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I have quite a few single deep hives mostly from walk away splits. The queens are all great and they are now all in need of expanding. I have zero drawn foundation and once read that crowding bees would make them go into comb drawing mode. If anyone can help with this I wold greatly appreciate it. I would love to get some medium foundation drawn as well for next year. I don't mind feeding but there is a good amount of honey in the deeps that this years splits occupy.
Thanks-Howard
Hampstead, NC
 

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Honey or nectar that is already stored in combs will not motivate bees to build new comb unless there is a good and growing population of young bees and lots of incoming nectar and/or you are feeding copious sugar syrup.
 

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Keep feeding syrup 1-1 seems to keep them making comb.
 

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I am currently feeding one gallon of 2:1 using an inside feeder that holds one gallon of syrup.
I am using Mother Lode caps and ladders.
I have observed the hives consuming the gallon of syrup within 48 hours.
The bees are brooding up and drawing out wax quite well!
Ernie
 

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2:1 syrup is best for Fall storage.

1:1 is better for getting them to build comb. In fact the thinner the better as long as they are still taking it. What you need for comb building is a lot of bees sitting around full of nectar with no place to put it. Their bodies will convert the nectar to wax and begin drawing comb.

Some tips. Young bees are more inclined to build comb. Bees that are older, or diseased are less likely. Swarms build comb twice as fast as others. I think it is because they have a higher proportion of young bees.

I have had hives that seem healthy, but won't build comb. They seem otherwise lethargic. I think when I see hives like this now that they must have Nosema Ceranae.

So one way to get new comb built is to make a new nuc split with a new queen. Put lots and lots of bees in the new box. Let the split sit right next to the mother hive for an hour or so. Many of the older bees will go home, leaving you a higher proportion of young bees in the new split. Don't let the population drop too much, then move them to a new yard and feed them. A new split with a young queen like this is a comb drawing machine.
 

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Heavy syrup does stimulate the bees to make comb.
Every time that I feed the bees a gallon of syrup they draw out about one frame that is a 6 and 1/4" deep for brood or syrup storage!
Ernie
 

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I gave up on trying to get them to draw out extra comb on my hives.

They were new this year. I got them to draw the brood chamber to lay in and to draw and fill their second deep. But when it came to drawing out a third deep so I would have extra stores, they just WON'T do it. I have fed over 50lbs. sugar EACH at various mixes to my two new hives with a miller type feeder and they just won't start drawing the foundation in the third deep.

I have tried plain foundation. I tried enticing them by coating the foundation with plain 1:1 syrup, plain 2:1 syrup, 1:1 syrup with HBH, and 2:1 syrup with HBH. My last try I added a queen exluder below the third deep hoping it would help something, but nothing. They take all they syrup, they are all over it in the feeders. I've fed them 5 two liters a week each and peek daily for progress but see nothing. By the end of the week they will be all out and I'll add more. I've leak tested my feeders and they tested fine. I've done this for the past 2 months with no progress. I check the brood chambers weekly and they are large and going strong. I was worried they were storing down there but they aren't. I've noticed they have torn some wax open in capped frames in the second deep and are eating there as well.

WHAT GIVES!!!???:s

Is the dearth really THAT bad or are they just toying with a new beek!!!???

I thought maybe something was wrong with the boxes or foundation but I did buy it at the same time and place that I bought them all.

So anyway... I officially gave up this weekend. I removed the feeders and the excluder. I left the deeps on in case there is a fall flow. Of course, I'll still check on them weekly to see what they do with their stores and feed again if they get low.

And again, the third deep was NOT for extraction but for late winter feeding if needed.

P.S. I'm still learning...bees will do what they want.

Thanks for any input!

Later, John
 

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John, if you are trying to get them to draw comb above an excluder, that is you r problem. Lose the excluder.
 

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I gave up on trying to get them to draw out extra comb on my hives.

... I've fed them 5 two liters a week each and peek daily for progress but see nothing.

WHAT GIVES!!!???:s

Is the dearth really THAT bad or are they just toying with a new beek!!!???

So anyway... I officially gave up this weekend. I removed the feeders and the excluder.
John--like brac said, remove the excluder. From what I've read, they HATE going thru it unless they have really good reason to. The excluder is for you, not them.

Next, I'd say keep them on feed. I don't know what its like for you, but over here there is NOTHING flowing right now. And I don't know what kind of queen you have, but some of them quit laying if there's nothing to eat, so that won't help your cause. If they have a ton of brood already and the queen dosn't quit laying, they'll eat out all their stores in a month, since raising brood is the most energy-intensive thing they do.

Last of all, leave them alone to do their thing! I've read that every time you open up the hive, you set them back a few days. Peeking every day may not include moving the frames around, but they'll sure notice! Get used to ignoring the hive (except for feeding) and just check on them once a week or once every other week.

(I understand the temptation--I went and got another hive just so I can give each hive some time alone while I play with the other one!)
 

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John, I've tried everything you have (except adding a queen excluder -- that won't work) and the best way I've found to get bees to draw out a new box is to move some drawn comb up into the new box. I usually move up two frames with one or two frames of foundation between them. Pick some comb with larvae or uncapped honey if possible and the bees will keep working the drawn comb to feed the larvae or ripen the honey.

As they're working on the drawn frames, some of them realize that the frames right behind them aren't properly drawn out (!) and they get to work, first on the frames immediately adjacent to the drawn frames, and then out to the edges as normal.

Of course, this doesn't work they don't have a good honey flow (or are being fed syrup) as they won't recognize any need for extra comb. It can also lead the bees to draw out frames asymmetrically as they extend both the drawn comb and the foundation toward each other to hit the bee space. However, I figure a few large frames (that can be shaved back off when uncapping honey each fall) is a small price to pay for getting the bees to draw out comb on demand!

It doesn't ALWAYS work immediately, especially when there's no nectar flow, but I've found it to be MUCH more reliable than spraying the frames with syrup or even reversing the top two boxes.
 

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I just added the excluder this past week. I am using a top feeder so I thought if I added an excluder below the third deep they would have to travel through it to feed (which they did) and then be discouraged to travel back through it and cause them to store in the third (which they didn't). I also made a top feeder out of plexiglass so I could check on them without bothering them. I just lift the lid and I can see right down into the frames...like this...
BTW, they've grown much in population since this photo was taken.

Do you think if I extended your method a bit by mixing the foundation of the third with the comb of the second, that would help? Like every other frame be comb and every other frame be foundation throughout the second and third. Thats not what checkerboarding is, is it?

Thanks again for your help!

Later, John
 

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(I understand the temptation--I went and got another hive just so I can give each hive some time alone while I play with the other one!)
My two are on the same weekly rotation for inspections. From how I read this, I need to get a third hive (or fourth) so I can lessen my individual colony inspections to every other week, but still get out there and do something every week:rolleyes:.
I like it, I like it a lot:D. Tough being new at this and wanting to get in there and "inspect".

FWIW, one of my two nucs is also slow to build comb. Started as the weaker of two and just won't move up after three weeks. The other took two weeks before getting going up there but now they have about 5-6 medium frames of freshly drawn comb. I'm giving them both a break this week and only checking the feeders, I know the queens are in place and laying well so there's really not much to see except the comb building process.
 

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John, checkerboarding is an extreme form of what I suggested (and usually used much earlier in the year to discourage swarming). Just swap one or two frames from the second and third boxes (usually near the middle). Try to pick one with uncapped larvae or uncapped honey.

You COULD swap every other frame, but it wouldn't reduce swarming this late in the year, and it would encourage the bees to draw more of the currently drawn frames way too wide while leaving the current foundation drawn out too little. They don't ALWAYS do this, but it seems to happen more when I swap around frames and violate the bee space they previously set up.

Stripstrike -- as a new beekeeper myself, I don't worry much about over-inspecting my hives. I do try to keep anything invasive (more than a peak under the cover) to just once a week or less, but I'm much more concerned about enjoying my bees and learning about how they work than pumping out a bumper crop of honey.

I personally suspect that just looking under the cover and even lifting out a frame or two has a very minimal effect on the bees. They don't seem to mind while I'm having a look, and I can't imagine the few who notice are running around distraught for hours after seeing my face! That said, I could understand how daily disruption of airflow and darkness in the hive could have a measurable effect on honey production, and certainly the fewer times we pull apart the entire colony, the less time the bees will lose trying to put everything back the way they want it (i.e. burr comb, airflow, adjusting the patterns of brood and honey etc...)

I say inspect away -- if you're learning about your bees and enjoying yourself (and probably not ripping the hive apart daily) you're doing the hobby right, even if you're sacrificing some small amount of honey in the process.
 

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Alright, so I'll try it once more:waiting:. I took off the excluders and moved up a few capped frames with some brood in it from the second to the third and replaced them with foundation. I put the feeders back on and mixed up ANOTHER:eek: 25# bag of sugar @ 1:1. Put half in each feeder. I'm leaving town Thursday and won't be back until Sunday, so I'll be out of their hair so they can do SOMETHING.......and I'll peek at thier progress next week and let you know.

Thanks, John
 
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