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I hived three swarms between 6 and 8 weeks ago. One of them already filled almost all their hive with brood comb and started swarm cells so I split them last week. The other two have filled over half of the hives and are still expanding their broods nest. I have yet to see any full bars of honey comb in any of my hives. Most bars are about 2/3rds brood with a strip of honey at the top. Is this normal? Are my hives too small? I built them according to Les Crowder's plans (10" wide sides and bottom and 4' long). I'm worried that my other two colonies are going to fill up their hives and I'm going to have to make more splits. When should my bees quite expanding the broods nest and start storing honey?
 

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That is as NORMAL as it gets actually. During the flow they are inclined to build up. This also means building comb, and brood. Most of the time if the hive is new as they are, in the first season where they have to build their combs you may not see full combs of honey until late in the fall. As for your hives it would help to see a pic to know for sure if they are on the small side or not.
 

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drlonzo: Thanks for the quick reply! Here's some pictures to give you an idea. They are built to Les Crowder specs except a bit longer (48" rather than 44").

http://i.imgur.com/jerdBlB.png (this was my booming hive on a hot day just before I did my split)
 

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20140506_123717.jpg

Mine are the same "footprint". I have no advice as this is my first year, but I'm curious as to what others think. Hard to believe they'd have 34-36 bars of brood? I think I can get that many in mine (48" inside of the end caps is my dimension)
 

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I'm worried that my other two colonies are going to fill up their hives and I'm going to have to make more splits. When should my bees quite expanding the broods nest and start storing honey?
My opinion is the hive volume is small for your location. What I would do is once they have the hives 2/3rds to almost full of comb pull the queen. During the queen-less period they should back fill many of the combs as capped honey as the brood emerges as well as build a few more combs.

The original queen may be taken off as a small nuc, one comb of brood and queen. The original hive should re-queen so you can take your pick as to which queen is best moving forward and re-combine after harvesting which will be about one month after pulling the original queen.
 

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drlonzo: Thanks for the quick reply! Here's some pictures to give you an idea. They are built to Les Crowder specs except a bit longer (48" rather than 44").

http://i.imgur.com/jerdBlB.png (this was my booming hive on a hot day just before I did my split)
After taking a good look at your hive, I see nothing wrong with it's size. I know many people that uses these same exact size hives with no problems. From the pic what I see is bearding. How much ventilation have you in the hive? Also what's the temp there? These girls look to be very healthy at this point. You may need to give them a little ventilation on the upper side by opening up a small slot at the far end of the hive in the top bars. This will likely alleviate some of the bearding. Got to remember that they want the nest a constant temp between 92 and 94 and bees in general put off heat..
 

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you SHOULD start seeing honey soon...but harvestable honey on a first year hive...well that will be up to how greedy you want to be...

that said...late july...if you work the comb right you could harvest a couple bars...perhaps more...but that will depend on the nectar flow and such.

have fun!!! nice looking hives ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have two side entrances open. That day got up to around 90 degrees I believe. Thanks for the tips.
 

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STDavis, if you put some space between the top bars and the outer tin lid you will get some air flow and the bearding will go down a bunch. Something like a 2x2 would be good.
 
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