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Cleaning up "wet frames" with brood


Today we had to eliminate a very mean hive. The result was several frames that were a mix of brood and honey. We decided to upcap the honey portion of the frame in the assumption that the girls would use that. I have frequently allowed them to clean up “wet frames” after extraction and they have done a great job, going instantly to them.

But, in this instance, with live brood still in part of the frame, they are completely ignoring the honey. On my strongest hive, they are paying a great deal of attention to the brood, but also ignoring the honey.

What the heck is going on? The only thought I can come up with is that since this is fresh brood, their instinct is to protect it…hence the interest. But one frame has no brood on one side at all, and they are still ignoring the honey. I have these frames propped up against the hives, as is my usual practice. I did not put them inside nor do I want to, because of the genetics of the brood, which I would like to kill off.

I’m in California



Hiya Louise, for starters it’s bad practice to leave honey frames outside the hive, this can induce robbing and spread disease. If there is a flow on I’ve found bees generally ignore a free feed however during a dearth they come from everywhere for a free feed.
Yes the bees instinct is to care for the brood. If you freeze the frames that will kill any unwanted brood.
But once again, leaving honey frames out isn’t recommended and may even be illegal in some of our states.


Hi Louise, I would put frames of brood from a cranky colony above a QX of another quiet colony, especially if another colony needs a boost in population. You will find the temperament of the bees out of that frame of brood will tone down to the same temperament as the rest of the colony. Once all of the bees have emerged, the bees will fill the frame with honey.

That’s a beautiful frame of sealed brood you’re holding there. A few thousand bees will emerge out of it.

As long as you place it above a QX, those bees genetics can’t continue. It’s value is the contribution that the bees will make to a colony.


Dang, Jeff. I wish I had received your message earlier. I’m afraid that brood will all be dead in the morning. It’s been outside the hive all day and it will get down to 35 degrees tonight. I do have a hive that would have met those criteria. I sure wish I had the information you provided earlier. I guess I continue to learn from my mistakes. Thank you for being my latest tutor!!


It’s probably night time where you are & too late. Sealed brood will keep well as long as it doesn’t chill. If you can keep it warm tonight, it might still be ok to add it to another colony in the morning.

Recently, during our summer I placed a frame with too much chalk brood on the back verandah in the shade. That frame contained a lot of sealed brood. Bees kept emerging from it 4 days later. I was kind of fleetingly kicking myself that I didn’t put that frame in a hive somewhere. But then I didn’t want any colony to come into contact with the chalk brood mummies, for the sake of a few extra workers.

Even though it was summer, the nights cool down a bit. It really surprised me to see bees emerging after 4 days out of a hive.


Yes, I’m afraid it’s about 8 hours too late for this one! It’s been cold and windy here today, too. But, I have learned something by all this, so I can at least appreciate that. Another beekeeper said that brood is a good source of protein and I should scratch open the sealed brood and let the bees clean that up. Any thoughts on that?


Yes that would be a good idea Louise. What the bees don’t eat, they’ll discard out the entrance. As long as you put it with a reasonably sized colony that will deal with it quickly, otherwise if SHB are in your area, that frame with damaged brood will be a magnet for beetles.