Cramped conditions - removing & replacing honey / pollen comb

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New Bee
Apr 26, 2023
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HI all.
So I have 2 nucs building up in Nationals (11 Frame + divider) but have become honey bound. Is that the term? i.e. they have filled the outside frames with nectar and pollen, leaving only 4 or 5 frames for brood. I put a super on with foundation + QE a couple of weeks ago and they are filling that up as well. They haven't really moved the rest up.

My question is - if I take some of the outside frames off and replace with foundation, or my preference starter strips, what do I do with the ones I've taken off if the honey is not capped?
Do I write it off? Will it keep? Will it ferment? Can I freeze it and feed it back it later? I see why some people use just one size of box now - I could have just moved it up !

I've read somewhere that just putting in foundation will be no good as they still see this as a natural stop point and will do the same thing - hence my preference of starter strips.

Obviously being a relative newbie (well - restarter really, after my Warre hive took a tumble in the gales in winter due to me not strapping it down properly - but thats another story!) I have no National frames with drawn comb as yet and I foolishly melted down the warre comb - I could have strapped some of that to a frame or two and put it in.....Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

What should I do?

Thanks in advance
Sounds like they are not that strong, if they were, they would have moved it up themselves. However foundation or starter strip do not immediately provide storage space, nor laying space, so it has to be drawn out.
If there is adequate room above they will move stores up and give queen room to lay
they have filled the outside frames with nectar and pollen
super on with foundation + QE a couple of weeks ago and they are filling that up as well
May have been nucs, but now that they're full colonies it'll be full steam ahead and space is an issue.

Take out two stores frames of mostly honey and leave ones with mostly pollen. On either edge of the nest add a frame of foundation. When that's drawn - give them a week - look to see what is in it, because sometimes they'll fill it with nectar if on a strong flow, and the objective of brood space will be defeated.

If the queen lays in the new combs you can guess that they needed the space, and as pollen and stores are now down to 4 or 5 frames and brood up to 6 or 7, you could repeat the work as as above, reducing stores in the BB to one at either end.

After another week you should consider adding another brood box, putting into it at either end the surplus stores frames. Use foundation sheets rather than strips because strips are best alternated with drawn comb to avoid wandering comb. Stick on another super as well, under the first.

Of the 4 or 5 frames with brood, is it wall to wall or in smaller patches?

PS: store combs in a sealed box; during the season they're unlikely to ferment. If the honey is below 19% on a refractometer, extract it and re-use the combs straight away.
Actually thinking about it, the worst one in particular, the queen wasn't laying for about 9 days after I picked up the nuc. Eventually she started laying, but its definitely not a full box of bees as of yet. Allowing for one frame of brood becoming 3 frames of bees, though given a couple of weeks it should be on its way, I guess.

The trouble is, that I'm used to top bar hives, especially warre's, with a stand back approach (Apart from checking for disease) and I'm probably overthinking and impatient :D
Of the 4 or 5 frames with brood, is it wall to wall or in smaller patches?

Its wall to wall on the free comb -
Guess I'll have to order another couple of brood boxes, on the hurry up. The bigger one of the two is now putting up swarm cells
wall to wall on the free comb
Get in there today and give space: to avert QCs a bolder approch is justified, so instead of putting foundation at the edge of the nest, alternate it into the nest. Check regularly and repeat each week as necessary.

bigger one of the two is now putting up swarm cells
Without further kit you will have to nuc the queen. You do have nuc boxes? :)

A vertical split or vertical AS (when your boxes arrive) needs only a 460mm board with 8mm rims and a small entrance on one rim. A crownboard will do: seal the feedholes and cut an entrance.

AS them and deal with the QCs in the top box as you wish: reduce to one and repeat after 7 days, or leave until sealed and make up nucs as increase or insurance.

order another couple of brood boxes
The Abelo 11-frame poly is a very good box and useful when splitting vertically as the split board needs no entrance cut - just leave out the box wall plug.
Thanks everyone.
I have a couple of spare nuc boxes, so that may be the way to go, definitely on the worse one.

I'll alternate a couple of frames of foundation and see what they do in what remains.

Just got to find a nice plastic box with a lid that I can shove the spare comb in.

Don't you just love being prepared :oops:

I was obviously used to the lazy approach with the Warre's :D

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