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Honeycomb fresh from the hive

Honeycomb isn’t always something you associate with Flow Hives but it is possible to harvest comb from your hive if you happen to have a taste for it… we often have a few chunks sitting around the office kitchen for a quick energy boost (and what kid doesn’t love it?!)

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@Freebee2, where in the hive can honeycomb be collected from?
2 days since getting my nuc, and the bees seem to be already busy heading off to forage. They also seem very calm, and aren’t bothered when I sit (about 8ft) where I can watch them leaving the hive, and returning. Even when they fly right past me they don’t even alter their flight path, sometime shooting straight past my head. I have decided to supplement their feed with sugar syrup for a week or two, to encourage them to get the brood box filled quicker. It was so funny watching them circling around on the first day (a few still are), getting oriented to their new home. Cheers Trevor

Hi Trevor, The easiest place to get honeycomb from is the roof cavity. (Just leave the inner cover plug out if you have a Flow Hive 2 series hive). You might also find some in the brood box that doesn’t have brood in it, and if you have a strong colony and nectar flow you can also add a traditional super for comb as well as your Flow super (If you do this, it’s best to wait until your brood box is pumping with bees first, then add the Flow super, and once both boxes are heaving add a traditional super below the Flow one, with the queen excluder above the brood box and below the two supers). I love watching the bees too… they’re so calming it’s almost like a meditation - for people who aren’t into the regular kind :slight_smile: Let us know how your bees go with the supplement feeding and whether the numbers pick up.

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Hey Buzz, glad to hear your colony is growing.
Personally I use 2 brood boxes with the top one not being full depth (WSP) for various reasons and has pros and cons which I’ll not go into at this time and is usually predominantly honey. I could harvest honeycomb from here but I don’t as it will affect the Flow super filling. I also have hybrid Flow supers which honeycomb can be harvested from and also harvest honey frames from the brood box when rotating frames towards the outside of the brood box when opening up the brood nest as a maintenance or swarm prevention method.

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Hi@Freebee2, only a new hive 3 day since I purchased it. I think that I will buy some as I don’t want to hinder their progress. I just want to get some to smear in the flow frames, to help encourage the bees to head up into there, once the brood box has been establish and I have put the flow hive in place. Just planning ahead that’s all.
@skeggley, I’m hoping that their numbers are growing, but it’s only been 3 days since I picked them up from a local seller. They have already consumed a jar of sugar syrup in those 3 day, as well as some already heading out to forage. In the shade today (at their hive), it’s already 38C

Hi Trevor,
Great that you’re planning ahead :slight_smile:
Once your colony is well established in the brood box and the brood frames built out, you can break off a small amount of comb (if you have a bit of burr comb that’s ideal) and either just smudge it into the Flow frames, or melt it a little and paint it on. It’s best to use the bees own comb rather than bought comb to avoid the risk of introducing contaminants (such as AFB spores) to your hive. Sounds like you have a hungry colony there :slight_smile: With that heat, I trust you have a good source of accessible water near the hive? It’s helpful to your bees to place some rocks or marbles in the water so they slightly emerge from the surface, which will provide a safe landing spot for the bees. (Don’t be offended if this sounds obvious, we have some very new beekeepers on the forum sometimes so it’s info for other readers too). Going to be a hot summer I think…

@Freebee2, yes I have a considerable sized container just in front (3ft) of the hive entrance, I’ve placed a large flat piece of timber in it with a rock on one end, so that end is submerged. I’m also in the planning stage of adding a small float to the container, to run a gravity flow watering system from a small freshwater tank, that will catch water from an old handyman’s workshop that’s currently not being utilised, so that whenever we are away anytime there is a heatwave, they won’t run out of water.

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Nice :slight_smile:
Sounds like your bees are in good hands…

I’ll try my best @Freebee2​:pray::pray: The creators of Flowhive have certainly make that task somewhat easier .:smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Cheers Trevor

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Collected my first batch of comb from one of the frames in my hybrid super today. I’d wired it, so had to cut it out in strips. I’ve placed the frame back next to the window so I can observe how they rebuild. There’s a little comb at the top I’m hoping they’ll extend down, but will they go straight down over the wires or veer off into the neighbouring frame? Guess I’ll find out. After boxing up my comb I put the tray by the entrance and the bees set to work mopping it up for me the pic shows them about half an hour into cleanup duty.

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Update: went back out to pick up the board after posting, which they had just about licked clean and a few dozen bees were hanging around licking themselves clean or being groomed by their comrades. I don’t know how to explain it but in the middle of the board I found what I assume to be a partially developed pupa. I didn’t touch the brood box while harvesting today. Might this have been a stillborn young that had been dragged out of the hive and dumped?

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Hi Josh, keep an eye on that because the bees maybe cleaning up hive beetle damage. That pupae may be in the vicinity of the damage the beetles caused. If so, the pupae could be accompanied by bits of chewed up wax.

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The only wax was what was left on the tray after I plundered their liquid labour.
I recently put a layer of diomataceous earth down in the tray and caught a few small hive beetles but I haven’t inspected the brood box since putting the super on a couple months back. Will have a look soon.

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Hi Josh, be careful while doing inspection not to allow any sizable honey spills. Be particularly careful when replacing frames etc. that you don’t leave any squashed bees between combs that house bees can’t readily remove. That will be a place where beetles will lay eggs. Another thing I do is keep the drone brood to a minimum. Drone brood, if not sufficiently covered with worker bees is another place beetles will lay eggs in.

cheers

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Just found another discarded pupa. Looks to be a drone going off eye size and shape. What do you do to minimize drone brood?

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That looks like a drone pupae.

What I do to minimize drone brood is use all properly fitted wax foundation in the brood box. If the bees mess it up, resulting in large areas of drone comb, I cycle them out & give them fresh foundation. You basically want all your brood frames to contain around 95% worker comb. That will give the colony a strong population of workers. The workers chase beetles incessantly, non stop until they find somewhere to hide. Then the bees wont let them out, stopping them from laying eggs. Drones wont do that because they are not defenders of the hive.

A decent honey spill can disrupt that process because while bees are busy cleaning up the mess, the beetles that are normally contained can break free, allowing them to do damage & lay eggs. The discarded brood is probably from the vicinity of the damage caused by the beetles. Which is one possibility.

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So you identify drone comb by its irregularity/damaged appearance? Or that’s where the mature drones hang out?

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You can familiarize yourself with the difference between worker brood & drone brood. Then learn how to “read the brood”. You’ll find lots of images of worker brood vs drone brood on the internet.

If you get an excess of drone brood, you can use it as Hachinoko of which @Dawn_SD is a fan of.
cheers

PS recently emerged drones will hang out adjacent to where they emerged from. If there is enough of them crowded over unemerged drones, that allows beetles the opportunity to crawl among them in order to lay eggs in those unemerged brood, without getting chased

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Holy crap, I lived in Japan for two years and never heard of hachinoko. I fell in love with pondegi (silkworm pupa) while in Korea, though, so I’m keen to give it a go!

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Hi Josh, I’m glad you mentioned that. It gave me a chance to share one of my hachinoko videos

Actually this frame I’m holding has a mixture of worker & drone brood.

cheers

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