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week 8 inspection with pics - backfilling?

2941 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Charlie King
Hi everyone! Thought I'd share my latest inspection pics.. comments & opinions most welcome! The population is really exploding now and I think the June gap is coming to an end, they seem much busier.

I was wondering whether space in the broodnest is quite normal or perhaps an early indication of a reproductive swarm, as well as any other matters that come to mind (stores etc). I have been considering a split as it is a very good season so far, perhaps a 2 queen system going into winter followed by more splits in the spring.

so how is it looking? :)

(edit: entrance is on the side around bar 4 or 5)

bar 20-15 were only part drawn and/or very fresh with nectar so I did not want to pull them out and photo them

bar 14 - lots of brood , couple of drones and some grey pollen (elder)

bar 13 - lots of worker brood and bees

bar 12 - same again, more honey

bar 11 - and again...

bar 10 - lots of bees , getting angry now!

bar 9 - got to love autofocus! sorry but you get the idea .. perhaps the beginnings of space in the lower centre

bar 8 - lots of space in the centre. open brood on the outside of capped brood

bar 7 - drone comb on the left. if I zoom into the space in the centre I can see lots of dark red pollen in these cells ( possibly red dead nettle). I moved it to the back after bar 14

bar 6 - possibly eggs in these empty cells, hard to tell...

bar 5 - drones and workers and runny bees (see right)

bar 4 - not photographed . its a cut out frame which I cant hold 1 handed! moved to the back after bar 14

bar 3 - similar amount of space in the centre more honey less workers

bar 2 - drone comb .. think I will move this to the back next time. things were a bit hard to work by then...

bar 1 - lots of nectar capped and uincapped

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Gorgeous photographs of what looks (from the vantage point of a beginner) to be a healthy and thriving hive! You're actually taking pictures with one hand and holding comb with the other? Bravo!

Question: What's the purpose of moving the drone comb to the outside of the nest? Is it because the cells are larger and you want them to be used for honey at some point? I, too, have bars that are mostly drone cells, and so far, i've just left them where they are (which is sort of smack in the middle somewhere).
Thanks :) I couldn't recruit any assistance but had to get some pics!

The idea is from les crowders book on topbar beekeeping. He advocates moving dark/old brood comb and drone comb towards the back, behind the broodnest, during the flows. These are filled with honey later on and then later harvested and the brood have a section of clean comb to move into for the dormancy period.

Well worth the read if you get a chance and you are into 'organic' lol
I think i actually have that book, Charlie, though i haven't gotten to it yet. I'll put it on the top of the stack. :)

Thanks for your reply, and for your gorgeous photographs! Keep them coming. I never tire of seeing such beautiful photographs of bees ...
And the idea behind moving old comb to the back for harvesting is so that nasty things arnt given a chance to build up in your hive, pesticides, ect. I've also ran across a study/experiment where they had seen a preference in Varroa mites for the old comb and pretty much ignored comb that was less than a year old. By the time the comb was 3 years old, it was infested with mites. I cant imagine comb that would 5 years or older.
"The space" as you said is just hatched brood. A queen lays in a circular pattern typically, in ever widening circles. The hatching begins the exact same way. Your center hatches first and expands.
Thank you all, I knew I would learn something by posting this!

Any thoughts as to whether to split soon or leave them to decide this year?

Hard to assess I realise, but bearing in mind its my only hive and I want to get the numbers up as well as it being a great flow this year. Autumn is usually pretty good here too (lots of ivy and golden rod)
Beautiful photos! Your bees look fantastic!

About splitting or leaving them -- Think about what you want from your hive because you can usually make bees or you can make honey. You can't make both really. If you're willing to wait for honey, splitting increases your chances of coming through the winter with bees in the spring. And if you have more bees, (fingers crossed), you may have more honey next year.

However, before you split, think about what your upcoming season looks like. Bees typically swarm (which is what a split is supposed to replicate) in the spring because a lot of resources are available. Even more than carbs, bees need the protein from pollen to raise brood. So you'll want to make sure you have plenty of pollen coming in for that.

Do you have some local beeks who can advise you if this is a good time for splitting?
Very nice. I don't think they are back filling. The nectar you see above the brood is the usual honey band forming that you get over brood.
The size of the hive and the drone brood does suggest they might be thinking about swarming in the future. If you keep gapping the brood nest there's a chance you'll keep them from doing so. Btw the grey pollen may well be blackberry which is in flower at the moment. My hives are full of black pollen where they are hitting the poppies that have come up after the oil rape has finished flowering.

I performed a split in mid-late May and I think it was too early for yorkshire I should have left it a few more weeks as june is definitely the swarm season here. I think in Norfolk you are about a month ahead of us season-wise so you might be coming to the end of when drones are being made. Not sure what your local nectar flows are like. Like I said up here we are entering blackberry, and we have a LOT of lime trees in our village. Do you have anyone nearby who can help?
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shannonswyatt its a 17 " bar which gives an internal width of 15" (equilateral triangle) could this be an issue?

About splitting, I am in contact with a local beekeeper (he gave me the bees 8 weeks ago) so I will definitely get some advice from him too. Thanks for advising to find out more about local conditions, I really should find a few more beeks in the area and this is as good an excuse as any!

AugustC I think you are right about a month or so ( this year is a bit strange though its way ahead) poppies have dropped their leaves ,blackberry ( I think) on its way out. The bumblebees work the clover like mad and are now moving to lavender in the afternoon. the pollen chart I'm reading has blackberry as greenish/brown though ?? There is a huge amount of pollen on the bar 7 ( drone comb) which is a dark lipstick red.

Fruitveggirl bees and more bees is what i am after! I would like to keep them on a few different properties I work at as a gardener, honey can come later, just don't want to risk losing them by being too impatient. The beekeeper I got them off doesn't like to work these bees much as they can be quite mean sometimes but they were originally a swarm that moved into a super and survived a very hard winter without assistance.. local (mutt) survivors I personally wouldn't wish to lose! although they started off very dark they have turned more orange /grey, guess that virgin queen has been about :D

If it makes a difference I do know the original colony in the same site filled an entire super full of ivy honey in a very short time last year. but perhaps that's a bit late in the season to make use of?

Thanks for your advice :)
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Sunflowers next then :)
Ivy is often the last flow October/November time. Again local. That would be too late for splitting.
Like I said we have a lot of lime trees (or as my daughter calls them humming trees) in our village which flower in July. They are filled with every pollinator you can imagine and aphids are up their making honey dew too. This provides a continued flow for us but I know July for some can be a little tough for some beeks. If you have a lot of lavender in you area they flower for a long time and honey bees will certainly work them too. I have have planted a strip of lavender plants outside the front of my house. Hardy, perennial, and good for bees. Rosemary is another low maintenance planting option. Then echinacea to follow. That is the problem with bees, they take over every facet of your life in some way or another :)
best of luck.
I had asked about the width since they look very small in the photos. They are actually wider than I thought. If the bars are too narrow they will fill the box too quickly and you could end up with a hive that just swarms. I think the way they bars come down to almost a point makes them look narrower than they really are.
Photos are terrible for scale, no worries.. I tried to stick to accepted sizes as much as possible, its around 110 square inches per side. Although the new hive I am making is a bit smaller, around 95 square inch... swarm hive? the timber is cut so we will see I guess :eek:

Thanks for the tip about limes AugustC , they are producing right now.. I know what you mean about the bees, they have totally changed how I approach gardening already, pesticides, planting etc. just wish they would forage more on garden flowers rather than the farmers monocrops. I'm learning about trees though! oh well I needed a good obsession to get into... err I mean hobby.
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