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Okay, I need a little advise. In mid May, I purchased and installed a nuc into the used set-up I bought a couple months prior. In my periodic checks, things seem to be going okay, albeit a little slower than I had anticipated. I suspect part of that may be due to the ongoing volume of rain we have had all through May and so far June (I could count on 1 hand the days that we haven’t had some rain since I got them). A week or so ago, I added a second hive-box. In hindsight (and reading more), I suspect that may have been a little premature, as there were still a couple untouched frames on the bottom (I was fearful of them picking up roots and swarming).

This brings me to my question. Some bees have move up to the second box, however they will not touch the plastic frames/foundation that are in there. For what it’s worth, they haven’t touched the two plastic ones down below, either. What I discovered is that they are building comb between the plastic frames (perpendicular to it). I didn’t look to see if there are eggs or honey in this new comb. Likewise, they seem to like to build on the bottom of the existing frames in the bottom box. The ones on there don’t look like queen cells; they are about 3 inches long and definitely have multiple cells with eggs/larvae inside.

My questions: What (if anything) should I do with the upper box and comb? Should it be simply removed completely, or is there away to cut it and attach it to the frames so they begin using them? Is the comb being built on the bottom okay to leave?

I've attempted to attach pictures- without luck. I'm happy to send them individually to anyone who asks.

Any advise would be appreciated!
-Kevin
 

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Hi Kevin,

It's not uncommon for plastic to be drawn slower than wood / wax. Some beekeepers check the plastic frames to make sure that there is a coating of wax on them. The wax over the plastic seems to be more acceptable to the bees. Others spray sugar water on the frames. When I used to use plastic frames I would try that but I personally didn't find it to be better. It won't hurt to try. I've had some frames that the bees just won't touch at all for some reason. Having said all that, remember that if they don't need the extra space, they won't pull wax. That's probably why nothing is going on in your upper box.

As to the comb that they're building between the boxes and between the frames....that's normal. There's probably some brood in there and it might be drone brood. If you think that there's still space to work in the bottom box, it won't hurt to remove the top box and let them fill out before putting it back on. I wouldn't try to save the comb...just scrape it out.
 

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I wouldn't worry too much right now about the extra comb on the bars in the bottom box. You can get rid of that at some point if it causes problems. It usually does that when you reverse boxes and there isn't room for it.

Normally I would agree that you have put the second box on a little early, but you (we) are starting into our heavy flow of the season. If the weather will warm and clear (which it looks like it is going to do), they will draw comb on the plastic foundation. Most of the year you will struggle to get them to draw it with our cool temperatures.

When the blackberry flow is going you might be surprised how fast they will draw that foundation. A month ago I would have said to take it off for a while, but right now I would leave it. Watch for the perpendicular comb and remove it as soon as you see it. Just scrape it off. They will eventually get it right.
 

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Thank you both for the replies. I went in there today and took off the three pieces of comb they were building perpendicular to the frames. They hadn’t put anything in it yet (one cell had a little honey and/or syrup in it but nothing else). Funny thing: they started drawing out one of the plastic frames just since I checked it Saturday! Thanks again…
 
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