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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Inviting Bees into a New Super of Foundationless Frames

This morning I visited the Morningside Community Garden hives to see how they are doing and to determine if either hive needed a new box.  I only had about 20 minutes so it helps to know the purpose of the inspection.  Once I've gotten my question answered, I can shut the hive up and go on to work.

Hive One did not need a new box.  They have three boxes and they had only built in four of the frames in the new box.  Since two of those were ladder frames, in essence they had only drawn out two of the new box's frames.

However Hive 2 was a different story.  They had built out seven of the eight frames in their second box so it was time to add a third box.  The photo below is of frame seven.  It isn't completely built out but I still want to add the box.


In a tree the bees build down.  I want to put the new box beneath the current ongoing second box.  To invite the bees into the super, I need to create a ladder of drawn honeycomb for them to traverse between the two boxes.  This will encourage them to build in the new box two which will contain six empty frames and two filled frames serving as the ladder.

I removed two empty frames from the new box to make space for the ladder frames.

In box two, I removed two frames of brood and eggs - in the same position as the two empty frames from the new box.


I put the two brood frames in positions 2 and 3 in the new second box.  It helps that they are brood frames because the bees will come into the box to keep the brood warm and fed.  You can use honey combs for the ladder, but brood combs are more inviting for the bees.

Below you can see the brood frames moved into position 2 and 3 in the new box.


In box two I pushed the frame in the number 1 position against frame 4 (making it now in position 3) and put the two empty frames in positions 1 and 2.

Now the box is all put back together.  The box with the "6" stenciled on it is the new empty box with the ladder in positions 2 and 3.  The box above it is the old second box (now box three), full except for the frames in positions 1 and 2 which are foundationless frames, waiting to be filled by the bees.

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5 comments:

  1. Penny7:44 AM

    Linda, your photos always make your operations so clear. Do the photos serve as your own hive notes or do you also keep a journal? Or perhaps a calendar with reminders what to do when for which hives? With so many hives in various locations you must have a pretty good system to stay on top of the tasks.

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  2. In the past my blog has been my journal but this year with 22 hives, I also keep a spreadsheet on Google docs to keep up with them. It's not as detailed as it probably should be but at least it keeps me somewhat on top of things! Also during bee season, I try to keep a regular inspection schedule, so I know which hives I need still to see this week, for example. I still keep pictures of every inspection. I always photograph the front of the hive first so that I'll know what hive the picture is associated with and then I retake the front of the hive at the end so I'll know what it looked like when I left!

    Picasa helps because it organizes pictures by date so I can see when I was there as well. My first task returning home is always to unload the photos to the computer.

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  3. Also this year we have an inventory of the hive boxes (numbered front and back) so that we can keep up with what box is on what hive - I'm not totally sure what I'll do with that data, but for the sake of hive health I'd like to maintain the same boxes on the same hives next year.

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  4. Thanks, Linda. Good system! I usually bring my propolis-stained Canon PowerShot to the apiary, but once I open a hive I get involved & completely forget about taking pictures. I keep a journal but find that if I don't write up status right away, what I did where blurs and the journal has many gaps. Time to retrain myself and give your system a try!

    Perhaps, besides keeping hives with their own equipment, the numbered supers will help you market location-specific honey-- a real plus for reaching those seeking local products.

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  5. Hi, Linda-
    I wondered what the arrows on the top of your frames mean.
    I am a frequent reader about to get my fist nucs of bees, but this is my first comment here. I really appreciate all the detailed information you share each day.

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