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Discussion Starter #161
So did they drawn comb on the first couple frames when you first started doing OSBN?

I don't checkboard the supers. Just maintain 2 frames of foundation in each super. Only the top Box has more than 2 frames of foundation.

I'm wondering if there are too many options of undrawn frames for them to work on.

As long as they are continuing to draw comb.
They may be moving that nectar out of the broodnest at night once there is empty drawn comb to put it in.

But I would keep a close eye on them over the next 2 weeks. Check within the next week.
The queen needs to have empty cells to lay eggs in, so not drawing comb beside the broodnest is bit of a concern.
It should now be warm enough and there be a large enough population to move an undrawn frame over, so that it is inside the broodnest instead. That should get more attention.
 

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Hey Matt,
I tried OSBN last season but was behind from the start and was determined to stay on schedule this year but it has been a wet and cold spring so far. I expect to start seeing dandelions in abundance in 10 days, so I am behind where I want to be. I will be doing the first full inspection and breakdown of my hives tomorrow and adding one OSBN frame and one frame of foundation, but may do each side of the broodnest if it looks like they are getting way ahead of me. Congrats on your fantastic year. J
 

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Discussion Starter #163
Thanks for the update Fivej,

I usually do a full inspection the first chance after winter and then try to get into the hives for a second inspection 3 weeks before Swarm Season. Put it in as a calendar reminder if you need to. If the weather isn't great, as long as it is warm enough for the bees to move around the hive during the day, I would still move two frames with honey on them up into a new box. Put the inner cover inbetween the boxes if you are worried about cold nights.

Gopherknoll, I should mention that I use to checkerboard foundation with drawn comb, but found it caused a couple of issues. The main one being fat and thin comb. But the other was that the bees were less focused on comb building specific frames, it was a bit haphazard. I think due to too main options. So I don't give them any more than 2 frames to work on, except in the top box.

With Supers I basically do OSBN on the existing top 2 boxes (Supers are treated in the same way) each time that a New Box is added.

So 2 Drawn Frames from each box are moved up into each New Box (4 Drawn Frames). The top box has the drawn frames all together in the middle of the box.

Remeber the focus is on creating holes around the existing nest. This is where the comb is built best.
 

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Discussion Starter #164



I have been doing final extracting before winter and found one of the plastic Partial Foundation Frames with the Wedge Shape that was shown towards the start of this thread.

This photo is a close-up of the right side of the Partial Foundation Frame after comb has been drawn out on the Wedge Shape Foundation (and then extracted).

Notice that the foundation-less part has been drawn as Drone Comb and the plastic foundation drawn as Worker Comb.
Also, note the darker area where brood has been raised. The amount of area used for Drone Brood is not large.
 

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Discussion Starter #165 (Edited)
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......
Hi Gopherknoll,
Just wondering how things are going and if you had a chance to check the hives?

Karen said she had a hive stop Wax Making. I'm thinking Wax Making stopped because of lack of incoming nectar due to the weather or because of plenty of empty comb.

With your hives that stopped Wax Making in the Brood box, were they given empty Drawn Comb?

Getting them to start Wax Making again can be a challenge at times.

I believe Wax Making starts to happens when house bees don't have enough empty comb to put the nectar, so they have to store nectar in their Honey Stomach.

With OSBN I am triggering Wax Making and then trying to keep it continuing in the Broodnest throughout Swarm Season. (So I believe a Partial Foundation works to trigger Wax Making by causing the bees on the outer edges of the Broodnest to store honey in their Honey Stomach).

Now that the Main Flow has started the bees focus will be on bringing in as much nectar as possible. Swarming from now is much less likely and the Broodnest naturally reduces in size due to the incoming nectar. You want the Broodnest to be reducing now, otherwise you end up with a large population in Summer and into the dearth (if you have one). Then they will need more feed for that period.

So don't give the Queen heaps of space from now on. You can put on an excluder and reduce the Broodnest to a Single Deep or Two Mediums. Could also be a good time to make Nucs if you want some.

The hive's focus has switched to gathering nectar, so making sure they have space to store that nectar is what is needed. Wax Making is more in the Supers.

You may be able to use hives that are Wax Making to make Drawn Comb to give to the hives that may have stopped Wax Making. You can also boost the number of young bees to continue to make wax by giving frames of capped brood from bigger hives to the Wax Making hives.
 

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Discussion Starter #166
Now that the southern states of the USA are well into the Main Flow, I would be interested to hear how people have gone this year with OSBN.

Also of interest, a question for those seeing backfilling of the Broodnest during the Main Flow:
Has this resulted in Swarm Prep, or do the bees continue to move the nectar up and out and store the nectar in the Supers?

I haven't seen any issues once the Main Flow starts, but would interested to see what others see happening during the Main Flow.
 

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As far as the states and my limited time doing this- 6a 3rd year, very late last frost date. 29 F at night just a few days ago, compared to last rainy year April when we had better planting weather and an earlier last frost date. We are also just now seeing drones in more abundance. I also felt compelled to feed for just a week recently to keep momentum and stimulate wax making. Not a big deal just unexpected. Whatever. This process is working in my hives as long as I get out of my head about the dates.
 

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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......
Hi, Matt. Sorry I didn't get back to update this. You asked questions that I couldn't really answer without a new visit to the bee yard. So - about half of our hives either didn't pull out the cut-out frames or used old wax to do so. Only a couple pulled cut-outs with white wax early. We were not feeding sugar water early this year and that may have made the difference there. Of 14 hives, 1 superceded queen on its own, 2 were forced to requeen early because we pinched very aggressive queens in early February.

We used OSBN and checkerboarding honey stores above the brood nest on all hives beginning Feb 7. By 4/30 we were seeing backfilling in most hives. One small hive of Sasketraz bees swarmed - likely more than once. We have only seen queen cells in one other hive and they appeared to be supercedures in May. 4 of the remaining hives seem to be fine with no current signs of swarm intent using only OSBN and checkerboarding.

5 hives had moved to such complete backfilling that even though there were no swarm cells, we went ahead and did a Snelgrove vertical split. When we did, the bees removed all the backfilling from the broodnest area. We took all those hives back to normal configuration and removed the Snelgroves last week. Hopefully at this point, they will be past reproductive swarm urge. We saw one swarm leave the apiary (not the Saskatraz hive) but never found queen cells in the only hive that seemed to have a lower cluster size. We caught two small swarms - possibly cast swarms from the Saskatraz.

Bottom line: Of 14 hives we feel we had only two swarms plus a probable cast swarm. On 7 hives we used only OSBN / checkerboarding. 5 used both OSBN AND a snelgrove split due to heavy backfilling. We are feeling it has been a very successful year. All hives are pulling white wax for nectar storage at this point.

I hope I answered your questions, but would be happy to share our online apiary notes with you if you'd find that helpful. If so, let me know what email you'd like me to use for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #169
Thank you both for the updates.

The weather here this year has also been frustrating. We went from drought to bushfires, then flooding. We have already had more than the yearly average of rainfall.

Having little nectar and pollen coming in will definitely impact on the bees ability to produce wax.

Gopherknoll, thanks for the offer to share your apiary notes, I would love to see them. I'll send you a PM.
 

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Discussion Starter #172

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Thanks Matt. I think your videos come up really well. Much appreciate the explanation and it’s easier to understand when watching. I’ve started using your method this year, and so far so good. !
 

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Hi Matt, I'm in Perth surrounded with native bush, and I had my first look this season about 6 weeks ago, as soon as the weather permitted on the weekend. I found more drones than I would have liked, and empty queen cups, but no capped queen cells. I placed the OBSN frame one frame further in to slow them down a bit more. Subsequent inspections indicated no signs of swarming. I still keep on inspecting every week or two but usually here the strong flow comes mid summer when the Marris are in flower.

Being adjacent to a national park I am extra careful not to let my bees swarm and take over the few natural hollows still available for the native wildlife.
 

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Discussion Starter #176
Cool, so that OSBN frame would be drawn by now and have brood in it?

Here in Gippsland swarm season starts the first week of October and goes through until around mid November. Main flow starts mid November when the tea tree flowers here. Once swarm season starts the key to OSBN is maintaining 2 empty or new frames per box throughout the swarm season. So if that frame is drawn and being used, you should open up the sides of the brood nest again now.

Thanks for giving OSBN a go.
 

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I have been working on this method for several years now and wish I had known about it when I first started out beekeeping. Give it a go and let us know how it goes for you.
Yes - it would have saved you a lot of time and experimentation. The generally accepted term for this method is "Brood-Nest Spreading" and is standard practice these days for anyone who uses a Horizontal Hive.

It's a method which probably dates back to around 1860, just as soon as removable frames became popular. Doolittle mentions this method in passing during 1883 in ABJ within a reply to a reader's question - his actual wording was " ... spreading the brood, and by other ways familiar to the apiarist." - so by then it had fairiy obviously become a well-established technique. Useful for both Spring build-up and to help prevent swarming.
'best
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #179
Thanks Little John, in my 30 years of Beekeeping I do not recall having seen Brood-Nest Spreading as a technique.

If I have, I would have thought it was the same thing as “Expanding the Brood Nest” as “Spreading” would imply making the Brood Nest wider by inserting frame(s) into the Brood Nest.

A quick Google search shows little references to it. Mainly in the UK. Also confusion about what exactly it is.

As you know, I would deter people from inserting frames into the Brood Nest as it forces the bees to have to heat a larger volume than what they are used to. Here in early Spring there can be sudden drops in temperature which can cause chilled Brood if that is done.

Ecc 1:9 “There is nothing new under the sun.”
 
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