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Single brood box management

Take a look at this video. Wondering if I could try this here in Dallas. He list the pros and cons. Sounds like the main negative is paying attention to feeding more so.

Wondering if part of my management would be to get a shallow honey super to put in between the brood box and the flow frames.

Just looking for feedback and maybe other input on single brood box management.

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Thanks for posting this, Marty. I’m also considering keeping my remaining colony to a single brood box. Inspections would be simpler and therefore be more likely to happen when they need to, and I do wonder if the OAV really reaches the upper end of a double-box colony anyway.

My take on your question about adding shallow supers to your configurations at Bluebonnet is - maybe not! Given that the bees will move honey down from your Flow supers the same way they do from traditional ones anyway if they need it, you could just plan on harvesting selectively from only some of the frames, keeping an eye on seasonal factors. Unless you have a totally gonzo nectar flow and you want comb honey too!

Well done Marty, really it’s a no brainer to use single brood boxes. I never thought about the ease of moving a single brood box as opposed to moving a double brood box. That’s another good argument for using single brood boxes.

Then people forget about the capital expense of the added super & frames that could be put to use with another colony. All that’s needed then, is another bottom board & roof.

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Just need to keep in mind that its all site specific.
Here we have a long summer dearth and my best producing colonys have 2 brood boxes. A fd and wsp. The top wsp is predominantly honey stores with a bit of a brood arc. I’ve found I may need to feed the single bb colonys late summer which I dont like having to do. I use the hybrid traditional honey frames for this.
Would the 2 bb colonys still be the best producers if I removed the top box? Perhaps. Do I like having to inspect 2 boxes? Nope.
Maybe if I was using 10 frame boxes I wouldn’t use 2 bb.
Bottom line is that it works for me in my area where we rely on native flora. :sunglasses:

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I wanted to give an update, I attempted this. I see why now Texas or at least our area North Texas everyone suggest to brood boxes minimum.

This makes my third hive inspection since adding the flow frames without adding a second brood box. So let me restate I’m running one brood box with the honey super/flow frames on top.

I harvested to half-gallon jars of honey out of two frames on Sunday in preparation for a trip I’m taking that I’ll be gone for 2 to 3 weeks. I wanted to give them enough room to store anything, they brought in. One jar of honey was 100% right, not capped but still just under 18%. The other jar was closer to 20%. So I gave it to a coworker, she’s my biggest consumer she will go through that jar of honey in a matter of weeks, so I don’t have any issues with it fermenting or anything with her.

Monday, I did hive inspection of the brood box.
There was not any honey stored anywhere in the brood box. There was a little pollen but not much. Actually when I pulled the flow frames/honey super off I bumped the brood box with my leg and it shifted almost knocking it off its stand. It was that light.

There is no storage of honey in the brood box every single cell had either an egg in it capped brood or it was clear they were preparing it for another egg. I’d never seen something that dents.

I will be adding a second brood box in the next day or two. Just wanted to update others. I’m in a message the guy in the video and tell him my experience. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I do agree having one brood box made it real easy to inspect and find the Queen.

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Okay I’m tagging on to a new message.

I went back and re-watched the video he does talk about maintaining a shallow honey super for the girls. May need to consider that, but I don’t have any of that equipment right now.

Thank you so much for this very insightful update, @Martydallas. Your honesty is wonderful and will help others. Great job!

You might consider feeding, either pollen substitute patties, or syrup, or both if you are in a nectar/pollen dearth. Hive survival should always trump harvesting, unless you are a commercial beekeeper. Thank you for keeping us up to date. :wink:

A little confused with this. As stated I only harvested to give them room prior to hive inspection to store more honey. I did not realize the day before they had no room in the brood box.

There is absolutely not a dearth here right now, we are over abundance with pollen. The other 12 hives that I’ve got on a friend’s farm an hour away has an overabundance of pollen and of the hive that sitting next to the single brood has got an overabundance of pollen as well. This will be rectified this week.

Thank you for the comment about honesty, I truly believe I learn best by making mistakes or being corrected. And if were not honest with each other on here were not honest with ourselves and we will never grow. I certainly appreciate all the other help others have given me including yourself. Many times

On another note, I was able to spot both hives unmarked queens :grinning: I attempted to catch both of them and market them. :slight_smile: I was successful with one. Oddly enough I was successful with the two brood box hive set up. The single brood box. She was a little too quick for me. Maybe when I add the second brood box I will have another opportunity.

I am confused too. :blush: I read that the box was so light, that knocking it with your leg caused it to shift. That made me think they were short of stores. Hence the suggestion to feed. If you have a good nectar flow, I would not feed them. :wink:

You are correct, I did the harvest of honey on Sunday just 2 frames to give them more room to bring in more honey when I knew I was going to be on a trip. The next day I pulled the flow frames off to do a hive inspection of the brood box. That’s the day/when my knee hit the brood box and shifted it because it was so light. It was light because it was only containing eggs and brood and thousands and thousands of bees. It was packed to the Gill with bee’s. And there was not a single space in the brood box that contained any honey at all, there was a little pollen and few of the corners, but not enough to make me feel comfortable. Hence the reason I want to add a second brood box. There was no pollen being stored in the flow frames just honey. Was definitely concern for their health. I had a factory laying queen :slight_smile: and the girls were let in her lay as much as she wanted. Did not find any queen cups or queen cells anywhere. Seems a little odd that they let her continue laying without thinking about storing pollen.

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My observation with single brood box management is this:

During the height of the season (now) the brood box will be for brood with very little pollen and nectar: The “kitchen” will be above the excluder and the bees will move honey down below as needed.

Starting in summer when the daylight gets shorter, the broodnest will shrink and be backfilled with honey:
You could leave one Flow frame untouched so the bees always have honey to take. The one that remains un-capped the longest is probably the one they are using or it could be the bottom/centers of a few frames.

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so are you suggesting I not put on another brood box? I am ok with trying but just have not done this and just don’t know.

I’m saying if you’re going to experiment with single brood chamber management, see the experiment through an entire season. Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket though. Try a hive or two how I suggested and a couple hives the way Dawn suggested with a shallow super under the excluder.

This is the height of the season so of course the brood chamber is going to be packed with brood. But math tells us that it is impossible for a single queen to completely fill a 10 frame deep with nothing but brood.

I’m trying it here in Southern New Jersey with 5 hives.

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I will do just that. :slight_smile: thank you for keeping me on track. all new stuff is not easy and needing to get use to. Really did not think about it. Just thought I was seeing a disaster heading my way. But thinking about it was the biggest disaster that can happen, they swarm I’m sure I’ve already had several do that already.

I’m going on PTO/vacation for two weeks in the conference for a week the same day I get back so I won’t be able to inspect anything for three weeks. Out of sight out of mind. I hope I won’t worry about it.

Just to keep everyone posted, just harvested a little over 30 pounds of honey. Overall it seems to be doing well just makes me nervous. Seeing every frame in the brood box filled with Brood and/or fresh eggs. There is no room for honey. And apparently there’s not enough room in the box for all the girls. They are always thinking outside a whole bunch of them. Including underneath. As chili pepper suggested see it all the way through the season and see if it works. So far no swarm cells and producing a lot of honey.

Definitely a lot less work and as suggested a lot easier to see/find the Queen

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Going by what you’re describing, I’d be taking a split from that colony. Probably 3-4 frames with older brood, with bees, minus the queen. Take it several k’s away so that no bees return to the parent hive. Alternatively remove the oldest brood to strengthen a weak colony.

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Not understanding why I would want to do this. I don’t have a weak hive, and I really don’t have the space on this property to take care of the split. Are you saying I need to do this to keep them from swarming or to keep them happy? Just looking for a little bit more explanation. I understand how to do it and potentially how did move them, just not understanding why

It’s primarily to prevent swarming. It’s inevitable that a colony will swarm at some time. It’s something us beekeepers must be conscious of during a period when a colony is likely to swarm. Even more so if our bees are in residential areas.

It’s funny you ask the question “to keep them happy?”. People generally relate happiness to sex. Swarming is how bees have sex. So therefore bees will be their happiest while they’re swarming.

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I’m with Jeff:

If they’re packed in like sardines and wall to wall brood as you described, making a 3 frame split won’t hurt.

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thank you both. This is what I needed a little bit more of a description of why. So far they’ve been packed like this for about a month and 1/2 and showed no signs of swarming. I really don’t have the room to do a split. I could do a split and take them out to where I have the 12 hives but don’t have another set up out there either. But then again I should probably consider it.

Every time I think they’re overly full and they have always been many many bees outside the box at night because I don’t think there’s enough room inside the box. I drain a framer to off the flow frame to give them work to do. Don’t know if that helps at all, but I’m seeing this experiment all the way through to the end. And so far I’m liking the results.