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Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by adamant, Feb 22, 2013.
is it a must to reverse the brood boxes in the spring?
No it is not, often if given time the queen will move down in the hive on her own. Jim
what jim said, i don't reverse, unless she doesn't.
btw, can of worms question.......:lol:
This is one of those things that beeks disagree on, i've had the queen move to the bottom box and i've had those that didn't, with the bottom box empty build swarm cells in the top box and swarm? I have less swarming when i reverse brood boxes to give more laying room.I think in early spring and the colony is building up and the temp. can get cool on some days, the temp. in the top box is warmer where the brood and bees are and the queen won't move down if there isn't enough bees to go with her to keep the new brood warm.Just MHO. I've also heard beeks say that when the girls are in the winter cluster, they make their plans to swarm or not, and if they do, there is nothing the beekeeper can do to stop it? :roll: Jack
My experience also. However, one must be careful not to split the cluster. If there is brood in both boxes I never reverse.
Camero7, i agree, but most of the time i find the bottom box empty except fore some pollen and when i move it up i put the pollen frames to the outside and leave the middle open for the queen to lay in.. Jack
i think this question is one of good discussion, i think in part the breed of bees you keep may influence what you do, also your locale, your weather. for example, i keep russians. in spring they don't build up as quickly as other lines do. it can be cold here with late hard frosts to the first week of june. reversing boxes breaks seals, and is a disruptive process to the bees, and reversing them to soon can cause the loss of bees one has worked so hard to get through, in my case, a northern winter and cold spring.
" I have less swarming when i reverse brood boxes to give more laying room.I think in early spring and the colony is building up and the temp. can get cool on some days, the temp. in the top box is warmer where the brood and bees are and the queen won't move down if there isn't enough bees to go with her to keep the new brood warm.Just MHO. I've also heard beeks say that when the girls are in the winter cluster, they make their plans to swarm or not, and if they do, there is nothing the beekeeper can do to stop it?"
"My experience also. (less swarming reversing brood boxes) However, one must be careful not to split the cluster. If there is brood in both boxes I never reverse.
my experience with russian bees is i have less swarming when i don't reverse, the girls move up, the girls move down. if you decide not to reverse, do not scrape the burr comb between the bottom deep and top deep, this will discourage the queen from moving down, because the bees don't like the gap between the boxes. IMHO. are your bees all in the top box, or all moved to the top deep? by this i mean, sometimes i see this is as an expansion/movement of the bees between the two deeps, and they 'expand' across the burr comb built between the deeps during the winter months, and 'expand'/ move back down that burr comb come spring. there will be an 'expansion' of bees in both boxes. i witnessed this more when i kept 3 deeps for a few years.
a good point by camero7, about brood in both boxes and not reversing. i typically have brood in both boxes, expansion/movement. a good point by jack about the location of the heat, it is in the top box. bees will not abandon brood, i think there is less heat loss through an empty deep on the bottom than an empty deep on the top for the queen to lay. for me, when temps permit, and my queen is rearing brood, the bees are 'expanding' down again, meaning they are smarter than we are about the timing of expanding down in northern climates and back up to the second deep. as long as i keep the second deep open for her in the center, she is good to go, and has the space. when she does, i divide, before they swarm.
jack-"they make their plans to swarm or not, and if they do, there is nothing the beekeeper can do to stop it?"
hit the nail on the head jack. bees swarm, it is in their nature, i don't see that reversing prevents or stops this for me, might buy some time for us, the only 'swarm prevention' that works for me is dividing the hive before they do. i think we all have to ask ourselves (as tecumseh would say) about the 'purpose' we accomplish by reversing hives, and typically this question is answered by our individual experiences with our bees.
Another approach is in the spring if when going thru a hive and cleaning bottom boards I find the cluster all in the top box I remove the bottom box completely leaving the bees less area to defend and keep warm. Most times this is done in January or early February, it gives the bees closer access to the entrance for removing bead bees and debre. Once the bees have filled out the single with bees and brood the 2nd is added on top.
In the Okanagan Valley close to 20% of the hives are over wintered in single boxes It requires feeding a little later in the year and earlier in the spring but the bees overwinter well this way.
I would think that one consideration regarding broodnest box reversals would be whether or not you use a queen excluder.
Like them or not, an excluder would keep the queen from going too high up and tend to "encourage" her to move back down when she runs out of room in the upper brood box (if you work with two).
I'm not sure. Just to see if I could tell any difference, early last spring I reversed one of my hives and left the other the way it had been since I set it up. Both hives were comparable in number of bees and almost exactly the same in amount of stores, brood and age. The amount of honey I harvested was almost the same from each hive and they both entered this winter with a full 10 frame deep of honey.
Not for sure yet but I don't plan on reversing this year unless I reverse what I did last year.
Which just goes to show you that "There's more than one way to skin a cat"--successfully.
It also explains why one can often find so many different answers given to the sama questions presented to the forum----and they can all be correct.:wink:
an adamant snip...
is it a must to reverse the brood boxes in the spring?
there is no LAW that requires you to do anything nor is there a LAW that prevents you from murdering a perfectly good hive.
I suspect (based on my own unofficial tally) that half the time this is unnecessary. this is just one step in the process which is basically designed to clear any clutter from the bottom board and then to move the primary brood nest down nest to the bottom board and moving empty space upwards. once the brood nest and bees are right up next to the bottom board the bees themselves do a pretty good of keeping the bottom board cleaned off (and if they do not you likely don't want them around anyway... it has been suggested by others that this may be a good first indicator of hygienic behavior). perhaps 'the diff' is that we can have a large problem early here with both the small hive beetle and wax moth and failure to clean the bottom boards can set you up not too far down the track to lose hives that appeared not that long ago to be thriving and robust.
tec has mentioned some good points, the clearing of the bottom board of debris and the debris present as an indication of how hygienic your bees are. especially for those who have to deal with shb. the bees should do a good job of cleaning it up and keeping it neat and tidy. i normally check the bottom board or change it out if needed, when i divide, sometimes sooner. i am amazed at how clean this is in the spring (with russians).
Am I correct that this bottom board cleaning is only for solid boards? I imagine that I'll find some dead bees and stuff on my screened bottom boards, but most little stuff falls right through.
I really have no experience with screened bottom boards Greg but my guess is that yes the debris should fall thru (with perhaps an exception being the corners). I myself would still want to move the brood nest downward and not have any empty space at the bottom of the stack.