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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a pinch I've resorted to using a couple of old brood frames as supers (they're clean--no honey, brood, or pollen), Does anyone anticipate any problems with this? (note: I'm using a queen excluder between the brood chambers and the super to keep the queen "down under".) Are field bees any less inclined to deposit nectar/honey in dark comb?
 

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If I'm extracting, I don't care what the comb looks like, I use it.
 

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You will need that queen excluder ! The queen will DEFINITELY be interested in laying in them. They may be more likely to put pollen in them. The bees will probably be MORE likely to put nectar in them.
 

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You will have to watch out for wax moths in storage. They like the cocoons in the cells in old brood combs.

Other than that, bees seem to like dark combs even better than light combs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The reason I posted this question is because the bees in this hive seem hesitant to "move up"--surprising given the dark comb. Nevertheless, perhaps placing a frame of brood in this super would help? The bee population is thriving, so much so, they are congregating outside the lower brood chamber.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The story continues. . . .

The bee population in this hive is impressive yet the honey production is slow. I have another hive with fewer bees producing twice as much honey.

In a week's time there is only slightly more honey (there is a significant honey flow on). Of the nine frames within the honey super, 6 were fully drawn before adding; 3 have yet to be drawn. They seem very resistant to drawing out comb. The hive is queen right (saw her yesterday) sealed brood in a fairly consistent pattern, lots of recent eggs and developing larva. No swarms cells. Bees look healthy although quite aggressive. This was a colony of bees that took roost in a "bait hive" in my yard two seasons ago. Last year they increased in numbers without any treatments producing about 50 lbs of honey. They overwintered very successfully and have increased their numbers impressively. In fact, in my eight years of keeping bees they have the largest population of bees I've seen to date.

Not sure why drawing comb in the three frames within the super is such a problem and why honey production is so slow? I did notice a few wax moth cocoons on the interior walls of the super--these have been removed. Would this be enough to deter comb and honey production? If so, should I replace the super or will the bees take care of this problem?
 

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The wax moth cocoons were almost certainly there from when the frames were in storage. That is very inconsistent with a strong hive. How did you protect the drawn comb while stored ? Maybe the bees don't like the para ( or whatever you used ). The combs must be aired-out for several days. They will get over it but it will slow them down.

It is a mystery to me why one colony will make honey and one next to it that seems even stronger "does nothing". Colonies have their own personality much like people.

Personally, I wouldn't put up with mean bees. I would requeen with a "bought" queen. For me beekeeping is "for fun" as well as honey. Inspecting mean bees IS NOT FUN ! I have gone completely through my hive several times recently with no veil. None of them even acted aggressive toward me. I go slow and avoid smashing bees ( obviously a hobbist ).
 

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For the newbies reading this I should clarify that requeening will not instantly make mean bees gentle. It is very gradual, over maybe 6 - 8 weeks. I would leave them queenles for several hours. Mean bees can be hard to requeen.

Personally, I do not value "local survivors" if they are mean. Some professional beeks work in the bees all day and think nothing of being stung numerous times. It is just part of the job. They think little of having mean bees. It is just the difference between people.
 

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Bees do not mind filling dark comb with honey. I have two hives that are very dark and almost capped. I am sure you checked the frames real well for small hive beetles. If there is a SHB larvae in the comb they will not touch it. The colony will abandon the hive when it is infested on several frames.
 

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In a pinch I've resorted to using a couple of old brood frames as supers (they're clean--no honey, brood, or pollen), Does anyone anticipate any problems with this? (note: I'm using a queen excluder between the brood chambers and the super to keep the queen "down under".) Are field bees any less inclined to deposit nectar/honey in dark comb?
I just extracted a mix of old dark and new drawn deep frames. The only issue I found was that extracting the dark frames seemed to take longer and from the weight of them after extraction it would appear that it wasn't possible to get everything out unlike the new drawn frames. Possibly the old cocoons onto hold more of the honey? That being said still apeared to average close on 10lbs per frame and a nice light greenish honey with an excellent flavour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No sign of SHB. The frames were stored in our barn--very dry, cold during our Canadian winters. No chemicals.

Given the size of the colony, I'm beginning to wonder if I should just remove the excluder and let them have their way with a third super?

Thoughts?
 

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How long have the combs sat without being in a hive and worked by the bees? If the combs are really dry the bees are more reluctant to use them.

I would remove the excluder until the bees start storing nectar/honey in the super then drive the bees down and place the excluder back on.

Brood combs(empty) are always heavier than honey only frames(empty).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Checked this colony yesterday. One deep super is almost full; a second is 30% full. Wax cappings have yet to come. Still can't figure out why they seem so slow. This appears to be a very strong colony (in terms of numbers and the queen), yet wax production--drawing out comb and capping--has been painfully slow.

Beeslave, the frames have been stored in our barn (very dry and cool) and I haven't used them for three years.

I did remove the queen excluder and this seemed to encourage more bees to move up, yet given their numbers, one would expect more production. While there is moderate honey production, wax production is very poor.

In contrast, I have another hive, about the same number of bees and a productive queen, that is starting to fill a fourth deep super.
 

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One possible explanation is disease. It is possible to have a large population of bees that are feeling under the weather.

If they have nosema, they will grow and hatch fine and you can have a large population of bees, but they don't draw wax well, and they don't make much honey as they don't feel well.

Imagine if you were asked to work hard all day and then come home after the sun goes down and paint the bathroom. When feeling good, you can do it. Now imagine if you had a cold or the flu. You might go to work all day and be less productive there, but when you get home, you are NOT going to paint the bathroom.

My wild guess is they have nosema ceranae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I wondered about a disease of some sort. I am familiar with nosema's tell-tale signs after the winter months but how does one diagnose it at this time of year? The interior of the hive looks clean.
 

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nosema ceranae behaves much differently than the older nosema apis.

Ceranae gets them sick in the summer and not so much dysentary as apis, but they will die off (in late fall or early) winter for sure. Ceranae has been implicated as a major contributing factor in the CCD die offs. It's not the smoking gun they were hoping for, but if you are looking for sick bees, look for ceranae

Do some research. Get them tested if you can.
 

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I hate to tell you this but from everything I have heard and read, you are not supposed to use dark comb because this alters the flavor, color, and quality of your honey. Wax is like a pollutant collector and that old comb most likely has disease and chemicals in it. The chemicals will leak into the honey and cause contanimation. The last thing we need is a recall to destroy the people's correct thinking that honey is a safe, natural and healthy product. Even just a small one can make a bigger impact than we realize. Seems like a lot of people are doing it though. If still unsure, contact your local bee inspector and he'll explain it to you.
 

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I hate to tell you this but from everything I have heard and read, you are not supposed to use dark comb
I have a waver. I will remember this post when I'm looking for something to worry about. I probably wouldn't deliberately use old black brood comb for surplus honey. There is no problem AT ALL with using dark comb. Wavers are EASY to get.
 

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I have a waver. I will remember this post when I'm looking for something to worry about. I probably wouldn't deliberately use old black brood comb for surplus honey. There is no problem AT ALL with using dark comb. Wavers are EASY to get.
Sorry, when I said dark comb I meant comb that has been in the brood chamber, does wax get dark being used anywhere else?:s
 
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