Managing Comb

You have just gotten your bees, either in the mail or you have gone and picked them up in person. Now what do you do? Covers from installation in your hive until the end of the first winter and the first blooms of spring.
muss02
Freshman Beekeeper
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:28 pm
Location: Solsberry, Indiana

Managing Comb

Postby muss02 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 4:18 pm

I was in my first year hive about a week and a half ago and noticed that they had filled out 7 of the frames with about 2 frames of honey 4 frames of brood and 1 with some pollen. I didn't officially see the queen, but there was plenty of brood in different stages so I was pretty sure that she was in there somewhere. The other three frames (foundation-less) looked like they hadn't been touched at all. They had also started to build comb on top of some of the frames connecting them to the inner cover. My assumption at the time was that they were saving those other three frames for honey and they were building on top of the frames to have more room for brood. Not wanting to stop their expansion I decided to add another box of empty foundation-less frames on top.

Fast forward to today when I went to check in on them and noticed what you can see in the images below. They still had not touched the three frames in the bottom, and instead they had built comb connecting the tops of the frames on the bottom to the bottom of the frames in the top box. They did't appear to have any interest in building comb on the frames themselves. I went ahead and cleaned off all of the comb on the top and bottom of the frames and even connected some of that comb onto the three frames in the bottom box to try and encourage them to begin building on them. I have removed the top box completely for now and closed everything back up.

Does anyone have any advice on what I can do to help encourage them to not only build comb on those last three frames in the bottom box, but to also build comb in the frames and not between them?

One other thing that I noticed is what looked like two emergency queen cells. Again I haven't actually seen the queen just plenty of brood. I will be gone for a week and won't be able to check on them until I get back, is there anything that I should be worried about?

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lharder
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Re: Managing Comb

Postby lharder » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:48 am

Is this from a package or is it a nuc? How long have you had it? It takes about 12 days for new bees to start making wax. So if you started with a package and have older bees without enough right aged bees to make wax, there may be a comb building slow down until the new bees come online. You may be at a lull where new bees haven't yet compensated for older bees dying off.

That said, given some decent demographics and a decent flow, I start putting empty frame/ss in the middle of the broodnest to be drawn. Downsides are possible chilled brood if done too aggressively/early. Another strategy is to put a couple of frames of brood up into the second box. Some people call it pyramiding up (you can also undersuper and pyramid down) Once the bees are in it, they will quickly fill it with comb. But make sure you have an expanding population of bees before using these methods.

muss02
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:28 pm
Location: Solsberry, Indiana

Re: Managing Comb

Postby muss02 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 11:53 pm

My bees came from a nucleus colony that I got about a month ago. They have been building comb it's just been between frames in the upper and lower box. I thought about moving the frames around, but didn't know how much that would affect the bees. Being a new colony I have been trying not to distress them too much.

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Dustymunky
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Location: Oregon

Re: Managing Comb

Postby Dustymunky » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:13 am

I would suggest letting the bees fill up the first deep before adding a second deep. Sounds like they had 30% expansion room still (3 frames). Sometimes it's hard to get them to draw out the outer frames. Moving empty frame into brood nest will get them to draw it out quick. Move honey and drone frames to outside.
The burr comb isn't a big deal. You can leave it unless it's causing you a big headache. You can also scrape it off, melt it and paint your comb guides with the wax. They say this encourages the bees to build comb on the guide bar quicker.
It sounds like your queen is in there. You're probably just seeing queen cups which are normal. Good luck.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Managing Comb

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Jun 13, 2016 12:36 pm

When doing foundationless it's usually best to add the second box to the bottom. If not, then pull two drawn combs up to the second box to make a ladder. That empty gap keeps them from leaving the cluster to climb up to draw comb down.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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COAL REAPER
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Location: Warren County, NJ

Re: Managing Comb

Postby COAL REAPER » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:58 pm

echo-ing micheal, my bees will not draw foundationless unless it is in the bottom box OR between two frames of brood. i can add a full box of foundationless frames on the bottom without a problem. however, once the hive reaches a certain capacity all they will draw is drone comb. so i keep my comb building operations in small hives.
TF since 2010, successfully since 2013. Trying to increase without totally giving up honey crop.

muss02
Freshman Beekeeper
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:28 pm
Location: Solsberry, Indiana

Re: Managing Comb

Postby muss02 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:44 am

This is all really great information thank you all for the advice. If I were to move frames up into an empty box, does it matter if it is a brood frame or honey frame?

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Michael Bush
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Re: Managing Comb

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:06 pm

>...does it matter if it is a brood frame or honey frame?

It matters. If it's brood you have to take more things into account. Like are they strong enough to keep it warm etc. and if they are, the brood will work better as it will draw bees up into the box. But if there are not enough bees to keep that brood warm it's not a good idea. Also, two frames of brood are less likely to be abandoned than one, so you many want to pull two and put them together.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm


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