To Nadir or not to Nadir…?

After all the recent excitement with the hive swarming and then their lack of a laying queen it seems as if those clever little bees have sorted everything out with a new laying queen.

The hive now has two full boxes of comb (the top one along I weighed at around 18kg) and the bees are now frantically working on building comb in the third box.

My question is, once they start to fill this third box I would assume that nadiring a new box would be in order.  However, is it a bit late in the season for me to be doing this, or would this actually be in the bees best interest?  

One other question in terms of the practicalities of nadiring – how do you lift three full hive boxes (even with a helper) in order to get the fourth box underneath?  Surely they must be incredibly heavy.  I’m assuming that you would try to do this rather than taking the boxes off one by one to make it more manageable.

Graham, Reading Berks. 

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10 Responses to To Nadir or not to Nadir…?

  1. Paul says:

    Not really related but of interest:

    I did not know what you meant by nadiring so I googled it.

    The first hit was, this post, “2 hours ago”.

    Google is watching this site closely. (Well, perhaps it has an arrangement with WordPress to be notified of new posts so it can index them. But impressive monitoring, anyway.)

  2. simplebees says:

    Or maybe Google has spotted that you often visit and has therefore put this site at the top of your list. They are keen on ‘personalised’ searches. Either way impressive….or scary!

    Gareth, West Oxfordshire

  3. simplebees says:

    To answer the OP, it is unlikely that the colony will need a further box this year.

    Gareth, West Oxfordshire

    • Graham says:

      Would they not need another top bar box below the one they are working in to stop them from potentially building comb right down through the bottom box to the hive floor?

      Also does anyone have experience of the practicalities of lifting several full boxes at once in order to do this?

      Many thanks


      • simplebees says:

        The colony has filled two boxes and is now in a third box. You say they are building comb in that box. Have you seen it or are they just clustered? It is not impossible, but I would be surprised if they completely fill a box from scratch at this time of year. The reason I say this it that, if the colony is following its natural development cycle, this is the time of year when brood rearing is reducing in preparation for winter. The cells that are no longer used for brood are back-filled with honey. Moreover, the number of individual bees in the colony is also reducing quite fast. So, all in all, I would expect the colony to be shrinking in size. I would thus expect comb building to come to an end. The bees may well cluster below the comb that is already there – possibly giving the impression of building more comb – but this is a means of allowing air circulation within the comb above.

        As I say, I could be wrong. Maybe your colony is not quite there yet. Maybe they will continue to rear brood until quite late in the year before shutting down. However, if a colony does not shut down at all, but keeps rearing brood through the winter, there is a considerable risk of it starving in the middle of winter. It will use all of its stores maintaining the high temperatures (35°C) needed to raise brood rather than allowing the cluster to come down to winter temperatures (10 – 25°C). I have seen this happen with bees that are poorly adapted (genetically and/or behaviourally) to our climate.

        Let’s hope that your colony does shut down.

        As to adding further boxes to an already large stack, some use an assistant or two to lift the stack (sometimes with a pair of poles lashed under the handles). Others use a mechanical lift of some sort (see David Heaf’s site) and others move the boxes one at a time. David Heaf uses a simple system that comprises a tripod, rope and a couple of pulleys. The tripod needs to be tall enough to fit easily over the stack. I’m thinking of making one myself, especially as it does not need to sit on level ground.

  4. Ali Twigg says:

    Perhaps not this year to nadir (put underneath) another box but would be very useful to have a lifting mechanism, (David Heaf’s is good or two strong companions to lift either side of box with poles lashed to together) ready in place for next year’s spurt. Really depends how September & October’s weather/nectar flow goes. Keep a weather eye on your bees because a swarm this late will probably not succeed, although who are we mere human’s to say? Bees know best is my motto. Have faith in your bees.

    Hope it goes well, whatever happens.

    Kind Regards

    Ali Twigg

    • Thanks for the insightful comments. I’ve just got back from holiday and had a quick peek through one of the obs windows. It looks like they were only clustering in the third box and not buidling comb as Gareth suggested. Does seem as if the colony is shrinking in size in preparation for winter. Many thanks for the suggestions.

      Graham Reading, Berks

  5. patnj89421 says:

    I’m a commercial beekeeper in Arizona USA. We break the hives down box by box to get where were going all the time rather than lift 2-3 heavy food/brood/bee filled boxes at once. Really saves the back. It is more destructive (more bees are killed, the risks to the queen is greater, etc) but when you have a large number of hives to work it’s easier to take the risks and replace the queen as needed.

    • simplebees says:

      What type of hive do you use?

    • John Mckeag says:

      The problem with Langstroth hives and breaking the hive apart every inspection is that it destroys the internal environment of pheromones, humidity and temperature that the bees work quite hard to create and maintain. It takes a week for the bees to get the balance back after opening a hive after we go at it like we are bears tearing open a tent. The upside of Nadiring is that hive disruption is minimized, a box is placed where it is needed.

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