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Expediting the Drawing of Comb

2663 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Jon McFadden
Hello All,

The other day I cleaned off my bottom board. It was loaded with shavings of wax, and some pollen. I placed the shavings on the front of the hive (ledge). The next day, all of the wax was gone. I got to thinking, and would like your opinions...what would happen if I put shavings in the same location on a regular basis when I want the bees to be drawing comb? Would this expedite the process? Would it be more effective than providing the syrup?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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In my experience the bees consider it waste. My guess is they cleared off the bottom board to get it out of their way. I've rarely seen them gather propolis from empty boxes or frames and never seen them gather wax.
I have left 50 steel bound used queen excluders out all summer on a flat surface. Bee's are routinely chewing off wax or something and placing it as they would pollen. Perhaps it is hardened honey??

Not sure why or what they are doing but I do not mind them cleaning for me. ;)
The other day I cleaned some bridgecomb out of one of my hives while I was inspecting it. I placed the comb on one of the concrete blocks that my hive sits on meaning to pick it up when I was done with the hive. I forgot it. Yesterday while walking through the apiary I noticed 4 or 5 bees chewing off bits of the wax and placing it in their pollen baskets and taking it away. Over half of the wax had already been taken away. I left the rest for them to clean up, I figured they needed it more than I did.
Maybe I'm not watching close enough, but I leave comb around and they never haul it off that I can tell. I've left cappings out for a year and never seen them haul it off. I've also never seen them put it in pollen baskets. I HAVE seen them gather propolis off of frames and boxes and put THAT in their pollen baskets. When I leave wax out, although the bees do show an interest in it all the time, it never dissapears.
I'm with Michael on this. The bees will reconnoitre wax cappings and cut out burr comb, but I've never seen them pack it off with them.
A couple months ago, after extracting, I put the cappings (on top of a queen excluder) back on top of the hive with an empty super around it for the bees to clean up. I left it on there longer than intended (about 7-10 days) and when I took went back for it I found that the bees had taken that mound of wax and formed this beautiful tunnelled structure of wax. I swear it was Bee Art!
Did you manage to get a photograph?
I rotate my lids (which are pieces of chipboard) so that the burr comb goes up top. When I forget to scrape it right away, I'll have 4 or 5 bees on it the next time I see it, chewing off the wax and placing it on their legs. They'll do that with queen excluders too, as was mentioned. Maybe the reason that some don't see this is because I leave it out in the sun, and when it is warmed by the sun that's when the bees will work it. Maybe others don't leave their equipment in the sun. I have tried grinding up beeswax blocks without much success, however. Maybe I just haven't perfected it yet- come to think of it, I don't think I put it in the sun... anyway, something to work on in the future. I'd rather reuse cleaned wax than make candles out of it.
I leave some of my empty supers in a stack near my front porch. I regularly watch the bees chew off pieces of propolis and wax from burr comb, pack it into their pollen baskets and away they go. I especially note that they don't seem to be mixing their loads, but will gather either one or the other at one time.
Going back to the question of drawing comb, one of the old time ways to accomplish this is to use a boardman feeder.
I personally don't recommend it because of the problems I have had with robbing, however, one of the new guys suggested using a robber screen with the boardman feeder. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it's worth a try. To make it work, a notch is cut in the robber screen and the boardman feeder placed in front of the notch. The only problem I have run into so far is getting the bottom board extended far enough to keep outside bees from coming in through the bottom. I will solve that by extending the landing board.
I make my bottom boards so they can be replaced. They slide in about two inches and this is replaceable.
Drawing comb requires:

a) Nectar coming in (or a feeder with a capacity
sufficient to not go empty on you)

b) Lots of young bees with nothing better to do

c) Warm temperatures

So, you cage the queen and slap a feeder on.
Shortly thereafter, one has no open brood to
feed, and no need for young bees to do anything
OTHER than hang around and make wax.

That said, late summer and fall are just not
as easy a time for comb building as spring
and early-to-mid summer.
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What you say is true. This is what I always believed, too.
I have been told that the boardman feeder will fool the bees into thinking there is a honey flow. I've never experimented with this because of the reason you state, "...sufficient capacity" and the robbing they tend to stimulate.
Anyway, It's something I have never tried before and thought I would see what happens.
I normally use division board and killion feeders.
> boardman feeder will fool the bees into thinking
> there is a honey flow

Any feeder will. Actually, they aren't that
stupid, but if resources become available, no
matter how they are provided, the bees will
exploit the resources. The only trick is
to realize that you want honey, while the
bees want to make more bees.
Again, you are preaching to the choir. I totally agree with what you say.
The person that made this statement is a commercial beekeeper and I would like nothing more than to tell him he is wrong. However, I can't because I've never tried this before and I don't know anyone who has. If you have, you might save me some trouble.
I think his reasoning is that since the in-hive feeders are more like moving stores in the hive, the boardman feeders are more like nectar being brought in. He is referring to stimulating comb drawing in the late summer.
For those who are interested, I have posted pictures of the method I will use to try using the boardman feeder. I had to extend the landing board on my bottom board. I decided to post the adjustable bottom board with the feeder installed.
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