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Swopping Honey Supers?

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margob99 

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My last two inspections on the primary hive (national brood-and-a-half plus 2 honey supers above the QX) have revealed that the bees are focusing all efforts in the honey supers on the first one above the QX. While there are bees on the foundation in the very top Honey super, they're not drawing it at all.

Yesterday, the first honey super above the QX was AB-SO-LUTELY jampacked full of honey (weighed an absolute ton). So I thought I would kind of try and experiment. I don't want to harvest one super at a time; I want to harvest them all at the same time. So I swopped the 2 top supers around.

Now the very full one is at the very top, and the second empty one is just above the QX. While I know that in general bees travel upwards, and like to work in the top structures, I thought I would try this to see if the bees will now draw the unworked super.

What do you think?


Footnote: Once again, this colony was absolutely aggressive/defensive as all hell. Bees just went absolutely insane around me while inspecting, and some followed me all the way up to the house and were still there 20 minutes afterwards. I am seriously going to have to re-queen. My second colony were pussycats by comparison.
 

MJBee 

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Was your "full" super capped? If not I suspect you are in the middle of a strong nectar flow and your bees are stuffing it in the first available spacebee-smillie.

By swapping the two supers you have returned the hive to "normal". The bees would have done that eventually when the flow eases off. Keep an eye on the stores level in the brood box, there is a chance that they will run out of cells and start putting it in the brood box and restricting laying space - swarm warning!!
 

ENZO 

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I find that the bees draw the super foundation much quicker without the Queen Excluder in the way so I place this excluder above the super, say for a week maybe two, than on next inspection I replace the queen excluder above the brood box making sure the queen is below, in that week, at this time of year the super would be pretty much drawn, if they run our of storage space they may swarm and this is the best method I have found for them to draw a super out quickly.

Enzo
 

margob99 

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By swapping the two supers you have returned the hive to "normal". The bees would have done that eventually when the flow eases off. Keep an eye on the stores level in the brood box, there is a chance that they will run out of cells and start putting it in the brood box and restricting laying space - swarm warning!!
If I understand you correctly; you're reading it that I've swopped a brood super and a honey super - but no, that's not what I've done (forgive me if I've got you wrong here).

Here is the current build:

Bottom: Brood box

Next up: brood super

Next up: QX

Next up: Honey Super 1

Next up: Honey Super 2

Next up: crownboard and roof

Honey Super 1 is choc-a-block full of honey (don't know if it's capped or not; doesn't matter cos I'm not going to harvest it till Honey Super 2 is also full!)

Honey Super 2 is foundation only.

This is what I have done:
I have swopped Honey Super 1 and Honey Super 2, so now the new build is:

Bottom: Brood box

Next up: Brood super

Next up: QX

Next up: Honey Super 2

Next up: Honey Super 1

I've done this in the hopes the bees will start drawing foundation in Honey Super 2, even though I'm aware bees tend to prefer working in the upper sections.

I'm not (too) worried about swarming - this lot have already swarmed once, and cast once. Brood frames in the brood box and brood super are only half full of brood. I'm keeping a tight check on QCs also.

So - this may be a complete newbee question - have other people tried this kind of swop? Will it work, d'you think?
 

thurrock bees 

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Hi when you add a new super, weather its foundation or drawn comb, always put it between the brood box and the honey supers. but above the QX.

TB
 

Poly Hive 

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The empty should go above the excluder as the space above the brood nest stimulates nectar gathering.

PH
 

Hivemaker. 

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The empty should go above the excluder as the space above the brood nest stimulates nectar gathering.


How does this stimulate nectar gathering, flowers secreting nectar does this,bee's in a single box seem to collect nectar just fine until they are chocker block with honey...no super on top.
 

Poly Hive 

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There was research which concluded this HIvemaker. Dinna ask me for chapter and verse as I doubt I could ever find it again.

PH
 

Hivemaker. 

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Just as well,because i've never known any of my bee's needing stimulating to collect nectar when there is a flow on,and they are not at all fussy where they stuff it.
 

Poly Hive 

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Well the research was very clear that having an open space above the brood nest increased foraging activity.

I agree that in general I can't say I have noticed much of a difference, but putting an empty super over the excluder makes sense to me plus being able to see how the full ones are getting on easier.

PH
 

Hivemaker. 

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I prefer top supering,I like to see how the empty super is filling up, by simply looking in the top,plus less pollen getting in all the supers.
 

OXFORDBEE 

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Radcliff in a "Beekeepers Folly" has a nice section on supering on pages 217-218...
 

margob99 

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I don't know the book, but my first thought was "What a great title!" Will look it up, with thanks
 

OXFORDBEE 

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Dickbowyer,
Thanks for the reminder...

ADDING SUPERS FOR EXTRACTED HONEY.
The actual operation is about the simplest in beekeeping: with the super ready on a stand beside the hive, remove the crown-board and put it over the supers; smoke once, put on the excluder, and lift the supers on top of it. Total time, about twenty seconds. If you are using a plain zinc excluder, you will have to scrape the tops of the brood-frames to allow it to lie flat—a job best done by firm smoking and one determined stroke per frame, rather than by many delicate strokes.

Estimating the right time and order for adding supers is more difficult; the advice used to be to super when the first crumbs of fresh white wax began to appear at the tops of the brood frames, but this is now reckoned as too late. Probably the stock is really only ready for supers when, on removing the cover-board (with only a whiff of smoke), you find bees at the top of the six middle frames.

The first super must, if possible , be of drawn combs and not foundation. Bees cannot draw out foundation until warm weather and plentiful nectar arrive, and if you insist on their doing so, will often swarm with ample room at their disposal – “room” which they cannot use.
It is now considered that the second, third and fourth supers may be added on top of the first and allowed to remain there. It is true that a super of foundation will be fully drawn faster if one puts it below the first super as soon as the bees have half-occupied it, but honey farmers say this is done at the expense of work in No.1 super, and that the overall work in a bock of supers is no better by this means than by “top supering”.

Snags:
Adding a cuper to early: the result is to drive the bees down from it, because of the loss of heat.

Putting a second super of foundation under the No.1 super without letting the bees start work on it in the upper position: this disheartens the bees and may cause swarming in the same way as giving foundation only in the No.1 super.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Radcliff omits reference to pollen in supers which is a valid point that hivemaker makes. He also omits the benefit of top supering enabling quick checks with large numbers of supers (Hivemaker). I've got stocks on 7 supers that are quite happily in the top box drawing foundation.

The point about faster drawing when bottom supering (PolyHive) is mentioned but the caveat is that work in supers above is retarded as work commences in the new supers below and the risk is partially filled supers and consequent wasted space, especially when foundation is being drawn.

Hope this helps...
 

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