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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Eugene, Or
    Posts
    97

    Default Bees re-use wax?

    Just an interesting observation.....I had always just assumed bees make new wax when they need it but apparently they re-use old wax too.

    I did a cut out and fastened a bunch of the old comb with honey and brood (pretty dark/black) to empty frames in their new home. After a few weeks I went in to clean up the cut rubber bands and to remove some of the funky shaped honey comb I had given them as a snack until they started to bring in their own food. I was surprised to find many portions of the old comb re-attached to the new frames with the same black wax from which it was made...as if the bees chewed and re-applied the dark old stuff instead of creating that new, white wax that Im used to seeing.

    That is all. Just thought it was very interesting and had never seen or heard of it before.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oakland, California, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Bees re-use wax?

    Last August I did more-or-less the same kind of cut-out from a roof in Oakland, Ca. When we moved the bees to our yard we gave them 1:1 syrup or 1:2 syrup so they could build up stores and comb.
    The bees attached the chunks of dark comb to the frames with wax just as dark as the original comb.
    I had expected them to attach the old comb with new, white wax.
    This surprised me too.
    We assumed they had moved wax around rather than making new wax.
    August is a dearth for us. They may just have been parsimonious or cautious about using resources.
    Frames that they drew from scratch had new "white" wax. (we don't use foundation)
    I thought that perhaps the colony was "programmed" to use a lot of propolis in their wax because they needed it for the relatively hot location the old comb came from. This spring those bees have drawn a lot of obviously new comb, but the color isn't quite as white as some other colonies in my yard. They are still raising brood in the old, dark comb.

    We 'mold' veins of wax that hang down about half an inch from the top bar of our frames like foundation starter strips. The bees will sometimes chew these mostly away too, even as they draw comb farther along the same frame.
    (Why do I bother?... )

    Jerry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Default Re: Bees re-use wax?

    They will move some old wax around sometimes, but they will build new wax when conditions are favorable, and ignore old wax or haul it out for trash.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Red bluff, CA USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Bees re-use wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    They will move some old wax around sometimes, but they will build new wax when conditions are favorable, and ignore old wax or haul it out for trash.
    Hi! I'm new here and also new to beekeeping as of this year, YAY! anyway, as I don't know much about all of this, I am simply giving my opinion as an observer.. so, here's the long and short of what I've seen. I am starting my first hive this year, I got some old hives from a friend who has an orchard here in northern California. these hive failed due to the africanised bee infestation 18... yes, 18 years ago. I had decided that I wanted to use the old comb because it was in good condition and from what I have studied about it I had found that bees LOVE old bee stuff! while setting up the hive area the local bees ( not my bees, as I had none at the time) were all over the old hives and from what I saw they were inspecting the old combs and taking chunks of wax away with them which lead me to believe that they might infact use old wax? Maybe? has anyone else witnessed this? Also I would like to add that, I did not end up using the 18 year old comb due to seeing hive beetle larve emerge on a nice warm day before I ever got my bees so I destroyed the combs . I am now going foundationless and plan on being treatment free thanks to michael bush whom has been an inspiration and whom I admire completely!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Default Re: Bees re-use wax?

    Yes, they reuse wax often when it's not warm enough to make new wax, or there isn't a supply of nectar. One obvious clue is when they build new comb and it's darker brown. But having tried to "feed" them cappings, I can say they usually haul those out for trash.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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