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I've heard many references to extra old black comb on the forum and it made me wonder about it.
I re-used some black comb from last year's dead out in my hives this year. The bees made themselves right at home. Why would someone not use old black comb? There's so much talk of having it laying around and to use it for bait boxes and such, where does it come from? Do people retire comb after so many uses? Do the bees need a fresh foundation every once in a while?

Perhaps this is comb in which has been extracted but I thought that the black stuff is mostly brood comb. Or maybe I'm just small time and those beeks with dozens of hives have old black comb because of losses, splits, and swarms.

Any input here?
 

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The chemical-free beekeepers I know refer to replacing it, "when the frame breaks." By far the biggest contaminants are what beekeepers put into the hive.

Many people do use a 3-5 yr rotation but uncontaminated old brood comb has the good mo-jo. I had a swarm the other day that had splatted in a parking lot. I laid an old frame of it in the splat and the bees abandoned the injured/dying queen and ran to it like kids to an ice cream truck on July afternoon.
 
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