Systematic Comb Renewal
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  1. #1
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    Default Systematic Comb Renewal

    I am intrigued by the systematic method of renewing comb by box as advocated by Abbe Warre, and I hope to explore this management approach in subsequent seasons. My reason for posting is I am curious if anyone has developed a fairly predictable method of moving brood comb up-and-out in areas with relatively short and intense Spring flows?

    In studying this approach, many have cautioned me that colonies will largely ignore an empty box nadired at the bottom of the stack.

    Conversely, I have researched Tim Rowe's Rose Hive method but have been warned against bisecting the brood nest.

    Does anyone have methods/timing that have worked for whole-box comb renewal?

    Thank you in advance for your help/advice.

    Russ- Western Kentucky (Climate Zone 7a)
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Brother Adam recommended against whole box comb renewal but rather a few combs a year.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    ...relatively short and intense Spring flows?

    In studying this approach, many have cautioned me that colonies will largely ignore an empty box nadired at the bottom of the stack.

    Russ- Western Kentucky (Climate Zone 7a)
    Can you define your "short and intense Spring flow" by time frame?

    This is where a localized, brief beekeeping phenological calendar would be great to see.
    For zone 7, you need to be building up your bees immediately now to take advantage of the Spring flow in your area

    My South WI ideas will not work for you - but anyway, in my cold April and possibly cold May bees will not go down into the coldest part of the hive - it just makes not sense; they will go UP, however.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I am intrigued by the systematic method of renewing comb by box [...] In studying this approach, many have cautioned me that colonies will largely ignore an empty box nadired at the bottom of the stack. [..] Does anyone have methods/timing that have worked for whole-box comb renewal?
    From the pen of Roger Delon (indirectly):
    Enlargement: in spring put a box at the bottom with drawn comb.
    With this method, old wax automatically rises in the hive until the moment when remelting arrives. This satisfies the demands of hygiene. The colour of the comb is the deciding factor.

    Expanding the brood to its maximum.
    Three boxes of the stable-climate hive are equal to one 12-frame Dadant brood box. At times, one obtains five boxes of brood. Then one enlarges again, either at the bottom, or in the middle taking into account the climate and local weather, but never on top before the main flow.

    Enlarging by putting a box in the middle is done for a very strong colony during a nectar flow.

    Adding a new box on the top when the main flow starts: at this time there is no longer a risk of cooling the stabilised climate of the colony. A second box is soon necessary underneath the new top box and a little while later it is necessary to harvest the top box so it can be replaced after extraction.

    Stable-Climate Hive – 'Nature's Method': written by Jean-François Dardenne on the basis of articles by Roger Delon, and translated by David Heaf.
    Hope that helps a little ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    Brother Adam recommended against whole box comb renewal but rather a few combs a year.
    ODFrank:

    Thank you for your response. I sincerely appreciate it. Have you developed a comb renewal system/evaluation paradigm over the years that has worked well for you?

    Thank you again. I do appreciate it.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  7. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Can you define your "short and intense Spring flow" by time frame?
    GregV:

    Good point- I used the term 'relative' when comparing our typical flow to what I understand might be expected in temperate European / British Isles conditions.

    Our spring flow typically lasts about 2 months (April - June) but is characterized by a 4-6 week heavy flow (typically) and 2-4 week tapering-off (typically) and then a long dearth starting in July and lasting until September (if we have a Fall flow).

    Part of my rationale for asking the question is I am preparing to checkerboard in the next few weeks and would like to experiment with nadiring at that time if it makes sense to do so.

    Thanks again for the input- I really appreciate it.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Hope that helps a little ...
    LJ
    LJ:

    This does help a lot- thank you for sharing. At the risk of asking a really dumb question, where does the drawn comb come from to add to the bottom? If one is following an 'up-and-out' approach it would seem that your drawn empties will be your oldest comb?

    I am certain I am missing a crucial step in here, so I do appreciate your steering me in the right direction.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Good point- I used the term 'relative' when comparing our typical flow to what I understand might be expected in temperate European / British Isles conditions.

    Our spring flow typically lasts about 2 months (April - June) but is characterized by a 4-6 week heavy flow (typically) and 2-4 week tapering-off (typically) and then a long dearth starting in July and lasting until September (if we have a Fall flow).

    Part of my rationale for asking the question is I am preparing to checkerboard in the next few weeks and would like to experiment with nadiring at that time if it makes sense to do so.

    Thanks again for the input- I really appreciate it.

    Russ
    OK, Russ, I see - this is your main and (possibly) only flow.

    Well, regarding the nadiring - I would not depend on some experimentation to possibly waste my main flow IF you really want the honey harvest.
    IF I have strong enough workforce on hand to actually have a good shot at the main flow harvest AND I want a good harvest - I would do what reliably works.
    What reliably works - supering up (similar to Lang system).

    This is what the Russian keepers do with the compact verticals and do it very successfully.
    From my observation of the blogs/videos, the Russian Warre-like keepers mostly ignore the classic Warre teachings for good reasons - it sounds good but does not produce much.

    According to this source (pages 18-19): https://naturalbeekeeping.ru/lib/safronov2.pdf

    In this system it is possible to practice the methods of abbat Warre. When using the nadir method, the productivity of the hive acheives about 8kg per the colony (one hive body of 25kg once in 2-3 years. This is compatible to a log hive harvest. Adding the hive bodies from above with the queen excluder provides for higher honey harvest per the colony, but creates more stress on the bees.
    If I am after honey, I will ignore the issues of un-quantifiable and debatable "bee stress" and just go for the honey.

    One thing is experimentation with comb replacement and it is fine to do IF this is your priority (the experimentation and observation is a worthy subject to pursue just as is).
    Another thing is to actually harvest some honey for yourself and maybe some extra for currency generation.

    With this, what is your predominant priority - honey or experimentation?
    I am not sure.
    If you see your priorities clearly, that should help you decide.

    PS: this coming year I personally will go for some honey harvest as my priority since I should have enough workforce on hand to expand;
    last year (with only two survivors) I did not even bother trying to get any flows - the expansion and experimentation was the priority - hence, no honey to speak of in 2018 for me
    Last edited by GregV; 02-12-2019 at 08:57 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    LJ:
    ........ where does the drawn comb come from to add to the bottom?
    Russ
    Excellent observation, IMO.

    I understand the classic Warre does NOT have a concept of adding existing drawn comb.
    That is up to the bees to draw all the new combs in the newly added boxes.

    This is a good example, why honey-oriented compact vertical keepers largely ignore the classics - the classics are not very productive and are inflexible.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    With this, what is your predominant priority - honey or experimentation?
    I am not sure.
    If you see your priorities clearly, that should help you decide.
    Great point, GregV.

    This year, my primary goal is increasing apiary numbers. As a secondary goal, I hope to explore swarm mitigation (i.e checkerboarding) and comb renewal (i.e nadiring).

    The only reason I have considered nadiring is for the comb renewal benefit it might confer- if that proves to be vain hope, then I will stay with exclusively top supering and hopefully developing a reasonable means to update comb periodically.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Great point, GregV.

    This year, my primary goal is increasing apiary numbers. As a secondary goal, I hope to explore swarm mitigation (i.e checkerboarding) and comb renewal (i.e nadiring).

    The only reason I have considered nadiring is for the comb renewal benefit it might confer- if that proves to be vain hope, then I will stay with exclusively top supering and hopefully developing a reasonable means to update comb periodically.
    OK, then the honey can be forgone and the focus on expansion.

    I recall you are using Lang system.
    IMO, the Lang system is not an honest "by-the-box" system (unless you are a commercial with heavy equipment OR only using medium 8 boxes).
    Typical 10-frame Langs as sold in the catalogs are really neither here (by the frame) nor there (by the box) for a hobbyist, strange pieces of equipment (IMO).

    Here is a suggestion from a long hive keeper (...me that is ):
    * consider asymmetric entrance OR basic warm way of entrance placement (NOT central/symmetric cold way)
    ***(this is to create sharper gradient within the hive body - near entrance/away from entrance - the central entrances blur this separation)
    * in conjunction with the above, consider the TBH horizontal method of comb management
    ***(you feed the new frames/bars next to the entrance and remove old used combs from the back wall
    * also consider the C&S harvest method - this is what I do as a part of comb rotation - gradually crash older brood combs after having bees load them with honey

    I am saying this non-sense because the frames/boxes in the Lang system are large enough to NOT be managed by the box (unless you want to eventually injure yourself).

    Disclaimer: I am a little guy, hence the opinions.
    Last edited by GregV; 02-12-2019 at 10:04 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I recall you are using Lang system.
    IMO, the Lang system is not an honest "by-the-box" system (unless you are a commercial with heavy equipment OR only using medium 8 boxes).
    GregV:

    You have a good memory- I am running an all 8-frame medium set-up with unlimited broodnest, which is what gets me pining for a suitable "by the box" approach. Your suggestions are interesting and thought-provoking- I had not even considered running a Langstroth hive with frames oriented perpendicular to the entrance- might involve a lot of frame and frame rest modifications?

    As a first step, I might try adding an empty and a drawn empty box to the bottom of two hives respectively to see what happens in my situation. I found this series of videos of the process using empty top bars with a true Warre set-up:

    https://youtu.be/8--57s7-Y2s

    https://youtu.be/TySe8a_MOC0

    https://youtu.be/3W7zfu08A0Y

    Thanks again for all the help and input.

    Have a great afternoon.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    [...] where does the drawn comb come from to add to the bottom? If one is following an 'up-and-out' approach it would seem that your drawn empties will be your oldest comb?
    Hi Russ

    From the same source:
    In the frames of the stable-climate hive, wiring is unnecessary because the surface area is small. Also, for extracting certain honeys in a professional radial extractor, the addition of wire cages, once and for all, is easy and quicker.
    So - as I interpret the 'Delon Method' - it's one of "up and out" with regard to non-extracted combs, and only then if their colour warrants it. Combs used for extracted honey only (together with any other light-coloured combs) are presumably stored when not required, and so form a stock which can be drawn from for expansion purposes in early Spring and for adding temporary 'top boxes' when the main flow commences.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    ....... might involve a lot of frame and frame rest modifications?

    Russ
    Not at all - continue as is.
    But since you are into experimenting can try something like attached.
    AltenativeEntrances.jpg
    The warm way is the easiest way to have bees discriminating frames (brood vs. honey).
    I don't even know anyone tried this way before (the warm way holes on Lang boxes).
    Heck, would be fun to try it.

    I did forget you run 8-frame medium boxes; indeed, some kind of a "by-the-box" scheme should work.
    These are approaching the warre sizing.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    ODFrank:Thank you for your response. I sincerely appreciate it. Have you developed a comb renewal system/evaluation paradigm over the years that has worked well for you?Thank you again. I do appreciate it. Russ
    I used to brand year of 1st service onto all new frames. At one point I melted anything older than 2005 that was not in use. But doing that removed the best bait for swarm traps. And swarms kept moving into the piles of comb to be melted and the piles of frames that had been melted. So I concluded that if the bees loved old combs a much as they do, why am I melting them all down? Videos of swarms moving onto old combs:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvR0ybmcs1A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpEH61fSbWI

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    So I concluded that if the bees loved old combs a much as they do, why am I melting them all down?
    Good point and got me thinking.
    The renewal <> melting.
    The renewal = removing the combs out of general use department and re-purposing them (typically moving into the swarm department).
    I have this big plastic container with tight lid - full of old comb (for traps and such).
    When I was just starting out with literally nothing I was begging people for old combs.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    So - as I interpret the 'Delon Method' - it's one of "up and out" with regard to non-extracted combs, and only then if their colour warrants it. Combs used for extracted honey only (together with any other light-coloured combs) are presumably stored when not required, and so form a stock which can be drawn from for expansion purposes in early Spring and for adding temporary 'top boxes' when the main flow commences.
    LJ:

    Thank you for the feedback. I do appreciate it, and I have printed out the 'Stable-Climate Hive – 'Nature's Method' publication for reading as soon as time allows.

    Your observation of distinguishing between brood and honey comb is am insightful one. I had presumed that the move of brood comb up was to take advantage of bees' preference to store nectar in cells previously occupied by brood. That said, I can see how the approach you describe could work- I am considering trying it on a limited basis this year and see what happens.

    Thanks again for your help and input. Have a great day.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Not at all - continue as is.
    But since you are into experimenting can try something like attached.
    AltenativeEntrances.jpg
    The warm way is the easiest way to have bees discriminating frames (brood vs. honey).
    GregV: I totally forgot about you experimenting with entrance openings and locations- the idea of a new entrance would certainly be easier and I can conceptualize how the warm way orientation would change the use and constitution of each frame. I'll have to deliberate this one a bit more, but the Warre idea of having square boxes affording warm way versus cold way seems ideal from the perspective of overwintering success.

    Thanks for routinely encouraging me to think outside the box- you have a lot of thought-provoking approaches.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    So I concluded that if the bees loved old combs a much as they do, why am I melting them all down?
    ODFrank:

    Those were entertaining (and somewhat sobering) videos- you are the Swarm King.

    So is it safe to conclude that you do not rotate out frames now unless diseased or otherwise exhibiting problems by way of spotty brood pattern, etc.?

    Again, I appreciate your experienced perspective- I've learned a lot by reading through many of your posts here on Beesource.

    Thanks again-

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Systematic Comb Renewal

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    LJ: Thank you for the feedback. I do appreciate it, and I have printed out the 'Stable-Climate Hive – 'Nature's Method' publication for reading as soon as time allows.
    LJ:

    I finished reading this publication and it was interesting- I appreciate you making me aware of it.

    Have a great evening.

    Russ

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