Moving between Dadant and Flow/Langstroth Frames

I live in France and it was impossible to get hold of a nuc on langstroth/flow compatible frames. So I picked up my dadant nuc last week, and we built a collar to lift the flow hive up to accommodate them. We were able to carefully balance the dadant frames in the hive and left them to it.

I just did my first (minor) hive inspection and they seem to be doing well - they’ve started to build on the flow frames and I could see lots of brood etc. So my question is, what are my best options for moving out the dadant frames so I just have the flow frames in the brood box? And what would be good timing for that? The idea of just removing brood etc so that the hive has wasted their energy seems awful, but as a beginner beekeeper I am not sure how I would approach cutting and reattaching the comb. It’s also worth saying that the nuc came with wax foundations too. Any advice gratefully received!

Hi Charlotte and welcome! Congrats on your first colony, too :cherry_blossom::honeybee:

Your instinct to not do anything that wastes your bees’ hard work is commendable. Fortunately, you can honor that in your effort to shift over to all Langstroth frames by cycling the Dadants out over time. It might take awhile, depending on colony growth and nectar flow but now is the time in the northern hemisphere!

Start by taking out one of the outer Lang frames with a bit of comb built, rest it carefully next to the hive, and make a space for it in the center. Place it in there, and the bees will finish it off with brood comb. As the season progresses, you will consider taking out another outer frame. Since by then it would be a full honey frame with cells too large for worker eggs, do not put it in the brood area. Instead, put one of your new Lang frames in so the bees can build worker brood comb. I would suggest to wrap and freeze decent honey frames to give back to the colony in fall, just in case.

Gradually, as you continue this the Dadant frames will make their way to the sides and not contain much worker brood, if any. In fall you can trade those for honey frames you saved. As you can imagine, cycling out frames will take time and should be done with colony health, weather, and nectar flow conditions in mind. It will also slow the bees’ progress to an extent, which can be helpful for swarm control. You may not be able to replace all the Dadant frames in one season.

Last note, I figured you were talking about the Langstroth frames here, rather than the Flow frames from the super. Just thought I’d mention it to help keep the lingo straight :wink:


yes, langstroth frames not flow super frames.

That’s great advice, thank you :heart:

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Hi Charlotte,
Welcome to the forum.
Eva above gave you very good advice, yes, it can be done but will take time and can be a bit tedious.
My question to you: why do you want to change it back to Langstroth? You already implemented the perfect and most simple solution with using an extension/ collar under your existing Langstroth brood box to fit your Dadant frames. I do understand that Dadant (US or Blatt) is widely used in France and maybe it is best to stick to what is used by the majority of beekeepers in your area. If you have to buy in extra brood frames and/or extra hives in the future (for example in case you loose your hive or they go queenless) it would be a lot easier for you to source them …
For your information, I have US Dadant frames in all my brood boxes (to my knowledge I am propably the only beekeeper in Australia using them), but I am very happy with them. Not claiming that they are superior to Langstroth but they suit my manegament style and do have certain advantages. The three disadvantages : can’t put brood frames temporally up in the Flow super, Dadant frames are not available in our country so have to build them myself and lastly, it probably would be impossible to sell nucs or hives to others here.

So the dadant frames are unstable in the flow brood box- they are slightly too short so can be balanced, but it’s wobbly. I’d already bought my flow hive and didn’t want to buy a different brood box! For my next hive I will probably get a dadant so it will be more straightforward :smiling_face:

If too short is the only problem, I would think about extending the rebates sufficiently so that the frames sit on them better. I’ve had to do that a few times when the frames are a little bit short. In my case it only took about 3 mils on each end to make the difference.

How would you do that on a frame already covered in brood? I was worried that I would disturb the bees if I altered a frame that was already in use!

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Another way would be to cut the comb out of the brood frames and place the comb in langstroth frames with 3 or 4 large wide elastic bands around them. The bands will hold the comb while the bees repair and attach them to the new frames.

I’ve seen this suggested before but would be so nervous to do it!!!

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Cutting out brood comb is very hard on the bees, and requires a helper. It does get the job done, but making the right choice is a matter of deciding what the most important goal is and going from there.

I was meaning to alter the brood box. Say you need 5 mil on each end, you’d get 2 pieces of wood 5mil thick, cut to fit inside, drill 3 holes in them, then screw them on so that they are flush with the rebate that the frames sit on. You’ll need to rest the frames somewhere while you do the job. Choose screws that will not go all the way to the outside.