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Thread: Brown Comb?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Hopewell Junction, NY
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    Default Brown Comb?

    Just did an inspection, and one of my newer hives, which originated in a split, had drawn brown comb during the past week or so. I've never seen them draw comb in anything but white before. What gives? Anyone have experience with that?

    Many thanks,


    Mig

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Edmonton AB Canada
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    705

    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    That all depends on what nectar source they're foraging in....sugar water makes white...dark honey makes dark comb.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, NY
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    156

    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Same thing happen to me this year, I started a few nucs and it was just one that was making brown comb. I was told it was the nectar source, it would be nice to know what plant it comes from since its the first time I've seen this in my few years of keeping bees. I'm guessing its something that grows in patches because it was the only hive that found it. But like most things I guess with bees, I'm most likely wrong.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wilmington, Illinois, USA
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    866

    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Likely burr comb. Brood comb is a bit darker too yet not as dark.
    Honey is the best thing ever discovered ! www.greenanything.net/honey-bees.php

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    They build brown comb when they're recycling old wax - old wax is often mixed with propolis which gives it a darker tint. This usually happens when their is comb needing to be built and not enough of a nectar flow to produce lots of new beeswax, any new beeswax used to build comb in these circumstances will sometimes be mixed with old, recycled beeswax.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6
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    Jul 2008
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    Saratoga Springs, NY
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    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    No, its not burr comb, recycled or mixed. The brown comb was drawn out on foundationless frames.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Doesn't matter that it is drawn on foundationless frames, I have a few right now, that are being drawn on foundationless frames, and they are brown because the bees are mixing in old beeswax with new.



    Actually I only remember ever seeing them make this brown comb from reusing old beeswax when they're building comb without the benefit of beeswax or plastic foundation. Just when they're building foundationless comb in frames or unintentionally empty space. And if they're being fed or there is a decent flow happening, they don't usually bother reusing old beeswax.

    Perhaps combs built with propolis containing beeswax have different properties than combs built entirely of new beeswax. I've deconstructed quite a few of both kinds, especially while they're still small and I believe the brown ones are a little more durable when freshly made than those built of all new beeswax.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-06-2011 at 09:51 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Hopewell Junction, NY
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    63

    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Ah, mystery solved. Very interesting! I'd had one hive last year, which was all foundationless, and have four this year (two originals split) that are a mix of pre-existing foundation-based comb, and foundationless. It was one of these splits that had built the brown comb -- the first time I'd seen it. Prior to yesterday, all the comb I'd seen was originally pristine white. It's just terrific how they can make decisions within a colony, based on conditions and opportunities!

    Many thanks!


    Mig

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, NY
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    156

    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Its hard to believe that they can take apart the three frames I gave them and make five more. But I quess thats what they did.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Whenever I have any used equipment stacked around outside, I frequently observe foragers harvesting propolis and beeswax from burr comb and deposits on the used equipment. Also, every time I open a case of PF120's and leave some unused frames still in the box, I find many foragers harvesting the beeswax that they are coated with.

    I'm only guessing that they can also relocate and repurpose beeswax and propolis inside the hive, turning burr comb into new comb -- I use quite a few foundationless frames and whenever I insert a new one in a hive, the bees almost always start comb immediately, but when there isn't a strong honey flow the new comb starts are almost always of very dark wax.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Brown Comb?

    Some pics of bees harvesting used beeswax -->



    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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