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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Huntington ,VT, USA
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    250

    Default "need" to draw wax?

    I am wondering if the hive, or
    More accurately new bees need to draw wax to stay "happy"

    With lots of extra combs from dead outs this spring I found myself wondering if I should be including empty frames as well as I add boxes to the remaining hives?
    Does having space to draw new comb serve a purpose in swarm control that empty drawn comb does not?
    If so, what sort of ratio of empty space to drawn comb are folks aiming for?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
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    2,539

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    I can't shed much light on what makes bees "happy" but I was wondering about a related question- Why is new wax in different hives, different colors? Most of my colonies are drawing a tan or golden colored wax but a swarm I just caught is drawing snow white wax.
    Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Clark county, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by cg3 View Post
    Why is new wax in different hives, different colors? Most of my colonies are drawing a tan or golden colored wax but a swarm I just caught is drawing snow white wax.
    I think that is because the swarm has full bellies so they can draw wax right away and it is as clean as it can get. The other colonies had to forage somewhat to get supplies to draw wax and they are staining it with pollen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
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    2,870

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Does having space to draw new comb serve a purpose in swarm control that empty drawn comb does not?
    I say no, one swarm trigger is limited space for the queen to lay in a crowded box, foundation is not considered more space by bees until it is drawn out. To decrease the possibility of swarm one should open up the brood chamber with empty drawn comb. My opinion anyway. I had a year old hive draw out the most pristine white comb this year, I think it has more to do with traffic then if it is a swarm or not, again from my observation.

    As a rule I try to put swarms on foundation or empty foundationless because like mentioned they are prepped and ready to draw comb.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,242

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Wax color is a direct effect of the color of nectar used to make it. Light colored nectar - white wax. Darker nectars - off color, normally yellowish.

    If the OP question was - will providing drawn comb to a starter colony have adverse effects? The answer is a resounding no. Adding drawn comb is a positive assist.

    Walt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
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    250

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    I realize drawn comb is an assets, especially for a starter colony.

    What I am wondering is if an existing hive that is going into spring expansion wants/needs some space to be drawing new comb?
    If all I give them is empty drawn comb it obviously gives them space to store and raise brood. I also understand that drawn comb allows the bees to spread out and relieves crowding in a way empties or foundation does not.

    But does the colony perceive itself as crowded if there isn't also somewhere for the new bees to draw wax?
    Should I be supplying both, and if so at what ratio?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    The answer to that is also no. In temperate areas (that's us) the overwintered colony does not even have wax-making capability until main flow. However, the colony in swarm preparations generates wax makers to leave with the swarm. The swarm goes nowhere without comb in the establishment phase.
    Walt

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,042

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    i made the mistake of adding foundation in and above the brood nest to a couple of colonies earlier this spring, (did not have any drawn comb to put there). the bees pretty much ignored it.

    the result was that it threw them into swarm mode. i'm guessing because instead of expanding the brood nest, i decreased it.

    the foundationless frames i added at the same time however, were drawn out into drone comb, and are now being backfilled with honey.

    i did have enough drawn comb to checkerboard a couple of colonies, the results are impressive.

    my goal this year is to get as much drawn comb as possible, without feeding syrup.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    657

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Squarepeg, just wondering where exactly the foundationless frames were? On the sides of the frames of foundation? How many?

    Thanks,
    Matthew Davey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    i put them in between drawn comb that the bees were using in the brood chamber, and to the side of the existing brood nest. there was one completely empty frame, and one partially empty frame that had 2" of foundation at the top for a drone trap per randy oliver's design. they drew these before any white wax was visible anywhere else. i put them in the third week in february, and they were drawn out 2-3 weeks later.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    VERY interesting. You just demonstrated what the M. Bush experiment was intended to investigate. By accident, you showed that empty frames in the brood nest get drawn when the colony does not have normal wax making ability. Where MB and I had our differences was he said the bees draw empty frames early in the brood nest, and my experience was that they would not draw foundation in the brood nest prior to new wax of main flow. Really bizarre!!.....Congratulations.

    No wonder MB promotes empty frames over foundation.
    He also concedes he gets a lot of early drone comb by that method. The aberration must be related to their need to rear drones prior to the mating season. Eureka!!
    Walt

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    i have been meaning to get that information posted already for you and mb, but the bees have been keeping me very busy lately.

    i started seeing a little white wax not long after they drew out the empty frames. and they started drawing foundation a little after that. at any rate, for next year, if i don't have any deep drawn comb, i'll put in foundationless frames if needed.

    of course, the weather this year was somewhat unusual. we had quite a few 80 degree days in march. do you think this is why swarm issue is coming after much white was has been already drawn?

    there have been many swarms in my area in the past two weeks. i have had three swarms so far. they came out of overwintered nucs that i didn't have any empy comb to super with. and i am still hearing virgin queens piping in a couple of them.

    i have a lot of honey in the hives already walt. since they are just now swarming, do you think that means a lot of nectar flow yet to come?
    Last edited by squarepeg; 04-22-2012 at 04:58 PM.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
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    250

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Thanks for the replies

    I don't know if this is helpful or relevant to the early wax discussion, but I will throw this out in case it is:

    The colony in my horizontal hive was packed coming out of winter. About 2 weeks ago I put in 3 foundationless frames. One on each edge of the brood nest, and one at the far back among the capped stores. In 5 days they were all 80% drawn with some nectar along the top.

    At the time there were no dandelions here, a few in the sunny spots in the valley 5 miles away. Plums were at popcorn, red maples flowers all dropped. Clearly they were finding something to forage but I don't think our flow has really begun yet. We still don't have many dandelion in the yard. I was astounded at how fast they drew it out....but I am new and surprises come easy!

    It is in part what made me start this thread, I felt I should give them more "space" right away and was wondering if having that kind of unused wax making capacity was a problem without an outlet (empty space)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Well. if it's a problem, ask somebody besides a beekeeper. It's a foreign subject in the beekeeper world. Good observation!!
    Let me get this straight - drawn out in what size cells? All three the same size cells?
    Am unfamiliar with cluster heat distribution in a horizontal rig. Tell me what you know.

    It's not generally recognized that those early sources have ample nectar. The bees feeding on honey have little need for nectar and use those sources primarily for pollen. Your observation throws a new wrinkle in the game.
    Thanks, Walt

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Sq,
    I think the flow length is at the mercy of rainfall. White clover is our major contributor in the late stages. It's shallow-rooted and does not last very long without rain, but keeps blooming where mowed until things dry out. Anybody's guess.
    Walt

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    657

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    I know Walt will cringe at this one. I have started a new thread about a 3 Frame Queen Excluder to place in the brood nest:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...Queen-Excluder

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Hiram, OH
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    I too have been curious about the bees drawing comb in the brood nest prior to producing white wax anywhere else. I have a 2nd year hive that had two foundationless frames at the edge of the brood nest that I had accidentally broken the comb out of during an early spring inspection. Two weeks ago, I noticed that they had started drawing drone comb in the first empty frame adjacent to the brood in the lower deep, but the comb was not anywhere near white, but rather very yellow. Around the same time, I noticed a lot of irregular scraps of wax (not wax scales) on the floor board on the opposite side of the hive. I also noticed that there were a lot of bees in the one medium super above the two deeps that I had "checkerboarded" with alternating frames of capped honey and drawn comb. Those bees were concentrated right above the spot where I found the wax scraps on the floor board, and were not depositing nectar in the super. I still have not seen more than just a few wax scales on the bottom board, indicating to me that they are not yet producing new white wax in earnest. When they are drawing comb with new white wax, I am used to seeing a lot of scales on the floor. Based on those observations, I concluded that those bees in the super were "mining" old wax and were recycling it to draw the frame in the brood nest. Does this sound reasonable?
    “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” – Albert Einstein

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    thanks walt. very dry here right now. foraging has been strong until these last couple of cool and windy days.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
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    250

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Walt, I will tell you what I know....precious little. I just started working with bees last spring. I am well read but that only goes so far.

    Regarding this hive: it is in 1/2 of a horizontal hive. About15 deep frames, brood nest as of spring centered with stores at either end. I believe the frames drawn next to the nest were worker comb size, but I will check to verify. Ext time I am in. The empty in the stores I don't recall. The hive already has drone comb in the broodnest from last year. I did not go in that far so don't know if it store filled or brood filled presently. All the new comb was white.

    When I wondered "if it was a problem" I was referring the consequences of a bunch of bees who are unable to fulfill a function they are primed for. Do the "wax makers" get restless without space to deposit wax or do they just move onto new functions?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,242

    Default Re: "need" to draw wax?

    Ricky Bee,
    Good observation. It would not surprise me if you are 100% correct. Colonies maintain a wax reserve for use when they don't have wax-making capability - we call it burr comb. The reserve is used for capping late winter brood or fashioning drone brood structures in the build up. Old wax is almost always a darker color.

    Have seen the colony try to cap cured nectar at the top of the brood nest, in the early season with old wax. They didn't like the results, and stopped trying to wait for new wax. They definately DO move wax around to apply to higher priority jobs.

    Walt

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