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Author Topic: Unlimited brood nest.. Swarm management... Splits...  (Read 785 times)

Offline Culley

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Unlimited brood nest.. Swarm management... Splits...
« on: October 22, 2014, 10:31:12 AM »
Is anyone else in Australia running an unlimited brood nest in your hives?

I had a hive that was absolutely booming in autumn, went into winter with 2 deeps of brood and a deep of honey. I got to it too late this spring - it was at least 4 weeks ahead of the smaller hives (at another location) in building up, by my reckoning. It was still a formidably strong hive after sending out swarms, and I split it to curb the swarming urge. I found last year the queen was laying just in 1-3 frames in the third (top) deep - the bottom two boxes were full of brood and some pollen. I also noticed that when a hive gets this big, it puts away a LOT of pollen. This has led me to wonder if the pollen stores and the amount of pollen coming in early in the season are some of the reasons these bigger hives do so well. I think leaving the extra honey on over winter really helped them, too.

Anyway, I hope to go and visit it again soon, check the split went ok, and super if they need it already.

The other hives at my closer location are building up more modestly. I've realised that learning to manage an unlimited brood nest really needs a location where swarms wont be the end of the world for your neighbors. I'm wondering if this is always going to be the case or if I'll get the swarm management figured out. What are your experiences? Is anyone else in Australia running hives with an unlimited brood nest or hives with a very large brood nest?

Culley

Offline kalium

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Re: Unlimited brood nest.. Swarm management... Splits...
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2014, 07:49:38 AM »
This season I'll be rotating my stronger hives out to the bush and keeping the weaker ones in the burbs to help them build up.

There are all sorts of techniques out there for reducing swarming (personally I'd like to try a snelgrove board sometime). Splits are pretty easy though.

Offline Rmcpb

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Re: Unlimited brood nest.. Swarm management... Splits...
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 05:12:31 AM »
Most of our hives don't have queen excluders. We don't check them enough incase she gets above the QE and you end up with lots of dead drones trapped inside. Not good.

As for swarm prevention, we do walk away splits from our strong hives early in the season, about four weeks ago. The weaker hives get their queen pinched and combined with a stronger hive. We need to go out in a couple of weeks to check them and clean them up again.

I keep a closer eye on the backyard hives and feed the splits from them but that is only because I use smaller nucs for these splits.

Cheers
Rob.
Cheers
Rob.

Offline Culley

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Re: Unlimited brood nest.. Swarm management... Splits...
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2014, 10:37:25 PM »
If I get to a hive too late, and they are building queen cells (which has happened to me a few times), I make splits using the swarm cells and taking brood/pollen/honey from the stronger hives so as to weaken them to discourage swarming. I was doing this because I wanted to increase the number of colonies as well.

I'd carefully put some empty frames in the brood chambers to make more room and occupy the bees, and I'd check again and add more. Problems with this method is it requires fairly regular checking - if the colony is really strong they'll build out the empty frames and use them very quickly.

I've learned that the splits with queen cells work alot better in five frame nuc boxes than full size bottom boxes  :)

I tried walk away splits, and "shook swarms" with varying success, but I didn't like making each new colony have to raise a queen. I'm experimenting with easy, reliable ways to raise queens.

Is making nucs really a sustainable way to manage swarming? Can you get the queens raised in time to make the nucs and beat the swarming instinct?