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2nd Brood Box - to close to winter?


#1

I’m trying to solve a problem. The current brood box has comb all through it and not on the frames. Beginners error for sure and after a stack of research I’m anticipating a huge mess!

To mitigate the risk of wrecking the hive entirely I want to put a 2nd brood box in. The intent is to allow the queen to move up. At some point, maybe next spring, I’ll confirm she’s in the top Brood box and take the bottom box away to clean up.

I’ve got the 2nd brook box ready but am starting to think it’s too late in the season to add it. I’m on the NSW central cost and when it stop raining I want to drop it on.

Thoughts? Is it too close to winter? A better way to fix this problem?


#2

What are your temps like now through winter?


#3

Hi Lincoln,
Sounds like you need to clean up asap. With messy comb all through broodbox 1 you might have SHB or wax moth. If you have plenty of bees, they prob will be able to keep those pests under control, but maybe not if you add space with broodbox 2. And who says they will build better in box 2?
Did you use foundation? If you went foundationless, you should have checked the bees’ efforts. Easy to fix in the beginning, and once you straighten out the comb, the bees build straight. Beautiful to watch as they build all that nice clean comb.
You did not say if you put your flow super on and when you started your hive.
There is plenty of nectar around, especially after the rains, if your climate is similar to up here in Byron. The bees will easily be able to manage after you fixed that comb.
Sounds like you could do with a little help, by yourself it can be daunting to fix up an entire box of crazy comb if you never did it before. I remember how much I sweated when I fixed only one crooked frame the first time. All easy now.
Don’t wait till spring is my advice. You may just double the trouble with a second broodbox, and you still have to fix it. It ain’t go away.
Hopefully some of our more experienced beeks have better solutions.


#4

Mid to high single digits Celsius as a low with the occasional zero.


#5

Thanks Webclan.

To answer some of the q’s.

  • I’ve got the Flow Super on and they are largely full. In fact I’ve raided 4 * frames so far - 2 at a time. All of them could be raided now.

  • I went foundationless initially and, to your point, failed to check them regularly enough as they drew out the comb. The new brood box I have ready has foundation in them so I’m hoping that’ll help (and I’ll check more regularly).

  • There is SHB at the moment but not in huge numbers and they are well managed by the bee’s.

Any tips on cleaning up the messy comb? It feels like I need to get a sharp knife and cut through the comb where it joins the other frames. Then what? I have heard perhaps squashing it all in and holding it with some big rubber bands (which the bee’s will eventually get rid of).

I’m not afraid it give it a go, but I dont want to lose the queen and wreck the hive. :wink:

I’ve off to the local Beek meet next week. I might need an expert to come help!


#6

Hi Lincoln, thats exactly what you need to do… its quite simple. If you are worried about the queen then find her first then start with the comb at the other end of the hive. Work methodically at your own pace and you’ll get the hang of it, there will be casualities so don’t fuss about saving every bee. Once you have a few frames in the new box, cut the comb with the queen on and allow her to walk off that comb and onto the new frames and elastic band held comb. Better still grab her very gently (without gloves) and place her in the box.

Not sure why you need 2 brood boxes, the climate in this part of NSW and especially on the coast is mild and if you live in an urban environment they don’t need much honey to get them through winter. 2 brood boxes will mean 20 brood frames to check instead of 10 and to be honest a lot of honey frames will be mixed in there too, thus less honey goes into your Flow frames. Its up to you, I have experimented with the double brood and have gone back to single, easier to manage, no noticeable difference in bee numbers (brood is wall-to-wall) and the bees tend to congregate more at the entrance at night which helps to keep and the invaders out (SHB and Wax Moth)


#7

Thanks mate. Just on this point though

Are you suggesting cutting the frames, fixing them and relocating them to a whole new box? Why not just drop the fixed frame back into the existing box?


#8

Even better… I figured if your existing box was filled with cross-comb then it may be easier to put them into a new box, even if temporarily until the original box is cleaned up of all wax


#9

Agree with Rodderick entirely.
Also, putting the fixed up comb into the new box as you go gives you a chance to clean the old box properly. Perhaps even give it a new oil or paint layer after.
I think you should observe to refix the comb into the frames the right way up, else the bees have to fix it and need to do more work. Not 100% certain of that though, but would make sense.
I only manage 2 hives, but I noticed my bees are calmer without smoke, as long as I work slowly. With smoke they get all agitated and suck up their honey, which doesn’t help when I want to cut up their honey comb and redistribute it.
Learned to shake the bees off good by watching JeffH’s videos. Even work bare handed often now.
By all means, use your smoker though, as my experience is just mine and my friends’ bees are happy with smoke. And yes, I used what they all use in their smokers, dry gum leaves and pine needles.
I used to not wanting to do any serious work in my hive until I finally found the queen. Just look more often till you find her. It all takes practice, and with that comes confidence.
I usually find my queen on one second outside frame about mid morning. Towards night time she should be back in the Centre of her brood nest. Might be coincidental, but is another of my observations.


#10

Thanks both. So to be clear there process will be:

  • Open Brood Box 1 and cut away the cross comb frame by frame.
  • Look for the queen on each cut up frame and I find her coax her onto the fixed frames in Brood Box 2
  • “Fix” the frames by squashing back into shape and securing with elastic bands
  • Put the “fixed” frames into new Brood Box 2
  • Put Brood Box 2 in the place of Brood Box 1 and put the flow super back on top.

How many elastic bands do you think per frame?
Also, How do I make sure all the bee’s from Brood Box 1 head over to Brood box 2?


#11

Try not to squash the comb if you can, use a knife to trim the edges to fit into each frame aiming to keep as much brood as possible, 2-3 elastic bands should do and you could put the frames back into the original brood box 1 after you cleaned up the box errant wax with the hive tool. Good luck.


#12

Just start on the outside frames, might not be as bad as it looks once you separate them from each other. If you find fully drawn frames, just leave them and just take away all the excess comb. Hope you find brood straight in frames, if you do, just leave the nurse bees on when you transfer. If all your brood is in cross combs, you want to carefully reattach to a frame and put in the Centre of new box. I found, if you went foundationless, you can glue the fresh comb nicely onto the wooden strip up top of frame.
How many rubber bands? Are you kidding? As many as you think you need for it not to fall out. The bees will work on it.
Look at a picture of how bees arrange their resources in a broodbox and on the frames. That gives you an idea how to put it all together in your nice clean new box.
I would have broodbox 2 on a table next to the hive and start the transfer. As soon as you have more frames in the new box, swap them and finish the job. Have a small clean container with lid ready for the nice honey comb you can take. And a bucket for the rest, might be able to render some wax later. If you have no potential robbers around, you can leave it near the hive for a couple of hours for the bees to clean out. But watch it. They usually clean it out in an hour.
I always put a big white shit on the ground under my work area, in case I drop something, or, oh, find the queen.
If you have bees in your old box, just shake it out over the new one. And leave it near the hive tipped on the side if there are still some.
You will feel better after you did this. It’s a big job when it’s your first time. It sure gets your experience level and confidence up a couple of notches.
A friend or mentor would be good to have around.
I learned a lot via videos and helping out other newbeeks. Sciencemaster has been a great mentor to me too.


#13

Many thanks all. I’ll give it crack this weekend. Have lined up another newbeek to help / learn / laugh…oh and to film it! More as I get it. :slight_smile:

Cheers


#14

Be awesome to see some footage. On and ahead! Can only get sorted. If nothing else, you guys will learn a lot.


#15

If it’s still going to be warm enough for foraging for a few weeks and you can capture the queen without destroying the combs:

Place the queen in the new top brood box ABOVE an excluder and old box. Workers will come up and tend to her. Feed, Feed, Feed, 1:1 sugar syrup and the bees will draw wax like crazy in the new box and the queen will start laying. It must be a feeder that allows them to consume large amounts very quickly. You may want to put some foundation or some comb guides to entice the bees with correct alignment. Once you are satisfied and BEFORE winter cold sets in, remove the excluder so the queen can follow the cluster. Almost forgot…FEED FEED FEED!

Next spring, deal with the messy box below.


#16

Usually 3 rubber bands will do. You can add as many more as you like , but each one will potentially crush a line into the brood comb. Size 16 is a perfect fit for the height of a full depth frame and size 32 lengthwise.

I’d suggest, before jumping straight into cutting up the old brood, remove your Flow super and your jammed up box and put your fresh brood box in place instead (with the Flow super back on if you’d like). Shake your jammed up box out the front of the new hive set-up to dislodge as many bees as possible who should start walking back inside. If you then place the old brood box with frames on it’s end, and facing into the sun the rest of the bees may follow their mates and walk back into the original site over the next half hour or so. If you’re lucky the original shake may include the queen and you may see her walk back in to the original hive site.

   If I knew the queen was on the new frames, I would then re-arrange my boxes with jammed up box at the bottom- then queen excluder -then box of new frames with the queen, topped with the flow super (over another excluder if you have it). After 21 days any brood in the jammed up box will have hatched, and you can then hack away without fear of damaging brood and any extra comb you cut off can be crushed to extract the honey. Meanwhile the queen has hopefully spent 3 weeks laying brood on fresh frames.

If the bees all move off the jammed up box, you have the choice of doing the above or cutting and correcting the wayward frames straight away. If the bees don't all move off the jammed up box, at least you've reduced the numbers on the frames and means fewer to crush as you pull the old frames out to clean up.

#17

That was my original plan Red but I’ve been convinced to try and clean up the mess now. I’m going to do that, if only for the fun / learning of it all. lol.

I’ve only been living here for a year or so so not really up with the weather patterns yet - even if you could tell with this crazy weather.


#18

Hi Webber clan, I think I spotted a spelling error in this post:) You probably meant to say “sheet”.


#19

Holy sheet, yes. Never noticed. Good pick up JeffH.
Hope GeekGardenCook is going to find his queen before he has to try to produce that to find his lost queen on!
Apologies, English is my second language. Sheets sound all the same.
Cheers, Barbara Ki’a’i.


#20

Thanks Barbara, same here.
You are doing very well, seeing as English is your second language, cheers:)