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Thread: Drawing Comb

  1. #1
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    Default Drawing Comb

    I have been thinking about the answers to these questions for a while, and thought I would ask for peoples opinion with the hope that it will help me, as well as some other new bee keepers who might be getting packages this spring, or some 2nd 3rd year keepers who might be expanding. It might also help some old timers.

    I believe the #1 most important commodity to a bee keeper is drawn comb. I have a bunch of packages coming in Mid March, and don't really have any drawn comb for them. Ideally I would like five drawn frames per package, with 2-3 frames full of a 2:1 sugarater syrup, and two empty drawn frames for the queen to start laying in. I know pollen would be nice, but we have to work with what we got, so don't worry about pollen yet.

    So the question(s) are as follows.

    1. For a 2# or 3# package how many drawn frames would you like in a 8 frame medium? If you use deeps, or 10 frames brood boxes please add this information to your answer.

    2. How many drawn frames would have syrup?

    3. What sugarater 2:1 1:1 or 1:2?

    4. How many drawn frames would be empty.

    5. Would you use a 5 frame Nuc for packages, then transfer later. Please explain why.


    Lets see how far this goes, and I will add some more questions later about getting drawn comb for spring 2012. I know we have only got into 2011, but we need to be thinking of next year, and what we need to do this year to get ready for 2012.

    Thanks

    Bryn
    Last edited by bjoynes; 01-15-2011 at 04:53 PM. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Put in as many frames as the box will hold or the bees will build burr comb in the gaps.

    If the syrup is because they need feeding use a strong mix. If it's to stimulate comb building or whatever, use a weaker mix.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Seneca, sc
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Don't put in more drawn frames than the bees can cover or you will raise more SHB's than bees.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    for the package bees - i would not give them any drawn frames - give them new frames - they are prepared to draw wax when you get then - if they already have it - they will not draw as much wax -

    what i do is give them new foundation and let them go - then once they have 6-7 frames ill give them a frame of drawn in the center area - that way the queen has a full 7000 empty ready to go cells for her laying needs - then after about 2 more weeks ill give them another - this should give you a full box of frames in short order and have your population getting high enough to start working on a second box of foundation.

    your second question is lacking someting ??? it dont make sence

    you want a 1:1 mix of syrup - so 5 gallons of syrup to 5 gallons of water - - if you need less - go by gallons - we mix in 250gal totes so i mix big batches

    i would use full size boxes for packages - use nucs for splits and queen testing -

    the queen bee will lay 2000 eggs a day - each side of a deep frame holds 3500 cells - so 7000 cells in each frame - this is 3 days worth of laying - so a five frame nuc will last her 15 days or so ---- brood takes 21 days to hatch out before the cell is useable again - so with 6 days of not having anywhere to lay the queen will stop laying - start thining down and prep for swarming
    this is why most give the queen 20 frames of deep to lay in - sometime more is needed - but this gives her room to complete the brood cycle

    hope this helps - also in light of 2012 - if you REALLY want to be ready for 2012 - i would give the bees frames of foundation and and let them draw it and take it from them - and store it away - and keep feeding non stop - and keep adding new frames - that way in 2012 you have lots of drawn combs

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    CB, thanks for your reply, as well as oldtimer and scdw43.

    CB: The second question I can see is confusing, and hopefully this will explain it. If you had an 8 frame medium, or what ever you use, filled with drawn frame, or any number of drawn frame, how many frames would you fill with syrup. This question is slanted towards the feeding of the package. Some might just add drawn frames with syrup in the frames, others might just start top feeding.

    If I had an 8 frame medium with all 8 drawn frames, maybe I will fill 6 and leave 2 for the queen to start laying in, especially if I was not going to feed straight away. Would this be Ok, or too many frames full of syrup? Could I do this and also add a top feeder? Is the syrup better stored in the drawn frame than in a feeder because of heat, or because the top feeder might ferment?


    I'm hoping some other people will chime in and ask their questions about this topic, and we get some answers going. Then maybe when a new beek like myself dose a search on drawn frame, we will have most of the answers for them.

    Thanks

    Bryn

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Oh ok i see what you are wanting to do -- and ill have to stop ya k

    you dont want to put sugar syrup in the drawn comb - it will rot
    you want to feed the bees from a feeder - let the bees drink the syrup and then let them put it into the cells - that way they put emzymes into the mix - then it becomes food for them

    - they know where they want it - they need it spread out over the frame - then fan it down to a thicker syrup -

    so dont put any thing in the frames - just give them a feeder and let the bees be bees

    also the feed in the feeder is not stored food - its just a supply of food - they need to ingest it and add emzymes in order to store it

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by concrete-bees View Post
    you dont want to put sugar syrup in the drawn comb - it will rot
    you want to feed the bees from a feeder
    While I would also simply feed the bees from a top feeder of some sort (I've been using plastic buckets,) and let the bees take it as necessary, I believe that HoneyHouseholder infuses syrup into thousands of frames of empty comb and supplies his packages with those frames every spring.

    If, rather than using the syrup immediately as feed, the bees are leaving it in the comb as if it were honey, I don't see why they wouldn't simply evaporate some water out as they do in the fall.

    Syrup rotting in the comb is a new one to me.

    Use 1:1 syrup. It more closely approximates the consistancy of nectar.

    Also, put in as many frames as the box will hold, no matter if bees are covering all the frames or not. The burr comb they make in gaps left by missing combs will make your hive a nightmare to work. I worked on two hives of newbies this past summer that had missing frames and it was an unnecessary use of time. Just don't put on extra hive bodies too soon, but when you do, make sure they have a full complement of frames.

    Wayne

  8. #8
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    Thumbs Up Re: Drawing Comb

    If I was a new beekeeper I would start out with nucs. Why so you have some drawn comb.

    Now if you have drawn comb to get started with then packages.
    The way I run things are for max. output on the bees for honey production only. Packages are cheaper, but take longer to build up. So to get the bees to build up faster I spray syrup into the combs to speed things up. I have many local beekeeper that depend on me for bees to get started each year.

    I start my package mid-later March with 6-7 frames of syrup, and a frame or so of pollen with and empty frame in the middle. If you don't have pollen you can buy pollen patties. By the first of May I'm shaking the extra bees into packages and making splits.

    The drawn combs I use are 40-maybe some are 100 years old. Many generation of beekeeper have used these combs, and hope many generations to come will use them too. I could not run the bees the way I do without good mature drawn combs.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Looking ahead to 2012. If you would like some extra drawn comb for spring 2012 I would suggest that this coming spring, 2011, you get yourself on several swarm lists and chase as many swarms as you can. Put your captured swarms on all new foundation or empty frames and let them draw out a couple of boxes each. Swarms are remarkable comb builders.

    Then later in the summer downsize and do some culling of the least productive queens and consolidate for winter. This will give you strong combined colonies for the fall flow, and will leave you with some extra boxes with drawn comb for the following spring.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Honeyhouse is right. Buy a nuc to start, or even a full hive so you have comb for the package bees. I just cut wood for 50 more boxes with a 1/4" slot down the center inside each short end so I can easily insert 1/4" lauan or plywood and use them as double nucs. That way, buy 2012, I will have double the colony capacity for my splits. Another advantage is that I can go from a nuc that has 4 drawn combs and a 5th started to a full 10-frame box by simply lifting out the divider.
    Another good idea is to feed both patties AND syrup in a Miller-style hive top feeder full time. I leave a medium Illinois super (6 5/8" x 10 frame) full of honey just for the bees. With 2 deeps, a medium super full of honey, and a hive top feeder, I expect to still have bees in the spring. So far, they have gone gangbusters early in the year and have drawn wax all winter. Most of my queens are laying eggs in December and January.
    If you try both ideas, you will have lots of drawn comb in time for next year's early nectar flow, and be ready for splits soon after. So far, my best luck is with Dadant's crimp wired foundation (in deep frames) with 4 horizontal wires strung fairly tight and sunk with a spur embedder 1/2 at a time from the center out. My frame side bars are 1/2 " thick and are slotted and drilled. Use GOOD wood (no knots) to make frames, Titebond III glue, and an air stapler on a frame jig. My frames that are not done like this warp and sag in the heat when the comb is drawn out.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Drawing Comb

    Honeyhouse is right. Buy a nuc to start, or even a full hive so you have comb for the package bees. I just cut wood for 50 more boxes with a 1/4" slot down the center inside each short end so I can easily insert 1/4" lauan or plywood and use them as double nucs. That way, buy 2012, I will have double the colony capacity for my splits. Another advantage is that I can go from a nuc that has 4 drawn combs and a 5th started to a full 10-frame box by simply lifting out the divider.
    Another good idea is to feed both patties AND syrup in a Miller-style hive top feeder full time. I leave a medium Illinois super (6 5/8" x 10 frame) full of honey just for the bees. With 2 deeps, a medium super full of honey, and a hive top feeder, I expect to still have bees in the spring. So far, they have gone gangbusters early in the year and have drawn wax all winter. Most of my queens are laying eggs in December and January.
    If you try both ideas, you will have lots of drawn comb in time for next year's early nectar flow, and be ready for splits soon after. So far, my best luck is with Dadant's crimp wired foundation (in deep frames) with 4 horizontal wires strung fairly tight and sunk with a spur embedder 1/2 at a time from the center out. My frame side bars are 1/2 " thick and are slotted and drilled. Use GOOD wood (no knots) to make frames, Titebond III glue, and an air stapler on a frame jig. My frames that are not done like this warp and sag in the heat when the comb is drawn out.

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