Girls won't draw comb
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Morgantown, WV
    Posts
    16

    Default Girls won't draw comb

    The bees in my overwintered hive will not draw out the plastic foundation I've given them.

    Last year was my first year beekeeping and I made the mistake of stacking my boxes in my garage after they had been on the hives for a brief period and I ended up with a terrible wax moth infestation. I scrubbed the frames, picked out all the wax moth larvae and left the boxes on my porch where the bees eventually found them and cleaned them up. I'm just wondering if the wax moths and the bees stripped the foundation of the wax that was put on at the factory and this is why the bees won't work it.

    Although last year, before the infestation, they didn't do anything to the foundation either. I attributed this to the hives being new. I've ordered new foundation from Mann-Lake and plan to replace the foundation in the frames as soon as it arrives but I'm at a loss at what to do and I'm losing precious honey production not to mention the threat of swarming.

    Any ideas as to what might be going on?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,273

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    some bees are picky that way. i've seen it with some of my colonies more so than other colonies.

    if they swarmed they will be less motivated to draw comb.

    melting clean wax from a known source and painting the plastic foundation helps in just about all cases.

    the flow has to be very strong here for new comb building on plastic foundation even with melted wax painted on. we get just over a month of that kind of flow here in northeast alabama. it's from late april to early june, basically during peak swarm season.

    but even if they won't build it out, the bees will take the painted on wax and start the beginning of cells by fashioning the painted on wax with their mandibles. if there's a good enough flow, they will add on to that pretty quick. if they don't there's not enough flow.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Morgantown, WV
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    I painted wax rendered from burr comb on them last Saturday. We've had a nice flow here in WV since late March. Lots of Black Locust in bloom the last several weeks.

    I may have to split to avert a swarm b/c they're going to run out of room and I've removed a couple uncapped queen cells with larvae in them. If they swarm, it will be the fourth new queen in that hive in a year. Although I should requeen anyway. It's a very aggressive hive.

    Thanks for the info.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,273

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    if they still have swarm ambition they won't get too busy drawing new wax until either they swarm or decide not too. that's when colony operations tend to shift away from brooding up to swarming strength over to getting a decent surplus of honey put up.

    if you split them and the flow continues for a while, the queenright split will likely start drawing comb pretty quick.

    a queenless split left to requeen themselves might not draw much new comb until they get queenright again and by that time the flow may be waning.

    introducing a mated queen to a queenless split is a good idea if you are trying to get comb drawn.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,273

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    if more aggressive than you prefer i would consider pinching the queen, splitting them in two, and getting 2 new queens coming from stock with better temperament.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    958

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    ive had good luck by bringing up a frame of brood from the box below into the new box of foundation and putting that box on top of the existing hive. i then give them a gallon or two of syrup and a pollen patty and they seem to draw out the box relatively quickly.
    Because i have a couple hundred or more frames of built comb now this year im checkerboarding the undrawn super with built comb and they are building out the foundations in between rapidly. Again im feeding syrup. Im trying to get 35 medium supers of foundation drawn and an additional 200 frames of deep foundation drawn this year. Unlikely it will all be done by the time the honey flow hits but at least some will be. Goal is to have enough drawn boxes that 2020 i can maximize the honey flow.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    958

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    another option is a fly back split where you put the queen and the 1 frame of brood she is on in a hive in the same location as the old hive and give her all new foundation apart from that 1 brood frame. Move the remainder of the main hive a couple feet or more away.
    Give the queen right portion syrup and pollen patty and they will draw out that box real quick.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,135

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    There has to be a reason for them to "make space" in the colony which is usually space to lay and / or space to store food. If they have space and don't perceive a need for more, they won't necessarily make comb. You're right in that plastic is very often a problem for the bees and they often prefer real foundation. As mentioned, a coating or rubbing of good wax sometimes does the trick although when I used to use plastic I would sometimes get a frame or two that they really had a hard time with and would take forever to draw out even when I put it where they kinda had to work with it. All that said, if they need space they'll pull wax and even with plastic they'll make that comb.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    ive had good luck by bringing up a frame of brood from the box below into the new box of foundation and putting that box on top of the existing hive. i then give them a gallon or two of syrup and a pollen patty and they seem to draw out the box relatively quickly.
    Because i have a couple hundred or more frames of built comb now this year im checkerboarding the undrawn super with built comb and they are building out the foundations in between rapidly. Again im feeding syrup. Im trying to get 35 medium supers of foundation drawn and an additional 200 frames of deep foundation drawn this year. Unlikely it will all be done by the time the honey flow hits but at least some will be. Goal is to have enough drawn boxes that 2020 i can maximize the honey flow.
    Also replace that brood frame you moved up with one of your undrawn frames. I'm having success getting frames drawn quickly by inserting them into the brood nest.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bergen County, NJ
    Posts
    907

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    Depends on your goals, but I have had great success with Lauri method of "refreshing spring hives"....

    As soon as I did the method, bees get into high gear and build comb like no tomorrow. Ofcourse timing and resources (feed or nectar) need to be appropriate.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...41#post1204941

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    958

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    Quote Originally Posted by Greeny View Post
    Also replace that brood frame you moved up with one of your undrawn frames. I'm having success getting frames drawn quickly by inserting them into the brood nest.
    yes exactly a new foundation goes in the place of the brood comb you moved up.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    958

    Default Re: Girls won't draw comb

    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyNJ View Post
    Depends on your goals, but I have had great success with Lauri method of "refreshing spring hives"....

    As soon as I did the method, bees get into high gear and build comb like no tomorrow. Ofcourse timing and resources (feed or nectar) need to be appropriate.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...41#post1204941
    yes this is the fly back split i was referring to. And i agree wholeheartedly with you this REALLY works for getting comb drawn provided you feed adequately.

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