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New comb is all drones

1647 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jpm
Thank you, Beesource, for your mere existence!

First year, one hive, Italians.

Two weeks ago I added a second deep hive, alternating its foundationless frames with foundationed frames from the first deep. Bees are building great, straight comb. The queen has been an amazing egg-layer, filling up the foundationed frames in short order with just a few drone lining the bottoms.

Today, on my inspection, I noticed that all of the fresh new comb has been filled with drone brood--the cell size is noticeably bigger. I only checked four of the ten foundationless, but they were uniformly drone. Other than that, I have a textbook healthy hive.

Should I be concerned with this?

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Are you sure it is drone? They could be making honey comb also.

I would not be too concerned. If your queen is healthy and still laying you will be fine. The first sign that the girls are not happy are supercede cells.

My hives have drone on the outer frames in the brood and super boxes.
I don't do foundationless frames myself - but I believe I have heard that often times the bees will go on a drone building binge before they settle down and draw the comb we expect them to. So no, as long as you still have you brood factory churning away in the bottom box I wouldn't worry. You might move the drone frames to the outside positions {just think, I paid good money to buy plastic drone frames which the bees thus far haven't drawn out, while your girls built you some for free!)
Bees will often draw al ot of drone cells when first given foundationless frames. Move it off to the side of the box as you add more frames. They fill it with honey and usually start drawing worker brood comb. Also, when they draw comb for honey storage, it is usually drone or larger cells, if they are allowed to draw what they want.

This is what happens when bees are given the opportunity to build what they want when you go foundationless, its totally normal. What we want them to do, and what they want are two different things. Going foundationless teaches us alot about natural brood nest design, if we are willing to watch and learn, and accept what the bees want. I have observed the very same thing in my hives, which are all foundationless. There will always be some differences in the bees brood preferences from hive to hive, but generally when first introduced into a foundationless hive, the bees build mostly worker comb with very little drone cells on the lower edges of the combs. As they develope the brood nest further more drone comb is built in some frames, even a couple frames being entirely filled with drone brood. This is not an indication of a poor queen in the majority of instances, but their natural preferences being worked out. Some beekeepers have no tolerence for all this drone brood, thinking that more drone/less worker cells equal less honey production, so they may go as far as requeening, or eliminating foundationless altogether and going back to foundation. As far as I know, there has not been any studies proving that foundationless produces consistently less honey than hives using all foundation. John
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Thanks for the sound advice. I have no doubt of the fitness of my queen, so I'll assume they know what they are doing...after all, the colony's survival is in the bees' best interest, too. Trusting nature takes effort amid the much louder voices of science experts.
Yeah, trying my own experiment in my Russian Hive and VSH Nuc. The Russian hive drawed that stuff out like gang busters and the drone cells were from top to bottom in the center. Checked it a week later and there were drone larvae in them. So I guess I'll have me some Russian drones soon. However I was hoping this was going to be honeycomb. Oh well.
My bees seem happy to fill drone-sized cells with honey once they get done raising the drones.

I have wondered if I could have gotten foundationless frames built with a lower proportion of drone cells by introducing an already-built frame of all drone. This would also allow me to kill the drones and their mite burden before they emerged. Anyone tried this in a foundationless hive?
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