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Author Topic: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)  (Read 1110 times)

Offline Bozoshoes

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Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« on: April 28, 2009, 05:41:00 AM »
My hive seems to have survived the Winter intact. Although I sure could use more bees as it looks like the survivors can only cover about four medium frames. There is plenty of honey at the top level, but they won't take any syrup. The bottom two mediums have been all drawn out and the comb is empty. Should I move the empty brood chambers up to the top in order that they get filled with brood, pollen, honey etc. or should I leave things alone and hope that the queen and workers move down to the empty comb? Thanks!

Offline SgtMaj

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 08:15:07 AM »
Well first off, wherabouts are your bees located?  If you're up in Montana where it's still snowing, or in PA where it's 90 degrees, it may change the advice given.

Second, what's your hive configuration?  Entance at the top or bottom?  Are they having to cross the empty comb as they come and go? 

Third, if it's warm enough where your bees are for them to break the cluster and they aren't taking syrup, it just means they've got some natural sources that they prefer.  If it's too cold to break the cluster, they may not be able to get to the syrup.

Offline Bozoshoes

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 01:13:26 PM »
Small opening top and bottom with screened bottom board. Small amount of bees covering about four frames, this is the reason I opened up the hive to find out what the problem may be. They seem to have plenty of honey stored so that's probably why they haven't touched the syrup. I'm RI so it's been pretty cold but it recently got unseasonably warm. I have another hive about 5 miles away that is five times as active as this one. I think I saw the queen walking around outside the hive about a week ago and she went back in. When I open up the bottom comb is completely empty so considering they have a tendency to move up, I thought it might be a good idea to move the empty comb up to the top of the brood area. I use three mediums for the brood and the bottom two are now empty. Thanks for your help. PS a couple of days ago I opened the bottom entrance to full open.

Online kathyp

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 04:33:47 PM »
you can change your location in your profile.  that way you won't have to keep telling people where you live  :-)

the natural tendency of bees is to move down, not up.  a hive in it's natural state will attach at the top and build downward.  unless you have reason to believe they are to crowded in the top box, i'd leave them for now and keep an eye on them.  if your brood area is completely filled and they show no signs of moving, then you can do something.  otherwise, they will usually move onto new comb when they have sufficient numbers to care for brood in that new area.
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Offline Bozoshoes

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 06:19:59 PM »
Thanks! You learn something new everyday! I was always told that the cluster will always move up. The way you explain it makes perfect sense. That is why there is no honey or brood or pollen down below. So it seems that I'm OK. The bees left from the previous year will store honey, pollen and the queen will lay eggs and there will be capped brood at some point (I did see nectar in the lowest brood chamber). Then, when all the three medium brood boxes are full, I can add supers to harvest the honey that will be made during the Summer. Thank you very much for your help. Maybe there are others with the same problems that can learn from these questions.

Online kathyp

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 07:48:29 PM »
they may very well move up during the winter.  that's probably how they ended up there in the spring.
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline Bee Happy

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 08:33:06 PM »
how can you tell when they're too crowded, I have one deep, started from a nuc 3-1/2 weeks ago and it's wall to wall bees now. (someone else said they wished they could clone a queen of theirs, I think I understand that - they're exceptionally calm - compared to the other also calm two) anyway - it's packed with bees and one honey super up top - should I try to wrangle up another brood box?
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Offline SgtMaj

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 05:48:36 AM »
how can you tell when they're too crowded, I have one deep, started from a nuc 3-1/2 weeks ago and it's wall to wall bees now. (someone else said they wished they could clone a queen of theirs, I think I understand that - they're exceptionally calm - compared to the other also calm two) anyway - it's packed with bees and one honey super up top - should I try to wrangle up another brood box?


If it's wall to wall bees, you bet!  If it were me, I would probably throw on another brood box once the first is 80% filled. 

Offline gaucho10

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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2009, 08:44:58 PM »
I like to install first brood box...when 75-80% filled/drawn I install 2 nd. brood box.  When that is 75-80% drawn iI nstall "honey supper".
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Re: Lowest Comb Empty (Should I Move Them Up?)
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2009, 01:15:58 AM »
Contrary to populare belief clusters of bees do not usually move up in a hive.  They will cluster at the top of the brood combs and stay their.  They make as frequent of trips as is necessary and the weather allows to fetch honey from capped combs where it is deposited in the combs the bees are clustered over. 
That's why a hive of bees can starve to death with plenty of stores.  The weather stays frigid too long and the bees can't break cluster to fetch more stores and they starve with a full larder.
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