They'd rather swarm than draw out wired wax foundation?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Larus, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. Larus

    Larus New Member

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    Last year, I had a hive that overwintered in 2 deeps. When both deeps were being used, more or less, by the bees, I gave them a third one, with 10 frames of wired wax foundation. I thought that this would give them plenty of extra space and discouraged swarming. But they ignored the new frames entirely - didn't draw them out one bit, and made swarm preparations instead.

    This year, I ran into a similar situation - one of my overwintered hives was getting ready to swarm. Eggs were gone, open brood was few and far between, and there were several capped queen cells. I took out every frame with a queen cell, plus a couple more, and made a nuc (which worked - that nuc raised a queen from one of the cells and is in good shape going into winter). I replaced the frames that I took out with 5 frames of wired wax foundation. For the rest of the season, the bees ignored those frames utterly. They started raising brood again, grew in population, and eventually swarmed anyway. Meanwhile, the foundation remained undrawn.

    Do undrawn frames simply not work to give the bees "extra room" and discourage swarming? Is there something different I can do to encourage the bees to use such frames in their brood chamber? Or does introducing frames with foundation only work for a 1st year hive that's growing in size from a nuc or package?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    what are the frames before you added the new ones? foundation-less, already drawn out foundation?
     

  3. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    Did you by chance have a queen excluder under the new deep full of foundation? Bees will hardly ever cross the excluder to just start drawing out comb.

    Next time add a couple of frames of foundation to the edges of the brood nest and move the drawn frames up to the new box, above the brood nest. This will give them room to grow.
     
  4. Larus

    Larus New Member

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    No excluders. I put the new deep full of foundation in the middle, between the 2 old deeps. This was my 2nd spring of beekeeping, and my very first time managing an overwintered hive. It was late April or early May, and I finally felt sure that my bees have successfully overwintered, but I had no idea what they were going to do next. I figured that if I stuck the new deep in the middle, they would draw it out whether they decided to expand from the top down or from the bottom up. But they ignored the frames and just used the old comb in the top and the bottom boxes.

    The second time around was this year, now my 4th year beekeeping. I was inspecting a hive and found swarm cells on 3 of the frames. So, I removed those 3 frames into a nuc, plus an edge frame all full of capped honey and a frame of pollen. I replaced those 5 frames with brand new frames with foundation only. I put them all in right next to each other (i.e. frames 6,7,8,9,10 of the deep were all undrawn). Maybe that was my mistake. Those frames stayed undrawn, and the hive swarmed a couple of weeks later.

    On a side note, the nuc thrived :smile:, and is now a hive with 2 10-frame deeps and 1 super, not even interested in the 2:1 syrup I am feeding them (which I'd like to think means they have plenty of stores for the winter). My first successful increase.
     
  5. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    ok 1st off when you find capped cells in a hive on the edge pull the queen and a few frames and put in a nuc, she is going to swarm at this point no mater what you do, after that pull a few cells and put in another nuc to start a new queen and then let the parent hive alone with a few cells to raise a new queen for it, this covers you if any of the 3 fail with a queen cause you can always combine with 1 that has a queen, best case is you have 3 new hives.
     
  6. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I hope I've got this right. You put a box of foundation between 2 boxes of brood ? In such a set up, one of the boxes will think it is queenless and make Q cells.

    When I want a colony to draw brood comb, I arrange the frames in a column. The bottom box (es) have about 6 frames of brood plus a dummy/division board. Above this box goes a box with 2 frames of foundation plus 4 frames of brood/stores and a dummy board .... arranged so that each frame of foundation is between a frame of brood/stores. The presence of the old frames draws the bees into the upper box and the heat from the lower box helps the bees draw out the foundation. As the frames are drawn, more frames of foundation can be gradually added. For drawing foundation there needs to be a flow on or you need to feed.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. LazyBkpr

    LazyBkpr New Member

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    Some good points already posted.
    Once you find swarm prep has started, stopping it can be difficult,and sometimes it is not possible. Moving the old queen to the nuc makes all involved feel as if they have swarmed, and should inhibit further desires of that nature.
    When I add undrawn frames, I do so on the outside edges of the brood nest. April though July I inspect once a week. Each week, I will rotate frames one location..
    IE.. Frame one I pull and set aside. I look at frame two, and put it where frame 1 was.. I pull each frame and move it over one space, and replace frame 1 in the frame ten slot. This moves frames slowly enough brood emerges unhindered,but also slowly moves empty frames toward the brood nest.. SO LONG AS THERE IS A FLOW or you are feeding well, they WILL draw those frames. Because those frames are slowly moved into a primary location, they will want them drawn NOW, and they will have the resources to do it.
    I use mediums only, so I have an extra box compared to deeps, but it allows me to put two "new" undrawn frames in the lower two boxes, and a single frame in the top box. Once they have the empty frames being drawn well I stop rotating so they can keep the organization on track.
    Spraying the frame with light syrup with a dab of HBH also seems to make them excited about drawing the foundation.
    Remember, you need to have a flow going, or be feeding in order for them to draw comb. They need warmth as well. I have also noticed, that once the days start to get shorter, getting them to draw ANYTHING is like finding and pulling hens teeth..