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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Checkerboarding for honey production

Today I noticed that one of my hives had a lot of bees on the front porch.  I thought they probably needed a new box, so I opened the hive.  Sure enough, the top box was packed with honey - every frame was being used.

The bees had no space and it was hot in there, so they had moved to the front porch.

Both the hive needed a new box as a place to put new honey, and they needed to come inside and work for me instead of hanging out.  You can see glimpses of the fat honey-filled comb in the photo below.

On most frames there was both capped and uncapped honey.

So I took the new box and set it on the upturned telescoping cover and the inner cover.

In the box on the top of the hive, I took frames 2, 4, 6, and 8 and moved them one at a time to the new box waiting on the inner cover.  Now the new box has honey-filled comb in those positions.  I took the empty frames from 2, 4, 6, and 8 in the new box and moved them to the top box of the hive.

Now the box on the inner cover has half of the honeycomb from the old box and half empty frames.
When I set it on the top of the box, the bees now have double the space to store honey and it is evenly divided between the two boxes.


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  2. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Linda, do you use a queen excluder? And if not, are you consolidating all of the brood in one box?
    Thanks, Anna

  3. I don't use a queen excluder - I operate with an unlimited brood nest and the queen generally confines herself to the bottom two boxes. When harvest time comes, I am doing crush and strain so I don't need to take a whole box at a time. Why else would you need a queen excluder?

  4. Do you find that if you do the crush method, that the bees have to spend a lot of resources to build out comb all over again? Is it possible to put foundationless frames into an extractor?

  5. No, the bees spend very little time/resources building comb and I then can be sure my comb has no poison in it - no fluvalinate or coumaphos or any icky residue from the year before. If a nectar flow is going, the bees quickly fill a frame with comb and then fill it with honey. I've put a foundationless super on a hive at the beginning of a week in which nectar is flowing and by the end of the week, needed to add yet another new box because they would have filled it out with wax and honey. I answered the extractor question for you in another post.

  6. Anonymous3:21 AM

    When I was checkerboarding honey supers with foundationless frames, the bees built out (thickend) honeycomb through the empty foundationless frames.
    Do you get them to build new comb between the already built out ones?


  7. If you put an empty frame between two frames of capped honey, they will build regular comb that fits into the frame. So try to lift capped honey frames into the new box when you checkerboard. If they build thickened comb that goes into the empty space, then you have more honey to harvest! Sometimes beekeepers only put seven frames in an 8 frame honey super to encourage the thicker comb!


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