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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
(Updated 3-3-2012) Swapping places with the two brood chambers

At our last meeting, our guest speaker recommended to the new beekeepers, without any additional explanantion, to swap places with our brood chambers as soon as it warms up enough. He suggested moving the bottom up and the one that was on top down. He said that should be done at the start of each spring season. I had to leave early and didn't get to ask why so I'll do that now. Why?
 

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Hello Wayne,
Bee's do everything with an inclination to going up. you rotate the brood chambers to encourage the queen to expand the brood area up into the relatively empty bottom brood chamber continue rotating the brood chambers for about 2 months every few weeks.
Barry
 

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It is a technique referred to as reversing. In a lot of cases your bees in the spring will be in the top box having moved up there during the winter, leaving the bottom box almost devoid of bees. By reversing the two, you give the queen "more" room to expand, by playing on their instincts to move up.
(same thing as what Barry just said) :lol:
 

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to add some detail to what Perry and Barry have said above...

if the bottom box is empty (of any brood) then reverse as suggested... if the queen has already moved down into the bottom box (seems to happen in about 50% of cases here) just leave well enough alone. always clean off any excess debris on the bottom board when you do reverse.... since the bees are one box above the bottom board often times (almost always) there will be a lot of collected debris on the bottom board that the bees will not remove... this can lead to early infestation of small hive beetles followed fairly quickly by wax moth.

I tend to reverse only one time in a given season (some exceptions will always occur in situations like this).
 

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""if the bottom box is empty (of any brood) then reverse as suggested...""

Pay close attention to Tec's statement. If the brood nest is in both boxes and you reverse, the nest becomes partly in the top of the top box and partly in the bottom of the bottom box.

You do NOT want to split your brood nest. Only reverse if the brood is in the top box totally.
 

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The idea behind this, is it gives the queen more laying room so they don't get crowded and swarm. I do this every year, unless like tec. and iddee say, the bottom box has brood in it, then i let it be and keep an eye on it. Jack
 

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as an additional tid bit to my last response in about the same number of case (about 50%) I also reverse again in the late summer. again the bottom box is empty of anything besides just a bit of nectar/honey and some quantity of pollen. I do this primarily since the unguarded lower box is a likely suspect to be totally over run by wax moth (they get a start in the bottom box and push the bees right out the top of the box)... a secondary reason is this manipulation alter my perception of the bottom box representing any resources for the hive <this then informs me of which hives I know need some feeding.
 

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As a further point of interest, atleast in my case, I let the top brood chamber become honeybound, with the fall nectar flow, the queen ( september ) will have already started to slow down in egglaying a bit so she won't be cramped for space, since I am letting the bees fill from top to bottom, something they are also already inclined to do, this assuming that the top chamber fills with honey, will be thier winter feed. during the late fall, and early winter monthes, the bees will move up partially into the top super to keep in contact with thier honey and pollen stores. as they consume the stores, they will either re arraingn the stores a bit, and or move further into the top brood chamber entirely, thus the need in the early spring to 1.) clean off the bottom board, and 2.) assuming there is no brood in bottom chamber, rotate it to the top position. They will always be a common thread in beekeeping with variations in how that commonality if accomplished. Commercial Beekeepers might not manulipate the colonies as I do, not prophitable to spent so much time doing it with so many colonies, hobbyists with a few colonies, doing the manulipations, is fun and ya learn quite a bit about your bees and how they react and what they are doing. Lastly, the sun is your bees friend--shaded locations, whiule the bees will adapt, makes them somewhat more vunerable to SHB attack, as they like the shady locations, not so much full sun.
Barry
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks to everyone for your replies. This has been very informative and helpful to me.
 

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Reversing or swapping brood boxes is done at the beginning of a nectar flow. If you are not at the beginning of a flow and it's still early in the spring then you may cause more damage than benefit by swapping boxes from increment weather changes causing stress and loss of brood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Found something I wasn't expecting

P3030182.jpg I swapped the two brood chambers on my first hive today and in fact moved the frames from the old boxes into two new boxes. Everything went well and I found the top box still very full and the bottom almost empty.

The second hive checked out the same; the top box very heavy but when I separated the top box from the bottom, I tore open comb that the bees had put between the bottom of the frames in the top box and the top of the frames of the bottom box. There were almost fully developed bees in the comb that was torn apart by my separating the boxes. When I saw that, something I wasn't expecting, I just put the boxes back in place until I could ask you about it. Does that mean they are out of room in the brood box? The bottom box is much lighter than the top, I did check that out while I was that far in to it.
 

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What G3 said. A lot of times this is the area bees will raise drones because they aren't limited by foundation/cell size, they draw out what they want. Whenever you take off a top box like this it is a great time to look for mites on the exposed white pupae.
 

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the bee quite commonly build structure in this gap and as jim314 pointed out 'normally' this will be drone bees. it may or may not mean the hive is crowded. on a hive like this I still check to see if the brood nest is above or below. just after I set the top box off I clean the excess comb both from the top bar area of the lower box and the bottom bar area of the top box.

as also mentioned this is a good opportunity for a informal survey for mites. actually about half of the information I collect on mites comes from this kind of circumstance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The temperature (50 degrees) was not warm enough today to swap the boxes (I didn't think it was anyway) where I found the drone cells last weekend but I did notice that the hive I did make a swap on, the bees were not flying at all. On the hive I did not swap, the bees were very active in spite of the 50 degree temperature. Is that just a reaction to upsetting their home 3 days ago on the first hive? Or it just the female prerogative to do what they want to do when they want to do it?
 

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At our association's meeting last night, our speaker said he rotates his boxes sometimes once/week for a month or two. I didn't say anything because I don't have any experience doing this. But from what I've read, I thought this sounded excessive. Thoughts?
 

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Once a week for a month? Definately excessive and disruptive. From what I remember (careful now) everytime you go completely through a hive frame by frame, you set it back approximately 3 days, that is, it takes 3 days for all repairs (propolizing gaps, etc.) and for the colony to find it's "groove".
 
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