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Damage / chewing on comb - not sure what's causing it - maybe wasps?

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I'm a first-year beekeeper. I have an 8-frame Langstroth Flow Hive with (2) deep brood boxes, I’m located in lower NY state / Hudson Valley area.

On September 30th I started seeing piles of what look like uncapping debris on the bottom board inspection tray. The debris is dark in color, has a fine texture and aligns with the frame direction.

I did an inspection this past weekend and found large areas on the center (5) frames (both sides of frame) in the lower brood box had been chewed all the way down to the foundation. It seems to only be in areas of the frames that had brood, the outer frames with only honey/nectar/pollen and the areas on the chewed frames with capped honey / nectar are untouched and none of the frames in the upper brood box (currently loaded with capped honey / nectar) have been affected.

I thought it might be a mouse, but then I noticed that one of the frames is a wax & wire foundation not plastic. If it were a mouse, I would have thought it would have chewed right through the wax foundation, instead there is a very definite outline of each cell remaining in the areas where the chewing has taken place on that wax foundation. There is also no other evidence of mice (i.e. droppings, nest material, chewing on frames / boxes) - so I don't think this is being caused by a mouse. I had the Flow Hive entrance reducer installed starting Sept 30th.

In response to this same questions, it was suggested by Fred Dunn that this might be wasp attack damage with the wasps entering / exiting the hive early in the morning before the cluster descends into the lower box. This makes a lot of sense to me (and I very much respect and appreciate Fred's considered insight) but I would have thought that at some point the bees and wasps would have interacted and had a "war" to some degree.

Over the course of 3-weeks that I have been constantly seeing this damage I have not seen any dead wasps on the bottom board or in front of the hive so I am wondering if this could be something else.

I installed a slatted rack on Sept 18th - not sure it's important but figured I'd mention it in case there's some significance.

This hive has been very healthy all season and is currently queen right, with a good population of bees and loaded with resources for the winter (fingers crossed).

Is it possible that the bees are chewing the comb down for some reason, maybe hygienic behavior?

Any other thoughts on what is causing this?

I haven't been able to find any other visuals online showing what wasp damage to comb looks like - if someone could share that I would really appreciate it!

Thanks in advance for any insights or advice!!

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interesting. You say " It seems to only be in areas of the frames that had brood " so these areas that are now not fully drawn at one point were fully drawn? only thing I ever had that looked like that was a shrew that got in during the winter. other than that not really sure
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
interesting. You say " It seems to only be in areas of the frames that had brood " so these areas that are now not fully drawn at one point were fully drawn? only thing I ever had that looked like that was a shrew that got in during the winter. other than that not really sure
thanks for your input! yes, those frames were fully drawn out. some of them came with the nuc that I got in May this year and some of them were new frames with wax & wire or plastic foundation (no comb) that I installed in May. I would think if it was a rodent there would be other evidence (droppings, nest material, etc...) which there wasn't. thanks again for you thoughts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The brood cells simply reached the stage when the bees decided - these cells are too old. Time to rebuild.

Pay attention to the cell wall thickness.

View attachment 71588
@GregB Thanks for your reply! Some of the frames came with the Nuc that I installed this year in May and were old to begin with (not sure how old), but some of the frames where new frames that were installed without any drawn comb - both wax & wire and plastic foundation. It makes a lot of sense for the old comb, but why the new comb?
 

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Some of your frames have a bend in the foundation so there is too small a distance from one comb to the other in some spots. So to raise brood on one of the combs the bees have to cut the cells down on the opposing surface.

This can be resolved by slightly increasing the gap between the affected combs, although at this time of year the bees may not rebuild the other comb.

The ultimate fix is to determine which combs have the bend and replace them, but bear in mind the combs that are cut down may not be the ones with the bend, it could be the opposing one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Some of your frames have a bend in the foundation so there is too small a distance from one comb to the other in some spots. So to raise brood on one of the combs the bees have to cut the cells down on the opposing surface.

This can be resolved by slightly increasing the gap between the affected combs, although at this time of year the bees may not rebuild the other comb.

The ultimate fix is to determine which combs have the bend and replace them, but bear in mind the combs that are cut down may not be the ones with the bend, it could be the opposing one.
@Oldtimer Thanks for your reply! I'll have to take a look at that next spring as I don't think I'll be back into the hive this Fall. It seemed like the areas of cut down cells were on frames that were adjacent to each other and on sides facing each other so they were cutting down both at the same time, not cutting down one side and leaving the other.
 

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@Oldtimer Thanks for your reply! I'll have to take a look at that next spring as I don't think I'll be back into the hive this Fall. It seemed like the areas of cut down cells were on frames that were adjacent to each other and on sides facing each other so they were cutting down both at the same time, not cutting down one side and leaving the other.
when I have seen this is was mice.
take care to have mouse garding device for winter.
I have some fairly old comb and rarely see the "renewal" described here.
always have a few with mouse damage.

good luck with winter.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Your debris tray looks like mouse damage. Or possibly robbing.
Reduce entrance and mouse guard.

I see a noticeable lack of stores.You will need aprox 50 lbs or more in the Hudson valley.Get feed on now!
@Jack grim Thanks! Top deep box has all 8-frames full of capped honey and some nectar. I was going to add fondant on top for emergency late winter feed just in case. I'm more worried about the lost pollen stores that were in these bottom box frames that have been chewed down and not having enough pollen for Feb/March start up prior to bees being able to forage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
On another note, where did you purchase that Bottom board with a tray that can hold oil from? It is solid under the tray?
@fieldsofnaturalhoney The yellow tray is the removable screen bottom board inspection tray that comes with the Flow Hive 2+. The image with the metal screen is the bottom board of the Flow Hive 2+ that the yellow inspection tray sits below.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@Jack grim Thanks! Top deep box has all 8-frames full of capped honey and some nectar. I was going to add fondant on top for emergency late winter feed just in case. I'm more worried about the lost pollen stores that were in these bottom box frames that have been chewed down and not having enough pollen for Feb/March start up prior to bees being able to forage.
@Jack Grimshaw - tagged the wrong name!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have some empty Bettercomb (drawn comb) frames that I could replace / relocate the chewed out frames with - the queen is still laying eggs on the chewed out frames so my thinking is give more space now for brood and food stores. Since the chewed out frames are so empty is this a case of “how much worse could it be”? Or is it too late / too risky to do at this point?
 

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the combs in the pics have stores and brood in them.
not sure I would replace them.
I did not see nectar in the frames shown, maybe feed some thin syrup

here is is slow down time for brood, so forcing them to make brood may be out of season, someone closer to you should advise.

I do not see that the damaged comb needs to be replaced.

GG
 

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I have some empty Bettercomb (drawn comb) frames that I could replace / relocate the chewed out frames with - the queen is still laying eggs on the chewed out frames so my thinking is give more space now for brood and food stores. Since the chewed out frames are so empty is this a case of “how much worse could it be”? Or is it too late / too risky to do at this point?
Hopefully you got the bees to take some pollen sub; youmight get away with adding one drawn frame if you can not taking any brood, if you got the feed on and they are taking the
pollen sub. Ask someone in the Catskill .mountain Bee Club or call Hudson Valley Bee Supply in Kingston.
I am in western Catskills, and doing something similar with fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hopefully you got the bees to take some pollen sub; youmight get away with adding one drawn frame if you can not taking any brood, if you got the feed on and they are taking the
pollen sub. Ask someone in the Catskill .mountain Bee Club or call Hudson Valley Bee Supply in Kingston.
I am in western Catskills, and doing something similar with fingers crossed.
They are still bringing in natural pollen and I just put out some pollen sub today. I still have 2:1 feed on which they are taking slowly. I haven’t seen debris on the bottom board inspection tray in the last 4 days so that’s a good sign at least.
 

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They are still bringing in natural pollen and I just put out some pollen sub today. I still have 2:1 feed on which they are taking slowly. I haven’t seen debris on the bottom board inspection tray in the last 4 days so that’s a good sign at least.
Yes, so just add the days to emerging you should be good.
 

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Bees seldom chew out old brood comb because it is a lot of work. I don't see any tell tale signs, but sometimes it's wax moth damage. Lesser wax moths don't leave as much noticeable frass as greater wax moths and the bees will chew out the comb to get rid of them. Whatever the cause the bees had a reason to chew it out or they would not have bothered.
 
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