Pesticides were more "toxic" in years back. But the agents they have now effect the nervous system and the immune system. Then again we also have beekeeper chemicals.
There is much need of honest study in this department and while it is probably not a cause of bee death it can be the cold that leads to the flu that leads to death.
I think bees are designed to have a renewal of comb. How often i dont know. I beleive it depends on the beekeepers enviroment around him and what he uses to treat mites.
Like I said much more accurate data is needed.
I tried to find research on the subject of comb renewal in wild bee colonies and the results were nill.
In my mind, comb will naturally deteriorate with weathering and pest damage. Bees will replace as the comb deteriorates.
As to how often comb should be replaced, it depends on the beekeeper and where the bees are being kept. I'd say every three years, which is around when comb becomes mostly black. Then again, I've seen some robust hives with 20 year+ old comb. It boils down to best management practices in the beekeeper's view, and that varies for everyone. I think queens prefer to lay in new comb as well.
A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius
I cut a bee tree back in about 1976 that had the oldest comb I've ever seen. There is no way I could even begin to guess actual age. The comb was so thick and so hard that I had to use a hatchet to chop it out of the tree. There was evidence that some of the old comb had been chewed out and replaced with newer comb near the bottom edge of the brood nest. I've seen 50 year old combs in colonies and know what a really old comb can look like. The combs in this tree were heavier, thicker, and harder by far than the 50 year old frames.
While that bee tree may have been used for a lot of years, I try to renew my combs about once in 10 years. This year is planned for one complete new brood chamber of frames for each and every colony I have.
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest
I don't have any type of policy regarding comb replacement for my hives but I have, on some occasions, thrown out some frames that looked really unappealing. Probably because I'm on a budget and am short on drawn out frames, but I don't think it's necessary (for me) to replace any comb right now.
I have brood frames in my operation over 60 years old. The only time I change them out is when they get mouse hole (drone paths), or of course when frames brake and I can't fit it. Other then that it's good to go for another year. Always adding in frames to do increase. Noone wants to buy nucs with 60+ year old comb.
Are we allowed to link randy Oliver's work? http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-...tic-miticides/.... I like the idea of
Comb rotation, especially if Coumaphos , fluvalnate. were ever used. I believe that build up of miticides are affecting our drone development and cause sterility. This results in the poor queens people are getting from packages and out of the large breeders. That being said I also see the financial cons to wanting to swap comb out frequently. For the smaller guys that want to do a three year rotation, go for it if it makes you feel like your helping the bees by some
Super beekeeper management technique. Commercially I feel a longer use
Of the comb is needed to maximize your financial inputs. That being said I'm slowly putting the idea into the owners head of a comb rotation and asking to get rid of
Any comb that weighs over 5lbs empty. Hah old Nasty drone comb prolly 40+ years old. Yuk.
I have a pest management plan to cull up to 25% of brood comb every year , even if it is still good , either I will sell it off in nucs or drawn comb to someone who want s it , but I think if you can sell it through nucs it would be a little easier on the pocket book I'm not talking about old crappy dark comb , but decent stuff , I just want to refresh the hives every 4-5 years and that is what I plan to do.
Ben Little <The Little Bee Farm> https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleBeeFarm
Nova Scotia Canada
Here's what Barry Posted on a Drone Cell Thread. Written by Dee Lusby.
2. Beekeepers should be actively culling their drone combs in their hives.
It has been previously demonstrated that Varroa mites prefer drone brood to worker brood for reproduction in the feral population of honey bees. Generally, about 40% pf drone cells are infested, while for workers, the average is close to 10%. (For Tracheal mites the feral average is also about 10% for workers for infestation levels). It has been demonstrated that the larvae food is the stimulant in the bigger cells for attracting Varroa infestation. For many years it was taught to cull drone combs as much as possible, but since the advent of Varroa, this practice has been reversed to the detriment of our hives. Beekeepers should go back to the old way of thinking, as there will always be plenty of drones reared in corners of the frames or in cells that become enlarged by accident. It should always be remembered that the drones do no work physically in the hive, but they do act as the best attractant to pull disease and parasites to themselves so workers can survive throughout the active season. Then, when the honey is in and new queens mated, their jobs done, they are cast out to cleanse the hive of its disease and parasite problems. On a natural system, the few phoretic mites that remain are quickly filtered out through the brood nest by the workers chewing out and/or removing mites from infected larvae cells. This happens during each transition period between summer and winter bees, short or long-lived bees, happening twice each year here in the Arizona desert Southwest. By us culling drone brood frames which are excessive (more than 10%) we therefore limit our infestation and reduce it down using the 40% vs 10% infestation level difference to our own hive management advantage.
Further, by changing out oversized artificial combs in our brood nests (some on the market are as much as 40% oversized) we reduce the attraction for Varroa to enter pseudo-drone cells (worker cells artificially enlarged with more larvae food for mites) and reproduce at higher than natural 10% infestation levels also.