My bees have been begging for more space for a couple of weeks. I can tell because in the evenings, hundreds would be massed on the outside the hive. My deep brood chamber finally came this week, so I was able to give the bees the space they need. My book says to use some full frames as bait to attract the bees to the new box of frames, which means moving three frames from middle of the bottom box to the middle of the top box. This turned out not to be as easy as it sounds.
I took out a frame from the edge to give me room in the hive body to move and lift frames. I said in an earlier post that I wasn’t sure I liked my frame lifter, but it does make it easier to pull a frame straight up. I tried using the frame lifter again, especially after having trouble getting a good grip on the frame tabs. I’ve decided the minor damage it does is acceptable.
I had planned to move frames five through seven up to the new brood chamber, but when I lifted frame six, we saw the queen and had to change plans. The last time I looked at this frame, it was full of capped brood. Those bees have all hatched and she’s starting over. I carefully replaced this frame and decided to use frames three, four, and five instead.
I like things to be orderly. So when I set up the hive in early April, I numbered the frames. I numbered the frames in the new brood chamber too. The numbering didn’t work out exactly as I had hoped, but I can still keep track of which frames I moved and to where.
I’m finally starting to get the hang of sliding frames into place without squishing too many bees. In the past I had been trying to slowly slide frames together, but those stubborn bees wouldn’t always move out of the way. I hated hearing that dreaded crunch that screamed, “you’ve squished one!” Using my frame lifter, I’ve figured out how to lower a frame right up next to another without squishing any. That was a bee life-saver later in this expansion exercise.
After I moved the frames to the new brood chamber, I loosened all the remaining frames so I could make room for the new frames. I carefully put all the full frames next to each other, then slid all of them together to one side of the box to make room for one empty frame, then slid all of them together to the other side to make room for the other two empty frames. Finally, I centered all the frames in the box.
The last step in the frame moving was to put the remaining empty frames back in the new brood chamber. It took about six weeks for the bees to fill the hive body. I wonder how long it will take them to fill the new brood chamber?
It’s been a great spring for nectar and pollen. We had lots of rain and the wild flowers are in full bloom. I’ve noticed lots of bee balm in nearby fields as well. I think I’ll get some seeds to plant near the hive next year for my bees. At this rate, they should be well supplied for the winter.