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My bees can’t draw enough comb!

We have had a really hot, dry summer here in Western Massachusetts, USA. We’ve had multiple dearths, which means not enough nectar for the bees to build comb. My queen WANTS SO BADLY to lay more eggs, but the bees can’t draw out more comb without resources! My first thought would be to feed them, but I was told that this could be tricky to time because yes, If you feed bees sugar water they will be able to draw more comb, but then they will store the sugar water in the comb and not leave room for the queen to lay anyway…

My other thought was, since we are approaching the end of the season, if the queen will be slowing down anyway to prepare for overwintering, do I really
NEED to proved more laying room?? And wouldn’t she lay in The previously drawn comb in the lower deep box once those bees emerge out? (She just started laying in the top brood box a week ago)

Any ideas out there?

I would feed them. They need 2 boxes in your climate.

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Tough call but if it were me I would not add the box now— I don’t think there is enough time left for them to draw 10 combs out and store the final flow from fall plants. I would look to see how many frames of resources vs brood is going on down below and if there are more than 4 frames filled with food supply I’d pull those out and replace with new waxed frames and put a top feeder on it. I would hold the frames you pull in storage (freeze) in case they don’t build the frames you put in enough and that way you could put them back in if needed. If they don’t use them then you can use them for putting the box on in early spring and that would encourage them to expand. You should likely be treating for mites around now and that does slow the queen down in laying too so. If you treat you can’t use any of the frames of honey for your consumption that are in the hive. I do agree with Dawn that two brood boxes are ideal for colder climates but I’ve successfully overwintered single deeps and we get pretty brutal cold too (I’m near Detroit but in Canada).

It sounds very much like my last Summer when for the first time in 48 years I had to feed my bees. The hives had no nectar because of the drought and has reduced the honey stores dramatically. It was all very confusing as there was flowering in the bush as normal but the flowers didn’t have nectar in them.
By all means feed the hives, but the bees may still not make new comb if they have unused comb in the hive. The worker bees decide the queens laying, not her, and in a dearth the workers will reduce her laying. As bees emerge the queen will reuse the cells once they have been cleaned. My thinking is your dearth is reducing the colony size so with your Winter coming I would feed them all they want to provide over Winter stores.

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