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Backfilling brood nest


#1

Hi all,

We are officially in Autumn in Perth, but it is very hot and humid and there is a great Marri blossom flow on. We have 3 hives full of bees with a queen excluder and one or two supers on each with plenty of room for nectar storage.

The problem that we are having is that the bees are backfilling the brood nest with nectar. We have tried to checkerboard and the bees have drawn out the new frame and again added nectar. There is still lots of capped workers, and some larvae (though no where near as much as a week ago), and we did see one of the queens. There were no queen cells in two of the hives and a play cup in one (still empty from last week), but obviously I’m very worried they will start swarm preparations soon.

So my question is what else can I do to try and get them laying and stop the inevitable swarming? We are checkerboarding on a weekly basis, but this doesn’t seem to be resulting in more eggs & larvae. There are plenty of drones in the the hives so I think there is a late swarming season here. That said I don’t want to split this late in the season, as I want a super full of honey per hive going into winter, and ideally still want to be able to harvest some flow honey, or at least have the bees draw out the flow frames.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers,

Julia


#2

Are you seeing any swarm queen cells or other queen cups being built? One of my hives did something similar to this. It had swarmed in early june. Swarm cells that were built hatched but the queen did not make it back to the hive from her mating flight. So once I got a new queen and had her introduced she got the hive up to a certain population and then they began bringing in resources for the winter. I was concerned about it as well. Thought their population was too small but here we are in March and they are doing fine. I guess ultimately what I am trying to say is they have a plan. The only part you should keep an eye on would be if they are building queen cells. The bees will move stores around the hive as well. Is their comb in the supers for the bees to move the nectar into?

How is the brood pattern that your current queen is laying? I had drones in both of my hives well into the fall until one day I watched them getting booted.


#3

I am just a newbee with 2 hives, my first nuc installed end November is bursting in the seams. Your state of QCs doesn’t look to me they are about to swarm. It’s my constant worry as well, and @JeffH recently advised a split before swarm, as that is quite a normal occurrence here in subtropical Australia. Considering that, but watching. The commercial beek I got my nucs from said you want to keep your bees on the edge, full hive, that’s when they are most productive and resisting pests.
I also only have 1 brood box, and keep harvesting a fully capped flow frame about once a week currently. Because there seemed too many bees for the hive and they started building beautiful comb in the roof, I added a medium or ideal box, half size deep, foundationless, on top of my flow super. Now the excess bees are distracted from the roof building and are busy building me some awesome honey comb as we speak. Thought it may be destined to become bee food, but at this rate…
Activity in the flow frames is as usual. Need to harvest again soon.
Maybe the checker boarding disturbs the bees to go about their normal business in autumn? I don’t see any autumn signs here, but then, it would be my first autumn with bees and I wouldn’t know what to expect. I don’t think we have to worry roo much around here about going into winter. It’s still hot, and will be summery for a while yet.


#4

Hiya @Jingles, as you say there are plenty of drones about so I don’t think it would be a problem splitting the colony especially if you have stores to supply in the split, I sounds like you could do a split and have two full boxes?
I don’t think it’s really necessary to have a full depth super stores for winter here as they still get out and about and there is plenty of nectar and pollen available. Last winter I only used one fd box and they wintered fine, buggers swarmed on the first sunny day… Having said that I’m now keeping a WSP super above the qx for stores this year, I’d prefer a half size but 3/4 the smallest we can get here.

I’m thinking your second super is the Flow super? If so, are they filling it with nectar/honey? If not I’d remove the other super, or put it above the Flow super after removing any fully capped frames, to get those Flow frames going.
I’m keen to see how long this flow goes on for up here in the hills I’d expect the marri to continue for another couple of weeks and I’m seeing some other natives incl eucalypts budding up but if your bees are beginning to downsize already maybe they know something I don’t and my money’s on them…
I’m not seeing them downsizing over here they are still upsizing which makes me more swarm wary.


#5

Thanks all,

I think you are right that it is probably autumn prep (definitely no queen cells) and I am stressing unecessarily about swarming. It has been so hot here & there are so many flowers that I thought they couldn’t possibly be downsizing yet. However, the days are getting shorter and perhaps we do only have a few weeks of Marri left, so I will trust the bees and leave them to it :).

The flow super is over the QX and the standard super on top is full of nectar but uncapped as yet. The bees are working the flow frames quite nicely so I am hopeful something will be achieved come winter.

It would be good to have a formula of when to checkerboard and when to leave the girls alone. It has been such a strange late season that I am surprised they are contracting already, but I will leave them be and keep a look out for queen cells every couple of weeks or so. I read an Australian article yesterday that recommends checkerboarding twice in spring and that is it, so I might give that a go next year and see how they go.

Cheers heaps,

Julia


#6

@Jingles. Just to clarify your checkerboarding, something I’ve not done. Are you moving alternate frames from the bb above the qx?


#7

I am indeed - moving one or two frames from the brood box up to the super (trying to avoid any drone comb) and replacing with foundation or drawn frames (from the super or elsewhere). It has worked really well this year to get the bees to cross the QX, and especially to start working the flow frames - I removed one flow frame and added a standard drawn frame next to it for a couple of weeks until they took to the flow.

I think this is going to be an important method to reduce swarming come spring, especially as I am only running one brood box. I might just split everything next year though :).

Cheers,

Julia


#8

@skeggley

Having said that I’m now keeping a WSP super above the qx for stores this year, I’d prefer a half size but 3/4 the smallest we can get here.

I got my half height from Beewise. You can get them here, they just aren’t as common. I had to make the frames myself though, which was easy enough.


#9

@SnowflakeHoney, as is two frame siz s is enough, possibly one size too much…
I get most of my gear from him, his standard boxs are good quality unlike some other suppliers. Didn’t know he had ideals though. His wax foundation was coming from NZ and as NZ has varroa and the treatment chemicals which go with it there’s a chance there may be m it.


#10

Got my ideal depth supers with frames from Brookfield Beehives. Bit pricey at $35.95 each, but well cut. And fast delivery.