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I've lent out my book, Beekeeping for Dummies, and can't remember when I should reverse my hive bodies. we've been having a few warm days each week with the bees flying. I haven't done a full hive inspection yet, as there seems to be plenty of burr comb holding the brood frames together.

Thanks,
Mike
 

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Reversing ensures brood will be raised in both boxes and expands the brood area - particularly with older queens, which are less inclined to lay throughout the hive . It also encourages reorganizing of feed in the hive and is thus stimulative. Moreover it ensures that the lower parts of all frames are used by the bees, reduces the honey barrier at the top of the hive, and makes the beekeeper realise when a hive is too light (starving) or too heavy (honey bound).

Terry
 

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What does one have to be CAUTIOUS about? NEVER REVERSE WHEN THE
OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE IS BELOW 50F. You don't dare "split the brood", or some
of it will chill and die. What is "splitting the brood"? If brood is in BOTH the top body
and the lower body, DON'T reverse because the brood will be split away from being
close together into two "islands" of brood wide apart, one island close to the bottom
board and the other island close to the inner cover. Wait a few more days until you find
90%-100% of the brood in the top body and almost zero brood in the lower body, and
then, REVERSE.

Terry
 

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Or when ALL the bees are in the top box, and NONE are in the bottom. That is what I just got done doing with mine. Had 1 that all were still in the bottom with no brood in the top. Tons of bees, brood all in the bottom, just left it with a bee pro patty, which they attacked and started feeding on. Hope they start to move up next week, I want to split that hive.
 

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Mike:

That book is exacellent. I read it...actually it was my first bee book that I did read.

So, I must share my conclusion of reversing hive boddies. I do not think it is a mandatory thing to do. You should just go out there and reverse the hive boddies. However, I do think that reversing is a tool that you have in your arsenal to use. Do you need to do it all the time? No. I think it depends on each different hive. You must wait until it is a nice day and inspect the hive fully. If you see frames of bees in the upper deep, then take a note that this hive should be reversed. Do not forget that you can manipulate frames too.

Here in Oregon, it is still to cold to consider reversing. We have had some nice days which are good for inspecting both deeps to SEE IF they need to be reversed. Just do not assume they need to be because the book tells you too.

JMO!
 

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I was thinking about switching my setup from 2 deeps to 1deep w/1 med. for my brood nest as some have advised me(commerical guys).Seems like if I was going to try this,the best time might be before the queen moves down.I will have to give them foundation(only have deeps),does this sound O.K.?
Thought about letting them fill both deeps,then doing an even split in middle of May,then giving them the medium.Bad move?
Sorry if I am getting off your question,just something that I have been trying to decide,and seems kind of related.Thanks.
 

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I swap them when I'm doing a spring inspection (because the weather is nice enough) and the bottom box is empty. Otherwise I leave them alone.

George Imire seems to be a believer in reversing over and over and over all through the buildup to prevent swarming. I'm sure it does because they are constantly rearranging the brood nest. But I don't do it. Sounds like a lot of work for me and the bees.
 

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MWJohnson, either way would be fine. If you want increase in the number of hives I would wait and reverse if need until ready to split. I would split right about the start of the flow. I would make it like a cut down split used for honey production. I would leave one frame of eggs or very young brood at the original stand and the rest of the open brood and queen goes to the new hive. The split will raise a new queen and make more honey as it has no brood to care for. Many of us have went to all mediums. Less weight to lift and everything is interchangable.
 

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> was thinking about switching my setup from 2 deeps to 1deep w/1 med. for my brood nest as some have advised me(commerical guys).Seems like if I was going to try this,the best time might be before the queen moves down.I will have to give them foundation(only have deeps),does this sound O.K.?

Sure.

>Thought about letting them fill both deeps,then doing an even split in middle of May,then giving them the medium.Bad move?

That works too.

I guess I don't see an advantage to two different kinds of frames in the hive let alone in the brood nest. It complicates doing splits. It complicates giving them stores. When all of them are the same size you can put any frame anywhere.

Going to all mediums was the smartest thing I did.
 

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Not to beat up on Terry, as he simply is
repeating what has been said in many books.

Not to beat up on my buddy Howland Blackiston,
either - he did a fine job of organizing
information in his book, but he also repeated
what was said in other, prior books, and clearly
did not cross-check everything as well as one
might wish.

About the only well-known author with a
clue on this issue would be Walt Wright.

As such, there are multiple "old wives tales"
repeated in the books, ones that do not even
stand up to a cursory examination by a critical
mind that remembers a few basic facts about
well-documented bee behavior.

The good news is that bees are highly adaptable
creatures, and can tolerate, perhaps even thrive
under a wide range of beekeeper-induced
"manipulations", even though some approach "outright abuse".

The business about "reversing" is as result of
a study down in the 1950s in MI or WI, where
massive 12-frame deeps were used in a 3-box
broodnest/overwinter stores configuration.
Modern beekeeping has little in common practices
that might have made sense with 12-frame/3-deep
configurations.

> Reversing ensures brood will be raised in both
> boxes

No, it really assures nothing at all. If the
brood patch is split between boxes, reversing
will turn what was a single, cohesive brood
area into two isolated patches, which will make
brood rearing more difficult in early spring
due to the need to have a minimum critical mass
of bees to keep the two brood areas warm enough
(95+ F!). You might actually LOSE some brood
when reversing if you get a cold night or two.

Splitting the brood area will in many cases
cause bees to move eggs around in an attempt
to re-create a cohesive brood area. This is
both a waste of bee effort, and a risk to the
specific eggs moved, which tend to have a lower
hatch rate than eggs that are left alone.

Even if one does not split the broodnest, moving
the brood area to the bottom (the usual goal)
creates exactly the opposite of what happens in
a natural (wild) hive. Wild hives are built
from the top down. The only expansion directions
are downward and outward. Of course laying will
happen in a downward direction. The only
"incentive" that can "lure" the laying in any
specific direction would be some nice fresh
comb, as newer comb is favored over older for
brood rearing.

> and expands the brood area

The mere movement of the brood area (if all in
one box) or division of the brood area (if
split between boxes) will do nothing to "expand"
the brood area. The queen will lay no faster,
and her "court" will still herd her around in an
attempt to keep the brood area contiguous.

> particularly with older queens, which are
> less inclined to lay throughout the hive.

This is also easily refuted. The queen has no
"choice" in the matter, she is "herded around"
by her attendants. While an older queen certainly
will not lay eggs at the same average rate as a
new queen, the age of the queen does not change
how far the group of bees herding her around are
"willing" to herd her. In fact, the primary
mission-critical motivation is to keep the brood
nest contiguous, so if the queen is laying at a
good rate, and there is sufficient fresh nectar
(or the equivalent in thin syrup) and pollen
coming in, the brood next will expand in a
spherical manner from wherever it is.

If you want a larger brood sphere, you need a
new queen. Its really just that simple! Queens
are more like "livestock" to the bees than
"royalty". They herd her around, she lays eggs,
and they take care of her. When she starts to
show signs of no longer being a good egg layer,
they kill her without a moment's remorse.

> It also encourages reorganizing of feed in the
> hive

Yeah, and what a waste of effort that is!
Those bees might be otherwise drawing comb!!!

> and is thus stimulative.

This is a highly unusual use of the term
"stimulative", one to which we have hitherto
been unexposed.
I would think a better
term would be "an impediment to colony expansion".


> Moreover it ensures that the lower parts of
> all frames are used by the bees,

The whole business of "lower parts of frames"
is a function of being near the entrance, where
there is lots of foot traffic. One does not
place one's nursery in the front hall, nor does
one put one's pantry in the front hall. Bees
have the same "problems" as you would with such
an arrangement. Reversing simply changes which
frame-bottoms are nearest the entrance, it does
nothing to "solve" the problem. Some folks use
slatted racks to "solve" this problem, as some
of the problem is said to be the light and breeze
coming in from the entrance. I'd agree that the
breeze from the entrance would make brood rearing
more difficult, but I still think that the
operative factor here is "foot traffic" in
the "font hall".

> reduces the honey barrier at the top of the
> hive

Well, if there IS a "honey barrier" in the
topmost box, then moving that box to the
bottom does what? It puts the "honey barrier"
SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN BROOD
NEST!!! That's not a good idea, is it?


> and makes the beekeeper realize when a hive
> is too light (starving) or too heavy (honey
> bound).

Well OK, but one can simply heft the hive
by lifting from the back of the hive, and
get the same information without tearing the
hive apart.

If you look at an observation hive long enough,
you will notice that "up and down" really are
no big deal to the bees, and there is no
"unwillingness" to "move downwards".

Reversing brood nest chambers is a harmless
waste of effort if the broodnest is confined
to one chamber, and will SLOW DOWN colony
expansion if the brood nest is split between
the two chambers. Blindly reversing chambers
without looking at the extent of the existing
brood pattern and considering the implications
would be a very very dumb move.

Yes, I know that everyone and his brother has
written books that make claims about reversing,
including Dewery, Diane, the late Roger Morse,
and dozens of others. If questioned, they
have little or nothing to support the claims.

There is zero evidence to support those claims,
and even a cursory examination by the casual
observer can refute the claims

So, beekeeping is NOT for dummies.
You have to at least be as smart as the bees.


jim
 

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Even if one does not split the broodnest, moving
the brood area to the bottom (the usual goal)
creates exactly the opposite of what happens in
a natural (wild) hive. Wild hives are built
from the top down.
Is anyone aware of any research or attempts to build a modern hive that recognizes and takes this natural condition into account, other than top bar hives? I'm thinking of standard moveable frames with foundation in 8 to 10 frame boxes that are in the exact reverse order of what we consider a "normal" configuration. As Jim points out, we tend to design and manage according to what fits our comfort zone rather than the bees'. Top bars appear to resolve all but the uniformity constraints required in a sideline or commercial apiary where cost and efficiency demand certain standards of size, interchangeability, extractability, etc.
 

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I tried installing a package in four medium boxes with foundationless frames. The cluster hung at the top in the center and built down, not up. The hive did fine. I agree if you let them do what is natural they build from the top down. Not the bottom up.
 

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I use to be a follower of reversing, but have been finding in my own hives, that it really is a waste of time, and hard on the bees. Found out by accident by an overworked spring.
I have never had a queen stuck laying in the top box. She has always gone down when she needs to. Keep in mind, that I dont clean my burr comb (or what ever it is called) from my top and bottom bars of my frmaes. I think this helps her cross b/w the two boxes.
Shes happy, just left alone, to do here work the way she intended to.

Now, you have to realize also that I do split down my hives in the spring as a method of swarm control. This decreases my likely hood of mass colony swarming. So I guess the question now is, does reversing prevent a stronge spring hive from swarming? I doubt it. Probably just delays things as the brood nest is all mixed up,...
 

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>Probably just delays things as the brood nest is all mixed up,...

I agree. I also agree with Jim and that's why I don't reverse.

But if you follow George Imirie's logic, you just keep delaying it and delaying it and delaying it...
 

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I've tried reversing and not-reversing hives in the same apiary using overwintered hives that were about the same strength. Results: the reversed hives were much stronger after about 6 weeks - with bees and brood in both hive bodies. So far this spring I've only reversed two hives - I hope to reverse all at some point.

Jim - do you have a reference for bees moving eggs? I've never seen nor heard of this and would like to read about it. Thanx

:cool:
 

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> Jim - do you have a reference for bees moving eggs?

Heck - any book that covers basic bee biology.
There are dozens out there.

The most obvious "moved" egg would be one
used to make an "emergency queen cell"
in the case of the untimely death of a queen
with no queen cell "in progress".
 

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"I tried installing a package in four medium boxes with foundationless frames. The cluster hung at the top in the center and built down, not up. The hive did fine. I agree if you let them do what is natural they build from the top down. Not the bottom up."

Reminds me of my sister-in-laws first package.

She is a "I can do it myself, I read the book type of person. (I love her dearly) She installed a package a few years back and decided that it was better if she put the gallon feeder directly on the top bars. She then added an empty deep box, inner and top cover. When she went back to check the queen, she found that the bees had built some very nice comb. Problem was the comb was attached to the inner cover!
What a mess.
She shook them down, removed the wild comb and put the feeder above the inner cover and they turned out alright.
 

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Don't reverse, Just inspect for disease, split and/or requeen. the less you manipulate your colonies the more they produce.

Do put all the frames and hive bodies back in order as you close up.

the KISS principle for beekeeping
 
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