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Author Topic: Early spring backfill  (Read 283 times)

Offline Bob Wilson

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Early spring backfill
« on: November 24, 2020, 11:12:59 pm »
This past spring...
Jan 15- Red Maples started blooming
Mar 1- First inspection & found a dozen queen cells
Mar 8- the hive swarmed

Learning from my mistake last spring, in about two months I anticipate having to open my horizontal hives and insert empty comb frames in the brood nest, thereby expanding the broodnest and avoiding backfill. Assuming (generally) similar spring weather, I should crack the hive and check for backfilling around... February 1st?

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Early spring backfill
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2020, 08:11:21 am »
Bob,
It is all about the weather. Every year it is a little different here. As long as you are not opening up the brood/cluster area before a hard cold spell, you should bee okay. Make sure they have honey around the edges of the brood frames.
Jim Altmiller

Offline little john

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Re: Early spring backfill
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2020, 08:44:42 am »
Hi Bob,
Living in the UK, I know nothing about early Spring conditions in Georgia - but in general terms - unless the weather is very settled you'd be well advised to only expand the brood-nest by inserting empty drawn combs at it's sides, rather than in the middle, so as to avoid a divided brood-nest should the weather turn pear-shaped.

In order to avoid swarming, considerable success has been achieved in the past by physically moving the brood-nest to a more centralised location within a Long Hive, before expanding it in that position. But - much depends upon the size of Long Hive (both it's length and depth) and the type of frame used within it.

Could you elaborate on the size of your hive, and in particular the type of frame you use ? Thanks.
LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Early spring backfill
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2020, 09:46:14 am »
Average temps in Georgia...
50-60 degree in day.
30-40 degree at night.
Last year I waited to crack open the hive March 1, but it was too late.
It seems (if it is an average year again) I need to open early February to address broodnest expansion. I postponed breaking the propolis seal last spring because of low 30s, and they were already in swarm mode at the end of February.
I feel caught between cracking the seal (chilling the brood) and backfill over crowding (swarming).
All the hives are 32 deep frames long. 4 feet.

Offline little john

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Re: Early spring backfill
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2020, 01:00:41 pm »
Hi Bob - yes, that's a tough one.

Over here we call our top covers (inner covers) 'Crown Boards', and most of my Long Hive Crown Boards are in two sections - such that I can remove the back one without affecting conditions in the brood nest at the front. I then crack the front Crown Board seal to loosen it, but leave it in place.
 
There's normally an adjustable partition board in position, so that's removed, as well as any frames I can easily access. Then I slide the front Crown Board forwards a few inches, and pull another frame out from behind it, and so on, until the brood nest is finally exposed at it's side. I then push one or sometimes two pre-drawn brood frames up against the exposed brood frame, replace the frame which was originally next to it (which invariably has pollen and some stores in it), sliding the front Crown Board back into place as I go. I then add a couple of frames (with stores if available) and finally the Partition Board. That way, during the whole procedure the lion's share of the brood nest is never exposed. 

At a much later date, on a warm sunny day around mid-March or early April, I can then fully expose the hive in order to move the whole brood nest to a more central position, and continue with brood-nest spreading - usually at the side of the brood nest, because our Spring weather can be so unpredictable. I can't remember the last time one of my hives swarmed - but it was a very long time ago. A completely different climate to your own, of course.

32 deep frames in a 4ft hive should be perfectly fine in your location - (just checking)  :smile: 
'best
LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Early spring backfill
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2020, 01:29:38 pm »
All my long hives have top entrances at the end. Invariable the first frame is pollen, then brood, then nectar. For some reason, I made the assumption that I needed to insert empties at the entrance. I did not think about gently exposing the back of the brood nest and inserting predrawn comb frames. I suppose I thought they would immediately fill them with nectar and the queen would still be confined.
Thanks LJ and Jim.