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Advice please - big cells ?

 
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winterkoning
New Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2015
Posts: 3
Location: netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:59 pm    Post subject: Advice please - big cells ? Reply with quote

Dear All,

I am new to this forum and new to beekeeping and would like to ask for your opinion. In short : a I have bought two bee colonies in July from an experienced beekeeper. I got them this late as he placed them near a field of Luzerne and they were collecting loads of honey, so I agreed to leave them there until end of bloom. He is not a natural beekeeper so he put them in one of my hives and I wanted to change to 11 frames in stead of the 10 they normally use so I added one foundation less frame that only had a starter strip before he put them in there. When they came to me, I noticed a big beard on te outside of the hive on not such a warm day, and opened the hive to see loads of bees. I figured they didn't have enough space as swarming season was over and no sign of queen cells, so I added a box on top of the first one. Took some full frames from the bottom box and mixed full frames with foundation less frames in both the top and the bottom nox.
Today I was thrilled to see that in the bottom box they built beautiful straight combs in almost all the foundation less frames, except the outer two. In the top box the situation was the same, except for the 2 outer frames. Really very nice. Brood was only present in the old frames, some new combs contained honey.

Now comes my question : Most new combs still had empty cells and I noticed the cell size seems larger than usual. It might be all drone cells which seems strange at this time of year, they should prepare for winter at this time of year. I have them on my land ( and on foundation less) for appr. 3 weeks now. Temperature is still very nice with 26 degrees this week and predictions are nice for next week too.

Anybody who can tell me what is going on here ? Did I do something wrong ?

Thanks so much !

Lianne
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Lianne

The large cells (particularly on the outside combs) will be for honey storage. It is more economical for the bees to build larger cells to store honey in as it uses less wax. A bit like you buying groceries in bulk packaging... it's more cost effective.

I would be a little concerned about whether they will manage to fill a second brood box with honey before winter and having a box that is half empty above them in winter will cause problems with heat loss, so you may need to rearrange combs before winter or pack part of the top box with insulation.
Do you not have any supers for the hive?.... these are shallower boxes, usually used for honey production. Here in the UK, we usually over winter an established colony on a brood box and one super in a British National hive, but I appreciate all hives are different.

If there is a good nectar flow in your area perhaps this will not be a problem and they will fill the second box. They certainly sound like they are doing well so far.

Regards

Barbara
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Tavascarow
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Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would put the second brood box under the first not above.
A large air gap below doesn't affect a clusters temperature in the same way as above & they will naturally expand downwards in the spring.
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winterkoning
New Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2015
Posts: 3
Location: netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara and Tavascarow for your replies.
I know that probably they will not be able to fill the big top box with honey ( strange I didn't think of that...You must right and these are for honey. I guess I didn't think of that as I read they will build smaller worker cells, but I have not read yet that they also will build bigger honey cells if they have the opportunity. Clever girls ) but what I can do than is put on the outside stopper boards, not sure how you call them in English. These are closed frames that you can use to adjust the space ( in this case reduce). I still need to make them and I can actually put insulation in there.

I am just wondering how bees in nature will do that ? Coincidently I have a wild swarm in one of my trees, they used and empty woodpecker nest, and they are here just a couple of weeks. They might not be able to fill everything before winter as well ?

We do have smaller honey boxes here. I didn't put on one there as they weren't ready yet.I never expected to get a swarm that needed a bigger place right from the beginning. I have another colony and checking them yesterday I think they need more space too, as everything is full including my foundation less frame and I am preparing the frames with starters trips for that smaller honey box right now, so I can place it on the brood box tomorrow or maybe even later today.

Thanks !
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e3eridani
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Joined: 17 Aug 2015
Posts: 2
Location: DE

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Barbara,
I've got the same situation but with Warre hive. My question is that what will happen to those big cells next year when the brood nest is shifted down? Will bees remake them or it will be drones?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am just wondering how bees in nature will do that


In nature they usually start from the top of the cavity and build downwards and therefore don't suddenly find a large empty space above them as happens when we lift the roof off and put an empty box above them. Beekeepers get away with it in spring/early summer when the colony is expanding rapidly and there is a strong nectar flow and temperatures are warm.
It sounds like your conditions are still favourable but at this time of year, that can change quite suddenly, so it's really just a question of keeping an eye on things and having a plan to deal with it.
I think we call the blank frames you refer to as "dummy boards".

I think Tavascarrow made a good suggestion though to reverse the boxes but it needs to be done whilst there is still time/fprage for them to backfill the broodnest.

@ e3eridani

My experience with my bees is that they don't rework comb (other breeds of bees may be different), but those large honey cells are most likely to be on the outside bars anyway, which is the preferred location for drone brood (with worker brood in the centre where it is warmest), so they are ideally placed for dual purpose honey or drone brood.
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