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My frames that have raised several generations of bees look very dark and the bees don't appear to like them as much as the new drawn comb for rearing brood.

Do the pros replace foundation when they get this way? If so do you just cut out the old then put in new foundation? Seems silly to buy new wooden frames for the new wax foundation...
 

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If they haven't been subjected to disease.
 

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If the wooden frames are dark and ugly they can be brought back to near new soaking them in a diluted bleach solution. There's a FatBeeMan YouTube video on his simple process and his terrific results. As for foundation, by all means get rid of the old black stuff; you may want to try foundationless also. The bees will fill a frame with beautiful white wax in maybe two weeks or less.
 

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Ditch the dark comb as suggested. Frames can also be soaked in wood bleach which is available at the hardware store. It is oxalic acid. Yup, the same stuff you, "can't buy".
Glad to hear you have dark comb. This means your colonies are being sustained.
 

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I'm going to ask a stupid question. My frames have a wedge bar that I glued, then stapled on to hold the foundation. Do you remove the old wedge bar? How without damaging the frame? Is there a way to put in new foundation or do these frames now go foundationless?

Just curious
 

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You weren't supposed to glue that strip, just tack it on with brads. With a sharp chisel you might be able to remove the old strip; any woodworker can make new strips for you. A wider strip coated with wax can be used as a starter strip for foundationless.
 

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Gluing the wedge was an error, it's gonna be hard to get back out. You can try popping it loose with a chisel, but I'm betting it won't budge intact, and you will need to use either trimmed foundation with cross wires or simply replace the frames you used glue on the wedge. In the future, remember the wedge is just to hold the foundation until the bees draw it out, three small nails is quite enough to do the job. Makes it easy to remove later.

I plan to use brood frames until the bees don't like them, although some people rotated them every 5 years or so. Essentially you pull two brood frames per box every year after five years and replace them with fresh foundation. I'd not worry about the look of the wood, just scrape off any wax and propolis and install new foundation and pop them back in.

In the old days before the advent of persistent pesticides (other than lead arsenate!) brood comb was more or less permanent and could be used for decades. Now that we are flooded with persistent nasty stuff, the bees will eventually reject it due to the pesticide residue accumulation and it needs to be replaced.

Typically bees will use good quality old brood comb before new or foundation, and in will in fact move from a hive with only foundation into a box with drawn, old comb!

When making up new frames, I recommend using TiteBond II or III on everything but the wedge, and drive a nail through the end bar into the solid side of the top bar, this will greatly reduce the number of times you pull a top bar off trying to get a stuck frame out. I make my own stuff now, and make the end bars a full 3/8" rather than the rather scanty 5/16" factory ones (and sometimes they are really thinner than that). I don't consider frames disposable, although other people seem to.

Peter
 

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If you glued them, just cut out the wax but leave about a 2 cell section at the top, they'll draw the rest out good as new. There is nothing wrong with black comb, I don't know why people get so bent on saying it's contaminated etc.. when it's just an assumption without knowing where it's been and how much spraying is going on around your bees.
 

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You weren't supposed to glue that strip, just tack it on with brads. With a sharp chisel you might be able to remove the old strip; any woodworker can make new strips for you. A wider strip coated with wax can be used as a starter strip for foundationless.
Use 1 gal paint stir sticks to make a new wedge strip. You can pick them up FREE from Home Depot or lowes on your next visit. Just ask for four or five and they'll gladly hand them out. Use a razor knife to score and break or score on both sides for a complete cut through.
 

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If you glued them, just cut out the wax but leave about a 2 cell section at the top, they'll draw the rest out good as new.
This is what I've started doing, just remember the wires will be gone so be careful when you inspect, don't turn it over, just lift it up.

I really like the idea of removing the wires because they make it so difficult to cut the old comb out.

I rotate my black comb out, just in case. They probably pick up environmental contaminants along the way.

By the way, I heard if you leave the black comb out in the sun, it will bleach back white eventually. Is this true?
 

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Yes you can certainly replace the foundation in an old frame. This presupposes that it is economically to your advantage to do so. If you have 10 frames - no big deal - clean up the frames as best you can and pop in new foundation. If you use plastic foundation it is a bit easier as you just scrape the old comb off of it - then paint a bit of your own wax on to the now cleaned plastic foundation. It is a bit of a different story if you have 1000 frames to deal with. Unless you have nothing better to do with your time it probably makes sense to use new frames.
 
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