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Mike a 

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I've never run double brood box nationals before and I've just been given a colony by an association member who has decided to retire but I've yet to talk to the land owner to introduce myself and confirm if she minds if I take over the site.

Double brood box national
The queen has been laying very well in both chambers and the colony is by all accounts very large. An experienced beek inspected them on Friday and believes they will move into swarm mode with in the next 2 weeks so they will need to be managed some time this week. I have an idea of what I should and could do but I wanted to clarify with you guys first just to make sure.

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Some time in the next 4-8 weeks I will donate two lots of 5 frames to friends, one of which has a colony that is very small and also has a major problem with chalk brood and the other has ordered a queen some weeks ago but the colony he wanted to put her into has norsema now and is failing fast. So in the mean time I would prefer to encourage the queen to continue to build up with out swarming.

I've been pondering if I should put another national brood chamber with some drawn and some undrawn foundation between the two current brood chambers as this will give the colony not only plenty of space but enough work to prevent them going into swarm mode until this third chamber is well established plus the colony size would continue to grow so I would be able to provide more than enough nurse bees to create two new good sized colonies when required.

Or if I would be better off splitting the two brood chambers now to create a second colony and allow them to bring on a new queen and add another brood chamber to the queen right hive.

My only concern with this option is if its too early to split a colony and try and raise a new queen so early in the year even though I've been told there is plenty of drones already.

As I'm undecided I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on this as I can't seem to decide which option I should opt for. bee-smillie
 

Finman 

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You have so much ideas in you letter that difficult to know what will happen.

Basicly let the hives grow and don't mix you best hives.

The spring is time of waiting. Not action. If you take much brood or bees from spring hive, its build up will suffer.

To make queens as early as possible makes no sence. They will be very expencive queens.
 

Poly Hive 

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Giving five frames to a failing colony is just a waste. Don't do it please.

I find it hard to believe that there are already sufficient drones to consider queen rearing but I am considerably further north than you and so much colder.

If they are strong, and by that I mean they have say 15 or 16 frames of brood already then yes give them another brood on top. Not in between please as that will push the top box to throw cells.I would suggest though that you have excluders between these boxes so that you know, note know, where your current queen is. Then you can manage the affair and not just react.

Your generosity to your friends is laudable but it would be getter for them to invest in a mated queen some time in late April and then donate them say three frames of brood and bees to kick off a good nuc, with out overly depleting your colony.

Then split yours into two or three depending on how many you want to have.

PH
 

oliver90owner 

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I am with Poly Hive with the swarming dates. Colonies swarmed late April last year. There is little to suggest that the experienced beek is correct for this year. 'Moving into swarm mode does not mean the colony would necessarily swarm, but might mean there will be plenty of active drones and the bees may start to build queen cups. Don't know positively though.

Your information seems very anecdotal 'by all accounts', 'believes'.

Fairly easy to move some of the hatching brood to your other colonies to boost them? Giving, say, 4 frames of foundation to draw would slow them down a bit?

Apart from that I am in agreement with both PH and Finman.

Except that the obvious thing to be doing is actively monitoring for swarming activity. There is no need to do anything drastic until they actually show positve signs of swarming preparation, and even then there need be no panic actions, just appropriate reorganisation of the boxes.

Regards, RAB
 

Mike a 

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Giving five frames to a failing colony is just a waste. Don't do it please.
Dont worry PH I wouldn't top up a failing diseased colony, better to accept they have failed and then replace the colony and frames before starting again.


If they are strong, and by that I mean they have say 15 or 16 frames of brood already then yes give them another brood on top. Not in between please as that will push the top box to throw cells.I would suggest though that you have excluders between these boxes so that you know, note know, where your current queen is. Then you can manage the affair and not just react.
I was considering adding a QE between the two chambers and making sure the queen was in the lower chamber then after 4-5 days adding the new brood chamber in between and then removing the QE. This would stop any cells in the top chamber (at least thats the theory). This would then give the colony plenty of space to work with.

oliver90owner said:
Moving into swarm mode does not mean the colony would necessarily swarm, but might mean there will be plenty of active drones and the bees may start to build queen cups. Don't know positively though. Your information seems very anecdotal 'by all accounts', 'believes'.
Your right I can only go on what I've been told and there was no mention of queen cells, I haven't been introduced to the land owner where the hives are so I've not had a chance to take a look for myself, but the information I've been given was from the gentleman who taught me and I trust his judgement and experience.

The beek who is retiring has four colonies. I've just been lucky enough to be given the strongest colony and my friends the other hives.

1. strong double brood box (mine)
2. reasonable in size but suffering major chalk brood - too early to shook swarm and replace the queen.
3. small in size and drone laying queen - urgently needs a replacement queen so unlikely to survive.
4. norsema and small colony - unlikely to survive

However since my first post I've been considering it may be better to bring on two 5 frame nucs on clean equipment and then pass these on to those who need them if their colonies don't survive.
 

Poly Hive 

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sorry Mike but that will not work.

YOu need to know where your queen is, work the two brood boxes until the third is partially drawn, find the queen and put her int here and let her get on with it, then rotate the boxes around.

Frankly it's not a way I would go. Far too messy in management terms.

PH
 

ENZO 

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Considering the late season and the low temp. Isn't it a little early to be thinking/taking action on raising queens and swarm control? I don't know about you guys, but here I see very few drones and that's normally the marker for me on raising a few queens and getting serious about swarm control.

All the Best, Enzo.
 
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Two of my colonies have some sealed drone brood but they probably won't be emerging for a couple of weeks and the drones will then not be sexually mature for at least another couple of weeks - so queen rearing couldn't start before the end of April at the earliest, and there wouldn't be many drones about even then.
 

Haughton Honey 

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sorry Mike but that will not work.

YOu need to know where your queen is, work the two brood boxes until the third is partially drawn, find the queen and put her int here and let her get on with it, then rotate the boxes around.

Frankly it's not a way I would go. Far too messy in management terms.

PH

Or perhaps consider slipping a QX in between the two existing brood boxes now. After three weeks all brood in the box without the Q will have emerged, the nurse bees/colony will predominantly be in the other box and you can remove the secondary box, replace old comb etc etc and then put it on top of the box with the brood nest in it so they can expand upwards.

I doubt you'll see any swarming within the next three weeks.
 
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Mike a 

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Thanks again for all your thoughts.
I will have a chat with their previous owner to see if he kept any records I can read up on and I will post again when I've had a chance to inspect it myself. Like some of you have said and I completely agree with there is no point or reason in doing any thing until the first signs of queen cells and the fact they have double brood chamber should/will give the colony more than enough space well into April even May provided each chamber is full of drawn frames.

Latest Info
I've just learnt each of the four hives has either 1 or 2 super's fitted as well as their previous owner was about to go into hospital for an op and wouldn't of been able to visit them for at least 4-6 months.
 
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I run a number of my colonies on Langstroth double brood chambers and they can swarm as readily as any of the others. Lack of space can induce swarming but provision of space does not prevent it so you still have to check for signs of swarming like any other colony and be ready to do something about it when you see the signs.
 

Mike a 

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Update

Went to see the double national hive today...

WOW !!


Picture of the Super.


Super 3/4's full of capped honey and packed with tons of bees as you can see in the picture.





Picture is the upper brood chamber.

Upper brood chamber - Took out three frames with only sealed brood and stores and given them to a friend for a queen he is expecting tomorrow. I've also had to add another super with 10 manley frames of drawn comb. On sunday if the weather is reasonable enough I'll inspect both brood chambers for first signs of queen cells as the drone population is about 5% and I'm sure they will go into swarm mode soon and once I see a queen cell I'll split them.

Spring is here for this hive.
 
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Midland Beek 

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Spring is here for this hive.
Making early splits might sound a good idea, but you typically need 20 deg C or more so that new queens can fly and mate. Giving those frames to your chum might hold them back somewhat, which may turn out to be no bad thing.

There is such a thing as a colony that is too strong, too soon. The normal procedure is to take some of the strenght away and give it to weaker colonies.
 

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