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Author Topic: Bees Backfilling Broodnest  (Read 2418 times)
SarahM
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« on: June 08, 2011, 01:05:20 PM »

A few weeks ago when doing a hive inspection, it was found that the bees were beginning to backfill the broodnest. A couple of things were recommended to me here on the forum, and I did both of them . . . manipulated frames by moving two outside, undrawn frames inwards, and then a few days later, added the second hive body.

When doing a hive inspection yesterday, the bees are continuing to backfill the broodnest. Large sections on the frames have hatched out now, and it looks like just about every empty cell has been filled with nectar and/or sugar syrup and pollen. It looks like the bees are filling just about every available spot as even comb that isn't completely drawn out is getting filled.

In the second hive body, they have drawn out 4 frames and are working on the 5th and 6th, and they are beginning to fill those as well. I did see eggs on several frames there, so the queen is alive and laying, but with how much the bees are backfilling, I'm wondering if she will be running out of room soon.

I did do a couple of things to hopefully help stop/minimize the backfilling . . .

One, I took off the feeder. I had originally planned to keep feeding until the bees had drawn out most of the foundation in the second hive body, but as it looks like they have more than enough food right now stored away, it seemed best to take the feeder off. And then they won't be using the syrup to fill up the broodnest.

I also manipulated some more frames in the first hive body. The two outside frames were still not drawn out so I moved frame 1 to frame 4 position, and frame 10 to frame 7 position.

Will both of these things help at all with stopping/minimizing the backfilling? Is there anything else that I can do?

I am not sure exactly how to word this next question, but since most of the first hive body is filled with nectar (other than the sections of capped brood, larvae and capped honey), how will it be (or can it be) converted back to being the broodnest with empty spots for the queen to lay?

Other than the backfilling, the hive is looking great, and the numbers are increasing significantly. Now if I can just figure out how to minimize the backfilling . . . any advice would be appreciated!
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hankdog1
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2011, 02:56:32 PM »

I'd just keep an eye on it and super as soon as they get all the frames drawn out. 
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L Daxon
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 03:00:29 PM »

Taking off the feeder was the best thing you could do.  Sounds like you kept it on to long and the brood nest got honey bound.
Moving empty frames or empty drawn comb next to the brood nest is the next important thing--giving the girls a chance to draw out more comb and expand the brood nest.  But the girls won't draw out any more comb than they have population to cover. You have to make sure the queen has cells in which to lay to get the population up to get more frames drawn out.

I am sure there have been other threads on here about honey bound brood nests. You might search for them and see what was said.

Linda D
« Last Edit: June 09, 2011, 10:37:34 PM by ldaxon » Logged

linda d
AliciaH
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011, 03:47:44 PM »

I am not sure exactly how to word this next question, but since most of the first hive body is filled with nectar (other than the sections of capped brood, larvae and capped honey), how will it be (or can it be) converted back to being the broodnest with empty spots for the queen to lay?

In that first box, you could always pull a couple frames and put them in the freezer to feed back later.  That would give you room to put in new frames for them to draw out. 
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caticind
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011, 05:29:31 PM »

The fast way is to pull capped frames of sugar syrup and freeze them, replacing them with empties.  You could also wait, if you have enough space in the second box.  Don't know where you are (you should put at least your region in the location tag on your profile), but during your local dearth the bees will eat through some of what they've stored, returning those spaces to use for brood.

Whenever you have backfilling, item number one should be to take the feeder off!  If they are backfilling, they've been fed enough.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011, 09:14:49 PM »

I would say the problem is that the feeder was left on too long.  Generally you want the feeder off as soon as you have capped stores.  When the bees cap their nectar/syrup they are telling you that they consider themselves to have a surplus.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 05:21:44 PM »

A few weeks ago when doing a hive inspection, it was found that the bees were beginning to backfill the broodnest. A couple of things were recommended to me here on the forum, and I did both of them . . . manipulated frames by moving two outside, undrawn frames inwards, and then a few days later, added the second hive body.

When doing a hive inspection yesterday, the bees are continuing to backfill the broodnest. Large sections on the frames have hatched out now, and it looks like just about every empty cell has been filled with nectar and/or sugar syrup and pollen. It looks like the bees are filling just about every available spot as even comb that isn't completely drawn out is getting filled.

In the second hive body, they have drawn out 4 frames and are working on the 5th and 6th, and they are beginning to fill those as well. I did see eggs on several frames there, so the queen is alive and laying, but with how much the bees are backfilling, I'm wondering if she will be running out of room soon.

As you've just discovered overfeeding leads to problems, such as the haneybound condition you found your hive in.  Luckily you followed the correct advise given to you on this forum, by manifpulating frames so they could be drawn out and adding a super.  But continued feeding prevented those moves to from curing the problem.  Now that you've ceased feeding the bees the bees can do what they need to do to enlarge the brood chamber.

Quote
I did do a couple of things to hopefully help stop/minimize the backfilling . . .

One, I took off the feeder. I had originally planned to keep feeding until the bees had drawn out most of the foundation in the second hive body, but as it looks like they have more than enough food right now stored away, it seemed best to take the feeder off. And then they won't be using the syrup to fill up the broodnest.

Good move, the idea of wanting to feed the hive until it has 2 drawn boxes of frames is nice, but in actuallity it causes the hive to become honey bound by backfilling the brood chamber with nectar.  The frame manipulations can cure this as long as the feeder is removed at the same time as the manipulations are made.  Failure to remove the feeder just compounds the problem.
The hive is best served if feeding is only done until the frames covered by bees have drawn combs and then removed with the 1st frame manipulations of moving the outside storage frames and replacement by undrawn frames. 

Quote
I also manipulated some more frames in the first hive body. The two outside frames were still not drawn out so I moved frame 1 to frame 4 position, and frame 10 to frame 7 position.

Good move, this shows you understood the initial instructions about frame manipulations.

Quote
Will both of these things help at all with stopping/minimizing the backfilling? Is there anything else that I can do?

Both moves help reduce back filling but might not stop it completely, a certain amount of backfilling is done during the curing of the nectar to honey.  The idea is to keep the back filling within the brood chamber(s) to a minimum.  During a heavy honey flow the bees can use up to 3 boxes of combs to process one box worth of capped honey.  As the nectars are collected they are stored with other nectars with the same water content.  They are removed from the cells and processed (manual evaporations) by the worker bees and then recombined with nectars of a similar water content.  From initial gathering until it becomes capped honey the nectar is removed, processed, combined, etc, multiple times while the water content is reduced from 80% water as nectar until it reaches 18% water as cured honey.

Quote
I am not sure exactly how to word this next question, but since most of the first hive body is filled with nectar (other than the sections of capped brood, larvae and capped honey), how will it be (or can it be) converted back to being the broodnest with empty spots for the queen to lay?

Good question.  The brood chambers are opened back up for the exclusive use as brood chambers via the manipulation of the frames so that some of the nectar/honey is used to produce wax to draw out the foundation.  The placement of some of those undrawn frames on each side of the brood chamber area widens the area that the queen can lay eggs upon as the bees begin to draw the combs the queen will move over to the frames being drawn and will lay eggs on the undrawn or partially drawn foundation, forcing the workers to complete the combs by the time the larvae is ready to be capped.  The laying of the eggs consumes a good portion of the contents of the back filled cells, freeing them for more brood production.

Quote
Other than the backfilling, the hive is looking great, and the numbers are increasing significantly. Now if I can just figure out how to minimize the backfilling . . . any advice would be appreciated!

Back filling is normally stopped when  the forage of nectar or syrup is reduced to a level that the bees can process the nectar as fast or faster than it is collected, or is diverted to some other use such as comb production or feeding brood.  Removing the feeder was a big part of this process.  Frame manipulation is a 2nd part, moving them within the loose cluster area of the hive.  Wax and increased brood productiion is the 3rd part of this equation, that is what consumes the excess stores within the brood area.   

It is necessary to understand the process through which nectar is converted to honey, the amount of comb space necessary for it, the loose cluster space occupied by the adult bees, the total frame space, and the relationship of one component to the other to be effective in avoiding creating a honey bound condition within a hive.  If you've understood my answers to your questions, and put them into practice, you're well on your way to avoiding the condition in the future.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2011, 05:29:26 PM »

Great reply Brian and as always well written Smiley
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SarahM
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 07:18:05 PM »

Thank you everyone for all of the helpful advice! It was appreciated. Now I learned from experience what a result of overfeeding can be, and I'll know what not to do next time.

Linda D . . . thank you for suggesting looking through the archives for ‘honeybound.’ I did so and found some threads that were quite helpful.

Brian D. Bray . . . thank you for your informative reply and for answering my questions so thoroughly. It was very helpful to me, and I learned some things as well as gained a better understanding about backfilling, how it is prevented and/or corrected, as well as what takes place in the hive in relation to these things. Thanks again!
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enchplant
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2011, 12:41:26 AM »

Thanks for asking this question Sarah and Brian  thanks for such a great answer.  I have a similar situation. Could I create more brood space by adding another undrawn  super above the brood but below the queen excluder? How about between the brood boxes. Bottom box is half capped brood, 1/2 pollen and nectar, Upper box has just one frame of larvae, the queen and eggs the rest of the frames are nectar. I haven't ever fed.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2011, 05:02:23 AM »

Feeding can't hurt, as long as you don't mind robbers, ants, packages that swarm their first year...

You're on the right track.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2011, 06:16:36 AM »

Brian, at first I skimmed your wonderful reply. But then I told myself: Read every word of that...

So, I went back and read every single word. I took my time with it so I could understand. I know I don't know enough yet to understand every bit of what you explained, but I'm really grateful that today I've got a better handle on backfilling and comb building etc than I did yesterday.

Thanks to all of you who go to patient lengths with some tedious yet fascinating detail.

-Liz
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2011, 12:54:05 AM »

Thanks for asking this question Sarah and Brian  thanks for such a great answer.  I have a similar situation. Could I create more brood space by adding another undrawn  super above the brood but below the queen excluder? How about between the brood boxes. Bottom box is half capped brood, 1/2 pollen and nectar, Upper box has just one frame of larvae, the queen and eggs the rest of the frames are nectar. I haven't ever fed.

As I stated, bees will only occupy the number of frames it takes to hold the entire population in a loose cluster.  Within that cluster is the brood chamber, with the outer frame on each side dedicated to stores.  Since bees will leave stores, but not brood frames, the way to increase the brood area is to move the storage frames outside of the loose cluster of the bees and replace them with new frames, which they will then occupy and draw comb on.

Regardless of how many boxes you put on a hive, the bees will only occupy the space necessary to hold the bees in loose cluster.  If done properly the queen will take as much of the comb space within the confines of the loose cluster to use as a brood chamber as she can and she should be allowed to use as much space as she wants, even if it means  having 3 brood boxes for part of the season.

As long as the queen has sufficient brood rearing space the hive will grow and will eventually occupy most of the space within the hive. 

Once you have the equivalent of 2 full deeps of bees then the bees will begin to venture away from the loose cluster area and drawn storage combs above the brood nest.  But it takes at least that many bees, in a longstroth style hive, before that happens.  Up until the bees have a surplus population that can be dedicated to the forage and processing of extra stores they will grow frame by frame, never occupying more space within the hive than what it takes to cover every square inch of comb surface with bees. 

BTW, queen excluders make good propolis collectors.  Usually  both the bees and the beekeeper finds them to be a nuisance.
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jtow
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2011, 04:47:46 PM »

Question then, if the hive has too much syrup stored and they then cap it, how do you know if you are extracting honey or syrup?
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caticind
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2011, 04:57:38 PM »

jtow, you don't.  Any super on the hive during feeding WILL have syrup in it.  You should not extract if you've fed while the supers were on, as the honey you get will be adulterated with syrup.  This "honey" should never be sold to customers, only fed back to bees.  Better to just save yourself the effort of extracting, freeze those frames and feed them back to the hive for winter.
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L Daxon
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2011, 10:34:20 PM »

I know if you feed while the supers are on you will get "syrup" stored in the cells, but is it just plain syrup?

I thought what turned plant nectar into honey was that the bees added enzymes and stuff to it to make it honey.  Otherwise you would just get flower nectar in the cells.

Don't the bees do the same process to the syrup to turn it into honey, albeit sugar honey instead of nectar honey?  They still have to uptake the syrup into their nectar pouches/stomach and process it before depositing it into the cells, then reduce the moisture content before capping.  I can see why you wouldn't want to sell sugar syrup honey as what is generally considered natural honey, but sugar syrup honey would still be edible and taste a lot like regular honey, wouldn't it?
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linda d
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2011, 11:20:04 PM »

I can see why you wouldn't want to sell sugar syrup honey as what is generally considered natural honey, but sugar syrup honey would still be edible and taste a lot like regular honey, wouldn't it?

Well, it would be unethical to advertise syrup as honey.  If you tell your customers that you are selling great tasting sugar syrup, I guess that's ok.  And you are right.... some people can't tell the difference, which explains why some commercial producers sell syrup as honey.   The processing is the same but the difference is in the non-sugar components..... the aromatic compounds that give each type of honey a distinctive smell and taste.   I'm sure some honey gets mixed with sugar syrup in the dehydration process so some of those flavors show up in diluted form in "sugar syrup honey".
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SarahM
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2011, 06:43:20 PM »

The frame manipulation and removing the feeder worked! When taking a look in the hive earlier this week, many of the broodnest frames that had been backfilled are either emptied or are in the process of being emptied, and there were eggs in the now empty cells. The bees have also drawn out the foundation on the two frames that had been moved inwards and have been busy drawing out foundation in the second hive body, too. It was exciting to see all of that! It was also an enjoyable plus to sight the queen again and to see several bees doing the waggle dance . . . beekeeping is too much fun.

Thanks again everyone for all of the help!

And Brian . . . it was really neat to see what you shared actually taking place in the hive. Thank you again for taking the time to explain all of that!
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T Beek
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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2011, 07:10:09 PM »

Seems you're learning the technique of KYBO (KeepingYourBroodnestsOpen) and that is very cool.

thomas
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