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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Newport News, Va
    Posts
    46

    Default Drone comb management

    How should one manage drone comb throughout the year? Should you remove it from the brood chamber once it has been capped and never return it? Is there ever a time to put it back into the brood chamber to encourage the queen to lay drones? is it ok to use in the honey supers once the flow is on? Should it all be removed for winter? What about in a NUC, can it be used to start a NUC?
    Basically what are peoples management techniques for drone comb.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,392

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    From what I've read, you take the frame of capped drone brood, freeze it over night, scratch the cappings the next day and return it back to the hive for the workers to clean out and let the queen lay in the drone comb again. I have never done it so I can't say this from an experienced point of view.

    I noticed in my hives that the drone comb was filled with stores for winter, so I imagine you could use it in the honey supers.

    As far as putting it in a nuc, I probably wouldn't because you don't want an abundance of drones in a small colony like a nuc, then again I've never put a frame of drone comb in a nuc before either.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,914

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    Drone comb can be used to raise Varroa or draw them from the brood, to raise drones for queen mating, or for honey.
    It is easiest to use two drone frames and alternate which is frozen, thawed and returned to the hive. Two days is much better as Varroa can survive residential freezers overnight. Scratching the frozen drones does not matter since workers remove wax as part of their job description. Occasionally they will remove the cap of queen cells just before emergence.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    The queen doesn't automatically lay eggs in everything, including drone comb. The worker bees direct her, and typically hives will make a big crop of drones for swarm season, keep some around all spring and early summer, then raise a smaller batch in late summer early fall, I suspect for supercedures.

    The rest of the time they use the drone comb for stores. In my hive last year, they drew out quite a bit of drone comb in the foundationless frames I put in, but only raised drones in some of it and put stores in the rest. We will see how things work out this year, as that hive didn't make it.

    The use of drone comb to reduce varroa mites requires that you pull the drone comb while it's capped and kill of the drones by pulling them out or freezing them, then returning the comb to the hive to re-fill. Varroa mites preferentially infest drone cells, so doing this will kill the vast majority of them off in the spring. They won't make drones after a while, so there is no point in pulling it then.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Newport News, Va
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    Should you put one frame in the brood nest starting spring through fall? Or maybe all year round?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    If I get whole frames of newly drawn out drone comb near the center of the brood nest(I go foundationless in the brood nest)I will pull them and put them in the honey supers. I will let them have frames of mostly drone on the furthest two outside frames in the brood nest because they usually put honey and pollen in them anyways.

    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,527

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    i got good drone comb by putting in foundationless frames in early spring, just as they were starting to brood up.

    i culled the ones that had more mites, but left the ones with no mites or just a few mites. my intent was to let the drones from the mite resistant colonies be available for mating.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    How did you know which ones had more/any mites in them?
    Meridith
    I am frequently confused!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,527

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    Quote Originally Posted by MeriB View Post
    How did you know which ones had more/any mites in them?
    i keep a small tweezers with me in my inspection kit. i use it mostly for killing small hive beetles, but also to pull out drone larvae and look for mites.

    so far, i haven't had too much trouble with colonies not thriving or collapsing, and i rarely see a bee with deformed wings. i attribute this to buying bees derived from feral survivor stock.

    for this reason, i have yet to do a proper mite count using an alcohol wash, but i did purchase the double plastic jar to do it with.

    i might actually test a few hives next season, and send the results to randy oliver for his study on treatment free bees.

    i did lose one hive this year, and that was to laying workers. it was in an outyard that i don't get to check often enough.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    We did a whole article on drone management. The only article that drew complimentary comments from editor Kim Flottum. It's archived in POV, this site.
    Walt Wright

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    santa monica, ca
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    We did a whole article on drone management. The only article that drew complimentary comments from editor Kim Flottum. It's archived in POV, this site.
    Walt Wright
    Walt, I'm probably just being stupid (again), but I can't find the article in POV nor with a search of 'drone management'

    Yep, just being stupid. Found it after clicking on your name.
    Last edited by buzz abbott; 11-10-2012 at 05:19 AM. Reason: 'cause I don't know how to delet a post
    Buzz Abbott
    USDA zone 11a, Western Garden zone 24 (75 ft elev. n34.0w118.47)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Benton, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    I am in central Arkansas. I tried drone comb management for varroa mite reduction. I did find it to be somewhat successfull. I put in one frame with drone foundation in it (brood box) in each hive. I did this when the hives started building up good for spring. I think it was late April. May should have put it in sooner. Then I would check back before the time of the drones hatching and if alot of cells were filled would remove. In the middle to late summer. I found that they werent using it for drone production but nectar storage instead. I removed the drone frames for the winter about 1 month ago. This is just my own experience. I was able to hold off the mites for a while longer. I did finally treat with Hopguard, but was able to wait a while longer.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,120

    Default Re: Drone comb management

    If I find a complete frame of drone in the middle of the brood nest I move it to the outside. That's the extent of my management of drone comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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