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Old comb, old boxes

Is there a recommended time to take a hive apart and make them draw new comb (I have foundationless frames). I have 2 full brood boxes, heading into fall to overwinter them with that, and I’m just wondering what to do in the spring when things warm back up. Assuming they survive, it will be their (and my) 2nd season. Do I just put a flow hive on top and let them fill it? Do I give them a 3rd box for brood? Do I replace some of the empty brood frames with empty foundationless frames as a way of getting old comb out? Or does it not matter?

I live in mid Michigan, US, so we will get significatnly below freezing temperatures this winter if that matters.

Appreciate the insights.


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I’ll be very interested in the answers you get to this question, Marcos. This is my first season as well, and it seems that we are in similar circumstances.

My best guess for spring is that the girls will have used up all of the stores in their second brood box, and that we’ll wait to give them a chance to both build up their populations and replenish stores before we add supers. If mine need a lot of feeding towards the end of winter, I’ll know that two brood boxes weren’t enough and that they need another brood box to overwinter. I’ll add that before adding a super. Considering that they managed to build out and fill two deeps from scratch this year, I can’t imagine it will take them too long to build and fill one more…then honey super time.

Of course, I am sure there will be other things to do for them - possibly moving some frames of brood from a strong hive/mite resistant hive to the weaker one, normal inspections, etc… but I am a positive person and an maintaining optimism that both hives will survive our front range winter just fine!


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A general rule of thumb is to super when you have 70/80% of your brood frames covered in brood. Beware of moving too much open brood from a strong hive to a weak one. The latter should have enough bees to care for it. If in doubt move capped preferably emerging brood


Why do you want to make them draw new comb? Something wrong with the old comb?


As a returning beekeeper from the 1950’s n 60’s I know what it was like to winter over back then… 1. Healthy bee, 2. Good queen, 3. Plenty of stores, 4. Keeping them dry … Now I live in Puget Sound so our winters are normal not a deep-freeze 20 ms SE of Seattle in the foothills.

I am going into the pre-get ready stuff. Making sure I first have a healthy colony n queen. My mite count (didn’t worry about this in my teen years) was moderate so knew this was going to effect my five hives to some point … I can afford (not going back to square one) loss any of my hives… So

treatment was neccesary … chose Mite Away Strip)… The treatment is now behind me … Seeing the mass of dead mite on the SBBoard cleaned off every other day told me they were loaded !

I will be rechecking my hives winter supply of honey again this weekend if weather improves. Three of my hives are close to having more than enough. One larger causing it to not forage like its sister n one is a new 5 frame Late Summer Nuc that could use some help.

I also busy cutting out n assembling special winter moisture absorbent Quilts to add to the top of my hives. We will be going thru winter with double deep 5, 8 or 10 frame setup.

Now… As for next season … I won’t be adding the upper honey-Super (including the Flow-frame super) until I have a good number of brood, 75 to 80% (like Dee mentioned) n probably evidence of a good flow … Bees really don’t move up until there’s a need.

. That’s my thots n plan … Gerald

Good point. No. But I guess that’s my question- is there ever a reason to replace comb if it’s disease free? Or will the bees take care of it?

If you don’t use any chemicals, I don’t see any reason to remove old combs. If you use any kind of systemic like Fluvalinate (Apistan) or Cumophos (CheckMite) or Amitraz, then your wax is all contaminated with insecticde that has been relabeled as an acaracide. Even essential oils will build up some… I use no treatments of any kind and I do not try to get old comb out. Bees winter better on old comb, not new comb…

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