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Author Topic: Comb age & egg laying  (Read 4628 times)

Offline Hemlock

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Comb age & egg laying
« on: February 21, 2011, 04:53:29 PM »
Do queens care about the age of the comb when it comes to laying eggs?

...Meaning do they prefer: old comb, over new comb, or Vice Versa, or neither.

Offline iddee

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 06:52:06 PM »
They don't care until it gets so old it is too small for the brood.
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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2011, 08:40:08 PM »
They will often cross several fresh white combs to get to an old black comb to lay in it first.  I've heard that it may be partly due to black holding the heat better for raising brood.  (This may just be a factor in cold northern locations too.)

Their 2nd choice is a comb with empty cells.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2011, 10:49:06 PM »
In my observation, they seem to  like both brand new comb and really old and are less attracted to stuff in between...
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Offline Hemlock

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 10:42:09 AM »
I have 1 queen laying in the oldest comb in the hive.  That's why i asked.

Thanks all.

Offline greenbtree

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2011, 11:00:07 AM »
Iddee, question - why does old comb get too small to lay in?  Shrinkage?  Build up of crud on walls of cells?  Just rampantly curious...

JC
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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2011, 12:07:30 PM »
They don't care until it gets so old it is too small for the brood.

When cells are very old, bees bite them down and make new.  They will be never too small.
They do the same if mould has spoiled cells.
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Offline iddee

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2011, 12:20:34 PM »
Each time a bee emerges, they leave a cocoon in the cell. These cocoons build up to make the cell smaller. Finski may be right about them tearing them down and rebuilding when they get too small. Although, when you render very old comb, very little wax is gotten. I think it is because the cocoons replace the wax as more bees emerge from the cells. When all the wax is gone, the cell becomes too small. At this time, the bees may well rebuild them.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2011, 12:29:18 PM »
.
If you see on bottom like coffee grains, it is teared old cells.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2011, 03:59:30 PM »
I saw a frame of brood comb that had foundation in it.  The bees built drone cells in both lower corners of the frame even though the foundation was standard size.  I also thought it was odd that the bees chewed out the sides and the bottom of the foundation for about a 1/2 inch.  At first I thought it was a foundationless frame.  It made an impression on me that the bees are going to do what ever they want no matter what you tell them or show them.
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Offline edward

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2011, 04:51:54 PM »
the bees are going to do what ever they want no matter what you tell them or show them.

 :-D :-D

Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2011, 10:24:46 PM »
I've seen some really old comb before.  If you cut a cross section of the comb, the bottoms of the cells are much thicker than the cell walls.  Bees may be able to chew out the cell diameter, but I don't think they mess with the bottom of the cell as much.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 09:40:52 AM »
Speaking of cell walls, the cell walls of the drone cells were 3 or 4 times as thick as the regular cells by eye.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 11:00:47 AM by Acebird »
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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 09:50:07 AM »
Bees may be able to chew out the cell diameter, but I don't think they mess with the bottom of the cell as much.

I don't think because I have seen what they do. They for example clean the comb up to foundation.
All what they feel bad, they chew away.

It is useual that bees brake tha comb figure when they want to make drone cells. It happens in cold parts of hive like in foundation which is towards the box wall. That is why I do not put foundation against the box wall at the beginning of summer.
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Offline greenbtree

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 10:51:10 AM »
So, Finsky, are you saying you don't put NEW UNDRAWN foundation next to hive wall at beginning of Summer or drawn frames?  Or neither, just leave the space open at first?

JC
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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2011, 10:26:10 PM »
That is why I do not put foundation against the box wall at the beginning of summer.

Here, I will put an undrawn frame in an outside position at the beginning of summer as swarm control for overwintered hives I'm running for honey as singles.  If I am slow checking on hives, giving them a frame to draw out can give me a couple more days before they try to swarm.

Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2011, 02:39:53 AM »
So, Finsky, are you saying you don't put NEW UNDRAWN foundation next to hive wall at beginning of Summer or drawn frames?  Or neither, just leave the space open at first?

JC

Good heavens!

I say that quite often bees spoil the foundation when they tend to make in cold place their drone cells.

I have my store full of drawn frames in early summer.

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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2011, 02:42:37 AM »

Here, I will put an undrawn frame in an outside position at the beginning of summer as swarm control for overwintered hives I'm running for honey as singles.  If I am slow checking on hives, giving them a frame to draw out can give me a couple more days before they try to swarm.

That surely not help. One frame do not save yoou from swarming.

When bees have swarming fever they do not draw foundations. They just wait to go.

Bees need weekly a box of  new room when the hive enlarges.  In best cases they need 2 new boxes.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2011, 11:00:18 AM »

Here, I will put an undrawn frame in an outside position at the beginning of summer as swarm control for overwintered hives I'm running for honey as singles.  If I am slow checking on hives, giving them a frame to draw out can give me a couple more days before they try to swarm.

That surely not help. One frame do not save yoou from swarming.

When bees have swarming fever they do not draw foundations. They just wait to go.

Bees need weekly a box of  new room when the hive enlarges.  In best cases they need 2 new boxes.


There should be at least 2 new frames of foundation in each box of the brood chamber for there to be any affect to prevent swarming.  In a ten frame hive there are usually 6-8 frames of brood with the 2 outer brood frames predominately drone comb.  To prevent swarming a 3rd box should be added with frames barrowed from it to displace frames in the brood chamber. set up the two primary brood boxes thusly: CCFCCCCFCC*; then set up the new box this way: FFFCCCCFFF.  A week to 10 days later, set the brood chamber up this way: CCFFCCFFCC followed by CCFFFFFFCC the next week. The third week it is necessary to add a 4th box in order to rotate new frames in.  Then continue until all of the old frames in the brood box are changed out.  This is also a good way to retire old brood comb frames.

* C=frames with comb, F=frames of foundation.

The queen will often go to the new frames and start laying in the cell imprints, forcing the worker bees to kick the building of foundation into high gear.  Also this will expand the hive greatly as the equivalent of at least 3 boxes of brood in the later stages of the rotation/exchange of combs.  Then use queen excluders to isolate the queen, remove that box as a split, taking 2 frames of new eggs for the old hive to make a new queen with.  Super both hives at the time of the split.

You now have 2 strong hives with one a controlled swarm (walk away split).  Of course if you don't want to wait for the hive to rear its own queen you can always use a purchased queen or one you reared yourself.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2011, 12:47:46 PM »
Yeah Brian, I have been waiting for a post like this but I have a complication, I think.  I have one hive and I want to grow to two.  The brood chamber is two deeps high and my supers are mediums.  I want to end up with one deep under each hive at the end of the split process so can I use your scheme on the mother hive putting a medium between the two deeps that I have?

As much as I hate to use foam in my hive can I add a piece to my medium frames so when I put them in a deep box the bees cannot continue building something underneath the medium frames?
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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2011, 08:43:46 PM »
I don't think folks understood what I was saying.  A frame of foundation is not going to prevent swarming - however, a frame of foundation can buy you a couple extra days time.  It's too late to buy time when you pull into the yard and have swarms hanging in trees.

As much as I hate to use foam in my hive can I add a piece to my medium frames so when I put them in a deep box the bees cannot continue building something underneath the medium frames?

Yes, but why go to the effort?  So what if bees draw a little comb at the bottom of a medium frame.  One quick swipe with the hive tool gets rid of it.  Problem solved.  No sense making something any more difficult than it has to be.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2011, 09:33:50 AM »
Quote
One quick swipe with the hive tool gets rid of it.  Problem solved.  No sense making something any more difficult than it has to be.

You don't think it would be a problem for the adjacent frames next to the medium?  I am asking.
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Offline T Beek

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2011, 09:55:18 AM »
Acebird;  if all you want is another colony, Once weather is right, why not do a simple walk-away split?  See Michael Bush's site for excellent detailed discriptions.  A walk-away is one of the easiest ways I know to get 2 colonies from one.

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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2011, 09:59:37 AM »
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However, I take off the frames where sun light does not come through any more.

I keep dark combs in the middle of box and light color on sides.
When queen lays the dark comb full, I lift it to super. There brood emerge and and bees fill the comb with honey. After extracting I may melt the comb.

If the comb has much pollen, I put it inside brood area and bees consume the pollen.

Dark combs are not problem to me.  But once they were when I put light color combs in the middle. One day all my combs become old.

During heavy nectar flow bees draw so much new combs as I need. I need them usually 1,5 boxes per hive per year.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2011, 05:00:48 PM »
Yeah Brian, I have been waiting for a post like this but I have a complication, I think.  I have one hive and I want to grow to two.  The brood chamber is two deeps high and my supers are mediums.  I want to end up with one deep under each hive at the end of the split process so can I use your scheme on the mother hive putting a medium between the two deeps that I have?

As much as I hate to use foam in my hive can I add a piece to my medium frames so when I put them in a deep box the bees cannot continue building something underneath the medium frames?


What complication?  2 deeps and 2 mediums, think about it and reread my post, the solution should be obvious.  No queen excluder?  Use an inner top to seperate the deeps, then proceed as described.   If the queen is in the upper box and then decides to go up into a medium super, the split is simple, cut each hive down to 1 medium and 1 deep, then super with a deep between when needed and you're back to normal.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2011, 06:59:54 PM »
I will have to super with a medium because the two deeps that I have will be on the bottom of each hive.
Acebird;  if all you want is another colony, Once weather is right, why not do a simple walk-away split?  See Michael Bush's site for excellent detailed discriptions.  A walk-away is one of the easiest ways I know to get 2 colonies from one.

thomas

Yes, I read that over twice now and I will do it again and compare these two methods.  Changing over to medium equipment is my biggest concern.
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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2011, 12:05:44 AM »
You don't think it would be a problem for the adjacent frames next to the medium?  I am asking.

What possible problem could there be?  I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2011, 01:40:15 AM »
.
If I want another colony, I make a nuc and let the main hive develope as forager.

3 frames are enough to start a new colony and it doen not disturb much honey yeild.

If you split 4 box hive into two, that will be end of your honey yield for next 2 months.


Splitting hives need no skills. To get good honey yield is much more difficult.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2011, 10:17:44 AM »
Quote
Splitting hives need no skills. To get good honey yield is much more difficult.

I like the no skills part but on the topic of yield, are you saying you will get no honey with the split or you will get less honey with the split"

If you do your nuc method are you risking survival through the winter or the likehood that the nuc will swarm and you loose it?
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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2011, 10:47:52 AM »
t

If you do your nuc method are you risking survival through the winter or the likehood that the nuc will swarm and you loose it?

what ever happens if I do things wrong. But what I do with my 47 years experience if all goes wrong?

Survival means that nuc has enough bees. You must join weak colonies and you may take brood frames from strong hives.

If late nuc has not enough winter food, take capped frames from big hives.
Small colony may have difficulties to cap food if weathers are cold.

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Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2011, 04:00:07 PM »
Quote
Survival means that nuc has enough bees. You must join weak colonies and you may take brood frames from strong hives.

This is where it gets a little scary for a newbie with no experience.  It is hard to tell what a weak colony is when a nuc can be a small as two or three frames and a normal brood chamber would have 16 frames covered with bees.  Come next fall I am going to want to know if the nuc is weak or strong.  So be prepared for my foolish questions.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2011, 04:47:33 PM »
 .
Fall is too late for questions.

You have a long summer to get your colonies big.
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Offline T Beek

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2011, 05:20:37 PM »
Our summer is a bit over three months (last hard frost to first hard frost) but we extend w/ human know-how :-D.

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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2011, 09:00:14 PM »
I like the no skills part but on the topic of yield, are you saying you will get no honey with the split or you will get less honey with the split"

If you actually read what he wrote, you will see that he said NEITHER of those.  In fact, he said that splitting and honey yield were DIFFERENT things. 

He is correct.  It is easy to split a hive.

He is correct.  Knowing how to properly manage a hive so that you can harvest a good honey crop is much more difficult than the simple job of splitting a hive.

I do not know why you are associating splitting the hive with making a good honey crop.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2011, 09:30:31 AM »
Quote
He is correct.  It is easy to split a hive.

He is correct.  Knowing how to properly manage a hive so that you can harvest a good honey crop is much more difficult than the simple job of splitting a hive.

Thank you for the clarification.  Knowing how to properly manage a hive so that I can harvest a good honey crop is not a problem for me.  I will take what ever comes and be satisfied.  I'm not in business.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2011, 12:51:30 PM »
He also inferred that you can split and still keep a strong hive for honey production:

Quote
3 frames are enough to start a new colony and it doen not disturb much honey yeild.

Making a 3 frame split into a nuc not affect honey production more than a few pounds for the course of the season, but it allows the beekeeper to still increase his apiary and, to an extent, control the swarming tendency.

Best methods to limit swarming:
1. Split hive, removing old queen. Split can be between 3-10 frames.
2. Provide plenty of room to prevent overcrowding, add supers.
3. Keep bees building comb in or at the edges of the brood chamber.  This a good way to rotate out old brood combs that can either be melte down or used as bait frames in bait hives or swarm traps.

There are a few other, minor considerations, but those are the major ones.


Without controlling swarming or providing sufficient storage/curing space for the nectar, the honey harvest will be deminished.
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Offline Countryboy

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2011, 12:28:58 AM »
He also inferred that you can split and still keep a strong hive for honey production:

This requires much more advanced beekeeping skills.

Making a 3 frame split into a nuc not affect honey production more than a few pounds for the course of the season, but it allows the beekeeper to still increase his apiary and, to an extent, control the swarming tendency.

I'd like to see the beekeeper who can do a 3 frame split into a nuc and make a honey crop from that nuc - and do it on any kind of scale.

Here, you can do a 3 frame split into a single deep box with 4-5 frames of feed, and add a mated queen - throw on an excluder and a couple supers of drawn comb...and the timing determines if it was worthwhile or not.  We start extracting in mid-July.  If you do a split like this before June 1, you will get an increase in honey sufficient to pay the cost of the frames of feed and the price of the new queen.  If you do this split after June 1, it is unlikely that you will make enough extra honey to justify the cost of the feed and queen - in short, you would have been money ahead to have left the 3 frames with the parent hive.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Comb age & egg laying
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2011, 11:11:18 AM »
I like Dee's why of doing a split.  Just do it one after another.
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