When bees are given foundation instead of empty drawn comb, they tend to fill most empty comb cells in the hive with nectar before they begin to build new comb. This in turn has the effect of causing congestion in the brood nest which can result in swarming. Remember, the swarming is a part of our varroa mite management tools. The broodnest being filled with honey results in our queen having fewer open cells available for egg laying. With less brood being reared, there will be fewer varroa mites raised. Also, our bees will need the honey for wintering.
This is the medium honey super of foundation that was placed above the medium super of drawn combs. The bees have drawn the comb and filled with honey approximately 8 of the 10 frames. Only the outside frames were empty. We were able to harvest about 50 pounds of honey from this hive.
This hive was located in a apiary that had an additional 23 bee hives that were all managed using the same set up and techniques. The average bee hive production was 2 medium supers of honey.
Ideally, I would like to see six frames completely filled with honey in the broodnest. This will give the bees plenty of food for winter survival, but possibly not enough for the following spring build up. Even though it would be great to see some extra combs of honey in the super above the queen excluder, most of the winter honey stores need to be located below the queen excluder in the broodnest because that is where our queen must stay. If the winter stores were, for the most part, located above the queen excluder in the honey super, it is possible that a small winter cluster of bees could move above the queen excluder and abandon the queen below. Experience tells me that we will need to feed some of the hives before winter and that is normal.
This is our deep brood box that is located below the queen excluder and on the bottom board. The queen had brood in about five frames during August. The box had sufficient stores for this time of year, but not for wintering. Hopefully, they will gather sufficient winter honey stores during the fall from Asters and Goldenrod. We will check during October for winter stores.