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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. 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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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
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Sunday, May 03, 2020

Checkerboarding a hive during honey production

While I was checking on my own hives, I discovered that one needed a new box. I decided to video the process of checkerboarding.

There are two ways to employ checkerboarding to open up space in your hive. First is in the early spring when you checkerboard an overwintered hive to fool the bees into thinking they don't need to swarm because there is plenty of space. In this instance, you move every other frame in the top box of the hive into an empty box and replace their previous space in the old box with empty frames. You do this with the honey box that is typically above the brood nest. This gives the bees more space to use and may interrupt their desire to swarm for more space.

Michael Bush wrote this on Beemaster to explain the basics of checkerboarding:
"For a bee colony:
o  Survival is the primary motivation
  - Survival of the existing colony takes priority.
  -  Bees will not do a reproductive swarm if they perceive it to jeopardize survival of the existing colony.
o  Survival of the species runs a close second.
  -  Generation of a reproductive swarm is the secondary objective of every over-wintered colony.
  -  The over-wintered colony expands the brood volume during the build-up by consumption of honey.
  -  When the colony has expanded the brood nest to the amount of reserve that they consider appropriate, they are now able to move into the swarm preparation phase.
  -  The first activity of swarm preparation is to reduce the brood volume by providing additional stores. As brood emerges, selected cells are filled with nectar or pollen.
  -  Alternating empty drawn combs above the brood nest "fools" the bees into thinking they don't have enough stores yet for swarming and causes them to expand the brood nest, giving both a bigger field force and avoiding reproductive swarming.

During honey production, checkerboarding can help open up room for honey production. In fact the bees will not draw wax or store nectar when there is no nectar flow. I've found during the nectar flow, though, that employing checkerboarding in honey boxes increases the storage of honey. I did this in my hive today (we are still in an ongoing nectar flow).

I use foundationless frames and it is essential to provide checkerboarding when you add a box of foundationless frames. The full frames moved up to a new box provide a "ladder" for the bees to get to the tops of the frames to draw wax.

Here is a video of how to do it:

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