Early Spring Time Manipulation.. in 2 parts

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by tecumseh, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I wrote the following two parts description of what I do here in the early spring time for a Texas bee forum and though I would share it here also.. mind you this is just how I do things. Part 2 -Reversing- I will add tomorrow.

    Part 1:
    i suspect there are some bee keepers new to this stuff that really have little direction as to what might be an appropriate or well tested method. below I will give some idea of what I am doing at this time of year to get the bees ready for the coming season.

    lets start at the end objective of this manipulation..

    the ultimate object (end results) of the first manipulation of the season is three fold... 1) set up the brood chamber for the coming growth season 2) access how much stores you have on hand (remember here historically a lot of hive will starve in early March) and 3) clean off the bottom board.

    again starting from the last or #3... inspection of the bottom board can tell you something about the hygienic tendencies of the hive. the idea here is to scrape any accumulated debris from the bottom. if very clean this suggest some hygienic capacity. if you find some shb, live or debris, burn this <do not toss this on the ground.

    #2: the reason for this should be self evident. with no experience for the audience to fall back upon act here in a very conservative manner. if you have some question at to 'is that enough' then be prepared to feed. feeding also stimulates brood production which can and will somewhat enhance the honey harvest a bit later on.

    #1: the meat of this tread and what you do here will have a large effect on how your bees do in the year/season that follows. the idea here is to set up the brood nest in some fashion and to more importantly remove any limitation to the expansion of the brood nest horizontally. typical road blocks to brood nest expansion horizontally are 1) a solid frame of pollen and 2) a solid frame of capped honey <what is happening here... pollen is consumed slowly and 'the girls' have this resistance to uncapping honey.

    this process is often times called 'opening up the brood nest'. it is not checkerboarding....

    about 1/3 of hive will have began brood rearing at which ever side of he box warms up at this early spring date. as such the brood nest will appear very much uncentered in the box. I myself like to slight adjust this by sliding the frames of the brood nest to be more centered in the box. the first thing you should make certain of is the queen is laying in an adequate fashion... some small number of queen will come out of the winter as drone layers. these hives need to either be stacked (on other hives) or a frame of young larvae added to get some possibility that the hive may rear a new queen <the old queen needs to be killed.. or if she can not be located the bees should be shook out on the ground prior to the box being stacked on another hive.

    next the area of and around the brood nest needs to be closely examined and most especially any limits to an expanding brood nest should be relocated. I myself move capped honey to the outside position in the box and any frames of solid pollen the next/second position from the outside wall. often times the frames at the outside of the box will be empty these need to be moved up next to any currently brood up frames... it is good to notice the quantity of drone cells in these empty frames and if you think there is too large a proportion of drone cells situated these as close to the outside position as possible. this simply limits too many drones being produced too early <if you were in the queen rearing business* like my good neighbor to the south you would look at this in a quite different fashion. a resevation: do not move feed resources too far from the brood cluster most especially if the later winter cluster is small... location of frames of feed beside or above the early brood nest are both quite acceptable <added feed/syrup in the same location are good substitutes if there is litte feed in the hive.

    *my long term primary theme in beekeeping is that PURPOSE does drive a lot of decision in regards to beekeeping. different purpose often time yields a very different decision.
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    :thumbsup: That was excellent advice well timed. Thank you.
     

  3. Hog Wild

    Hog Wild New Member

    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great advice Tec! :goodpost:
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Part 2
    Reversing

    often times Reversing is considered to be the primary purpose of the first inspection. my take is that 'sometimes' this does become a part of the process by just as often (ie about 50/50) a hive does not need to be reverse. at other times reversing may be used to accomplish other purposes (see classical example below).

    Reversing in the typical case takes place when the brood nest has moved to the top of the stack and you have one box or so beneath that is almost entirely empty. In this case reversing is done since the bees have a natural tendency to build upward. This also reduces exposer to the lower box/frames from various pest (essentially shb and wax moth). Since in the reversed mode the brood nest is now up adjacent to the bottom board the bottom board tend to be better cared for and cleaned. Really the largest benefit from reversing is mental.... once done you (the beekeeper) can no longer assume the bottom box is full <so many time these hives are also in need of feed.

    the classical case...
    let assume you are new to beekeeping and are in a constant need for more drawn comb. upon the first spring inspection you come across a well populated hive that has the brood nest at the bottom of the stack in a deep and a medium above that is packed with honey that is still capped.

    the first alternative would be to just leave this hive alone and perhaps add a medium just in case the season turned off early. <any frame in the medium with uncapped honey I would move towards the center location or would scratch one frame in the same center location.

    the second alternative (more directed to the assumed purpose of getting more comb drawn) would be to remove the box full of capped honey. then remove the three center frames and scratch the capping at the center of these three frames (doesn't take a lot you are just trying to get 'the girls' headed in the right direction). then reverse the boxes placing the box of honey on the bottom of the stack and the brood nest above. then above the brood nest add one box of frames with foundation. the bees really don't like that much feed resources 'at the front door' and they fairly quickly will begin moving and uncapping and moving these resource upward. as cells become empty in this lower box it will become used for brood rearing purposes. as this feed is moved upwards the top box gets drawn in the process.

    in almost all reversing schemes down the road a month or so (still spring time) the boxes get reversed once again back to their original position. <this is not really an essential part of the process although reversing to keep the bottom box 'unempty' has large benefits in regards to reducing the pest to a bee hive.... a lot of beekeeper would benefit from reversing boxes as more than a spring time routine. again an empty bottom box unguarded by bees is a tempting treat for shb and wax moth.

    trick:
    most time we think of dismantling a hive from the top downward...one layer at a time. as we begin this dismantling and reorganization process we really have no idea where the brood nest is located or where the feed resources may be situated. with taller hives (three to four layers) most times it is easier to lay the entire box down on it's front or back and dismantle it from the bottom upward... simply placing boxes back on the bottom board in the order we desire.
     
  5. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

    Messages:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You've described my hives in "The Classical Case"
     
  6. Larus

    Larus New Member

    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Last year (first year of beekeeping) I started my hives from packages, on all undrawn foundation. At first each hive consisted of just one deep, so they started building a brood nest at the center and expanded laterally. After a while the center frames were all top-to-bottom and wall-to-wall brood - nary an empty cell or cell full of bee bread.
    After I added the second deep, the bees drew out the center frames in that upper deep, and then seem to have herded the queen up into that upper box. Now the upper box center frames were all wall to wall capped brood, whereas in the bottom box, there was some brood in the tops of the center frames, surrounded by a big band of bee bread.

    My point is that bees don't build upwards - they hang comb from the "ceiling" downwards, and in my observation they also like to expand their brood chamber from the ceiling downwards. Reversing the boxes would frustrate them and make them redraw all the boundaries, and they'll relocate back up to the upper deep anyhow. That's why I thought reversing brood chambers was a swarm prevention measure - slow down their brood nest expansion and reduce their urge to swarm.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Larus:
    bee are simply eating into the pantry moving slowly upward until something starts coming in again which they then will stuff in the pantry again forcing them to move downward.

    needless to say the challenges of beekeeping are much different here than in Wisconsin. here that band of bee bread (always some confusion here as to what bee bread actually is, but for me it is pollen stored in comb) would have long ago been transformed into a large mass of small hive beetles and wax moth debris (being on the bottom of the stack and exposed as it is to the front door).

    it is difficult for me to know that bees actually 'like to expand their brood chamber from the ceiling downwards'. they do 'tend' to do this in nature but this may be more a product of necessity that 'likes' or dislikes.

    the direction and position of the brood nest seems to me to be somewhat to highly seasonal in nature. the brood nest moves upward in the spring and contract downward (as the bees backfill the brood nest and prepare for winter) in the fall.

    I myself really do not believe reversing boxes is a useful form of swarm prevention. I would also suggest that you can, via manipulations and hive set up, decrease the factors leading up to swarming but are quite unlikely (no matter what you experience with bees might be) to alter a hives 'urges' one iota. for me if you limit the characteristics leading to swarming then swarming will be somewhat limited also. reversing does not modify the characteristics of swarming in any way as far as I can tell.

    I think Wilson suggested that preparations for swarming begins at least 30 days prior to the swarm issuing. so any manipulation or alteration in hive set up should be done way ahead of your prime swarming season.
     
  8. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

    Messages:
    5,829
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There is some valuable information to be had right there! :thumbsup:
     
  9. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

    Messages:
    372
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You're mighty right, PerryBee... This youngun here is definitely sitting and listening!!!!

    Ed
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thanks (you folks are too kind to an old man) ... I do hope someone might find this spring time overview useful. again this is just kind of how I am do things and how I look at things related to the bees... milage may vary depending on model and driving habits.
     
  11. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great posts, tecumseh! I did exactly what you had suggested when I did my first spring inspection. I wish I had read this beforehand though. Most of what I did was because somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my brain, I remembered reading about reversing - but not all the whys and the what fors. This really helped. Also - some very new information I don't remember reading anywhere - the debris on the bottom board. It is hard to describe what this debris is - but I certainly don't remember it being there last year at this time in either hive. My memory stinks, but I really don't think it's already THAT bad! The first thought that came to my mind when seeing it was like the smushed up bran in the bottom of a bag of raisin bran cereal. It wasn't one solid color, but was almost like sawdust mixed with much less "sticky & strong" propolis. What is this stuff? Is this evidence of shb? I think I need to get back to reading up about those guys. I really want to try to keep my hives "medication free," but also not at the cost of my girls. Is this medicate vs. natural the equivalent to the vaccination argument with kids? I don't know. Would love some imput.
    Thanks, ya'll! Gonna go visit the girls tomorrow with my Dad so I'm sure I'll be writing here soon. =) Is there a place we can make like a "blog?" I always feel I'm not posting my topics in the right sections. Perhaps cause I can never stick to just one topic...... =( (not intentional)
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    as suggested on another thread the stuff on the bottom board is cappings from brood and honey that drops to the floor. this stuff becomes a prime breeding area first for the shb and then wax moth (generally here in that order). as to your question on 'medication free' I have somewhat touched upon this lingering question in brooksbees 'confused' thread in the general beekeeping section.

    deep dark recess huh? i myself have the same notion from time to time in that I often do stuff with the bees based on habit and repetition and sometime need to remind myself that I do need to ask the question from time to time as to just why or what I am attempting to accomplish by doing some manipulation.

    and good luck in the coming seasaon....
     
  13. bwwertz

    bwwertz New Member

    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thank you, tecumseh. Yes, as an example - I had it completely planned out in my head as to why I thought we should move my Dad's hive approximately .1 miles away (through dense woods as the crow flies) without moving them 3+ miles away first. My Dad - who's passion for beekeeping when I was about 7-8 years old is what "stung" me and finally got me back into it at 33 (now 35) - wanted to know very precisely WHY I wanted to "buck the system" by not moving them further first. After all the things I've read and also having drawn my own conclusions - I had difficulty answering his question the way he needed me to. In the end I just said, "Dad, trust me." =) Which is kinda strange because I look to him to as a walking dictionary/encyclopedia/grand scholar and historian - imparting the wisdom of the world on a daily (if not hourly when we're together) basis - so for him to defer to me in a beekeeping decision is beyond scary - and one of the highest compliments of all! =)
    So....I guess it's part remembering/part experimenting/part intuition/ and a whole lot of crossing fingers. =)
    On a behavioral/scientific/analytical note - my "professional" background is medicine/healthcare - so I tend to be very scientific minded in thoughts and actions. As a result, I often like having concrete answers and proof before I believe or try something. I could never list all the ways that bees fascinate and intrigue me - but having Attention Deficit Disorder coupled with the scientific "prove it to me" brain - I'm continually amazed that nothing can captivate me and hold my attention like working a hive and "solving the mystery." Actually - the girls seem to be the only "mystery" that I will sometimes "allow" to just "bee" and not have a proven and written answer and explanation for. =) Sometimes with them 2 + 2 won't equal 4. =)
    Just thinking out loud here. Sorry. =)