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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #1656  by NigelP
 07 Jan 2019, 17:31
AdamD wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 16:42
Is it easier/better to have one brood box and two supers of honey at the end of the season or two brood boxes and 4 supers of honey?
The science that has been done on colony size and honey collection suggests it is definitely not linear
It goes something along the lines below,
1 brood box full of bees gets you 2 supers of honey.
2 brood boxes full of bees gets you 6 supers of honey.
Works out at less inspection time per brood box/honey super, but more time in the extracting room.
Sorry to play the pedant here ;)
If you need the original paper I have it somewhere...it was pretty convincing.

If we already have varroa tolerant bees then why aren't people beating a path to get hold of the queens ?
And why is so much scientific research and breeding currently ongoing on to try and establish Varroa Sensitive Hygienic bees?
Someone is kidding themselves.
 #1657  by Jim Norfolk
 07 Jan 2019, 18:20
Since Nigel has brought up the subject of hygienic bees, anyone know what became of the LASI bees. They were selling hygienic queens in 2016 and 2017 on their website. Did anyone buy one and what was the outcome?
 #1659  by NigelP
 07 Jan 2019, 18:57
They exhibited hygienic behaviour not varroa sensitive hygienic behaviour. The few I heard about were unimpressive, similar mite counts to other hives in the same apiary , small colony sizes and relatively aggressive. But I only know of a few people who bought them.
They then got EFB.... :roll:
nuff said.
 #1668  by AdamD
 09 Jan 2019, 19:44
NigelP wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:31
AdamD wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 16:42
Is it easier/better to have one brood box and two supers of honey at the end of the season or two brood boxes and 4 supers of honey?
The science that has been done on colony size and honey collection suggests it is definitely not linear
It goes something along the lines below,
1 brood box full of bees gets you 2 supers of honey.
2 brood boxes full of bees gets you 6 supers of honey.
Works out at less inspection time per brood box/honey super, but more time in the extracting room.
Sorry to play the pedant here ;)
If you need the original paper I have it somewhere...it was pretty convincing.
Your assessment is probably about right from my experience and I recall reading something in Ruttner or Yeates - can't remember which - that larger colonies are more 'efficient' and produce a larger surplus. I also recall that Bro Adam suggested that one BIG brood box resulted in the bees producing more honey than bees spread across two, although I am not convinced that this should necessarily be the case as it may depend on whether there is some congestion and reduction in laying before the queen decides to make her way to the second box.
I rekon that many beekeepers would be happy with a couple of single brood box hives producing a couple of supers of honey in most years. (And certainly a lot better then Golf!)
 #1671  by Patrick
 09 Jan 2019, 23:35
It does make sense particularly when you consider that a colony needs to collect a surprising amount of nectar and pollen simply to maintain and grow the colony itself for much of the season, before it can then start to accumulate and store a significant surplus for later.

In my area there are relatively short and defined periods within the foraging season when there is enough forage for bees to collect nectar over and above what they need to maintain themselves. My bees are probably able to find something to forage between say April and early October (if they can find Himalayan Balsam), say roughly 6 months or less active flying weather. In that period they only have probably two distinct windows of maybe three weeks each when if the weather and soil moisture are favourable and they can really pile in a surplus over colony maintenance. So in that scenario only larger colonies can really make hay by putting lots of workers on foraging duties, smaller colonies simply cannot capitalise on such short periods to the same extent and may respond by rearing more brood which by the time they are foraging age the boom times may have ended.

Having said that, building larger colonies and keeping them that way for a prolonged period is not without its challenges either and pointless if your hives are static and the area you are in simply cannot sustain them over the whole season - its all horses for courses and working with what forage is available to you in your area, not just following an abstract theory.

I was fishing Chesil beach this evening and conditions were far from ideal. I could have stuck out with big baits for fish that might have been present but probably were not, or do as I actually did, which was to fish with small baits for fish that were actually there. As a consequence I had a good evening of catching (and returning) plenty of small stuff rather than watching a motionless rod top in the dark for the small likelihood something big might just turn up.

Again, working with what you have actually got around you rather than what you might wish you had. Very Zen, me.. :)
 #1674  by Jim Norfolk
 11 Jan 2019, 17:29
Can we actually decide how large a colony we want to have? I would have thought this would be determined by race of bee as well as available forage and foraging time. It is said (nor sure by whom) that the native British bee produced a small colony hence our small brood boxes, while the Italian bees produced larger colonies hence the larger Langstroth and Dadant boxes in the US. We now have hybrid bees through most of the country and mostly they need a bigger box. I started out with 10 frame WBCs and tried 14 x 12 which I found my bees could fill. I found the 14 x 12 too cumbersome and so I then started looking for clues that they need more brood space and either went for brood and a half or double brood. I noticed earlier that Adam had one colony on triple brood this year. So maybe optimum brood box volume is determined by forage availability and we just need to be attuned to it.

I wonder how natural beekeepers decide how much brood space to provide. One way might be to make brood space virually unlimited by not using queen excluders and just keep adding more boxes of foundation, presumably by having a look inside.
 #1675  by nealh
 11 Jan 2019, 18:14
My bees are hybrids influenced most likely by Paynes buckfast X's which appear to be spread all about. My queens vary from dark brown to a slightly paler shade.

Having tried coms, 14 x12 & even a basterdised 14 x 10, I am now on National B & H and a brood /demeree during peak season to give laying room (ir required) surprisingly over wintered colonies are on 5 or 6 seams.
 #1678  by AdamD
 12 Jan 2019, 10:08
My selection has been to produce a decent amount of honey per hive - which seems to have resulted in large colonies - although one this year did very well with one brood box and about 8 frames of brood all summer. The triple brood box colony was only made so as I was going on holiday and was concerned about swarming and with 20 frames of brood, they might have wanted more space. As it happens they didn't increase the brood area at all after that. However they did draw comb at the side of the (third) bottom box where a frame should have been -as they always do if you are one frame short!

I am comfortable with using two brood boxes and I am tending to not inspect the bottom box for swarm cells during mid-season; partially as the bees don't swarm too readily and also because any swarm cells are very often on the bottom of the super-frame bottom bars that's put in for drone comb so they can be identified easily enough.

I have tried 14 x 12 brood boxes and didn't really like them. I tried a Commercial for one year too which started off OK and overwintered fine but the queen started going off colour and she was superceded during the season so that attempt at a Commercial was a wash-out. Maybe I will try again. I DO like to long lugs of the BS frames, I have to say!