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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased my first 2 hives from a local well known beekeeper. I spent past several days looking over the different boxes(2 deeps,8 mediums,2 shallows) and cleaning up some of them. I noticed in the deep frames that the comb is extremely dark, almost black. Is this a normal color? It does not appear to be mold, but it's just so much darker than the combs in the mediums/shallows. Is this typical for the brood areas? Steve

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Darker comb is the result of multple generations of brood being raised in the same cells. After each larve hatches it leaves behind a cacoon. The nurse bees clean out the cell and polishes it preparing it for the next generation to use the cell. Some say that a queen perfers dark comb to lay eggs in, I don't know my queens have never told me their preferences. If the beekeeper has a good reputation I would say that these combs are ok to use in the brood nest.

[This message has been edited by beekeeper28 (edited March 04, 2004).]
 

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Brood combs rapidly turn from white to brown, dark brown and finally black. This is normal. It's from a combination of cocoons, pollen and bee traffic.

Honey combs turn from white to yellow to light yellowish brown much slower, from the bees walking on them and getting pollen residue on them.
 

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I would definately phase out the dark comb because of diseases. There are foulbrood spores in all hives, but bees won't actually develop a case of foulbrood until the brood cells contain thousands of spores of foulbrood. I think that old comb tends to accumulate these spores over time until they reach that critical level at which the brood can develop foulbrood. You'll never see a hive with new comb get foulbrood, so it's an investment. There are other diseases which old comb harbors as well, I just mentioned one.

I control disease by keeping my comb fresh- I don't have to use chemicals. Bees will build an entire deep of new comb yearly... so why not make them? I don't buy the argument that you're wasting a couple pounds of honey by making them build wax... big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Soooo, do most of you folks take out the foundation when it gets black, and put fresh ones in? I'm sure the ones I have have been treated for diseases, but should I replace them or use this summer? Steve
 

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Apparently the Europeans are big into replacing old comb. I've always kept it around until the mice or the wax moths or something has destroyed it.

It's your choice.

The "replacement" argument is that AFB spores are always in a hive and they accumulate over time in the brood comb and that replacing it is the hygenic thing to do.
 

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This is an age-old question: how long to keep brood combs? On one hand, these combs are valuable in terms of their cost and the investment the bees have in drawing out the foundation. On the other hand, old combs may harbor disease (AFB spores) and contain chemical residues. I know I contain some brood combs that are 30+ years old! I am gradually phasing these out (not easy to do when you are expanding your number of hives). In addition, old combs often become uneven or damaged which results in a lot of drone comb, which is another good reason to phase them out. I am currently trying to get on a schedule where a brood comb would be in a hive a maximum of 10 years. I write on the top bar of every new frame of foundation the date it goes into a hive.

I have also heard from an old beekeeper that bees will winter much better on light brood combs compared to old dark combs. Anybody else heard this or have any experience with this?

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Gregg Stewart
 

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>>You'll never see a hive with new comb get foulbrood,

Not true, the very reason most beekeeper treat for AFB is prevention of outside infection, Your new comb doesnt prevent AFB from flying into your hive.

>>I have also heard from an old beekeeper that bees will winter much better on light brood combs compared to old dark combs. Anybody else heard this or have any experience with this?

I have also read this in the American Bee Journal, of a beekeeper I think in Norht Dakota.? That was his claim. But I have also heard the exact opposite from more than one beekeeper up here. I dont really know. I could never conect dead outs with dark/old comb in my operation. But if we venture into chemical residues, like Coumophose, then I think the answer is very clear.

Ian
 

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I never discarded comb because it was old or dark. I culled comb that was uneven, had too many drone cells, was mouse-bitten or that I had somehow damaged. (Ever drop a hive?)

Bees can and will build new comb when managed to do so, but it costs them valuable time. It is time that counts, not the little bit of honey that it costs to make comb. While they digest and make comb of the l3 or l4 pounds of honey required for a deep they could be filling that deep with 60 pounds of crop.

This is the very reason that Top Bar Hives cannot compete with Langstroths on a bottled honey basis. (Now, if you want to talk about COMB honey----)
Ox
 

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Interesting thread.......

I guess I'll be learning the hard way.

I'm keeping my comb in the hives for this, my coming third year.

I like the idea of it being used for ten years.

I hope.
 
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