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Honeybound brood- nadir hive

I have a tower hive where the brood consists of two 5 frame boxes stacked. When it was building up a few month ago I added the second box underneath the initial brood box. The bees have taken ages to fill out the frame down below so today I inspected the hive. The bottom box has 3 frame half drawn out and two outermost foundation-less practically ignored. I replaced them with two foundation frames-

then it was time to inspect the brood box that came off the top: it was jam packed with honey: each frame was 60-75 capped honey with just small patches left for brood in the center (there was capped brood, eggs and larvae- didn’t see her majesty) . The bees were a bit pissy so I just swapped the boxes around and put the brood at the bottom and the largely empty box up top. In hindsight i think I should have juggled a few frames around but I didn’t.

i’m thinking the bees will now get to work on that empty box- and hopefully move the honey upstairs? The have plenty of honey to burn building comb: at least 6 or 7 KG’s.

I think my mistake was to nadir the hive in the first instance- the bees don’t seem to build as fast moving down as up? I though I had heard the opposite but am not sure now.

Hiya Jack, I found the same, I placed a wsp box with wax foundation below the brood box and they hadn’t done much down there in months even though they had tracked over it to get to the brood and super. The super was full. I moved the box up to above the bb and they filled it out. This was a surprise to me as the advice was to add below.
When I added the box below I added a box above the bb on another hive and that was drawn at the same time. These were two non related colonys and both had full supers.
Next time I’ll add above from my experience. I put it down to the fact it wasn’t a fd box but as you had the same experience I dunno.

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Did nadiring once, never again. One of those myths it seems, or other bees and other climate.
Guess climate is a major issue. We don’t get cold enough for the bees to build insulation up top and move down from there to survive winter.
Australia adapted bees like to build up it seems. Mine prefer to do just that.

Must be to do with Australia being upside down! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :smiling_imp: :rofl:

My bees nadir very nicely, but I almost always use foundation in brood boxes. Wild honey bees also tend to build downwards, and move honey upwards. That is just a natural bee preference, and is the basis of the concept for the Warre hive.

I am not arguing with the experience of people on this thread, but obviously your bees have not read the textbooks and research papers! :joy:


I agree, nadiring should work in Australia. I have never done it myself, however thinking along the same lines as Dawn, how bees start building at the top & work their way down, replacing brood with honey as they build, using the new comb for brood.

I’ve seen this in every wall cut-out I’ve done. They always start at the top, whether it’s the top plate of the frame or noggin. The comb at the top that’s full of honey always contains leftover cocoons.

European Honeybees in Australia never become “Australia adapted bees”, in my view. It’s just that in their lifespan, they mostly don’t experience some European conditions. Especially Northern Europe conditions.

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it made sense to me that bees start at the top and work their way down- that’s why I went with that option. But twice now I have tried it and both times it took the bees an age to move down from the top box t the lower one. It could just be that they were not ready - and if it was on top the result would have been the same. What’s odd this time is how absolutely honeybound that top box was: there are only 5 frames- the two outermost are 100% honey and the inner three 60-70%. The brood has been constricted to small spaces right in the middle. My experience could be related to the configuration of a Nuc hive which has quite a different brood shape that wider hives. It will be interesting to see how quickly they build out the two new foundation frames I put in.

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Your quote: “It could just be that they were not ready”. I think you’re spot on there Jack. When the conditions are right for a colony to expand, they wont let a little thing like “honeybound” stop them.

You’ll see that during early spring where a new, higher arc has been created above the brood. They simply remove the honey so that the queen can lay in those cells. Sometimes you’ll see the older brood with about an inch or even more arc above it with freshly laid eggs within that new arc.

My hive has a viewing window into the brood box- and until a few weeks ago the frame at the edge was all brood in the middle and honey all around. then the brood emerged and within just a few days the bees filled and capped that area with honey- so the frame is 100% honey but it has this clearly defined shape in the middle where the last of the brood was. I watched as that brood emerged each cell rapidly filled with nectar. What is odd is I would have thought the bees would have worked downstairs to create more room for the queen to lay in. Anyhows- not to worry- I will keep an eye on the top box and hopefully soon there will be a lot more brood.

There’s a lot of things to consider Jack. Remember that there’s a logical reason for everything that the bees do.

Why are the bees replacing brood for honey next to the viewing window? #1 It could be cooling down as the days get shorter, so they are preparing for winter. #2 Alternatively, it could be that in extremely hot weather, they don’t want brood up near the side of the hive where it gets too hot. #3 There could be a pollen dearth. #4 The population could be down a bit. #5 The queen could be old & failing.

If a colony is not advancing as fast as we’d like, a good idea is to find a frame full of sealed brood to add. It’s amazing the difference just one frame of sealed brood makes to a struggling colony.

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that hive came from a spring swarm- which I am fairly certain was a secondary swarm… which would mean a new queen. BUT- of all the things you mention I think #5 is one to look into- as the bee numbers have declined a bit over the last 2 months- so maybe the queen is not up to scratch. Or it could be #3- I didn’t see much pollen stores- so maybe there is loads of nectar and the bees are making hay- but not enough pollen to raise a lot of brood. Come to think of it- I havn’t seen large amounts of pollen going into any of my hives- there is some but not the steady streams of spring. The one thing this colony is managing is honey: they have oodles and oodles.

the good news is- I can see through my window that overnight they got started on that new foundation upstairs.

The problem I have with adding brood from other hives- is that all of my hives at the home apiary are in the building up stage just now.

Well done Jack, the tip about the brood is always something to keep in the back of your mind for when you do have some to spare. It’s always good to have a couple of donor (resource) hives that you can draw from. Keep them as single supers so it’s easy to grab a frame of brood if you need to in a hurry.


You’re so right @Dawn_SD. My bees didn’t stick to the textbook or some of the important rules.
This being just my third year, experience with nadiring comes down to just trying it twice, with a control group of hives that got their super on top, that did much better. But then, no 2 colonies are alike, so a control group is not worth comparing with really. I guess my little trial was on a real good flow too, which may have influenced the result.

I see when my colony needs more space when they start building comb in the roof (up). Since there is nowhere else to go, I give them an additional super on top and they happily build in that and forget about the roof comb.
That super may be a deep Lang box, a rounds box or an ideal.
That’s why I never plug up that hole in the inner cover. It tells me they need more space or need to get split if they start building up in the roof.

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