I'd like to offer my two-pence worth of apicultural opinion in reference to your message.
Really my experience in reference to overwintering practices is almost nil, therefore, allow me to touch the other points raised by you.
It is practically impossible to control ALL swarming, as it is the reproductive method of that multiple-organism called a bee colony. Basic management practices lessen the probability of such an event, though. Foremost among them is the availabilty of abundant space, both the total space of the hive's interior, as well as the cell space, meaning the amount of cells available for egg-laying and storage. Therefore, the addition of "empty" bars as an emergency measure may be "too little, too late". If you have that extra space to add bars, why don't you add them from the very beginning? Your suggestion of adding "empties" in between more often than not will result in the production of burr comb, which could make life rather miserable both for the bees and for the beekeeper. Again, as we are dealing with bees, sometimes this practice does work perfectly.
I have used queen excluders in a few TBHs in the past and find that the extra work does not justify the results. Yes, sometimes the queen lays a few eggs in the lower section of the outer combs, some in worker cellls, some in drone cells, so, if I have to harvest tose, then simply cut them off and allow the bees to dispose of them, or just remove them to the far end of the hive and wait a few days until the young ones start crawling around. But, with enough bars with full combs in them most times those at both extremes are just full or ripe honey gorgeously capped!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 6:11 PM
Subject: [TopHive] TBH wintering in temperate zones, swarm control, harvesting questions
I am interested in others' experiences with wintering long or TB hive
colonies in the North, where winters are extended, and more or less
severe. Do the colonies migrate across the set of combs, maintaining
contact with stores, just as they would move upward in a multi-story
frame hive? Is the cluster able to move between combs by migrating
around their edges? Has anyone experimented with "communication
holes" in the combs to assist in this movement? I have had fairly
good wintering success but with tbh's that had somewhat smaller combs
compared to the "full size" designs.
On another topic, I'd be interested in information and practices
regarding swarm control. I.e., whether expansion of the brood nest by
adding "empty" bars between existing brood combs tends to keep the
colony in a growing mood and prevent or at least forestall swarm
Finally, in others' expeience, how much of a tendency do the bees
have, in long (e.g., Kenya or Tanzanian) TBH's, to raise brood along
the bottom of the surplus honey combs. Is it common to obtain full
combs of honey or is there apt to be worker or drone brood at the
bottom of many of them? Does anyone notice the queen tending to skirt
along the bottom portions of most of the combs, with the bees storing
honey in the upper portions (& -- are others using excluders or a
honey barrier comb with success, to separate the brood portion of the
hive from the surplus storage portion)?
Any comments would be great. Many thanks...
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