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Author Topic: 2 yr old comb is dark brown  (Read 1735 times)
Algonam
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« on: August 25, 2012, 04:44:11 PM »

After a hot and dry summer we are getting organised to pull our empty and partially full honey supers. Spring gave us a good flow but summer was a letdown with all of the dry hot weather killing our flowers and crops. Today we noticed that our two original hives brood chambers which we started Spring 2011 have very dark comb. Is this just a normal colour for older comb?
Also, most of the bottom box of the double brood chambers in both hives has empty cells with some honey along the top edges. Some drone cells. They are using the second level brood chamber almost exclusively. When we remove our honey supers above this, will they move down into the lower brood chamber and fill it up for winter? Right now goldenrod is in full bloom. We plan on feeding once the first heavy frost comes and kills the goldenrod.
All advise is appreciated!
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 05:05:01 PM »

do you think you'll get a harvest from the goldenrod, or that they'll be able to store enough off of it for winter?  the problem with waiting to feed is that you are putting moisture into the hive that they will have to deal with to cap the stores.  if you wait to long, it's to cold and damp for them to cure the syrup. 

try to keep an eye on them and see how much they are storing.  if you find it's not going to be enough, you may want to consider feeding before frost.  remember, they are raising the brood that will get them through winter, right now.  if you don't have enough for them to feed the brood and store, they will be in trouble before they get though winter.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Algonam
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 06:55:22 PM »

Thanks Kathyp,
That makes sense. The lower brood chamber is very light..drawn comb, but pretty empty. (When I say frost I mean morning frost. Those days still warm up quite nicely and sometimes into very warm days for a part of our Fall season)
What about the dark brown comb? Should I have any concerns or is this normal?
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Algonam
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2012, 06:58:19 PM »

Kathyp,
I forgot to mention, the bees are actively bringing in from the Goldenrod. They are as busy during these hot days as they were in May and June. I figure we will another couple of weeks of goldenrod before we start to cool down. Feeding sounds like the right thing to do now.
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 08:17:36 PM »

comb darkens with age.  really old comb can be almost black.  not to worry.  remember, they are storing, tracking over it, and when it's used for brood "cocoons" are left behind. if you pull old brood comb and try to melt it for wax, you won't get much.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2012, 08:52:30 PM »

Yeah,those little buggers are not very good at wiping their feet when they come in. That,and old cocoons make the comb appear darker too. Smiley
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Algonam
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 08:15:13 AM »

Can this old comb be used and re-used for multiple years?
Will the bees move down into that lower chamber and fill it without any additional encouragement from me?

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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 10:47:47 AM »

you can use it for a few years.  it's a good idea to start swapping that stuff out after 3 or so years, but you can do it over time.  use that old stuff in swarm traps, or swarm removals.  i never throw it away until it breaks.

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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 04:04:37 PM »

Another issue came up today with one of these hives. We have full sized double brood chamber boxes. Empty lower box with old brown comb. Above that we had medium honey supers with no queen excluder. The queen is currently in the medium box laying in there. We have larvae, brood and honey in that medium box.
We were suprised to see this and were hoping to remove the mediums in preparation for Fall/Winter.
We were expecting to have all of our hives down to dbl brood chambers for winter.
Any suggestions how to get her to lay eggs in the lower boxes?
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 05:28:09 PM »

since she's up there, the easiest thing to do is pull the empty box...you don't want an empty for winter anyway, and leave the medium on.  you can work on fixing things in the spring.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2012, 09:36:42 PM »

What about switching them around so the medium is on the bottom for the next month. In the meantime I will feed sugar/water and they have goldenrod here too.
Do you think this may encourage her upwards to continue laying and get the other bees to fill the old comb with honey or sugar?

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L Daxon
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 11:03:15 AM »

A lot of books tell you to switch out your combs every 3 to 5 years but I've heard old timers talk about combs they have been using for 10, even 20 years.  It gets very, very dark and hard.  The problem with older comb is the contaminates.  If you have been treating  for mites, SHB, etc. those chemicals can build up in the combs, not to mention pesticides & herbicides brought in with the pollen and nectar.

As to the empty bottom box, I find that is very common in my hives this time of year.  I frequently reverse the boxes.  And for my last inspection before I shut the girls down for the winter, I usually make sure all the brood frames are in the bottom box (sometimes I have to combine the brood out of the two boxes) and make sure there is plenty of honey in the top box as the girls will move up over winter.

Now you have the problem that you are using two different sizes of frames so you can't pull the honey frame with a bit of brood down into the bigger brood box.  I use all mediums and no queen excluder so if I find brood up in a honey supper, I can move it down to a brood box, but usually I just let the brood hatch the girls will either back fill it with honey, which I try to leave them for winter.

ld
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2012, 02:40:53 PM »

you can try switching, although it's not my favorite thing.  remember the natural movement of the bees.  they go up over the winter and down over the spring....usually.  if you wait, you may find that they have gone down on their own as they will wish to store above the brood, for winter. feeding may help to force them down because they will want to store that syrup at the top.  as the brood hatches, they will want to fill those cells with food.
  you can use that medium for feeding in the spring and if you need it for honey next year, you can just clean out what they have not eaten, knowing that at least part of it is syrup, then let them refill it with honey.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Algonam
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 08:38:14 PM »

Since we now have 5 hives (I'll assume all will survive) I am considering using queen excluders next year on a couple of them and compare the difference.
If I had used a queen excluder I wouldn't have this problem.

As for the old comb, we haven't used any form of chemical control yet. We aren't anywhere near farming operations and we are in a semi remote area where most of the land is on clearing and bush that once were farms over 100 yrs ago before pesticides. I am not saying our bees are pesticide free but I think they are as clean as it gets these days.
 
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kathyp
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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 09:20:14 PM »

Quote
If I had used a queen excluder I wouldn't have this problem.

perhaps not.  maybe more swarms or a skinny queen that goes up there anyway.   evil

i don't think you have a problem.  bees do what they do and we keep them better when we adjust to what they do, rather than making them adjust to our plan.  come spring, all will be well...one way or another...
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Algonam
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2012, 09:26:25 PM »

Oh I hope you are right! This is one of our 2 original hives and it would hurt to lose it over winter.
The feeding will begin soon!
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Jim 134
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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2012, 09:37:13 PM »

   I have use comb for 10 to 20 years but in the past 12 years or so I do not.I switch out my combs every 4 to 6 years now my reason is more use of pesticides & herbicides where I live.  Just my $0.02


       BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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L Daxon
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2012, 09:45:54 PM »

i don't think you have a problem.  bees do what they do and we keep them better when we adjust to what they do, rather than making them adjust to our plan.  come spring, all will be well...one way or another...

I'll second what Kathy said here.
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linda d
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