Bees Not Building On Frames

I’ve recently set up my first hive. I started with a five frame nuc and added three blank, foundationless frames in the new brood box. I prepped the frames by rubbing beeswax on the wedge. I opened it up for the first time this weekend to check on progress. While the bees are definitely building, they’re completely ignoring the empty frames. There was quite a bit of burr comb between the top bars and the lid which I scraped off, but nothing on the available frames.

So the question is, should I be concerned given that they’ve only been in the hive for about a week and a half? Is there something more I can do to encourage them to use the frames?


Personally, I would go in and stagger the frames. At least the outer ones. Give it a week and see what happens. Some disagree, but this works good for me.


Give the bees time. They will build & expand when they are ready to. I would suggest swapping those empty frames for frames properly fitted with wax foundation. You could also consider feeding the bees with sugar syrup to get them started.

Things wont really get moving until the worker bee numbers have built up.


The bees will need to explore, line the cells with wax, and fill in the gaps, before building them out further. Bee population is very important for expansion - A thick carpet atop the timber frames, obscuring them from view is ideal.


I would not be too fussed. If there is a flow on they will build comb. If there is no flow they will sit on their hands and not waste resources on building unnecessary comb.


The best encouragement you could give the bees is to leave them alone and give them time to do what they want when they want it. Bee won’t build out a frame with comb till the colony needs the extra storage space.
I have heard many times of colonies absconding because they are disturbed before there is brood and so they have not ‘bonded’ to the hive as home. Even if you only lift the lid for a quick gawk it will take about 4 hours for the colony to recover from your un-needed visit.


Bees build comb during a heavy honey flow: You can simulate one by feeding 1:1 sugar syrup.

1 Like

Just to close off this discussion, I needn’t have worried. Took a look yesterday and the bees are now clearly building on the new frames. Thanks for everyone’s responses.