Cycling out frames?

I was just wondering how you cycle out frames because of old comb, old frames, or drawn comb… I am imagining you don’t just take the frame out and sacrifice the brood, (if the frames full of brood) what else could you do?


1 Like

Hey Olie! :slight_smile: I will let the brains trust answer you but just wanted them to know you are not using a flow super.You are working with all Langstroth equipment. The answers may be different for that because there isn’t space in a flow super to cycle the frames above the brood box to let worker brood emerge or for the frames to be cleaned out. For those responding I want you to know Olie is a very bright, passionate, brand new, young bee keeper and he is looking forward to learning from your combined wisdom! :slight_smile:


Hi @Olie02 and @cathiemac

For non-flow hive configurations with a queen excluder (Qx) and a honey super on top cycle the brood frame above the Qx to the centre position. The nurse bees will follow and care for the brood.

For single brood box Flow Hive users without other hives or supers to use in cycling frames my recommended frame cycling plan is below.

The rider is that the bees must be in a position to afford the loss of the stores.

For horizontal hives of similar design to my moveable flow frames hive, see:



Thanks for that Terry👌🏼 I will wait until I put a super on top and try that great method.


Hi Olie, Don’t cycle out drawn comb unless it is darkening up from a couple of years use or when it has been made dominantly for drone brood.
Old comb can be reclaimed to very clear bees wax with little effort and has value, as in money.
When a frame is really covered in propolis and wax I use a heat gun to melt the crud off, rewire if need be and put in fresh foundation to go back into a brood box. The heat gun cleans it up and also kills any eggs of SHB and wax moth. Old frames that are beyond a small repair job I trash it in the wheelie bin.
That said, when you have a honey super above a queen excluder (QX) and you want to cycle a frame of brood out it is just a matter of placing it above the QX and closing up the frames where you have taken the frame from and fitting the frame of honey you have taken out of the super and putting it in the outside position in the brood box. The brood will emerge as normal and join in the jobs in the colony.
I’m guessing you know Cathie, she has a lot to contribute to your knowledge.


Thanks Peter for that good info👍🏼 I also know some beekeepers who use a weak bleach mixture and soak their frames in it to clean them up🤔 Form what I’ve seen it makes the frames look like new…

You simply scrape/melt off all the wax and propolis.
Add 1/2 cup bleach to a bucket and fill with water.
Soak each frame for 20 mins. (You have to do half the frame then turn it over and do the other half, unless you’ve got a deep bucket)

Apparently it also kills wax moth eggs and SHB eggs, while getting rid of any residue or mold…


I use my solar wax melter to clean up old frames. I can put a dirty old brood frame in an hour later it is like new. There is no easier way to deal with old combs! None! It is also cooked- and gets over 100C in there- killing off spores and pathogens- and also impregnating the frame itself in wax which I think will help make them resistant to mold and other issues.

as to removing old frames- a good time to do this is early in spring: oftentimes the outermost frames have no brood in them and may be fully capped honey. You can remove them at that time without sacrificing any brood- and it is also a form of swarm management- giving the colony some work and space to keep them busy and stop them thinking of swarming. If you can replace two frames a year that way it works out well. A good idea is to identify any old frames in late autumn- and move them to the sides so they are ready to be taken out in spring.


Thanks for that great tip!
I’ll try it next season👍🏼

Perfect! One of my freezers is full of frames that had all the comb cut out. Wasn’t relishing the idea of scraping them all free of wax and propolis, scorching and then putting them back (into another hive).
Will build myself a makeshift solar melter just for the purpose tomorrow. Will still scorch the frames after, unless you think it’s a stupid idea to scorch well waxed frames?
I’m terrified of transferring AFB spores. Guess the more gear you shift between hives, the more you share.
Thanks Jack.

I doubt that AFB would survive 100C for one hour, even in spore form. Don’t have any research to back that up, but it seems unlikely. :wink:

Edit - evidence for you:

Looks like there may be some risk if the inoculum is high. I don’t see why you couldn’t scorch though, even if the wax had penetrated the frames. Just have a bucket of water on standby. :smile:


I agree with Dawn,
I don’t think the AFB would survive- and from what I understand even if the spores did survive they may be rendered inert as they would be encapsulated in a wax matrix. Apparently hot wax dipping wooden-ware is a suitable solution for AFB. That’s usually done a bit hotter still (around 140C) but for a lot less time. With a solar melter you can leave the frames baking all day. If there is wax and propolis on the frames it soaks right into the wood- at the end they are not slick with wax- as it has penetrated deeply into the wood. The result looks very similar to hot wax dipped equipment. Personally I wouldn’t bother scorching them afterwards. Having said that I don’t know what sort of temps you would get in the solar melter in cooler weather- I have been lucky that I had to do a lot of wax melting whilst there has been a heatwave on.

I can thoroughly recommend a solar melter for anyone with more than 4 or 5 hives. You can render wax, clean complete brood frames, and yesterday I used it to clean 4 metal queen excluders that were heavily waxed up. I just put them in for 20 minutes and they came out like new.