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Author Topic: Bees won't build comb in the supers - Need advice.  (Read 1318 times)
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« on: August 02, 2012, 07:40:03 PM »

New beeks.

Horizontal hive body - deep, two wide.   We put two medium supers on top. They have plenty of space to move around and there are plenty of bees in the supers, but they're building burr comb between the tops of the frames in the bottom box and the bottoms of the frames in the supers and then cross comb bump ups from the bottom through the spaces between the frames in the new supers. They look like stalagmites, only, you know - comb shaped - and perpendicular to the frames. The silly bees won't build comb top-down on the new supers.

Foundationless frames.   They had no problem figuring them out in the bottom.

Should I cut out some honey comb from one of the bottom deep frames so it'll fit the medium frame and give them a starter comb that way?   

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Sparky
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 09:20:53 PM »

Are both supers empty ?  It sounds like you are light on numbers of bees and they are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. they need large numbers so they can festoon to each other from top to bottom to build comb in a foundationless manner. You could use a couple frames of foundation to give them a guide or follower boards so they do not bridge under top bars.
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AllenF
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2012, 09:21:25 PM »

During the honey flow, they should build right.  Or try some starter strips.   And the burr comb between boxes are their ladders to get up.  Leave it.  
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2012, 06:50:55 AM »

Are both supers empty ?  It sounds like you are light on numbers of bees and they are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. they need large numbers so they can festoon to each other from top to bottom to build comb in a foundationless manner. You could use a couple frames of foundation to give them a guide or follower boards so they do not bridge under top bars.

They're both completely empty.   That hive had been booming and they were starting to get honeybound.  The supers went on when they were 90% drawn out - two weeks ago.   It's been blisteringly hot here, maybe the queen slowed down.   We've been feeding and the goldenrod and joe-pye weed are blooming.   The supers have lots of bees just loitering at the edges.    Weird.

I have no foundation to give them, except a cutout from one of the deep frames.
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iddee
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 07:54:52 AM »

You are asking them to split their home. Either put frames from the bottom into the supers, or if different sizes, put the supers on bottom.
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 08:42:41 AM »

I have a hive that did this and I found by taking one or two frames of drawn and putting them in the box above in the center and they got the idea a little better.  They seem to like to make honey storage comb larger than brood comb, not sure if that is normal as this is my first year. 

I would take drawn comb from the two outside in the lower box and move them.  Some folks tell me I mess them up doing that, but if they won't draw comb and instead backfill that is not good.  Don't have much choice if you don't have drawn comb.  If you had old comb you could put that up above, as my Mentor said, 'you sometimes need to teach them to use the space' and on my one hive that is very true.

I just took a small harvest and condensed the boxes.  That allowed me to get some of the worst comb out of the hives, like the stuff that goes between 2 frames and connects...ugh..........  I did not intend to do so this year, but my hives got so tall I could not lift a super of honey without removing some frames.
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 09:40:02 AM »

Is there a heavy flow going on?  They'll pull fast and furious when there's a heavy flow on.  Once it starts slowing down they'll all but stop drawing comb.  Even if they're low or out of comb it seems they are VERY reluctant or unable to draw comb without a heavy flow.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2012, 09:45:00 AM »

if your purpose is to give the queen more room, you need to give her a clear space to move up/down as they build comb.  she won't cross the honey at the top of the brood most of the time.  in that case, i would do as iddee says and put the boxes under.
if your purpose is to give them room for honey, there must be a flow or they will not build comb or store.  in fact, i have found that by feeding when there is no flow, they often will backfill at a faster pace rather than build the comb i want.
they are getting to the time of year that storage is on their mind so you will have to balance that against leaving the queen enough space for her brood.  

don't worry about the burr comb.  don't worry if they build some from the bottom.  they do that on occasion.  make sure your frames are together to help avoid cross comb.  i know people go with fewer frames in the honey supers and that's great, but if you are getting foundationless frames built out, you need to keep them tight until they are done.  

JackM has a good suggestion if you are putting honey supers on top.  move the outside frames, if they are empty, closer to the middle if they are not full of honey.  this will give the queen clear space to move up and give her more room to lay.  if they are full....no good.
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2012, 10:54:39 AM »

It's very common for me to put a medium frame into a deep box.
I often put one into the brood nest to get it drawn quickly, though sometimes it is just because it is at hand and a deep is not.

If you pull a coulpe brrod frmes with bees and one of honey and put them in a nuc, anr put two meds into the brood nest, you'll quickly have drawn med. comb.You might get some burr  ont the bottom of the meiums as well but that is easy to remove.

Once drawn, if you put them up top alternating with a couple of empty frames, the empties will be drawn straight.
Then put empties between all four...etc.
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2012, 12:55:07 PM »

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far.   I really appreciate the feedback and suggestions.    We had talked about putting a medium into the deep broodbox, but decided against it.   Wish we had now.  Next time we'll know.   They're so much happier when they have a drawn frame in the new box.
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