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Feedback on frame pattern please!

Hello!
I’d love some feedback on my frame pattern.

I am overly paranoid about disease, and wonder:
Is this anything like sunken cappings on the brood?
Why is the layer between capped honey and brood so dark? Is that pollen stores?
There isn’t much more brood than this on any other frames…is this low and if so, how do I resolve it?

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Hi Kat, I’m not the most experienced of this crowd so I can’t be completely certain, but here’s what I think -

  1. Some pollen can be quite dark, so that ring surrounding the capped brood could be from some abundant source in your area just recently.

  2. I don’t see any other stages of brood aside from the capped - were there any eggs or younger larvae anywhere else?

  3. All in all, it seems like your bees are backfilling the brood nest. The reasons for a slowdown in brood rearing can be normal/seasonal, or bad/lost queen or disease. Any chance it’s just a midsummer dip?

  4. If you suspect disease like AFB, it’s easy to do a matchstick test. Poke one into a possible candidate and as you pull it out slowly, you’ll either see healthy white pupa substance, or dark, stringy/ropy foulness. My fingers are crossed for you NOT to see that :crossed_fingers:

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That what looks like is happening … Kat11…the queen hasn’t been on that frame for 2.5 to 3 weeks…hopefully she is laying in adjacent frames. Whenever I see capped brood on the same frame as a lot of capped honey, I feel as though I’ve restricted that hive from producing it’s full potential of bees and honey…and perhaps induced swarming…but one frame doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

For my style of beekeeping, I want the queen laying into those cells that the brood is just emerging from…so under ideal conditions you may have two generations of capped brood on the same frame. On the photo, the outer brood ring is 3 week old brood, and the solid center circle of brood is 1 week old brood…and during times of bounty, I try to keep my brood frames “skinny” without starving my colony…catering to that queen by providing all the room she requires to keep laying.

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Hello there Doug,

I have a few hives with heavy honey arcs over the brood as in the OP’s photo. Other than moving frames up above the qx- and putting in fresh frames- do you have any other ideas about how to encourage the bees to move all that honey upstairs where we want it? Lately I have been using the hive tool to uncap some of that honey- in the hopes that it will stimulate the bees to either eat or move it. I assume by uncapping it is more likely the bees will move it- but it’s only an assumption.

I think some of my hives that are in more shady areas tend to insulate their brood boxes more heavily with honey- and become honey bound over time.

@Kat11 To my eye that capped brood looks pretty good- but I can see the bees are adding even more honey right up to the edges of the brood (that dark area you wondered about is more honey- not yet capped- I think it appears darker because those cells have had brood in them and have cocoons int he cells- whereas as the very light honey/cells at the top has maybe never had brood in it yet))- and in the middle of the brood- and I cannot see any larvae or eggs. Also I cannot see that many bees on the frame. What is the population of bees like in that hive? Have you seen eggs, larvae or the queen recently? Is there any chance it swarmed a few weeks ago?

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I don’t see any brood disease.

That dark area between the brood & honey arc looks like stored pollen to me. You can see very dark pollen in some cells that have been covered in honey beneath the honey caps.

If that’s the most brood the bees are producing on any frame, that must be the limit of that colony. Unless the colony has nowhere to move honey to. Like in the roof, for example. It would be interesting to see what another colony in your area is doing.

It’s always good to have more than one hive so that you can do comparisons. Alternatively have a friend nearby that has beehives.

Edit: To answer your last question: It probably is a low amount of brood. However it should be taken into context of what’s happening in your area. If it’s low compared to other colonies in your area, the only solution I can think of would be to re-queen the colony.

Upon closer examination, it almost looks like those dark cells are honey & not pollen. The bees may have found some really dark honey somewhere. If so, that would explain the low amount of brood. The bees are not finding the pollen needed in order for them to raise lots of brood.

There’s no substitute for physically looking at the frame up close.

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Thankyou all for your comments, I have found all this information so useful.

I have feared the hive is in too shady a space, so the comment about extra insulation is quite interesting. I live in a colder climate, and although our summers get quite hot, this summer is very mild!! I might move them a metre a day into more sun and see what happens.
I have seen eggs and larvae on other frames, although all frames have honey on them too. I have no frames that look like Doug’s photos…and am also curious about how I might encourage bees to move honey upstairs? The super is on, and has been for about three weeks.

Many thanks and merry Christmas all :slightly_smiling_face:

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The only thing that will make bees move honey upstairs is when they want to expand the brood. They do that when there’s plenty of pollen/nectar coming in, like we get in Spring.

The other thing would be, as I said before, to re-queen the colony. However the need to do that would depend on how other colonies in your area are performing.

I doubt if moving the hive into more sun will help. It could work against you if quite hot temps do arrive.

cheers

Did you smear any burr comb onto it? That can make the bees faster to use it. :wink:

From my experience, I have never witnessed bees moving capped honey out of the brood area to an area above the queen excluder…never. All I’ve seen is honey and pollen close to the brood area being utilized for brood rearing but if that honey isn’t consumed by the time of the honeyflow, it stays in place all summer…a situation that I perceive as less than desireable.

Last season I tried as an experiment to insert a frame of feed during maximum brood rearing…right in the middle of the 9 frame broodnest (strong hive with every frame full of brood to the corners) and checked it 3 weeks later. Previous experience had shown this never works…but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I was basically force-feeding the bees…so I thought…by putting this barrier right where they were desperate to have the queen laying eggs. Result…the feed frame was still intact after 3 weeks.

Under my conditions, using just a nine frame single brood box during the summer season yields the most honey…as I believe you have also reported when comparing your yields to another beekeeper in your area that had been running double brood boxes. If I come across a brood box conjested with honey and pollen…and it’s still early in the season…I have no qualms of finding the queen, putting the queen and frame she is on below the queen excluder in a brood box that has all empty frames and foundation so I can re-establish the rhythm of the queen laying I had previously lost. The rhythm I refer to is depicted in the photo I posted above…i.e. queen laying as fast as the capped brood cells become available after hatching. The other 8 original frames with capped honey and brood are placed immediately above the queen excluder and extracted in 3 weeks when the brood is all hatched out.

Caveat…this action can only be completed if there are lots of bees to occupy the whole hive. So I don’t wait for the bees to relocate honey…I help them out…and also by continually expanding the brood nest horizontally which you also do. This is what works in my area…which is a much condensed version of flowtime than what you appear to have in parts of Australia.

Keep that brood right up to the top bar (immediately below the queen excluder)…no honey dome below the queen excluder…and allow time towards the end of the season for the bees to pack in all the required winter feed they need…then a honey and pollen dome above the brood is desireable.

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There is an option to removing honey from brood frames: You can take the frame, minus bees inside & scrape the honey into a honey strainer over a bucket, being careful not to wreck the foundation. Then put the frame back in the hive. The bees will clean the honey up before they start rebuilding the comb again, before the queen lays eggs in it.

I’ve done a lot of this recently, primarily to remove honey that sticks out too far. In doing so, I use my PPHT (perfect pocket hive tool), which is ideal for scraping honey back to the foundation, narrowly missing the existing brood. I almost always find new eggs in the places I scrape the honey from.

This is also a good and quick way to get a jar or two of honey out of the brood box when there’s no honey ready to take from the honey super.

You wouldn’t want to do more than one frame at a time per hive, with hive beetles in mind.

cheers

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Like this? These people only seem to extract from the brood…

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Hi Fred, definitely not like that. I’ll never worry about getting brood in my honey ever again. Those people are just brutal. If they looked after their brood, surely they’d get full supers of honey above QEs.

I use a bread knife to remove the comb & cappings that protrude the frame. Then I use the square part of the hive tool to gently scrape the honey & comb back to the foundation, being careful not to damage any brood. I have a piece of wood across the strainer to support the frame. These are only frames that I include when I sell nucs. It’s a hive beetle strategy, so that bees don’t get squashed between the fat combs.

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Learning lots in this thread! On the subject of frames taken out of the brood box, I have several in my freezer with honey and loads of pollen. I removed them when my colonies were building up fast in the spring to give them more room. I thought I’d use them as stores frames when doing splits but I had more than needed. Plus was concerned about small hive beetle with all that pollen and a smaller population of bees in the splits. I’d like to get the frames back into service. While I could use your technique, @JeffH, to drain some of the honey what about the pollen?

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Hi Cathie, if there’s too much pollen in a frame, I’ll generally cut it out of the frame before fitting fresh foundation. This could be after I extract the honey out of the frame, or it might be that the frame is completely full of pollen, so I just remove it. Other times the frame could have a lot of pollen with some brood included. In that case I’ll put it above a QE to let the brood emerge, then see how much pollen is left after the bees replace the brood with honey before I extract the honey.

I’m happy to include one frame with a reasonable amount of pollen when I sell a nuc. I’m seeing some of those frames now, when doing splits.

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what is that craziness? I agree jeff- brutal! I wonder why they don’t use supers? I suppose they put all the brood back after…

edit: I thought about this video some more- and then wondered if perhaps they do add supers later? Perhaps this is the first thing they do at the start of a new season to remove excess honey from the brood box? Still horrible- I imagine all the uncapped brood just gets flung out in the spinner?