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Hi everyone, I am a new beekeeper, new poster but i've been reading these forums for a few months now.

I was given a hive about a month ago, which was basically left alone for the last 3 years, and has the darkest combs (nearly black) on frames that are dated '96.

The hive occupied 1 deep, with 1 super with a queen excluder. The brood seemed honeybound (6 frames with brood both sides, solid circle 3" diam, honey capped in every other cell). So I added another deep, and moved every other frame up, with new frames in between.

The bees have drawn all of the empty frames, and now there is capped brood across the entire frame.

What is the best (and quickest) way of getting rid of all the black brood comb? The winter flow is well under way, so the bees are drawing comb in the super well.

Can I discourage them from using certain frames for brood?
 

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IMHO, if the comb is in good shape and just dark keep it, there will come a time you'll wish you had some good drawn comb, especially if you're going to use it as brood comb.
I need a whole bunch right now.
 

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--What is the best (and quickest) way of getting rid of all the black brood comb? The winter flow is well under way, so the bees are drawing comb in the super well.

What I do is move all damaged and excess drone comb (as I find them) to the end positions where they will usually be filled with stores. Foundation is added each spring/summer to the center of the broodnest and the end frames removed at this time and extracted.
 

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The bees prefer the dark comb in their brood nest. You can even find dark plastic comb for sale due to this preference of the bees. If it is in good shape, keep it for brood comb but not as supering comb, as it can darken your honey. We have LOTS of comb more than 10 years old, lol.
We keep a pretty tight segregation between honey frames and brood frames, because we medicate when they are down to brood boxes. The bees are treated after the honey is off so as not to contaminate the honey and wax, so unless you are not using any chemicals at all it is best not to extract that old dark possibly contaminated comb for this reason as well. We also figure that what they put in the brood chamber they can keep, we take the surplus in the supers only.
As to replacing, like Joe said, if you can give them a sheet or two at a time in the middle of the box, they are more likely to draw it out nicely than if given an entire box at a time.
And as for how to get rid of the old comb......if they are not in good enough shape to use, we burn them.
Sheri
 

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>The bees prefer the dark comb in their brood nest. You can even find dark plastic comb for sale due to this preference of the bees.

Wunder how the bees tell the COLOR of their brood comb . . . inside a dark hive.


Is black plastic sold so WE can see eggs?

Your bottom hive body, especially if you have three, is a good place to relocate any frame now that you might wish to remove in spring. Bottom hive body is usually empty of bees and honey in spring.
 

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Bees don't necessarily prefer dark comb because of it's color, I don't think. Bees prefer comb that has had brood raised in it which causes the comb to be darker. I'd bet if you interspersed dark plastic foundation with white plastic foundation, you'd find no difference in acceptance.
 

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>I'd bet if you interspersed dark plastic foundation with white plastic foundation, you'd find no difference in acceptance . . .

If you find a "sucker", I'll help raise the pot

Then I'll bet it has something to do w/ smell too.
Maybe we both can make some money
 

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As far as dark comb coloring honey, the problem is not as serious as some people believe. If I was producing honey for show and intent on winning that blue ribbon at the state fair, I'd take it from brand new comb. But honey produced in a frame that has contained brood of several generations will still not be darkened considerably more than honey produced in brand new comb.
 

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>I'll help raise the pot.
>Maybe we both can make some money

Nope, I ain't going to jail. ;)

Edit:
raise the pot? oh, did you mean like a wager?

[ July 26, 2006, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: Dick Allen ]
 

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Ainsof IMHO = In my humble opinion....standard internetese disclaimer.

Dick Allen and Dave W
We all know that given the darkest dirtiest comb and nice clean new comb, they much prefer the dark stuff. I agree it is probably the homey smell that attracts bees to old comb, and that the dark comb is sold for us humans. One of the first times I tried to graft this spring it was off of light comb, wow, is that hard, lol.

As for honey not being darkened, I agree a couple cycles might not hurt too much. And the method of extracting would have a lot to do with it also. I would think crush and strain might considerably darken the honey if the comb was really old and dark. Guessing because se don't do this. We always run new comb seperately from even old supers comb because it is so much more fragile and we run the centrifuge slower ect to start, plus I want that nice white wax. The honey, as is the wax, is noticably lighter than the honey made during the same period on regular supers. I am not talking black versus white, but AM talking a difference which would take honey from the white grades to the amber grades, and would mean the difference of as much as .05 a pound from the wholesale buyers. Granted it doesn't make much difference to someone making a little honey for personal use, gifts and/or small retail sales, but it can make a considerable difference when talking large volumes sold wholesale.
Sheri
 

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It's always easy to take out combs of honey when there's a flow and the bees have some. Just harvest it and (if you don't use chemicals) eat it or feed it back to the bees.

If you want to swap out combs that are full of pollen, again, do it during a flow and they will quickly replace it. If you want to swap out combs that have brood in them, move them above an excluder until they emerge and them remove them. If you have different sized frames an can't do that, then move them to the outside edge of the brood nest and wait until the brood nest starts contracting and pull them out. Spring is the easiest time to find combs empty and pull them.
 
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