Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    Mercer County, WV, USA
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    Default Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    I'll start by acknowledging I might have made a mistake with the screened board, even with the inspection board in place to keep it dark. But being a new beek, it's what I had and I didn't realize most people don't feel this is the way to go.

    I'd also like to remind those who comment, I posted a couple of weeks ago, that my bees had gone through 13 quarts of 1:1 syrup in a week and I had put another 10 quarts on top without knowing the dangers of this and nearly honey (syrup) locked my queen within weeks of installing the nuc. I followed the advice received and on the next inspection removed the now empty feeder (23 quarts in two weeks) and put on a new upper. I also moved a couple of the outer frames into the upper and put blank wax foundation down in the lower (which they have only started building the one out, the other is still untouched).

    So, I did an inspection today, more to get the entrance reducer out than anything else. The queen was present in the lower super on frame 5.

    I pulled the top super off and set it aside whole.

    I noted a large piece of burr comb (the white) one across two frames and removed it.

    I then started pulling the lower super frames. Each one I pulled had a small and one had some large burr comb nearly connecting it to the bottom board. The larger pieces had larvae in them as you can see in the pictures.

    Again, being new, my question is, is this common? To my simple thinking, the bees built all this burr comb up and started using it while the new upper super was being built out to accommodate the queen continuing to lay. Is that a plausible scenario? Or could it have anything to do with the screened board?

    Any reason for concern with this? The burr definitely didn't look like swarm cells to me, but what do I know, I'm new. I added the baby bee cause she was cute and down on one of the large pieces of burr comb when I got up to the house.
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    I don't know enough to know what I don't know.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Columbia, Maryland, USA
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    186

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Sounds like they just ran out of space and you did not keep up with their expansion demands. Bees will build comb if they have to and with you giving them extra food in addition to the nectar flow that was going on, they simply became desperate for space. If you scrape all of that off and give them a box of foundation (which it sounds like you have already done) they should be fine.
    USDA Hardiness Zone 7A, Hobbyist, First Hives in 2017

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    Mercer County, WV, USA
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    16

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    That's good news. I was hoping that was the case, just a lack of space.

    Yes I have added a second super that has not been built out yet, but they are working on drawing the comb and the two frames I moved up are mostly full of pollen now vice the syrup I moved up there.

    Thankfully we've had rain for the last few weeks and I think they have been using up that syrup since they couldn't get much done outside the hive.
    I don't know enough to know what I don't know.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    1,240

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    It looks to me like they were building comb to raise drones. I often see drone comb built wherever they can find a place to put it, since I don't give them any. It is often hung off the bottom of the frames in the bottom brood box (not a 'super') but sometimes it will be between the upper and lower brood boxes.

    I'll start by acknowledging I might have made a mistake with the screened board, even with the inspection board in place to keep it dark. But being a new beek, it's what I had and I didn't realize most people don't feel this is the way to go.
    Some people don't think it's the way to go. And some others, like myself, *do* think it's the way to go.

    I use them in the Summer, and swap them out for solid bottoms when Winter is on its way. It works for *me*, and that's all that matters. I'm willing to do the extra work involved.

    You have to do what works for *you*.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Mercer County, WV, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Thank you for correcting my terminology. I'll get it down at some point.

    How do you go about preventing drone cells from being built? I didn't know that was a possibility.

    What you're doing with the bottoms is what I expect to do this winter. It is typically pretty cold in my area so I figured I'd need to put in solids at the end of summer. It does seem like more work, but I'm hoping it will pay off with happier bees. (now, how to quantify happier bees...)
    I don't know enough to know what I don't know.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    2,617

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Totally normal. They will build drone comb and bridge comb wherever and whenever they want. I remove it because it causes issues keeping frames together and not attaching to lower ones. I use a screened above a solid bottom board suggested by member Enjambres. Best of both worlds. I can monitor the tray all year,close it tight in the winter and open on hot days. J

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Quote Originally Posted by atimberwolf View Post
    Thank you for correcting my terminology. I'll get it down at some point.
    Ya, it just helps avoid confusion. When you say 'super' (means 'above') a lot of us are going to think that you are talking about a medium or short box that goes above the brood boxes to collect honey that we intend to harvest. Sometimes, if a queen excluder is not used, we do occasionally end up with brood in a super.

    How do you go about preventing drone cells from being built? I didn't know that was a possibility.
    I tear out anything built between boxes, or between a box and the inner cover. Drone comb hanging off the bottom of the frames in the bottom brood box, I leave there because I usually try to raise my own queens so I have a need for drones. You could try putting in an actual drone frame- I don't know for sure if it will prevent them from building drone cells elsewhere. If you do try using drone frames, just remember that mites *prefer* drone frames, the larger cells allows them to raise more young in each cell. (Some people use the drone frames for that reason, but they have to make sure to stay on cycle to pull the drone frames out and kill them.)

    What you're doing with the bottoms is what I expect to do this winter. It is typically pretty cold in my area so I figured I'd need to put in solids at the end of summer. It does seem like more work, but I'm hoping it will pay off with happier bees. (now, how to quantify happier bees...)
    Happy bees don't sting. Angry bees will. You can see this in action by trying to get a top deep back on a bottom deep that is overflowing with bees, and killing a hundred or so in the process. Then walk by the hive 30 minutes later, without a suit on- they will for sure let you know that they aren't happy.
    Last edited by BadBeeKeeper; 05-29-2020 at 04:23 PM. Reason: fix quote tags
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Mercer County, WV, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Fivej,
    That's an interesting idea. I need to read up on that. I see your up in the NE. Have you overwintered that way?
    I don't know enough to know what I don't know.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Mercer County, WV, USA
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    16

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    BadBeeK,
    I had read somewhere that some people raise drone frames and then remove them to help control mites. I wondered about doing that myself, but I still travel for work so I worried I would wind up missing a cycle and then I've created more mites not less. Unfortunately that isn't a route I can take for a couple more years.
    Guessing that was the voice of experience. Thus far, I haven't managed to anger them to that level. I've killed a couple in between boxes and the tops somehow. I try to slide the tops and then lower the remaining edge, but somehow I still killed them. I also had one sting my leather gloves and worried that would encourage others to go the same route, but that thankfully didn't happen.
    I don't know enough to know what I don't know.

  11. #10
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    Jan 2015
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    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Yep, sometimes, no matter how careful you might try to be, somebody somewhere gets squished.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    5,220

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Quote Originally Posted by BadBeeKeeper View Post
    Yep, sometimes, no matter how careful you might try to be, somebody somewhere gets squished.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    Someone told me recently that if hive entrances are in a north/south orientation bees will build more burr comb. I am pretty skeptical, They stated that as soon as they turned them East/West the burr comb mostly ceased.

    Any thoughts on this? (I haven't noticed any correlation and see burr comb in both orientations.)

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    5,220

    Default Re: Hive Inspection - Questions about burr comb and bottom board (Screened)

    My hives are arranged in a square pattern, generally aligned magnetic east/west, north/south. Magnetic deviation is 10 degrees W. I have never noticed more burr comb in the north/south facing hives. Perhaps your friend turned his hives right after the swarm urge had passed and incorrectly attributed the cause of the decrease in burr comb?
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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