to reduce Drone Comb I've made a few minor changes to the Method since starting this Thread.

Here is the latest version of the OSBN Method and Notes. Also, go to the Website Page to view it directly: http://daveybees.wikidot.com/openingthesides

OPENING THE SIDES OF THE BROODNEST

Steps:


  1. 3-4 weeks before your usual Swarm Season, move each outermost frame from a Brood Box up into the middle of a New Box (of Undrawn Frames), placed directly above the Broodnest. (So that 2 Old Frames have moved up.)
  2. Insert a New Frame (with large Hole(s)) on each outside edge of the Broodnest of the Brood Box. So that Brood frames are only on one side of each New Frame. (2 New Frames inserted, one Partial Frame and the other can be Full Foundation.)
  3. Check the Hive in 2 weeks and repeat the steps if comb has been at least partially drawn on the New Frames in the Brood Box. (2 Old Frames moved up, 2 New Frames inserted into the Brood Box.) You will now have 4 Old Drawn Frames that have been moved up into the New Box.
  4. Check again in 2 weeks. The New Box should now have comb getting drawn out.
  5. Throughout Swarm Season ensure that there is at least 2 Undrawn Frames in each Box, placed close to the Broodnest. This is to maintain Wax Making by getting the young bees to draw out new comb. (These Frames can be full sheets of foundation.)

PLEASE NOTE:



  • The New Frame can be Empty Drawn Comb or Foundation, but (at least one) should have a large "hole" that is equivalent to at least 1/4 of the frame. You can just cut off the bottom corners off the comb or foundation to make a Wedge shape.
  • When adding 2 New Frames at once, one can be a Partial Frame of Foundation and the other a Full Frame of Foundation.
  • The Hole(s) will be filled with Drone Comb.
  • If concerned that adding a New Box will be too much space for the bees to heat when temperatures are low. The Inner Cover/Crown Board can be placed in-between the Brood Box and the New Box. This helps to maintain the Temperature in the Brood Box, but the bees still have access to the frames in the New Box through the hole in the Inner Cover/Crown Board. It can be moved up to the top once temperatures are warmer.
  • If the outermost Brood Box frames are moldy, you may wish to remove them completely and not put on a New Box until the third step.
  • It helps to scrape the capping of any capped honey on the frames that are moved up to the New Box.
  • If you still want to use slightly moldy frames, then cut the cappings off any capped honey like when you are extracting. Move them up to the New Box, but have at least a couple of frames of foundation between them. These frames will usually get emptied out.
  • You can start doing this method as soon as Drones are starting to be raised and the weather forecast for the next week is warm.
  • With Partially Drawn New Frames where the comb that is rounded off around the edges, it may help to cut off the rounded edge so that it is rough and damaged. This helps with the bees wanting to repair it.
  • For the bees to move into a box, I have found it best to have at least 3 or 4 drawn combs together, in the middle of the new box. When there is less than 3 frames in a box and not together, they usually get emptied out. So if you have a spare drawn comb, the more the better.
  • If you have to move up a Frame with eggs or brood, place it in the middle of the New Box, directly above the Broodnest.
  • After the 4th Step, you may be able to repeat the steps again with another New Box on top.
  • The timing of 2 weeks is for deep frames. If you use mediums, the times will be shorter and can be more like 1 week.
  • Best to use all the same size frames.
  • It is harder to get bees to drawn out Plastic Foundation. Make sure to rub wax on the plastic and melt with a Hair Dryer.
  • Do not allow the bees to complete a Honey Dome around the Broodnest. Throughout Swarm Season ensure there is always at least 2 Undrawn Frames beside or in the Box above the Broodnest for the bees to work on drawing out comb.
 

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Thanks! nice refresher, we need to it better................We have cut frames in the brood boxes and routinely cut out the drone comb, opening the brood nest. We have not been adding brand new frames every time.

But having the bees do what they are supposed to do is sometimes not possible. We have opened the brood nest, they are not building comb, we have wax un-drawn frames above some of the brood nests and the bees are ignoring them. Honey supers on without a drop of nectar placed in already drawn comb saved from last year................sign ...............and our very short nectar season is 1/2 gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #152
Well it has been another successful season using OSBN.

We are now well into the Main Flow and none of my hives have swarmed.

The largest hive was overwintered in 1 Deep Box. It is now 5 Deeps high, so 4 Deeps of foundation were added. By the end of the flow all 40 new Frames are well on track to be fully drawn, filled with honey and capped. Also took a 4 frame split at the start of the flow.

I also overwintered a 5 frame Nuc. It is now 3 Deeps and I have taken a split from this as well.

Before using this method I overwintered with a Double Deep and would be lucky to get 1-2 Deeps of Foundation drawn, but typically only got around 1 Deep of honey per hive, if they didn't swarm. This is typical for beekeepers in my area.

It was done on 4 hives this season and several hives over the last few years. No swarms and more honey than usual.

I wish I had a larger sample size. More volunteers to try it out would be fantastic!
 

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Matt, What does a typical season look like where you are located? In my area coming out of winter the first blooms start about the first of April. During the month of April, the following all bloom. I will try to put them somewhat in the order of blooming: Almonds, dandelions, plums, peaches, cherries, maples, pears and apples. Spring comes on very fast and furious. There are also a lot of other trees and shrubs I don't keep track of. Swarm season begins in mid-April and pretty much is over by the 20th of May. Every swarm I have every seen or caught was between May 10th and May 20th. Late in May, the black locusts bloom and then the main flow of blackberries begins and is well over by the first of July. At that point, the seasonal rainfall drought begins and almost nothing is blooming until late September when ivy begins blooming.

You mention starting 3-4 weeks before swarm season. 4 weeks before swarm season and into the swarm season is still pretty cold weather with mornings in the high 30's (3-4 degrees C) and highs close to 60 (15 degrees C). I am just curious as to how our blooms and flows differ. Thanks!
 

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I just wanted to chime in here quickly after getting a thread alert via email - I had no swarms this year and used the OSBN method on 2 hives - last year I had 2 hives swarm.

This year I let them build up comb on the frame - and some frames had necter so I left them - then when I caught them in time I pulled them and replaced with another OSBN frame.

I think it worked for me, Ill contine with it next year, and report back. But it easy to do, so why not try it?

Thanks for the technique Matt.

Mike - with snow and winter at my door step...
 

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I did try it again this year and you can see some of my pictures on this thread from 4/9/19. The method does work quite well.
 

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Discussion Starter #156
Matt, What does a typical season look like where you are located? In my area coming out of winter the first blooms start about the first of April. During the month of April, the following all bloom. I will try to put them somewhat in the order of blooming: Almonds, dandelions, plums, peaches, cherries, maples, pears and apples. Spring comes on very fast and furious. There are also a lot of other trees and shrubs I don't keep track of. Swarm season begins in mid-April and pretty much is over by the 20th of May. Every swarm I have every seen or caught was between May 10th and May 20th. Late in May, the black locusts bloom and then the main flow of blackberries begins and is well over by the first of July. At that point, the seasonal rainfall drought begins and almost nothing is blooming until late September when ivy begins blooming.

You mention starting 3-4 weeks before swarm season. 4 weeks before swarm season and into the swarm season is still pretty cold weather with mornings in the high 30's (3-4 degrees C) and highs close to 60 (15 degrees C). I am just curious as to how our blooms and flows differ. Thanks!
Have a look at the climate Data for my Area:



3 weeks before Swarm Season here is mid-September. The Average Minimum for September is 5.9°C (42°F) and Maximum is 17°C (63°F).
We sometimes do get temperatures below freezing in September, but I look at the forecast for the next week to try and avoid that.

You can put the inner cover between the Brood Box and the New Box if worried about it being too cold.

Plums (Japanese) and Cherries flower in August.
Pears, Peaches and Nectarines in September.
Apples from 2nd week of October - Swarm Season.
Tea Tree (Manuka), Clover and many other flowers from mid-November - Main Flow starts.
Blackberries and Dandelion early December.
(We have Dandelions from August-September, but doesn't really bloom until late November-December. May be a different type here in Australia.)
Nothing much from late December - the Summer Solstice.

Also, I start OSBN just before the Spring Equinox.
 

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Discussion Starter #157
Starting to see reports of swarms in the southern states of the US, so if you live there it's time to start OSBN.

I have updated the website with the following Main Points to provide a quick summary of the method.

Opening the Sides of the Brood Nest

Main points -

During Swarm Season:
  • Place undrawn frames on the outer edges of the Brood Nest.
  • Trigger wax making with a Partial Foundation/Foundationless Frame.
  • Maintain at least 2 undrawn frames in every box throughout Swarm Season.
  • Move honey frames up and out of the Brood Box(es).
  • Can start as soon as Drones are being raised.

* This assumes that the hive is looking nearly full, healthy and has a few frames of honey stores.
 

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Starting to see reports of swarms in the southern states of the US, so if you live there it's time to start OSBN.
Indeed it is and I will be employing this technique this year. Had some plastic foundation that they were reluctant to use last year so I cut it to form the wedge and used the cut-offs to do a second frame. These were put in about 4 days ago and I plan to check in the next day or so.
Lots of wet weather this year in my area, after a mild winter, and my hives are very light. Also feeding 1:1 to help them along. Main flow usually peaks in June when the Tallow trees bloom. I plan to continue the OSBN process till mid-July, if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #159
Cool, thanks for the update.

I've had couple of people suggest scoring the plastic foundation with a hive tool or knife and then placing it on a hard straight edge and simply snapping of the corners pieces.

Also waxing plastic foundation really helps. Kaymon Reynolds has a good YouTube video on using a roller to apply the wax. I have also rubbed wax on the foundation and then melted it with a hair dryer.
 

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Hi, Matt.

This is our second year to use your OSBN method. Last year we succeeded in that our bees started pulling wax very early and we ended the season with 36 pulled supers. They did end up swarming due to a combination of our schedules keeping us from following up at the right time and a very, very rainy spring. Every time the weather broke, the hives would swarm.

This year, we've been able to stay with the system and so far we've had no swarms. Our swarms last year started (East Texas) the last weekend in March, so we feel pretty good having made it this far. The hives have really started to gain weight starting last week. We see no queen cells - just the little empty cups sometimes. The bees are actively drawing white wax for nectar. They don't seem concerned right now with pulling wax on our cut-out frames or on empty foundation beside the brood. A couple of times we saw the queen had actually skipped past an OSBN frame and laid eggs in the next over. The brood nest area has been opened in each hive several times and seems not to be confined. The honey stores above the brood nest have been checkerboarded and extra supers added so there is no solid honey crown.

BUT - we see backfilling in the broodnest areas. We've always thought this was the first sign that the hive has decided to swarm - but it is the only sign we see and on the hopeful side, we see them pulling white wax for nectar. We've had plenty of open space in brood nest and checkerboarded supers. And this is May 1. The latest we lost a swarm last year in that very heavy swarm year was May 15. We are well into heavy honey flow. We must surely be coming close to what Walt Wright calls the reproductive cut-off or end of swarm intent.

So - in your opinion, is the backfilling a certain indication that they will swarm regardless of our attentions? We will do vertical splits, as necessary, using a Snelgrove board as needed, since we are pretty near capacity for the apiary, but wishing we could somehow hold them off for a couple more weeks more easily......
 
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