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I realize there are reasons for the bees to make drone comb, but is there ways to minimize their tendency to build a portion of each comb as drone cells.

If I cut it out while flow is one, will they just make more.

If I place one of the plastic drone foundation in, will that concentrate the drone building in one location and minimize it elsewhere.

Thanks
 

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Yep... they'll make more anywhere they can if the drone population is below the 5-15% of total population that they want in the hive.

Drawing more comb will cost you more honey than the drones will eat if you leave things alone, IMO.

BTW...In hives where I've left some frames foundationless and they put drone comb, I don't get burr comb on the frames btw boxes as some do.
I suspect the motivation for putting the burr comb there is that it is the most convenient place they have to put drone celss in an attempt to establish the drone population mentioned above.

That was in NY.. we'll see if it turns out the sem here in western Washington now that I've moved.
 

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If you cut out the drone comb as Beregondo has said, they will just make more. Putting in a plastic drone frame may keep them from putting so much in other places. When they can't find a frame to make drone comb in, they put it between frames, on sidewalls, even off the tops of feeders, etc. Trying to minimize the drones only make the hive UNHAPPY.. lol.
 

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If you use a dedicated drone comb frame it does limit the amount of drone cells made in other areas. If you place one or two drawn drone comb frames in a new colony when the foundations are added, the bees almost always draw worker sized cells. The dedicated frames may be left in the new colonies after they have drawn their comb, or they can be removed, stored and use again when hiving other swarms.
 

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I put a couple foundationless frames in my new hive two years ago, and they have faithfully drawn out two entire medium frames of drone comb, pretty much top to bottom and side to side. Raised up a nice crop of them, and there is very little drone comb in my brood comb in that hive, and none between boxes this year. Works like a charm.

They have filled it with honey and started to cap it, which is fine by me. I suspect they will use it again to make another nice crop next year, and leave the brood comb area alone.

I don't have decades of experience, but I suspect attempting to restrict drone production in the spring is just going to cause trouble.

Peter
 

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>I realize there are reasons for the bees to make drone comb, but is there ways to minimize their tendency to build a portion of each comb as drone cells.

The total amount of drone comb in a hive is a threshold the bees are trying to reach.

>If I cut it out while flow is one, will they just make more.

It depends on their current need for drones, but probably.

>If I place one of the plastic drone foundation in, will that concentrate the drone building in one location and minimize it elsewhere.

Yes.
 

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Newbie here, but my experience the first three seasons: the bees drew foundationless much faster than a dedicated Pierco drone frame. The result is the same, they were just a LOT faster at the foundationless.
 

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Do not "minimise drone comb building".
If the bees want to build them, let them build them. They have been bees much longer than you have :)
Drones are also essential for rapid genetic responses to threats such as environmental changes, diseases, even varroa. Worker bee genetics is far too multiple factorial, queens live too long. Drones are produced through parthenogenesis (one set of chromosomes) and live for a session. Anything the Drone cannot tolerate will stop OR reduce its mating. Strong Drones survive and pass those genetics onto the next generation. Come on the Boys! :)
 

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Foundationless frames and or drone comb (plastic) are the keys to controlling burr comb and patches of drone in the worker brood. The bees are going to make drones in the spring no matter what you do, but if you give them a proper location to make them, they are happy and you won't have so much mess to manage, nor will you end up having to toss out perfectly good worker comb in the brood nest because it has become half drone. I have two medium frames in my large hive, plus to more partials (not drawn all the way as of yet) and they were solid drone this year, several rounds I think. Last ones emerging this week, and last time I looked most of the drone comb was getting filled with honey.

In the wild, I suspect most hives have much more drone comb than we would want.

Peter
 

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I added green drone frames to a few colonies 2 years ago, those have not drawn out any drone comb other than whats on the drone frame.
 

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One of my hives had a (seemingly) massive amount of drone cells in the spring. I considered culling them to help with varroa but I left them thinking that I would let them do as they pleased. Now I have a big varroa problem with that hive - mite fall count yesterday was 50+ for 24 hour period.

@AugustC - How do you know "Drones are also essential for rapid genetic responses to threats such as environmental changes, diseases, even varroa?"
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I added green drone frames to a few colonies 2 years ago, those have not drawn out any drone comb other than whats on the drone frame.
Heehee - That is what I was wondering. I have been running foundationless and I am a newbie, so I have no extra comb. So when they build up a third or more of frame with comb that is drone cells, it makes the next comb being built crooked. And then the next is worst, then they are making split comb on a single frame. ANd I am having to chop it out and fix it.
 

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One of my hives had a (seemingly) massive amount of drone cells in the spring. I considered culling them to help with varroa but I left them thinking that I would let them do as they pleased. Now I have a big varroa problem with that hive - mite fall count yesterday was 50+ for 24 hour period.

@AugustC - How do you know "Drones are also essential for rapid genetic responses to threats such as environmental changes, diseases, even varroa?"
Seems like fairly obvious genetic conservation across generations.
Genetics are only conserved and perpetuated at the point of reproduction.
A change occurs in a system!
1) The individual survives to reproduce and passes on its genetics to the next generation OR the individual dies and doesn't.
2) A group of individuals have an advantage over another group of individuals so out-reproduce the other group cornering resources and removing all but a few of the other group.

Varroa I think have a lifecycle of about 10 days. That means every 10 days a new generation of varroa are born. Every 10 days the varroa population have the opportunity to respond to the selection pressures exerted on the hive.
Removing drone comb from a hive removes the varroa that prefer drone comb thus reducing the stress on varroa that prefer worker comb and making it easier for them to proliferate.
Restricting drone comb building places a direct selection pressure on the varroa selecting for those that prefer work brood. Which "may" replicate at a slower rate due to worker lifecycle but will ultimately increase in numbers.

Queen bees live for 3-5 years. The genetics of worker bees are multi-factorial. They have the queens genetics along with the genetics of any one of perhaps 17 different drones. It may be that some of these super-sisters have traits that provide varroa resistance but at hobbyist level it would be very difficult to identify select for them. Drones are pure offspring from the queen. They are haploid so have only half the number of chromosomes of the queen and workers. Drones which display traits which allow them to survive to sexual maturity and mate will pass on those traits. Those which do not suit the hive "environment" will not survive to mate, or will survive in lower numbers. Since the drone only lasts for a single session the colony has an opportunity each year to pass on the genetics which best (or at least sufficiently) match their requirements as a colony. The genetics of the colony don't change until a new queen takes over at which point she will be mated with local drones.

I don't KNOW any of this it is admittedly purely conjecture, but conjecture based on a number of years of scientific study in genetics and drug resistance.
Plus we make this massive assumption that drones are nothing but a hindrance to a hive but we don't really know whether they play an important role in hive dynamics. They would not have developed to the size they are unless that size provided some advantage, it may be that advantage is in their ability to catch the queen during mating but who knows. I do know that bees have been being bees for ~70 million years and they have a better idea as to whether they need drones or not.
 
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