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Bees only drawing comb in super


#1

Hi all,
I have a brand new hive with foundation on 2 frames in brood chamber but my collected swarm is only drawing comb up in the super,I fear my queen won’t lay eggs for more bees up there…am I doing something wrong???


#2

Any photos? It is really hard to be sure what you have from that description. Some questions:

  1. New hive and you have 2 boxes already?
  2. Do you only have 2 frames in total in the brood box, or just 2 frames have foundation and the rest are foundationless?
  3. Are you using a queen excluder below the super?
  4. Is this a Flow hive?
  5. How strong is the colony? Is the brood box full of bees, or not many bees?

Would love to help, but without more information and a mental picture of your hive and the inside of it, it is hard to advise. :blush:


#3

A new hive (10 frames,2 with foundation,8 without) no queen excluder,langstrom hive and not a massive swarm that I caught to be honest,I can take pictures tomorrow as it’s night time here now


#4

If you can purchase a frame or two of brood, put that/them in the middle of the brood box, closely flanked by the foundationless frames. Keep them tight so the bees draw comb in the middle of the frames. That’s assuming you don’t have another hive.

Also reduce the entrance to only a couple of inches & remove the second super.


#5

OK, Langstroth hive. Two boxes of 10 frames. Not a huge swarm. I think I have some ideas.

  1. That is too much space for the bees you have. Usual practice is to start with one box, and only add a second box when the first is almost completely full.
  2. Your bees are doing what they do in nature. They find a cavity, and start filling it from the top down. If the boxes are both the same size (both deeps or mediums), I would take off the bottom box and let them fill that first. Then put the old bottom box on top.
  3. If the super is less deep than the lower box, you have a couple of choices. You can take away the lower box and let them fill the super, then put the deep box back underneath when they have filled the first one. You will now have a 2 brood box hive. No big deal, except it can be a lot of bees to deal with. You will now have brood in what was going to be your honey super though, and you will need to put another super on top when they have filled the lower 2 boxes.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, your photos will help, and perhaps we can come up with some more ideas. :wink:


#6

Listen to Dawn’s advice.


#7

I would only use one brood box, you have given them too much space. To help the bees fit foundation to all the frames and the bees will draw out cells much quicker so they have somewhere to store nectar and pollen, you can’t expect them to store anything if there is nowhere to put it. Help your bees and you will get rewarded.
Once you have done that give the colony a week to ten days to settle in then begin your hive inspection routine.
When the brood box is packed with pollen, honey and brood in the cells then add the super on the top with a queen excluder between them. Again I am in favor of using frames with foundation, and only take capped honey from the top box (the super) and always leave the honey in the brood box for the bees. If you have a really cold or long winter they might also need a frame or two of honey left for them in the super before winter sets in.
Hope that helps
Regards


#8

I only have one brood box,sorry I’m obviously not wording all this very well,I will take pictures later on when the rain stops, I’m wondering whether the swarm I caught is maybe a bit small but I’ll leave them to it and see what happens.
Thanks for all the advice I will put as much into practice as I can.
Like I say I’ll take some photos and post when the rain stops!!


#9

I can’t really take the brood box away as it’s the only box with an entrance for the bees but will let them carry on as they are I think.
When it stops raining I will check to see if the queen is laying in the comb they are drawing, hopefully she is.
Thank you so much for your advice it means the world to me as a novice beekeeper!!


#10

A package (or a swarm) will almost always go to the top and draw comb down. That is what they do in a tree and what they have always done when I give them multiple boxes with no comb to start with.


#11

When the rain stops, you’ll probably need to feed them. Better still, you might be better to feed them as soon as possible, otherwise they could die of starvation.

I guess it all depends on how long since you caught the swarm & how much stores they gathered before the rain started.

They normally put all of their energy into comb building & getting their next generation underway before the swarm bees expire. That being the case, they wont have much in reserve.

It’s bit of a catch 22 situation you have. You don’t want them building comb in the roof, however, when you tear the comb down to set it into frames, that will undo a lot of their work & set them back quite a few days.


#12

I’ve been feeding them from the day I got them as I thought the same as you to be honest,now they are all out and coming back absolutely coated in pollen and nectar,how long should I keep feeding them as they seem now to be holding their own,I was thinking of stopping fairly soon as everywhere is in a beautiful spring bloom now?


#13

I think, keep feeding them. They’ll use the sugar syrup to build comb. It all depends on what you are going to do about them building in the lid. The longer you leave it, the harder the job will be. Plus you’ll do more collateral damage.

If you want to remove the bottom box that contains the bottom board, there is a simple trick you can use. All you need is a board that you can put the honey super on, (I use a bee lid) then hang the super over the board on the end you want as an entrance. Place it so that you end up with a 1/2 inch gap facing down. The bees wont mind a downward facing entrance.

I used that trick a lot when I made walk away splits when I had spare boxes with me, but no bottom boards. I simply used the lid of an existing hive as a bottom board.


#14

I have reworded my reply to you and JeffH has also given you good advice. When we use the word “super” what we mean is another box or story on top of the bottom box we call the brood box. You should buy some foundation and fit it to frames and fit that into the brood box. If you have mistakenly fitted a super you can find the queen and with her and any brood fit that into the brood box, a single box to your hive, shake any other bees into the brood box and you will be heading in the right direction.
I hope rewording my previous post explains it better for you and JeffH will always give good advise.
Regards


#15

Is it a problem that the frames in the super are a different size to those in the brood box…is can I just move the smaller frames down,shake all the bees into brood box,put lid on and they’ll be ok?


#16

i am now understanding that you have two different sized boxes. As you are just starting out on bee keeping now is the right time to standardize everything as much as you can and can also afford.
I am assuming you have langstroth hives or something similar. I would make the bottom box the brood box and use the largest box for that, If you don’t have enough frames with foundation fitted you might be able to buy enough to fill the box, Langstroth’s are 8 or 10 frames depending on the size of the box. Continue to feed the bees to help them to draw out comb from the foundation. Mix one part water to 1 part white sugar and stir till all the sugar has dissolved. The cheapest feeder is made from a screw top jar like a jam jar and with a very small drill or even a very small nail put about 10 holes in the lid. Fill it with the syrup fit the lid and hold it upside down, it will stop dripping and place it on the top of the frames of the brood box inside the smaller box on top.
Now you have a brood box with maybe some brood in it shake all the bees into the brood box being confident the queen is also in the brood box and you are feeding them. You are going in the right direction.
Maybe you can find a bee club in your area or a bee keeper that can look at what you have got and make some forward planning for you so that everything you get is interchangeable. That might cost you some money now but in time it will save you money and you will be able to work the hive better.
Hope that makes sense to you.
Cheers


#17

OK, you have a bit of a problem there. It sounds like you put a small swarm into an empty hive consisting of a brood box and a super. It can’t be a standard Langstroth hive if the entrance is built into the brood box. Langstroth brood boxes rest on a bottom board, and it is the bottom board which creates the entrance.

I wouldn’t shake the bees down - they have put effort into building comb in the super, and probably the queen has been laying up there. You have a couple of choices, as I see it.

  1. Leave them as they are, and accept that your super will be used for brood, not for honey. They will eventually move down into the deep brood box. When they have filled that, put a queen excluder on top of the brood box, or on top of the super if you are willing to run the hive on “brood and a half” (often done in the UK), then add honey supers above the queen excluder. Only do this when the lower 2 boxes are full though.
  2. Get a proper Langstroth bottom board (they are pretty cheap) and put the super on top of that, with no deep brood box. When it is full, put the deep on top of it. Eventually you will be able to remove the medium super when they have filled the deep. The frames will have been used for brood though, so you won’t want to crush and strain the comb for honey (you could spin them, though, if you wanted).

I would still be curious to see a photo, when you have time to take one. :blush:


#18

This is the image I took earlier on.
I have since moved the frames from the super down into the brood box removing the relevant number of frames from the brood box to entice them to fill the brood box,I know these smaller frames aren’t meant to be here but they all worked so hard for the last few days drawing comb.
Please let me know if I should change what I’ve done.
Thank you all so much for all your help,I have learned from my mistakes and will know better in future!!!


#19

It sounds OK, but they will build down from the bottoms of the short frames, so be gentle when you lift them out of the deep brood box. They may break anyway, so be prepared to rubber band them into some empty frames (use the forum search tool for “rubber band” if you don’t know what I am talking about).

Did you take off the super? If not, you should, or they will be right back up there. :wink:


#20

Yes I took off the super and have seen a video on the rubber band technique but will look again and off course look at the forum as this place is brilliant.
Thanks again for all your help, I’ll post some more videos as and when the amount of bees increases and of course get your opinion on my rubber band work!!! :slight_smile: