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Comb spanning frames in brood box making inspection difficult


Hello all. Another first-timer here. I just carried out and inspection and have noticed that there is comb spanning a few of the frames in the middle of the brood box. As such, when I’ve tried to remove those frames to inspect them, some of this comb has broken away. There is also some comb on top of these frames. See photo. What is the issue, is this a problem? Cheers!


Bees will be bees - I think it is bee boredom management LOL - some bees just love burr/brace comb


Chris you need to even out your frame spacing. Where you have brace comb, the gap is too large while frames 6,7 and 8 are pushed right up against each other.


Not necessarily, My frames are the full 10 to the box and I get some of that extra brace as well - some bees just like brace comb


Thanks guys. I’ll try pushing the frames closer together. So when I need to remove a frame to inspect it, if there’s brace comb present, what is the best strategy? Is it ok to break it apart as gently as possible? Or should I try to remove/inspect the frames which are joined with brace comb together as one block? Cheers!


I use the hive tool to tidy it up when I pull the frames, put the wax in a pot kept for that purpose and seal it when you finish - always pull and end frame first to leave room to work.

Try not to put it down on the grass etc - Put it in the up turned lid or I rest mine on the boxes stacked on my stand.

Look for the queen before you put it to one side, always inspect the frame over the hive in case the Queen is there an if she falls off will be onto the hive.

Try not to “roll the bees” squishing bees against the frames - lift the frames up evenly in the space left by the first removed frame

If the frames are unwired don’t turn them on the flat pivot the frame on the end so the comb wont break


You got it Chris, when you pull your frames up out of the box, that comb will break regardless, so just scrape it off. Also check the underside of the frames and scrape off any comb there too. When placing your brood frames back, push them tight up against each other. You may still get some brace comb but it should only be minor.


Great advice, thank you very much!


This post is perfect timing for me. I was just researching proper frame spacing.

I’d like to get @Michael_Bush’s opinion on this post, as I have noticed on other forums that he has done a ton of experimenting with bee space. @Michael_Bush, would he have prevented the errant comb if he had spaced his frames differently?



Brood tends to be 1 1/4" (32mm) if the bees have their way. Honey tends to be 1 1/2" (38mm) or more if the bees have their way. Pushing brood frames tight together is best, especially when they are not drawn yet.


I think I have read Michael Bush say that broken brace comb is also your opportunity to check for varroa. If it has capped larvae, you can pull them out of the broken cells and inspect them quite easily.

Ah, here it is, half way down:


unless your box is like this


That is an OCD person’s nightmare.


Hi again. Well, that was a learning experience! I just spent an hour or so removing brace comb. Because so much comb was joined across frames, a lot of it broke away (probably 50%). I hope the ladies recover, and I especially hope that the queen wasn’t harmed in the process. I couldn’t spot her, so fingers crossed. They clearly were not happy about what I was doing…

The end result is a mess of honey on the outside of the hive. The bees seem to be mopping it up, but I’m wary of attracting ants. What would you advise? Should I clean it up with warm water or something?

Thanks again!


Did you pick up all the scrap brace wax - don’t leave it outside the hive it will encourage wax moth


Hi @Valli, yes, I did. It’s amazing how much they’ve made in three weeks. It’s just the honey now that’s making a mess. I’ll definitely be doing more regular inspections now that I’ve seen what can happen if you let brace comb build up. I’ve tried pushing the frames closer together too. Cheers!


@Chris_Southwood When you do the brace comb try just to get the stuff on the frames - it does less damage and is less messy.

Also if you spill/drip honey outside the hive it can promote robbing esp. wasps that time of year


Great, once their are fewer bees on the outside of the hive, I’ll give it a wipe down to deter wasps. Cheers once again.


I have a small bucket and strainer that I use for a frame rest for removing brace comb. It serves the purpose of making sure the wax is contained, but also if there is significant honey, I get a taste. :slightly_smiling: Often there isn’t much or there may be too many larvae to make me want to try it, but there may be enough to dip a finger into it!


Hi Chris, I echo what Bob @sciencemaster said. Evenly space the frames. If you do that right at the start, the bees will put propolis around the frame lugs which will give you a guide for next time you remove & replace frames. That works for me every time.

I find a good way to stop the bees cross combing is to use foundation. That also works for me every time.

Good luck with everything, cheers