Does brood chamber management make a difference in honey yield… what I’m asking is about replacement of brood frames by removing frames with honey in… my second question would then be how often must this be done and in what format/fashion, I know this is a simple question however there seems to be a few answers and formats to how it should be done and whether it should be done and when it should be done. I’m looking for the correct way and reason
Brood chamber management certainly affects honey yield. The more worker bees that are available to collect honey during a honey flow, naturally the more honey the colony will produce.
My strategy is to keep all of the brood frames at around 95% worker comb. You can remove honey frames, however if bees wanted to expand the brood, they could move all of that honey, then place it up higher in one night. The main thing would be: as long as those frames are worker comb so that the bees can produce more workers when & if they do remove that honey.
I remove brood frames as a means of swarm prevention. If the nights are cold, I keep the frames I don’t remove bunched up in the middle, flanked on either side by either fully drawn worker comb or frames containing fresh foundation. During warm weather, I’ll checkerboard those frames I’m using to replace the brood frames I remove.
I totally agree with Jeff and what he would do. A strong hive is very dependent on good brood management. But I’m wondering as in your profile you have 1200 hives you are asking?
and I third the motion… In fact- brood management is the fundamental key of beekeeping. We always inspect just before spring and remove any outer frames that are all honey replacing them with fresh foundation. This makes more room for the queen to lay- which she needs early in spring to prevent swarming- it keeps the bees busy- and it also means that every 3 years or so virtually all frames in the brood box have been replaced. this stops the frames getting too old- reduces the risk of disease, and maximizes the colonies potential.
A commercial beekeeper here in SA gave a talk at our bee society about his spring management. It involved three inspections over 8 weeks starting a few weeks before spring. He would remove a frame or two at each inspection- adding fresh frames. By the end of that process he would have added 3 or 4 new frames to each hive every year. This is critical brood management and a swarm prevention strategey.
Jeff here on the forum does similar by making splits to strong hives. I believe at times he removes as many as half the brood frames.
If you don’t do things like this your hives will languish- and they will swarm. If your hive swarms the odds of it being productive that year drop dramtically.
You’re correct Jack, I frequently remove half the brood frames. Sometimes even more, I’ll remove 5 of the 9 brood frames. Then after a couple of months, depending on whether the colony needs it, I’m likely to remove the other 4 frames. Essentially I’m changing every brood frame during one spring period.
If I notice the colony is preparing to swarm, I’ll remove 7 or 8 brood frames, leaving them with one brood frame that contains mainly open brood, plus one other frame that could be very light on brood or mainly honey from the outside. I place them in the middle flanked with fresh foundation or drawn worker comb or a combination of both. I always make sure there is fresh fertile eggs or very young larvae in that frame of open brood. If I can’t see any I’ll use a suitable frame from a different colony. That always seems to remove a colonies desire to swarm, even when queen cells a fully formed.
I do this however only 2 frames a year… my question comes with my ever frustration with the fact that you put 10 bee keepers in one room and you ask a question and you get back 12 different answers… but finding this group was pleased to see almost somewhat of a one voice…
Swapping out only 2 frames a year Mark, in an 8 frame hive that means a brood frame should be 4 years old before removal from the brood box, in a 10 frame box that is 5 years. That is too long in my opinion as in that time the cell size will be reduced and a risk of ‘runt’ bees and a higher risk of disease or at least reduced hive health.
As for all the differing opinions a lot of that comes from our individual micro climates. Like JeffH is 18 klm’s away from me and recently he was extracting honey at the same time I was having to feed my hives and I had given up on extracting this Summer because of the drought and the bush fires.
It appears by the size of your bee operation that you derive a livelihood from beekeeping and I’m assuming that livelihood depends on the sale of honey/hive products…perhaps custom pollination fees also? In either case, from an armchair position… about as physically far apart as two parties can possibly be… I also endorse the concept of brood management by removing frames of feed and brood at specific times to increase honey yields.
Sometimes an abundance of resources for the bees becomes a hindrance as the photo above shows…this easily happens in the spring buildup period in my area. I couldn’t wish for more of a perfect frame going into winter, but not going into summer…in our single brood chamber hives (with QE on top) this spells disaster for population buildup…queens are restricted and swarming is guaranteed…I have no choice but to remove these frames if I expect a honeycrop. They are replaced usually with new foundation frames or what I refer to as reconditioned brood frames. This process I repeat usually 3 times per season (at 2 to 3 week intervals)…injecting 2 to 3 new frames each time into the single brood box. The morale of the hive is boosted…they are kept working so at the end of this brood management technique, the brood area has been stretched to the very outside frames…very little feed in the broodbox…some frames are above the QE, some frames are harvested and stored for winter use, and some frames such as the frame above are reconditioned.
The photo below shows a reconditioned frame…I can’t continue inserting brand new foundation frames as I end up with more equipment than I need although one can always sell them off I suppose.
When several of these frames are slipped back into the hive, that remaining layer of beebread and honey hyper-stimulates queen rearing…swarming is totally forgotten for the meantime and the foraging population continues to grow.
So like the others in the post above, I practice brood management by inserting frames and it’s critical to get a honeycrop. But in all honestly, I don’t have a clue as to what resources the bees access in your part of the world.