Two shallow boxes fashioned with medium-depth, foundationless frames---to be used as a single box.

More Space Has Stopped the Bearding

Success!

Yesterday I inserted a box I fashioned from two shallows between my two brood boxes in Girls of Summer. They’re the most robust of our colonies, and they’ve been mighty crowded and hot and bearding like crazy.

So, I pulled deep frames of brood up from the bottom box and into the center of the new box; I interspersed medium, undrawn foundationless frames among all the fully drawn comb in the bottom two boxes. Then, I restacked them. This should give them the room they need to operate.

Yep, I’ve got a real mishmash of frames going on in there now, and there’s quite a bit of empty space that the bees will surely fill up with wild comb, but I guess I can figure out how to deal with all of it later.

My goals:

  1. Keep these bees from swarming before winter.
  2. Keep these bees alive over the winter.
  3. Switch from deep boxes to medium-depth boxes.
  4. Harvest some honey next year.
  5. And do all of this without introducing any chemicals.

So, now that I know this addition of space and new frames has stopped the bearding in Girls of Summer, I need to do the same thing for Amazons and Tomboys. Which means I’ve got to head down into the basement and make 20 frames today.

Here are some pictures. They don’t show you much other than what it looks like to rearrange a bee colony.

Two shallow boxes fashioned with medium-depth, foundationless frames---to be used as a single box.
Rearranging a bee colony. (The lighter colored frames are foundationless and are interspersed among frames already drawn)
Rebuilt Girls of Summer (including the two-shallow box in the center)

Tricky Box and Frame Configurations

Those bees are bearding like crazy. Which means they are hot and crowded. But they won’t move up into the new supers I’ve added in order to give them some extra room. And yesterday I found swarm cells in Tomboys again. Shit.

I would normally add an empty box below one of the brood boxes in each colony, but I’m trying to transition from using 10-frame deep boxes to 8-frame medium boxes…I won’t go into it here because it’s so danged confusing, but this translates into some tricky box and frame configurations.

Yesterday the light came on in my brain about this. Of course, the light went on about two hours after I’d inspected the bees…which means I get to go out there and do it again today.

Here’s my plan: I stacked together two shallow supers (to form one box) and filled them with 10 medium, foundationless frames. Today, I’ll insert the two-shallow unit between the deep brood boxes in Girls of Summer. This way, they’ll have room to work and frames on which to draw comb in which the queen can lay eggs. AND, because these are medium depth frames, once they’re drawn, I can eventually move them into my 8-frame medium boxes.

I hope this works. I’m proud of myself for thinking outside of the box about this stuff.

Yes, the bees will most likely build some funky comb in the gap that shouldn’t be there…between the bottom of the frames in the two-shallow box and the top of the deep brood box. But I guess I can cut that excess comb off and tie it into it’s own frame later. Which means that I’ll get a lot of bang for my buck if they draw comb below these new frames.

I’ll need to move some already filled deep frames containing brood into the two-shallow box in order to encourage the bees to move up. This interspersing of differently sized frames is going to make for a very very interesting situation when I dig in there next spring.

I have two concerns: first, that they won’t draw any comb whatsoever and that they’ll still feel crowded; and second, that I’ll forget that I experimented this way and I’ll have a real mess on my hands when I unsuspectingly discover the interspersed medium and deep frames and theĀ medium frames with that huge gap beneath them.

One reason I’m posting some of this dull informationĀ is so I can refer back to them later…so I’m not surprised (more than usual) during my inspections—or, if I am surprised, I can refer to these posts and see what on earth I was thinking.

I TRIED to take pictures for you yesterday, but that dang iPhone just will not respond to my gloved fingers. I got the phone all gooped up with propolis before I decided I just couldn’t spend the time taking the pictures for you. Sorry. I have to work at a better system and use another camera.