Question on old comb manipulation

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by ziffa, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. ziffa

    ziffa New Member

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    Ok, So I'm entering my third summer of beekeeping and I need to remove some old comb. (Or rather want to remove some old comb :) )

    I understand (I think) the basic premise of this - take old dark comb from the center of the brood (capped) and place on the outside, then when all have hatched, remove and replace with new or foundation in the center. See - when you type it out like that it leaves so many questions!

    1. will taking the brood from the center freak the bees out.
    2. They aren't going to leave everything empty as the brood hatches out. When you remove these combs, they'll have something in them. How do you handle the resources that are left in them?
    3. Can you melt and scrim this wax? or is it worthless?

    I think that is all my questions, or at least the beginnings of them. Can someone give me a step by step so that I am prepared for early spring manipulations?

    Thanks in advance,

    love,
    ziffa
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hi Ziffa:

    I am not certain why you would want to remove some old comb if it is only three years old. Perhaps these are hives you purchased or inherited in which case there may be old comb you wish to rotate out?
    If your hive is populous, moving capped brood comb further out will be OK, however I would not move it to the outermost position. If there are not enough bees this brood may chill. Better to move it to the edge of the broodnest, say position 8 or 9, and replace them with newer comb or foundation. Remove a frame or two in position 1 and 10 if they have capped honey to make the room neccesary. Once the brood has emerged simply slide them to the outermost positions. The bees will soon fill them with honey.
    Not sure what resources you refer to. Once these old frames of comb are filled with honey simply remove them, extract and then you are free to do with them as you please.
    I would then melt the wax and use it for one of many great purposes (candles, etc.)
    Right now there is a beekeeper on this site called fatbeeman (Don) who is posting videos on youtube about this very topic (rendering old comb). Check on one of the other recent threads on this topic and you will find a link. It is going to be a series of 5 videos. He has some great advice!
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    1. Bees don't freak out. Only people do.

    2. They won't put brood in the outer frame when there's empty frames being drawn in the center. Just set them out to be robbed out.

    3. Yes, melt the comb and salvage the wax.

    PS. If you plan to continue that, mark each frame with the year you put it in. Put 2 new frames in the center each year. Then, in a 10 frame hive, the 2 outer frames will always be 5 years old in the spring. "4 in an 8 frame".

    'bout time you showed up. Where you been?? :wave: :confused:
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    ziffa writes three question followed (>) by my response..
    1. will taking the brood from the center freak the bees out.
    >you would want to do this only after all chance of cold weather have passed. moving a frame of brood outside the primary brood nest first raises the possibility of chilled brood + secondly raises the likelyhood that you could encourage superscedure cells being generated in a box with a perfectly adequate queen. if I was just beginning I would be very conservative in this approach and move the brood frame out just far enough to have one empty frame separating it from the primary brood area. later in the season you can move frames in a bit more extreme fashion with much less down side risk.
    2. They aren't going to leave everything empty as the brood hatches out. When you remove these combs, they'll have something in them. How do you handle the resources that are left in them?
    > if there is a bit of feed still there I simply set these outside (some distance away from any hives) and allow the bees to rob any food stuff out. this generally doesn't take long.
    3. Can you melt and scrim this wax? or is it worthless?
    > yes you can... all beeswax is worth salvaging and is possible worth more to a bee keeper than any one else. there are lots of little thing folks make from beeswax. I primarily use mine now for coating plastic based foundation. I use to use quite a bit of the stuff for sealing home made frame feeders. my wife really like the small amount of bee wax based furniture polish I make for her from time to time.

    and finally... it is good to be extremely aware of the risk you are taking with any manipulation no matter how small it might seem.
     
  6. ziffa

    ziffa New Member

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    Hi Everybody,

    Thanks so much for the replies. I think I was most worried about whether or not they would rob everything out. but I think I understand better now. Will they rob pollen as well as honey? Sometimes they put pollen in my outer frames.

    PerryBee - thank you so much for responding! Yes, this was an established hive when I got it and the comb is quite dark. I've actually wanted to rotate it earlier but was too timid. I'm finally feeling confident enough to give it a try. I was not planning on doing this until spring and warmer weather. Do you still suggest position 2 and 9 when it is warmer? Is there still a chance she might lay in those frames? or do you think it is just safer all around?

    Iddee - as usual, you get me :) . I've been hanging around! Just waiting til I had a good enough question! Please see my questions above, will they rob the pollen ? Which position do you suggest? I like the numbering suggestion! That will help my scatter-brain! I hope you are doing well. I hope I get to see you this spring!!

    Tecumsah - You give such sage advise, I like how thoughtful you are in your answers. Again, I am TOTALLY not doing this until the weather warms. I don't crack my hives in winter on the advise of a good friend ;). But I do want to pull the very black comb from my oldest hive. I totally get the seriousness of manipulating them - I very much like the 'leave them to themselves' paradigm. But we do keep them after all. So I guess I feel we should try to keep them as healthily as possible. I plan to move slowly on this. :)

    Again, thanks all for the answers. I'm sure I'll have more when I actually do this. I don't know about you, but I can hardly wait for spring!! Soo many plans, so much to do and try! My bees are going to be a big focus for me this spring. I'm sure you'll be seeing lots of my (silly) questions!

    love,
    ziffa
     
  7. ziffa

    ziffa New Member

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    ps. Thanks for the link Perry! cool videos!
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    ziffa writes:
    I very much like the 'leave them to themselves' paradigm. But we do keep them after all. So I guess I feel we should try to keep them as healthily as possible. I plan to move slowly on this.

    tecumseh:
    it has always been a challange for most new beekeeper to learn when the rhythm of the bee dance is a shuffle and when it is time to buggie. there is nothing wrong with the leave it alone paradigm (I have yards of bees which are somewhat purposefully unattended and they seem to do just fine without me :shock:* ) but like you seem to suggest knowing when to jump in and mitigate some problem is really what 'beeing a bee keeper' is really all about <I would guess the necessary and essential items here are understanding and experience.

    and to somewhat answer your last question... yes the bees will remove the pollen from frames but this generally takes much longer than does the honey.

    * :shock:.... well not really since I suspect 'the girls' got along perfectly well for several million years before there was even any thought of there being a bee keeper anywhere on the planet.

    and a final and a bit late added ps.... 5 years I would think is about right for any frame rotation. if you are more urban than rural you might want to reduce this time frame somewhat. if rural enough with no obvious stuff about to taint bees and wax then rotation is likely unnecessary. most folks suggesting a 3 year frame rotation have hives that are used almost exclusively for pollination and are therefore highly likely (actually almost certainly) tainted with every agricultural chemical and bee keeper chemical known to man.
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I would put the empties in the center and move all frames out one space, thus removing the 2 outer frames.
     
  10. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    If Fatbeeman is feeding 500 nucs, I wonder why he hasn't figured out how to feed syrup in a boardman feeder w/out splashing syrup on his queens. Shoot, w/out splashing syrup at all.

    He's in NC, isn't he?
     
  11. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I am afraid that leaving old comb out for the bees to clean up would attract negative comments in the UK. There would be mutterings about possibly spreading disease and encouraging robbing.

    An alternative is to place a sheet of (rubble sack thickness) polythene on the top super. Make a small hole in the centre. Now add a brood box containing the frame(s) to be cleaned. Break/scratch the cappings on the honey and close up. Depending on the conditions and the bees reading the right books then the comb will be cleared of honey.
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Fatbeeman is in Ga.
     
  13. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Okay, thanks. He must be running more than 500 colonies, since he spoke about running 500 nucs, right? I guess he just doesn't like the boardman feeders as much as he does his buckets.