Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Building comb outside of frames

I have a nuc that I installed a couple of weeks ago. I could not do a check because it has been raining so much here but I used the flow hive box with the viewer so even though I could not check I could see that the outermost frame did not have drawn comb. When I opened the hive today they had built up comb (with brood over the middle of the top 5 frames but not used the outside frames. When I opened the hive I ended up ripping the comb and there was honey and larvae all over :frowning:

Three questions: why did they do this when they had plenty of space on the outer frames, can I put them the comb with honey (and larvae) back into the bottom of the hive for them to use and what do I do now?


I know it is hard to take photos, but without a photo of what you are describing, it is going to be hard to give accurate advice.

If you are describing bridge comb, that is something that bees sometimes decide to do. You can’t stop them. Just tidy it up and render the wax, or freeze it and use it to smear on your Flow frames later.

They won’t reuse the wax. You could put it inside the hive, but they may use it as an excuse to start building from it again. I would just freeze it and render it later when you have enough for that to be worthwhile.

Wait and be patient. With better weather, they may pick up. If you don’t have a good nectar flow at the moment (ask your local club), consider feeding them.


Bee will do what they want ! From your comment I surmise that you went natural foundation less frame wise. Even with foundation bees can build odd side n/or burr comb.

There are people of both conviction on this forum but I tend to warn newbees to strain/stay away form the foundation less setup if you can’t be in there watching continuously. In the 1950’s n 60’s we was a youthful young buck n all we used was wax or reenforced wax foundation.

That said, you’ve experienced why I have stayed away from a empty frame approach. But it’s too late for you at this moment ! Let’s make the most out of your mess ! It’s not all a loss. We do learn most from personal experiences. Now try to clean up the worse of the worse n add to a used wax pail for later use. The natural comb that seems less out of control careful guide into the frames … LARGE rubber bands are helpful foe securing larger pieces of comb into empty frame. Do the best you can. Ain’t beekeeping fun yet.

It you do want to use some foundation less … Alternate an empty with a frame that has reenforced wax or waxed plastic foundation … Note: don’t do that with brood at this time. Your still learning ! Actually we all are learning. My :honeybee::honeybee::honeybee:’s are always tossing a new twist at me !

Next time pop a couple pix’s at us. It does help to give more accurate answers …

Cheers n good luck.


PS … Others should pop in here with thots, experiences n ideas too

Hi Gerald-

Thanks for the response and sorry for not providing enough info in the original email.
Actually there was beeswax foundation with wires. (I am too new to beekeeping to fool around with foundationless :confused:

The comb was not just between frames but above them, sticking the cover to the frames. Picture now attached of the damage I did when I opened the hive.

Not sure what I can learn from this other than the bees will do what they want.


Hi Dawn-
Thanks for the response. I attached a photo of my response to Gerald (below). As you can see, not just bridge comb. W

What do you do with wax that has larvae in it (so sad).

While I am at it I will ask a question about my other hive. I started it from a package the beginning of April. The first queen did not make it. (I may have taken out too much sugar from the plug and she got out too fast?) In any case, no brood after a month and they were very aggressive; I got stung 4 times through my bee suit. So I got a second mated queen and introduced the cage. After five days the workers had not released her so I did. She is nowhere to be seen and there is no brood. I am not going to try to requeen again but I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to what happened i.e. what do I learn from this experience?


Don’t be sad. That is just crazy comb. They are building it because they feel they can afford to do so. It looks like it is attached to the underside of your inner cover, is that right? Most of the larvae are probably drones if that is the case, so you are not directly hurting the colony when they disappear. My bees build that kind of comb when they feel short of space, even if they are not.

I would suggest you switch out your foundationless frames for some with wired foundation in them. The bees may take to those much faster.

If the outer frames of your 5 frame nuc have only honey and pollen in them, you could try moving those frames of food (not brood) to be up against the wall, and put the new empty frames in the next spaces in, closer to the brood nest. That will make the bees realize that there is more space when they have to walk across to get the food.

I am using flow type hives and in them there is only about 1/2 an inch of space above the frames - so the bees do not build comb there much just bridge comb and never brood or honey. From what you describe it looks liek you have a different type of roof on? One with more space in it? If that’s the case you could vut out a piece of vinyl to make a hive mat that sits over the top of the frames. This might stop them building in that space. Cut the square so that it covers most of the tops of the frames with maybe a 1 inch gap around all the edges.

Hi Patti, sometimes the bees would rather go up or down in preference to going out. I would suggest having all of your spare frames wired up with fresh wax foundation with a vinyl mat, one that has a bee space right around, covering the frames. That way the bees have no choice but to go sideways. Once that super is full, then the bees will start building above the mat. That will be a good indicator that it’s time for another super.

Hi Patti, let the bees release the queen, even if it takes a week. But before that is done you must make sure that there isn’t a laying worker; you need to carefully inspect the cells of that hive to look for multiple eggs in a cell. Next place the caged new queen on top of the bars and watch how they treat her. Are they biting at the cage or are they feeding her? If you can gently push the bee’s off the cage then that’s good; if they are clinging to it they don’t like her. If they bite at her feet the queens pheromes come from her feet and also that will harm her. Otherwise let the bee’s do their thing with a new queen. You can also put in a frame of brood from another hive, just shake all the bee’s off and put the beeless frame in. Wait a day or two minimum then try the queen again.
You can’t use a push in cage because there is no brood.

Hi Dawn-
Thanks for the response. How do you know that larvae under the cover would be drones (not doubting you just wondering why that would be).

None of my frames are foundationless. They all have foundations of wire with beeswax.

Interesting suggestion. I will try that. Thanks.

Too late for that now. I released her after five days. Since I installed the package April 2, it is too late to re-queen again, don’t you think.
Why would a laying worker be an issue for requeening?
Not sure what push-in cage is.

The edges of frames are cooler than the middles, and these areas are preferred for laying drones. If you look at any frame of brood laid by a queen (laying workers don’t obey this rule), the drones will almost always be at the outer edges of the frames. Bridge comb counts as an outer edge area, so they are almost always drones in that comb. :wink:

I never heard that. Brood is brood and are susceptible to all temp not preferring one area over the other. My bee’s make clumps of drones in the middle of the frames also.

It is not too late to requeen now. Laying workers are always in the hive but queen pherome stops them from laying and if they do lay the other bee’s will remove the eggs from the cell. When a laying worker starts the bee’s think they have a queen and will kill any queen you introduce, that is why it is important to inspect for them if your hive has been queenless for a while.
A pushin cage is more successful than just hanging a queen cage in. With a package you don’t have another option unless you put a frame of brood in with no eggs, just capped brood ready to emerge and some empty cells for her to lay in and food of course. No attendants either. The emerging brood will become her attendants not knowing any other queen, and will nurse her eggs. Meanwhile the other bee’s will eventually feed her and accept her.

Well, maybe that is your experience. The only bees I have kept in 30 years which had worker brood up against the cool wood wall were Africanized. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Workers are definitely reared in the center of the hive, and drones towards the edge. This article shows a good photo:

Second photo in this article too:

Also third paragraph in this article backs up my description:

I believe that @Michael_Bush also agrees that bridge comb is mostly honey or drone brood, but let’s see if I misunderstood. :wink:

I guess all beekeeping is local. I am located in the Catskill Mountains and very often have wall to wall brood on a good hive. They do lay drone brood in those areas and also on the frames themselves… I do not think the reason is temperature though. How are your bee’s doing this year?

My bee’s what? My bees are doing great. :smile:

Bees make drones based on a number of criteria. How many depends on the time of year and available resources. Where depends on what space is available and whether or not there are cocoons where they would like to put them. Drones can end up all over the place if things happen out of sequence…

1 Like

Great! I am finding lots of nectar/honey this year so far, too. We actually took off quite a few pounds of early honey, mostly maple nectar. How do you like CA over the UK?