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Brood and a half

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New Bee 2 

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I hope you can help me! I was advised to remove the QE from one of my hives and run it as a brood and a half .. but I don't know how to inspect this set up. Top box first or bottom? Any tips?

.. soooo confusing! :willy_nilly:

Thanks!
 
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Depends what you are trying to do. If you only want to see if the queen is laying and that she still has plenty of room to lay then simply go through the top box first and this may be all you need to do - in the sense if you find eggs and comb with empty cells which she can lay in later then you may not need to touch the bottom box.

However, in the spring and summer you are also going to be checking for queen cells as well so after going through it you will then have to lift of the top box, put it on the roof, with a queen excluder below it if you are also resting it on any supers to prevent the queen going into the supers. You can sometimes get away with just tilting the top box up and you may well find swarm cells sticking down from the upper frames, but to be sure you will have to go through all the bottom frames as well.

If you have to find the queen for some reason then I would first take the top box off first and put it on the roof. By splitting them before the inspection you avoid the risk of the queen nipping down into the lower box as you go through it and then nipping back up onto a frame you have already inspected. The chances are low as the light and disturbance will tend to keep her in the lower box if she was already there but it is a risk. You will then have to go through each box but you may get a clue where to start first by looking for open comb which has a matt finish to the upper edge. These are likely to be cells the bees have prepared for the queen to lay in.

If you struggle to find the queen put a spare QX between each box and come back after 3 or 4 days. The box with eggs in has the queen.
 

Friar Tuck 

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sounds like a complete pain in the ass to me !!!! ;o)
 

oliver90owner 

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Friar Tuck,

sounds like a complete pain in the ass to me

I see you have Nationals. How do you propose accommodating your bees next year?

Most colonies these days need more than a single brood on a National hive.

Double brood is little different than brood and a half - more space, same sized frames but still two boxes, nevetheless.

I very often allow her a super to lay in temporarily (or longer) with 14 x 12s.

Regards, RAB
 

oliver90owner 

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I very often allow her a super to lay in temporarily (or longer) with 14 x 12s.

You didn't read my post?

RAB
 

steve_e 

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Friar Tuck,

Most colonies these days need more than a single brood on a National hive.
There seem to be strong views on both sides regarding brood and a half (or large brood boxes), versus the standard national size.

I'm just completing the end of my first 'proper' season of beekeeping (well I had two colonies last year but they only came as new colonies, one of which was quite a slow small swarm). I had three big swarms in April and had to do quite a lot of manipulation and the end result is now four hives.

I only have ordinary national brood boxes. The size and vigour of the two hives in April took me by surprise a bit (as well as the more experienced beekeeper who has been helping me). Is the heavy swarming activity likely to be due to the colonies being constrained, and is this the reason some people move to brood and a half/14*12s?

And is there a general consensus on this or is it still possible to manage a smaller brood box - assuming you're smarter than me of course? :blush5:
 

Polyanwood 

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Bear with me...

I think it depends why you keep bees. We don't all keep them for the same reason. Some people love each individual bee and will try to rescue any bee that gets into trouble and want to be able to have bees that they can easily share with people on a regular basis. If you are not worried about making any money from honey or bees, in such a case, I think a single National is fine. You will need another hive to deal with artificial swarming and with the right strain of bee that might only be needed once. A small colony however, usually means a smaller honey crop.

If you want lots of honey, more bees when the flow is on, is better. Planning so that you have maximum bees when your main nectar flow starts is the key to sucess. You would probably want more than a single National at least before the flow starts.

You would also have more opportunity to build up nucs if you were on double brood, but if you have bigger colonies, they are more difficult to handle and more diffiuclt to share with nervous friends and relations.

Mostly I find brood and a half and double brood a pain. I have always struggled to find every queen cell.
 

steve_e 

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I struggle to find queen cells in an ordinary national brood chamber (quite evidently judging from what happened to me in April...).

Thanks for this Polyanwood. I guess the management side is the critical thing, although I did feel back in April that the brood box was really busting out of its seams with bees.
 

kathrynat 

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I have a national with one brood box. It seems a nice strong colony, they repel wasps but we didn't have any honey this year. Should I add another brood box this year or should I wait until next spring?
 

oliver90owner 

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Only two of my colonies are still on more than a single 14 x 12 brood, on which they will eventually over-winter without further feed or other interference (hopefully) until warmer weather in the spring allows the first quick (hopefully, again) inspection.

One is too big for the single brood at present and the other is one I forgot had a double brood box, and I need to check the bottom box soonest.

It is now far too late to expect a colony to double in size to accommodate a second brood box. I normally over-wintered on a single brood and a super of stores before I changed to the larger format.

Concentrate on getting them through the winter first and allow/encourage them to expand in the springtime. I would suggest your first objective next year is to expand to two colonies, if that is an option, as two colonies are generally easier to manage than a single (test frames, balancing brood and stores, increase, etc - all with not so much extra inspection time taken).

How many frames is your colony occupying/using? If not a full box it may be advantageous to replace an outer empty frame with an insulated dummy/divider, if they do not completely fill the box with stores.

Regards, RAB
 

kathrynat 

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Thank you for the reply RAB,
They are using all of their 11 frames. Each frame has a mixture of brood and stores. I didn't see any eggs when I looked at them earlier on, but I did see a lot of capped and uncapped brood. The brood box looks really full of bees and that's why I thought maybe I should expand. The photo is of one of the frames taken from the centre of the box and is typical of the rest of all 11 frames, although some of them had a lot more bees on.
 

oliver90owner 

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They are still not going to double in size with the winter looming closer every day!

Have you had a super on at all and if so was any appreciable amount of comb drawn?

Your pic does not indicate they are too crowded at this time of the year as the lay-rate will be decreasing and those bees will need replacing with winter bees before the winter closes them down.

Regards, RAB
 

kathrynat 

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They had a super on, but I removed it to treat them with Apiguard. They had about 3 frames of capped honey, but they ate it all before I had a chance to take it off. Thanks for your advice. I will leave them as they are for the winter and then look at having a double brood next year. Thanks again for your advice, it really is appreciated.:nature-smiley-016:
 

oliver90owner 

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If you were wanting to, they might well fill the super as it is part drawn, given that the winter does not arrive too soon and you were feeding heavily with sugar syrup. Just depends on how you intended to over-winter. There is always fondant to fall back on should they need extra feed later in the winter.

BTW get 'hefting' the hive now so that you can guestimate stores levels through the winter months. It is good practice for new beeks, as many are clueless in Feb/Mar when stores may be getting light.

Regards, RAB
 

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