Fast Hive Inspection

It’s swarm season, and I’ve heard from many of my fellow beekeepers that they’ve already lost several. My last survivor has been big and heavy all spring, and I’ve been worried that with the bands of storms we’ve had marching through, the queen would feel crowded and leave on me. Today was finally a sunny day (well, aside from the storm that just rolled through), so I hoped in real fast after work. Boy was I glad!

My biggest hive ever consisted of two deeps and two mediums around 70% full. This hive is three deeps and three mediums, and it’s close to 90% full! It’s bursting at the seams, but still no sign of swarm cells. This hive is easily the biggest hive I’ve ever seen, mine or otherwise.

I’ve been trying a new brood method this year called the Rose Hive. A few clarifications:

  • His method isn’t really “new.”
  • He uses all the same size boxes; I use deeps and mediums, though I readily admit that if I were to start over today, I’d standardize on all mediums.
  • The big “difference” is that instead of supering on top (Nationals, Langstroths for example) or the bottom (Warre hives), you super the middle either right on top of or in the brood nest.

The idea is that by putting the space in the brood nest or on top of the brood nest, you save all the energy it would take to move honey out of the way for your queen to expand the brood. You basically put space right where she wants it.

I’ve always kind of done that in that when I go through in my inspections, I will often move less developed frames inward and push more developed frames outward. I’ve heard from some that that practice disrupts the hive and causes problems, but I don’t know. The idea of supering the middle, however, has intrigued me, and I have to say it seems to work.

I added a medium to the middle just ten days ago, and it’s 100% full already. It also hasn’t slowed down growth in the rest of the hive. They were full wall to wall top to bottom when I opened it today, and I added a second deep to buy myself a lot of time to figure out how I want to proceed.

I do want to split this hive this year, but as well as it is going, I admit part of me wants to see what I can do. My city has an ordinance that restricts hive heights to six feet; I’m beginning to think I might hit that if I keep this hive together! If I do split, though, I want to wait to let this queen get as much production as she can. I want to split a huge hive to two big hives instead of a big hive to two mediums. Our honey production was so poor last year (we got two gallons and ran out of honey in March. I–a beekeeper–had to buy honey in March!!), that I’m determined to get a good harvest this year.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

Has anyone else out there tried the Rose method? I’d love to hear how it’s worked out for you.

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