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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am brand new to beekeeping. I took a beginner course this spring (which was great, but I still feel somewhat clueless) and purchased two 5 frame nucs which I've had for a grand total of three weeks. The nucs were placed in 10 frame hives which still only consist of one brood box (hoping to add a second box this week).

Some of the foundation and even the frames are in really bad shape. I would like to swap out the old comb as soon as possible (which I realize may be awhile), but I have no idea on how to go about doing that. At what point is a frame going to be "empty" enough to remove?

I do have one frame that is almost entirely sealed brood. Would it be possible to move this somewhere within the hive and then swap it out once the bees emerge? What about the other frames?

Please note, when I say as soon as possible, I do understand it could be a year or so from now in order for my bees to succeed. I just want to make sure I am going through the proper steps this year to successfully swap out old comb rather than realize a year from now I should have been doing certain things in preparation.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

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I'd grow those bees out to a strong hive before switching frames. We work the frames we don't want to the out side of the boxes then remove. I realize that you don't want any plastic foundation but at the stage of the game you're in you'll soon find out that drawn comb is like gold. Wether it's on plastic or not.
 

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I have two old broken frames that came to me in a four frame nuc. They broke after I installed them in a new ten frame deep on the 2nd inspection. I'm not sure when I can replace these. Maybe in the spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks barhopper. I guess what I'm unclear on is when do I start moving the frames to the outside? My understanding is the brood needs to stay in the center to stay warm and be fed. If the hive keeps laying brood on the center frames, when will it be safe to move them to the outside?
 

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Unless you have drawn comb to replace it with, the best time to swap out will be next spring. Don't do any swapping out until you have ten drawn frames at the very least. By feeding 1:1sugar syrup you'll still have time to get them drawn out this summer, (if the bees follow the textbooks). So if they do you might try one frame at a time while still feeding just to see. When you add the second box, move a couple of the frames up, and replace them in the lower with foundation. Keep sliding the plastic to the outer. By spring your bottom box will be mostly empty, of brood and honey, and you can get this accomplished.
 

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Just remember that YOUR need and decision to replace a good drawn comb will be detrimental to the bees causing them extra stress when they least need it. If the comb is good undamaged comb, the plastic which you get your milk and cheese in, is well incapsulated with wax and there is no rational reason to change it. The plastic has already been produced and your discarding it will only fill the landfill for no sane reason, so what exactly can you hope to solve by swapping it out?
 

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I think You are in toooooooo much of a rush. Like many new beekeepers you are seeking your beekeeping individuality. And have decided you want to be a no plastic using beekeeper. That in and of it's self is fine. However, you need to manage your hives in a manner that is best for the bees not one that defines you! Forget about what the hive components are made of for now, and concentrate on building strong healthy hives capable of surviving the long hard Maine winter. When you come to understand the requirements of the bees so will you understand when and how to cycle out frames.
 

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As you get more frames of brood move the unwanted to the edge of the brood nest. As stated before and above don't be in a hurry to get the unwanted frames out. The bees will have to work harder replacing it. I agree that next spring would be the best time to start.
 

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I have read quite a bit from Randy Oliver who stresses hat new beekeepers need to worry more about success than anything else. i am taking the approach of getting my hives through the winter and into spring at all costs. The first being plastic foundation and feeding, and the second being proactive OAV and thymol treatments.


Why not continue on your current course and if you are lucky enough to get a split or two in the spring, split up your drawn frames amongst 4 hives? Then you can slowly phase them out and pass them along to beekeepers in your area that would love to use drawn frames.
 

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Only being in my second year, I went through sort of the same concerns as you are now. I started out with wood frames/plastic foundation. I tried some wired wax foundation in wood frames the next batch that I bought. I won't discard the plastic foundation because I have decided to use wax from now on. The bees don't care once it is drawn out. I chose wax foundation because it seems that the bees prefer it and draw it much faster than plastic. On a good flow there may not be much difference as they will use what's available. On the other hand, plastic foundation is so easy to install into a frame quickly, whereas wax requires nailing hooked foundation, cross wiring, and imbedding the cross wires into the foundation. That takes lots of time and can be tedious.
So I have resigned myself to the fact that I will use both based on conditions. Adding extra wax to plastic foundation does seem to make it more acceptable to the bees but that adds another step. Maybe in another 3 years I'll have decided on one or the other. But, if I have 20 hives at that time, I'll bet I've found a plastic foundation that I & the bees both like just because it's so much easier. By that time I'll probably be buying already assembled frames and foundation.:D
 

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for what it's worth, I have never ever cross wired a frame. I do use wired foundation and nailing that in is about as little effort as snapping in plastic foundation. maybe I live in a climate where cross wiring isn't necessary, but I havent noticed any problems whatsoever with comb on foundation that is not cross-wired. and I agree, the plastic (which I'm not crazy about either) should be the least of your worries, esp if you are light on bees or incoming nectar. just enjoy watching them do their magic!
 

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What kind of foundations are you using now? I didn't read any thing about plastic foundations. Let the girls build out the frames in your 10 frame box before you change any thing. It they are working the old frames they are okay, it just bothers you. When it is time to add a second box just put the old frames in it, new frames outside first box. The bees have the timing, not us, just watch them and they will let you know...
 
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