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Thread: Bees moving wax

  1. #1
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    Default Bees moving wax

    While inspecting my hives yesterday, I began noticing on some of the outside frames the cells had been chewed down to nearly foundation depth. Then as I got further into the inner frames, I noticed that there were a lot of repairs going on to incomplete combs (which were started on starter strips and not finished) or damaged combs from last winter's mouse. All of the repair work was nice white wax.

    I am sure that it is not unusual for them to move wax around, but during the process, can older, darker wax suddenly become white again?

  2. #2
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    I would not think so. The new wax is probably just that, new wax.
    Ron

  3. #3
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    While they will chew it, i'm not sure they will reuse it, especially if it is dark, old wax. They don't reclaim any of the new wax I scrape off and throw on the ground.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  4. #4
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    Then why do you suppose they would chew the comb down? I thought I had read somewhere before that they sometimes will move it around the hive.

  5. #5
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    Bored, making commuication holes, not really sure why they do, they just do.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  6. #6
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    Once in a while I find some VERY new comb and put it by the landing board. It often gets "chewed" up pretty good; sometimes with nectar/honey, sometimes not. Maybe the only way to know is by watching an "observation" hive.

  7. #7
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    beecron, Yes, bees reuse wax within the hive.

    The easiest way to see this is to scrape burr comb from between a couple frames. 24 hours later, the bees will have the "bridge" built back up and its usually dark wax.

    When you have an observation hive, you can see this in action. I had commented about bees reusing wax while filling a frame of nectar last year in September. The capping were dark, and I could see the removal of wax from other areas from within the observation hive. I don't think they prefer to do it, but are capable just the same. Here's a thread that touched upon this...

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...servation+hive

  8. #8
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    I've only seen this in the fall but 2 years in a row I had a little pile of wax and burr comb that was sitting in a little pile by the garage... There were 20-30 bees biting, and chewing on it and then putting it back in the pollen basket area. I couldn't believe they were working with it like that.

    I was guessing they were using it with propolis to seal up the hive for winter but it is just a guess. I have not ever seen them do this in the spring/summer.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  9. #9
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    The dwarf honeybee is known to scavenge wax. I had a cut out colony given to me that had no brood, very few young bees. I gave them some fountation (their old comb was crushed) and fed them. They ignored the sugar water, and I watched them do something strange. They chewed apart the foundation and slowly built up cells on the other side. Eventually they had a few rows of cells and the queen laid in them. I do not know that they will go to another colony to steal wax but within the hive they dont' seem to mind moving it. That doesn't explain why they neglect the cappings on the floor of the hive. Lots of usable wax there.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  10. #10
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    <<Bored, making commuication holes>>

    That strikes a cord. There were some holes chewed in the comb near the top, about 1 1/2" in diameter! What do you mean communication holes? I have not heard that one before.

  11. #11
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    "communication holes": peggjam . Bees are not "dumb" but try to be "efficient" I think. "Duraguilt" foundation is made with a plastic base and wax with 3/4 inch holes on the bottom for "communication"; beekeepers have had "issues" with it though. I have seen my hives build "ladders" from frames that were on the bottom box; WELL!, why wouldn't they! NO need to "jump up" to the frames. I have thought about "something" between boxes/supers to help eliminate burr comb ladders.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldbee View Post
    "communication holes": peggjam . Bees are not "dumb" but try to be "efficient" I think. "Duraguilt" foundation is made with a plastic base and wax with 3/4 inch holes on the bottom for "communication"; beekeepers have had "issues" with it though. I have seen my hives build "ladders" from frames that were on the bottom box; WELL!, why wouldn't they! NO need to "jump up" to the frames. I have thought about "something" between boxes/supers to help eliminate burr comb ladders.
    I'm not sure that it is possible to elimate burr comb, without crushing alot of bees putting boxes back together.

    Communication holes allow the bees on one side of a frame to communicate with the ones on the other side of the frame. These play a role in wintering in cold climates, because the girls don't have to take the long route around when the cluster is moving to fresh frames.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  13. #13
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    "I'm not sure that it's possible to eliminate burr comb". peggjam: You are probably right; just trying to "think like a bee". I "know", I should stop that, lol.

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