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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.