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Author Topic: Bees making comb very, very slowly  (Read 6016 times)
dish
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« on: July 20, 2009, 01:38:03 PM »

I installed my first bees, a 3-pound package, in late April, here in California. I'm using foundationless frames.

The bees almost filled an 8-frame super with comb within a few weeks, but then seemed to stop. I moved three of the outer frames up into the second box, hoping to encourage the bees to move up. I fed syrup to the bees during this time.

I assumed things would pick up quickly, as my hive is located on a hillside with 60 lavender plants, which are now in full bloom and smothered with literally thousands of bees. Clearly these are not all my bees, as there are bumblebees and native bees, but I assume many are.

The lavender has been blooming for about three weeks now, yet the bees have barely added to the comb in the hive. They've filled in the three frames I added to the second super somewhat, and have built on to the combs in the bottom super, but that's about it. I stopped feeding syrup, since I know there is plenty of food blooming right outside their door.

I'm baffled! My beekeeping friends assured me that once the lavender was blooming, they'd *have* to build comb, or they'd have nowhere to put the nectar and pollen. Everything else seems well in the hive--the queen is there, there is new brood when I check every couple of weeks, the bees seem very busy and docile. I haven't seen any robbing issues, which I worried about, with the hive so close to all that lavender.

Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 05:20:57 PM by dish » Logged
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2009, 09:00:08 PM »

I installed my first bees, a 3-pound package, in late April, here in California. I'm using foundationless frames.

The bees almost filled an 8-frame super with comb within a few weeks, but then seemed to stop. I moved three of the outer frames up into the second box, hoping to encourage the bees to move up. I fed syrup to the bees during this time.

I assumed things would pick up quickly, as my hive is located on a hillside with 60 lavender plants, which are now in full bloom and smothered with literally thousands of bees. Clearly these are not all my bees, as there are bumblebees and native bees, but I assume many are.

The lavender has been blooming for about three weeks now, yet the bees have barely added to the comb in the hive. They've filled in the three frames I added to the second super somewhat, and have built on to the combs in the bottom super, but that's about it. I stopped feeding syrup, since I know there is plenty of food blooming right outside their door.

I'm baffled! My beekeeping friends assured me that once the lavender was blooming, they'd *have* to build comb, or they'd have nowhere to put the nectar and pollen. Everything else seems well in the hive--the queen is there, there is new brood when I check every couple of weeks, the bees seem very busy and docile. I haven't seen any robbing issues, which I worried about, with the hive so close to all that lavender.

Any thoughts?

Wait until the brood hatches ahd increased amount of bees will most likely make the hive go back to comb building.  Bess only build comb under foot, meaning if there is space in the hive unoccupied by bees there will be no comb found there.  It is population that dictates comb building not size  of honey flow.  If there is not enough bees to mandate the manufacture of more comb the bees will go to backfilling the brood chamber untill enough brood hatches out to require more comb building.
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dish
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2009, 08:31:05 PM »

That makes sense. Everything I read says that comb building is based on nectar flow, but I suppose that isn't entirely true with a new, young colony. They seem to be doing fine; I'd just expected more comb by now. But there is plenty of new larvae every time I check, so I assume they are on their way.

Thanks for the reassurance, Brian.
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2009, 12:54:49 AM »

That makes sense. Everything I read says that comb building is based on nectar flow, but I suppose that isn't entirely true with a new, young colony. They seem to be doing fine; I'd just expected more comb by now. But there is plenty of new larvae every time I check, so I assume they are on their way.

Thanks for the reassurance, Brian.

A lot of those books just repeat what has been passed on without making their own observations.  Or, the written word puts blinders on their spectacles so they don't see what's in front of them.  The bees need to develop a large population to take advantage of a honey flow, thus it was wrongfully thought that the honey flow triggered the comb building when in fact it was the increasing population coupled with the honey flow providing ample resources for comb building.  But put a swarm in a new hive and they'll draw comb until all of the bees are standing on wax, when all are at home at night.  They will then stop and switch to storing the nectar until the hatching brood supplies enough bees to surpass the population of the swarm when it was captured.  Then as more brood hatches it will go back to building comb.  This is the pattern regardless of how small or big a honey flow is and whether feeding or not.
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2009, 06:28:02 AM »

I agree with Brian, sounds like the population isn't there yet.    Make sure you aren't or haven't fed too much and made the queen honey bound.  She needs all the room she can get to lay.  That is where having drawn comb combs to give them comes in handy.  She can lay it up with eggs before the workers can fill it with nectar.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2009, 03:32:24 PM »

That makes sense. Everything I read says that comb building is based on nectar flow, but I suppose that isn't entirely true with a new, young colony. They seem to be doing fine; I'd just expected more comb by now. But there is plenty of new larvae every time I check, so I assume they are on their way.

Thanks for the reassurance, Brian.

a lot of those books just repeat what has been passed on without making their own observations.  Or, the written word puts blinders on their spectacles so they don't see what's in front of them.  The bees need to develop a large population to take advantage of a honey flow, thus it was wrongfully thought that the honey flow triggered the comb building when in fact it was the increasing population coupled with the honey flow providing ample resources for comb building.  But put a swarm in a new hive and they'll draw comb until all of the bees are standing on wax, when all are at home at night.  They will then stop and switch to storing the nectar until the hatching brood supplies enough bees to surpass the population of the swarm when it was captured.  Then as more brood hatches it will go back to building comb.  This is the pattern regardless of how small or big a honey flow is and whether feeding or not.

This is exactly what I've observed in my own hives. I just didn't realize it at the time.  Undecided
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