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Thread: Dark comb

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Gainesville, FL
    Posts
    75

    Default Dark comb

    I opened up my hive today. It has been cold, (below freezing every night and cold during the day) for two weeks. It was warm today. I have not . There are not very many bees, which I guess is due to the time of year, but there were capped brood cells. Part of the brood pattern was normal and part was rather odd. There were small spots of brood mixed in with honey and some pollen. I have the hive on two deeps. The bees do not seem to like building on the plastic foundation. I checkerboarded some empty plastic foundation frames into the middle of the brood and honey frames about 2 months ago, but it did not do any good. Most of those frames are still completely empty. Some have a little bit of comb started, but it is thin and not drawn out far.

    My main concern is that about 6 or 7 of the 20 frames in the hive have empty comb or the slightly drawn out comb I mentioned above. Most of the empty comb in the hive is discolored. It looks like it is burnt. It is light brown at the foundation end and dark brown to almost black at the cap end. I have never heard of anything like that. Does anyone know what that might be?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Ennis, TX USA
    Posts
    5,125

    Default Re: Dark comb

    Sounds like they drew it out (maybe in the fall flow) but have not used it much. The tops have darkend with them walking on it and once they start to use it the rest will match.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,888

    Default Re: Dark comb

    Checkerboarding undrawn plastic frames into a brood chamber in winter was a bad move. I would remove them and place all the drawn combs back together to make for a homogenus brood chamber. Bees will not draw comb in winter. The blackness is probably just used combs and natural.
    I use no plastic combs or foundation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Gainesville, FL
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Dark comb

    Thank you for the replies. It looks too dark and too uniform to be foot traffic stains to me, but I am new at this and certainly don't have a better explanation.

    When I checkerboarded the hives, it was not yet winter. My bees were actively foraging and bringing back good amounts of pollen until early January. I was hoping they would build up that comb before it got cold to be ready for the spring flow. It was unusually cool but not cold enough to freeze out the astor or spanish needle for most of the Fall and the 2 weeks of cold over the past two weeks was the worst we have had since I moved here 21 years ago.

    Does anyone know how to get bees to accept the plastic foundation? I melted beeswax and painted the frames with it after the bees failed to use it all Summer. It did not seem to help. In fact, I think they scraped most of the extra wax off of those frames. I hope someone has a good suggestion because I have a lot of plastic foundation and none of my frames have wires or even holes in them. It will be a lot of work and wasted money to retrofit everything to wax foundation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,888

    Default Re: Dark comb

    Foraging for pollen does not indicate that a scenario for comb building, which requires a heavy nectar flow. The drawing of plastic foundation requires a heavy flow more so than wax foundation, or a flow accompanied by feeding. On this board I read of beeks who swear BY plastic and probably more beeks who swear AT it.
    My area has a long slow flow and I have never seen a brood chamber of fully drawn out plastic frames. I have been at it 40 years and I
    DO NOT USE PLASTIC FOUNDATIONS OR FRAMES.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Concrete, WA, USA
    Posts
    761

    Default Re: Dark comb

    i started with rite-cell plastic that is with srayed beezwax and it has its ups and downs -
    it takes a LONG time for them to draw it out - but i found what does work for them - SUGAR and lots of it ...all summer long
    i found that feeding sugar this way makes them want to draw it out -
    so to help out others i would recommend this .......
    take 2 med suppers and place them on a bottem board and them dump in one 3 pound package of bees and queen - and Feed feed feed let them draw out the comb on that them give them one super and have them draw that out but as soon as they do take it from them and put on another super that is combless and just keep doing that - and remember that you will not get any honey from these bees - these bees are comb makers and that it also place the hive away from everything else as to reduce robbing
    with the drawn frames that they make - place these on your other hives so they can be filled with honey and so they dont have to waste time doing wax
    then at the end of the season take your comb building hive and combine it with a weaker hive so that the overwinter

    this is about the only thing that works for me to get them to use plastic
    and the reason that I stuck with palstic is that it is less likley to be damaged in the extractors

    hope this helps anyone

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Troy, Missouri
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Dark comb

    I carry a small digital camera with me anytime I check my bees. That way if I see something different or neat I can take a picture. The saying that "A picture is worth a 1000 words" is so true with beekeeping. It is much easier to get help with a problem if you can see what you are talking about. There are so many things that sound normal when someone is describing it, but is something else when you see it. I find that my beekeeping vocabulary is not advanced enough sometime to really express what is going on. A photo bridges that lack of proper terminology. Just a suggestion?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Citrus, FL
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Dark comb

    Doc5000, I'm about an hour south of you and checked on my two hives today also. My comb was all brown today. I think that's normal.

    What I did not notice was any eggs, larvae or much brood. I didn't do a frame by frame inspection however.

    I had wanted to go today and try and pull out some frames to start a nuc, but there just wasn't enough to start it with.

    I can't imagine that both queens are dead. Maybe they just aren't doing any laying due to the cold?????

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