Lots of Brood Stores?

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Chunky Plumpy

New Bee
Jun 14, 2022
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Oldbury Naite
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Based on feedback in another thread I might have taken delivery of a small nuc three weeks ago. Undeterred I popped on a syrup feeder and the hive has grown really well. They have drawn 7-8 frames and working hard on all but the two outer most, so I've removed the syrup feeder (as it was empty again and the weather is lush) with the aim of popping my first super on in the next day or so. Exciting!

However, during the inspection I couldn't help but notice that whilst there were larvae/brood these were only obvious on one outer frame whilst the centre frames are made up almost entirely of stores. No change of plan, I shall pop on the honey super in the next day or so and leave them to move things around but having been trying to learn I did encounter some comments I'd like to understand better.

If I refer to my books I'm doomed, honey bound brood box which requires me move the queen into a new brood box underneath or risk them swarming. Good old Google confused the heck out of me as no one appears to agree on anything, but I did read that a queen shall never move past a frame of stores; really?! There were a variety of other suggestions such as swapping out a few frames of stores to make space, as well as leave them to sort it out for themselves, but having not covered this on any courses either I'm intrigued.

It might be useful to other novice beekeepers as well, so can anyone advise on when I should be concerned about the amount of stores in a brood box, and what is the recommended way to deal with it? More than anything I'd really like to know, will a queen really never traverse a frame that's completely filled with stores?!? Thanks.
I assume you have no drawn frames, other than those in the hive. Queen urgently needs space to lay. Take out a few stores frames. Put in some foundation. Even better would be to spin some of the syrup out of frames and put the empty drawn frames back.
As stated above, it is suggested to add a super when you have 7_8 frames of brood.
Feeding is a balancing act. You have overdone it, but that's OK.
Adding a honey super you would just have ended up with a syrup super
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will a queen really never traverse a frame that's completely filled with stores?
Never say never in beekeeping, but generally stores act as a barrier to a queen.

For example, if you had a full super of honey and for some reason had to use the queen excluder elsewhere, the super of honey will prevent her going up.

Undeterred I popped on a syrup feeder

An error, but not a disaster. Bear in mind that beekeeping is composed of three elements and you must familiarise yourself with all of them: equipment, bees, and the environment.

In this case, I reckon that nectar has been coming in during the last month in Gloucestershire and had you known which nectar plants were in flower, you would not have fed.

What is the blackberry & lime flow like where you are? It's been pouring in and filling brood nests in colonies I've seen recently, so you're not alone.

move the queen into a new brood box underneath or risk them swarming
Yesterday was the summer solstice and as bees recognise diminishing day length they usually switch about this time of year from replication to acquisition, so the risk of swarming is reduced.

Underneath is cooler and wax is less likely to be drawn fast as bees need 35C for the job. Putting a complete box on top may lead them to use it as a super. To prevent this, (and had you six or eight frames of brood) half could be moved up into the centre of the top box, and half centred below, with foundation on the flanks.

Follow Drex's advice and give foundation: put those one or two undrawn frames from the edge of the box into the middle of the nest, alternating with drawn combs.

Extract four or five others (save it for winter feed) and put them back in. It will take you an hour to extract and the combs can be back in today; the bees will not mind their brief absence. Your local association will likely have an extractor for loan.

no one appears to agree on anything
This is the reality of beekeeping advice. Do not follow any source blindly, but digest everything and make your own decision; by this method you will learn faster (esp. from mistakes!) :)
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Well, that wasn't what I was expecting at all... thank you all for catching this as I just assumed it would all work itself out.

As a novice I was not knowledgeable enough about the balance and managing the growth of the brood, certainly not in such a short time with only a couple of inspections but I guess we learn that over time. So what to do:
  1. @Anduril you are correct, and consensus has it that I should assist the brood and not add a super until I have adequate brood
  2. @drex you are also correct, as a noob I do not yet have any drawn frames and only foundation, but I really like the suggestion 'to spin some of the syrup out of frames and put the empty drawn frames back' but cannot do that straight away.
  3. @ericbeaumont and @Anduril I shall today simply move the frames to bring the unused/barely used outer frames next to the brood on the inner side by swapping their position with some stores
  4. I shall ask to borrow my neighbours spinner asap
  5. @drex at the weekend (or maybe Friday if I can) I shall remove a couple of the big store frames and spin them, then return them as drawn frames
Fingers crossed this does not upset them too much but also helps recover the situation. Obviously I shall not be feeding syrup and instead simply continue to inspect as the hive as it grows naturally.

The most frustrating part about being a novice (in anything) is that it's only AFTER someone explains something it seems obvious. My nuc was small, comprising of little more than 3 frames with two of them brand new. Apparently I took delivery later in the year than usual, last day of May but nonetheless the original advise was unchanged; get a syrup feeder on there for at least 10-12 days or until the brood box is almost filled out.

That is precisely what I have done to end up here.

On reflection that was probably 'outdated advice' because the small hive had access to forage for stores now plus the syrup and went bananas in the good weather filling all the 'extra' space in the brood box (nice bit of deductive reasoning from @ericbeaumont).

I shall try and gently assist the hive in a couple of steps as described above and then report back over the next week or so. Thanks again everyone, CP.

P.S. As for the 'stores barrier', I am not sure right now that it would have helped me knowing that given my lack of general experience but it's really interesting!
Just a quick update to say that I’ve not meddled too much but moved one outer frame next to a lovely section of brood which had the queen busy doing her thing; it has started to be pulled albeit only a small area.

I shifted everything up and at the other end swapped a really heavy store to the end in place of a frame also starting to be pulled. The neighbouring frame did have some brood and larvae albeit a fair amount of stores but still a path for queeny to get to this second ‘new’ frame.

I shall leave them in peace now, unless advised otherwise, and let them sort that all out before inspecting them to see if I need to spin off any of the other big stores.

Fingers crossed they’ll not be going bananas creating stores now they are off the syrup and still thriving. We shall see.

Thanks again for the advice! CP
Was the nuc you received a swarm/cast I’d expect more laid up in that time even if restricted with over feeding. In fact if it was a nuc there should have been more frames of brood to begin with!
Evening @Ian123, from comments like your own I’ve learned that mine might not have been the finest example of an over-winter nuc.

It contained 6 frames, one so clean it might have gone in that morning and another with only the slightest evidence it had ever seen the inside of a hive. Three were well populated and clearly aged but I can no longer recall how good or bad the last one was.

It is what it is, just unfortunate I didn’t know what to expect nor how to nurse a small nuc… only to over feed it.

It’s water under the bridge now, aside an over abundance of stores which I’m dealing with after getting some advice, I still have busy queen, brood and larvae plus some frames for them to work on. Most importantly I’m enjoying my first hive whatever the outcome 👍 Cheers!
A bit of closure on this thread, I think, certainly an update. The weather allowed for a quick inspection today and it's really quite surprising how different things are in only 4 days.

The 'new' frame from the end is almost completely drawn out and showing the first signs of use but that is not the good news. The colony is clearly bigger, loads of activity inside the hive and the most activity I have seen outside whilst still all very calm and not bothered by my presence. They are now working all the frames and there is new brood and larvae across all the inner frames except the 'newest' one but I have every confidence that is next. Queen was busy and up the other end from lots of larvae so looks like she is not stuck between heavy store frames, really pleased about that.

Most importantly the shape of things is much more like those of my books and images online, with brood through the centre and stores only across the top of the frames plus in the end frames which are still pretty heavy. With activity across all the frames and a nice central brood I'm really pleased. I don't know where the stores have gone, possibly concentrated into those heavy end frames but compared to a week ago it looks like a different hive.

I never spun and returned frames. The bees appear happy and enjoying new forage as blackberry and other hedgerow flows are starting to appear, so I shall leave them to carry on doing fine work. Thanks again for the advice, quite surprised at what a difference it has made in no time at all, cheers, CP.

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