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Compelling honeybees to draw and fill supers

(Using honeybee’s natural instincts)

Okay Mike… Why would you start an article about drawing out and filling honey supers by talking about dead outs?


Because, there is related behavior that can be utilized to help you draw out supers.


So, overwinter dead outs frequently happened more as Starve out‘s.


And these Starve outs frequently happen because of brooding up too early.


At least around here, in the Midwest, more specifically in the Kansas City area, honeybees will experience a week or two of warm temperatures and think that it’s spring! And they’ll lay eggs and have some larva and then sometimes the bees will stay on the brood and starve to death after they’ve consumed whatever honey that’s in reach. Yes, even with 60 or 70 or 100 pounds of honey above them, they will starve to death right there on the frames.


Why? They don’t want to abandon their brood. Sweet and tragic at the same time, right?


But why is this important for drawing comb?


Ok, ok. Be patient. It will all come together!


So, now I’ll tell you a story about how their instinct to care for their brood can be manipulated.


Just as importantly, this is a story about how bad news can be turned into good news…yes yes…and how to compel bees to draw comb. It’s coming up, I promise! :-)


I visited a clients Apiary and we soon discovered that she had a queen trapped above the queen excluder in one of her honey supers. Of course, she was laying like crazy! Great pattern etc.


She was very upset, distraught even, thinking that the super was ruined. Moreover, she had about half a dozen hives, and the hive with the queen laying in the super was the ONLY hive getting any action in the super.


Yes! As you might expect (if you are an experienced Beekeeper) she had queen excluder‘s on all of them. And queen excluders, if used incorrectly, can be honey and comb excluders!


What MIGHT surprise some of you is that she had purchased drawn comb and had drawn comb inall of her supers above the queen excluders.


And yet still, very little honey was being stored in the honey supers.


So what to do?


Well, there’s a number of things that could be done right? Of course! This is Beekeeping! There are MANY different things that COULD have been done.


So here’s what we did to turn bad news into good news AND get those bees to use the supers!


We made sure the queen was out of the super with the brood in it first. Then we distributed one frame of brood (again, only after shaking the queen down) into each of the other hive’s honey supers.


Why? To compel the bees to cross over from the brood nest into the Honey super through t