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Thread: Comb Too Old?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Rochester Hills, Michigan
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    23

    Default Comb Too Old?

    Is it possible for comb to become too old or too used for the queen to want to lay in it? I have a number of frames that originally came with nucs. It is apparent that they have been in use for some time as the cells appear almost round and smaller than new comb. With each cycle of brood, the queen seems to lay in progressively smaller random patches while she heavily lays in newer comb. This seems not to matter if I put the old frames in the center of the brood box or to the outer sides. The underlying foundation is black plastic.
    Mike Franks
    Rochester Hills, MI

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    I would replace those old combs. Pesticides build up in the wax over time and old comb should be replaced on a certain frequency.
    Dan Boylan, At it since 2007 in Pa Zone 6B, 13 hives, 7 nucs, treat when needed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Skagit, WA, USA
    Posts
    229

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Yep. I've had the same problem. Comb so black and nasty that came in nucs the queen won't lay in it. Some cells are capped over pollen, some misshapen. I mean, there must have been SOMETHING in it to be included in the nuc, but once it emerged if it was brood, or was consumed, if it held stores, the bees stopped using it. I saved mine for swarm traps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Fort Gay, WV, USA
    Posts
    792

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    mjfranks - If it is the black plastic with raised cell like the Rite Cell from MannLake, just scrape off the old wax with your hive tool, give it a quick wash with some tap water, shake it out, and put in the center of the hive. let them rebuild the wax on it and freshen it up. RiteCell is awesome for that reason alone. If it is the old style plastic core/wax embossing over it, pull it out, and toss as the bees usually won't bother to rebuild on it once the wax is gone.

    Under normal conditions they say to cycle out old comb over i think 5 years. So basically when they put NUC's together in the larger operations they tend to get some older comb in them.

    Hope that helps a little..
    Thomas Bartram - Since 2013, 43 - 8 F langs, 22 Italian & 21 Russian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Rochester Hills, Michigan
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    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Thank you for the replies.
    Mike Franks
    Rochester Hills, MI

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    236

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Same thing here. These were old foundationless and foundation frames that came with the nuc. Get rid of that old crap!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
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    378

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    I cull out old frames like this.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,120

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    >Is it possible for comb to become too old or too used for the queen to want to lay in it?

    I've had 25 year old combs and the queen seemed plenty happy to lay in it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
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    686

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Another beekeeper in my area has 70 year old comb his father used in honey supers and is still in use. I have cut out black comb that was hard as a coffin nail during removals that I put into a frame and its been used as brood comb for the past 3 years with no problems. The only comb I have ever culled was a few foundationless frames that I just couldn't straighten, and even then I just cut out the wavy part and the bees rebuilt it straight.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    I would get ride of the old comb that came from nucs because they use chemicals in the hive. Your own old comb may not be a problem.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Rowayton, CT
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Piggybacking on his very good question: IF there is some capped brood within these old frames do you just sacrifice them?

    My old comb is in the bottom box, I'd love to replace with nice new foundation. Should I just do a few frames at a time or do the whole thing assuming I'm not culling frames that have substantial capped brood.

    Tx!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
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    261

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    I have same issue, lower broodcombs are empty and abandoned, and a otherwise strong hive moves up with brood, and honey.
    My area has more pesticides and they stop using them, or.....?
    acrylic projects picture blog
    http://plasticsjournal.livejournal.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    Quote Originally Posted by gman1001 View Post
    IF there is some capped brood within these old frames do you just sacrifice them?
    I wouldn't. In the north you can just wait until spring and pull the box when it is empty.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    McCleary, WA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Comb Too Old?

    I may be a newbee, but it seems like your queen is giving you your answer. If you want the bees to lay in comb and they aren't laying in it, but are laying in fresh comb, then replace it....if it's not completely empty you could probably wait. If the comb is 100 years old and she's still laying in it, then leave it unless you see some problem emerging (poor bee health, etc.)

    As for chemicals, I understand the issues around frames from hives that have made the pollination circuit and been around orchards, fields, etc. that have had mass amounts of chemical treatment, but I also know that as a backyard beek, not all of my neighbors are as organic and environmentally conscious as I am when they maintain their yards, not to mention the dept. of transportation's annual spraying they do on the highway. That means that I have chemicals coming into my hives too (probably trace amounts of roundup, weed n' feed, DEET, Miracle Gro, car exhaust, cigarette components, industrial pollutants, coal dust, whatever else people put on their lawns and gardens, etc.). Given what transits the planet in dust, etc (we get pollution from Asia here on the US West Coast), unless you're beekeeping on the moon, you're not going to have a "pure" hive.

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