comb, age, cell structure, size...

Foundationless, Small Cell (4.9 mm) and Regression.
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SiWolKe
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comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Tue Oct 25, 2016 7:03 am

Our goal is the small cell natural comb in broodnest areas.

We are in three different steps of regression ( my friends and me ).

I: small cell foundation.
One friend: 5.1 foundation
The other friend: 5.4 cell size

In spring we will expand the brood nests with empty frames, like Michael Bush suggests, those people with big cells will receive a frame with drawn comb 4.9 cell size from me as a starter. The big cell combs with capped brood will be sorted out later in top box when more bees are present, using a divider.

After that we will see how they do and decide how to go on.

What if combs are build like that? That´s a 4.9 foundation, drawn in late spring flow. Use it in storage area?

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Comments welcome!
Last edited by SiWolKe on Thu May 11, 2017 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:53 pm

Would you use comb build like this?
In storage area?
Pleeaaase tell me!!

I don´t think natural comb would look like that?
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Tue Oct 25, 2016 7:16 pm

I don't think it would hurt in the storage area. They can rework it if need be.

No, they won't build foundationless like that.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:46 am

Nordak wrote:I don't think it would hurt in the storage area. They can rework it if need be.

No, they won't build foundationless like that.


Thanks, Nordak.
It will be hard work not to allow this kind of comb to breed on in the spring and meet the right time for expanding with well built small comb and empty frames.
The first warm days in March will find me exploring.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:17 am

This might be one of the times to feed heavily in spring to give them ample food supply for comb building. To accomplish what I'm trying to do next year, I'm going to have to feed quite a bit of syrup as lack of drawn comb is going to be a challenge trying to make up the many nucs I intend to. Spring feeding isn't nearly as detrimental from my viewpoint as summer/fall feeding, as the bees are ramping up brood production naturally anyway.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:48 am

Main flow is in march in my apiaries. End of april up to june it´s the time they reach their maximum strength.

End of april they were on 6-8 brood combs dadant already, if they were able to forage and had a good start after winter as it was.
One hive was on 16 brood combs dadant in june.

In March weather is less unpredictable than in may. The last two years there was rain in may almost constantly.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:24 pm

I need help.

Planning to split again 2017 and maybe 2018 too, I want to use one deep dadant Square for broodnest and two supers on top without a queen excluder.
The bottom super I want to leave for the bees hoping they fill it with honey and if they expand their broodnest into it, so be it. In fall honey storage will let them move down again.
The top super I want to harvest, if possible.

Now.
As I want to let them build natural combs in brood area and use my drawn combs at the sides I wonder what will be the best solution in the super?
I only have a 4.9 foundation press, should I use 4.9 foundations, which is too small a cell size or would a blank foundation without cell structure do?
This I´m able to do.
Natural comb in the super would not be a good idea I believe and plastic I don't want.

I want to use my own wax , not give it away to a company, because it will be mixed with contaminated wax.

What´s your idea?
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:46 pm

One option would be to practice nadiring the boxes. The bees will be drawing more brood sized comb below as they continually transition brood from top box to bottom. Move a couple of frames below as you go for a template. Should draw nice even comb and keep the stores section from getting too wonky as the comb is drawn already. If you're interested in a big honey crop, probably not the way to go.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:06 pm

And I'm sure you know this already, but make sure your hives are level, front to back and side to side when going for foundationless.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:20 am

Nordak wrote:And I'm sure you know this already, but make sure your hives are level, front to back and side to side when going for foundationless.


Thanks, I will pay attention to this.

Nordak wrote:One option would be to practice nadiring the boxes. The bees will be drawing more brood sized comb below as they continually transition brood from top box to bottom. Move a couple of frames below as you go for a template. Should draw nice even comb and keep the stores section from getting too wonky as the comb is drawn already. If you're interested in a big honey crop, probably not the way to go.


That would be nice to expand natural comb brood frames.
But my aim is to have stable big cell honey store comb on top.

People warned me to use natural comb in the top storage area.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:44 pm

I forget about how big the Dadant frames are. Are you going to be using an extractor?

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:40 pm

Yes.
Any idea?
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:13 pm

I wouldn't worry too much about cell size. If you decide to go natural comb, the bees will build quite a bit of drone comb that over the season you can move to storage. I think if you ran 4-5 wires taut across your frames, foundationless could work. The benefit to allowing brood to hatch out as you go will only strengthen the comb for honey storage. If I was looking for a solution for myself, given my circumstances, this is what I would do. I can't promise you how well it will hold up in an extractor, but I think it should work.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:35 pm

Here's another idea http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?264958-dowel-rods

Someone on the above linked thread mentioned using 1/8" dowel rods by drilling holes in the sides of frames, sliding them in and gluing in place. Seems like a fairly simple solution.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:16 am

Many thanks, Nordak.

My frames got some wiring but I think those rods are great!
I can do them myself with dried thin willow or hazel rods, peeled.
I´m thinking about using this in my deeps instead of wire, too, now. Good idea! It would be much more natural and more easy to install. The holes I already have from wiring, I would be able to pull them through the holes.

The use a small stripe of blank foundation on top, this could be the solution!
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:57 am

The willow sounds like a good cost effective idea if you have access to a tree. I'd peel and dry them to make them less flexible as you suggested. I think it would work very well and accomplish what you're going for. In the long run, this will be much less work than making your own foundation and accomplish the same goal or potentially be of greater benefit in my opinion. I think you'll enjoy the results. Looking forward to hearing how it works for you.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:53 pm

Nucs make nice worker comb foundationless. I want to try some deep combs myself as well as square dadant boxes. I am going to try to get some foundationless drawn in dadant sized frames in my nuc colonies next year. Will put a medium nuc over a box with dadent frames. Once they fill the medium box, will start dropping the full frames to the box below to get them going. Will probably use some follower boards to constrain them a bit. I don't wire my foundationless mediums, but will wire up my big frames.

The first year I'm going to manage 2 medium square boxes as one big square box. I will use an excluder and a follower board. Every so often will bump a frame or so above the excluder. The honey supers above will be a mix of plastic and foundationless. I use the plastic to help guide the process of drawing frames. Sometimes they use the plastic, sometimes they draw it wonky, but really they prefer to make their own comb. It just can get a little crazy in the honey supers. I had good success with extraction even new foundationless comb, and will be doing some cut comb hopefully next year.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:58 pm

I did the same basic thing without excluders last year. What I found is that the brood nest starting migrating all over the colony and I was getting in the way of the bees not completely understanding what was going on and they had to keep on fixing my mistakes. It worked, but could have worked better. This way I can more or less keep my fingers out of the brood nest and do my messing about in the honey supers.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:12 pm

lharder wrote: What I found is that the brood nest starting migrating all over the colony and I was getting in the way of the bees not completely understanding what was going on and they had to keep on fixing my mistakes. .


Thanks for sharing. The moment my colonies were on 8 brood combs the expanded into the top deeps which were still there from overwintering ( filled with syrup honey). With splitting I believe I will be able to keep them in one deep.
Every hive had a nice order inside, maybe they liked the housel position.
I think the gaps between the boxes could be a problem, maybe.

This way I can more or less keep my fingers out of the brood nest and do my messing about in the honey supers.

That´s my intention, too.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:32 am

This works great:

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:11 pm

Good work! I think that will work great.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:54 pm

Are they not too thick?

Thanks, Nordak!
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:08 pm

I wouldn't think so...the bees will let you know. Should work great. I might put another dowel in equal distance from the bottom for added support.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:57 pm

How deep are those frames? I think I can fit a frame just under 11 inches in mine.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:34 pm

They are 11 1/4.
Langstroth are a little shorter.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:25 pm

I was thinking of making a full size dadant but that wont fit in my extractor, unless I jam them in on a slant. The maxant extractor I have will fit an 11 inch frame exactly, probably should be a little less. If the reel was designed a little different, they could have dealt with these frames. Hmm, will have to think about this as I would like to try deep frames in the brood chamber.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:26 pm

How long do you all leave your old brood comb in the hive?
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:39 pm

I'm a new enough keeper that I haven't had to think about that yet. I might have 4 frames over 4 years old. From 4 to 1100 drawn medium frames in 3 years from my rough calculation. Amazing what bees are capable of.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby Nordak » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:00 pm

That is some truly impressive expansion, lharder. Wow.

I am in the same boat. Haven't intentionally culled a comb yet. I have taken older comb for swarm traps, so in a sense, I have culled it I suppose. I believe the going time frame last I read was 3 years.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Wed Nov 09, 2016 2:36 pm

I read a thread where old time beekeeping families have 40 year old combs. As my apiary matures to some stable size as of yet undetermined, I will start getting rid of some older marginal comb. I guess I will start dating frames at some point.

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Nov 09, 2016 5:09 pm

lharder wrote:I read a thread where old time beekeeping families have 40 year old combs. As my apiary matures to some stable size as of yet undetermined, I will start getting rid of some older marginal comb. I guess I will start dating frames at some point.



Do you think the bees renew the comb after a time, down to the foundations ? I believe I saw a picture somewhere of natural comb being demolished and renewed.
These were my oldest, 5 years, I had to take them out because they were of different measure. I put them into the top box when the brood cells were capped, they were filled with honey which was harvested. This honey tastes great!

Wabe Carnica 5 Jahre alt.jpg
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby lharder » Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:06 pm

I don't know from personal experience. I've hear from others that parts of a comb can get to be unusable after a while and some will start culling them at that point. I've heard MB state that they will maintain cell size by chewing them out. I've had some comb that is damaged, that never gets built back out again because the neighboring comb is too close from what I can tell.

I have some combs like yours, where I have taken strips of cells out while making queens, and the bees don't bother filling it in again. But I don't know if they will get to it eventually, maybe on a heavy flow?

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:40 pm

lharder wrote: I've had some comb that is damaged, that never gets built back out again because the neighboring comb is too close from what I can tell.
I have some combs like yours, where I have taken strips of cells out while making queens, and the bees don't bother filling it in again. But I don't know if they will get to it eventually, maybe on a heavy flow?


Interesting!
I had one comb where I have taken out an area of brood cells to check for mites and put it back into honey storage area. But they just smoothened the rims and left it like that. No cells build, no honey stored.
Keep me updated on this, please.
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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby pantruten » Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:49 am

Sibylle,
my opinion is that You may use this "messed up 4.9 cell comb" no matter if in the brood area or honey storage area. If the bees won't like it they will chew it up, or the queen will lay only in some part of it.

i think the problem of an old comb is only the problem of contamination. If You don't use chemicals and live in quite clean area, I think You may use the comb for many years (have You seen the film at Dee's apiary with almost completly black comb?) - untill the bees will chew it up, or the moth will eat it. Bees will correct what they need.

I would recommend You to use foundationless or only foundation strips, and let them build what they want - drones, workers - just what they like and where they like. (if You need use these sticks or wire). You have completly clean wax there, no problems with contamination whatsoever, the amount of drones they want and need, and the cell size which they like.
I have some hives with frames exactly like full dadants, but put vertically - I use no foundation or wire there (however I haven't taken any crop from that hives yet, and when the comb is "young" I wouldn't use extractor, but crush and strain method). they build like this: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Qo9HmusaYyE/ ... erzany.jpg

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Re: comb, age, cell structure, size...

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:39 pm

Yes Bartek,
this looks nice, the bees fixed it at the side, which they will do a little later with my frames because of the broadness.
I have a little experience with natural comb from my first hive, but I did no harvesting.

I plan to do a taranov swarm or one comb split with the queen and use one dadant nuc ( 5 frames) for this, putting frames with starter wax against the one brood comb ( sort of checker boarding).

The messed up combs I will use in the honey storage top deep dadant box which I will put on the queenless hive in spring.
So to have some honeycombs to donate later.
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