Frame Evaluations

I think it’s a great idea but getting a good series of photos together can be challenging if you don’t have an offsider that knows how to use a camera, and knows what to shoot.

I took this photo today… thought others might find it interesting… and may be a good way to start the series?

I’ll bite. Is this a small frame? Are you trying to get comb from it? I see capped honey in the upper left portion. I forget but what are the very dark circles spotted around. Is that brood?

My inexperienced eyes don’t see more issues and such.

Yep it’s a shallower frame (Ideal in this case).

The interesting thing I guess is that it’s completely full of pollen (with some honey stores at each end).

Even though this isn’t from the brood box (I took the photo for a different discussion) , this is what the ‘pollen bound’ or ‘pollen locked’ frames I have come across look like. Where you expect to find brood you just find mountains of pollen and the queen ends up with reduced space to lay (or was already laying in a reduced space and that is now being backfilled!).

It appears to be quite common where I am as there is a dip in nectar… but pollen is available in abundance.

Thought the colours of different pollen were worth showing (enlarge the photo and you can see the variance)

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Here are some more from my archives :smiley: :

  1. Nice frame with balance of brood and nectar
  2. Drone comb + festooning
  3. Field mouse chewed into comb to build nest (mould on frame too from poor drainage)
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And when you are pollen bound, what are the next steps? Add a box underneath for bees to build and so the Queen can lay or add a box on top? This is the hive management info I need to learn.

Pollen is an interesting one, always keen to hear people’s thoughts.

Three approaches I know of people using:

  1. If it’s early, add a pollen trap to slow down how much is coming in
  2. If you have another hive, you can rotate the frame with brood from there as pollen is a great resource to have
  3. Pull/replace the frame and store the pollen for later use

Some suggest it is a sign of a potentially failing queen, so make sure she is still alive and well.

Write up here on the subject too:

Don’t just take my word for any of the above though, reading frames is an art and it’s always good to get perspective from a few people because they may interpret what is there differently.

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Last one… Will give someone else a go.

Old comb (dark) and the foundation was only in the top half of the frame. You can see the drone comb at bottom of the frame fairly clearly (not to mention the creative spirit)

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Hi Cowgirl, there is only a few things you need to be familiar with in relation to brood. #1 Capped honey vs capped brood. #2 Worker brood vs drone brood. #3 Brood in all stages. #4 Learn to recognize disease such as chalk brood or foul brood diseases. & #5 Look for signs of swarming.
Edit- I forgot to mention pollen. Learn how to recognise pollen.

I think the most important thing for a new beekeeper is to become familiar with the brood. Do lots of brood inspections during warm dry weather.

Possibly the best learning tool you could have is a simple observation hive, such as the one that I built. The only expense was the perspex. I had the rest of the wood laying around. The thing about it is that it’s portable. I use one fully drawn comb in the middle with foundationless frames on each side. That way you can look on either side to watch the progress of the comb building. After those two frames are built, you can unite them with another hive & let the bees start again on two new foundationless frames.

If you want to, you can close the vented entrance closer during the evening & take it anywhere you want to the next day, should you get invited to do a talk on bees etc.


Taking this post to heart. Thank you for the detailed comments.

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I like the idea of viewing photo’s of frames and their many configurations. Each photo is likely to stimulate a comment from experts thus enabling newbee’s to see ‘through the eyes of experts’. Here’s a photo of a frame full of honey, partially capped, I found within my brood box mid-way through summer. Looks normal to me but others might (or might not) see it differently.



Yes, that looks normal to me, I’m tipping it was a frame next to the side of the box going by that brace comb on the face of the comb.


Hi Cowgirl, in relation to “pollen bound” & what I do. Quite often a hive will get pollen bound if the queen is dead or the hive is in the process of making a new queen. If the frames are more than half full of pollen, I’ll cut the comb out & fit fresh foundation. I only use one box for brood, so I want every frame to be used to the max for raising a good worker population. A frame full of pollen for me is a frame the bees can’t raise brood in. I’m probably in an area where the bees have access to more than a fare share of pollen so I can afford to cut it out.

Lots of folks use the term “add another box to the brood”. That extra box for the brood only requires a bottom board & a lid & hey presto, you can house another colony.


Another one for the series… see if you can spot something interesting about this frame :grinning:

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Wax Moth: A summer dead out needs to be discovered and dealt with as soon as possible to prevent wax moths from moving in.


Hi Sam, apart from that being a beautiful disease free frame of sealed brood, you can see the lines of wire where the queen didn’t lay in. Some folks use that as an excuse for not using foundation. However after a couple of generations of bees, the queen starts laying in them. I’m sure the bees use them for other things in the mean time.


G’day Ed, those photos must have been taken before the SHB moved into your area, or in an area without SHB… With SHB & Wax Moth combined, it’ll be an entirely different picture.

Not only a serious case of wax moth but also a serious case of beehive neglect. I’m assuming it’s not your hive Ed;)

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Fascinating that the wax moths eat through the propolis and wax on the inner cover, leaving raw wood exposed. Great photos, thank you.


Yep, spot on. Lines are from the wire… used this as an example… as when people start looking for disease… sometimes all they see is disease… sometimes there’s a simpler answer :smiley:

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Wow, that is a serious wax moth example!

I’ll dig up some posts of milder cases.

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I’m amazed poly guys manage to stop wax moth chewing a hole straight through their boxes. I know the food packing polystyrene boxes aren’t as dense as the commercial products, but wax moth larvae carve through them like butter.