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Working frames out of hive


Hiya peeps, since my colony swarmed a while back I’ve been seeing a lot of drones exiting the hive. I did an inspection shortly after they up and left and heard and saw a piping queen which I thought was a virgin asserting her dominance. So last weekend I did an inspection to see what was going on. The box was full of bees and although there was plenty of worker brood there was a lot of drone comb also. The frames have old comb in them which aren’t great as it is comb which was banded in from a cut out of sorts I did last summer and is a bit higgledepiggldy. I’d like to work these out of the hive to increase the laying area and remove the drone cells.
From my understanding I would remove the frames from the sides and add two wf frames on either side of the two middle frames of brood. Does this sound right? I would like to add the frame into a super so the brood can hatch but there are also some drone cells on these so they would be stuck above the qx so unsure of what to do. Although some honey is stored in the super should I feed to assist with them drawing out the frames?
Incidentally during last inspection I removed a side comb and placed it beside the hive to make room and when I went to put it back I noticed a big fat bald queen on it. I thought it weird her being on the end frame.


What is a “wf frame”? I think if you are intending to add 2 new frames outside of 2, 3 or 4 frames of brood, that would be fine.

Some inner covers come with a notch in the edge and you can turn these upside down to make an upper exit for the drones, until they are all gone.

I wouldn’t. Just keep inspecting, and feed if the stores are getting low. Others may differ… :wink:

I inspected one of our hives today. The queen was on the second frame from the outside on the north side of the hive - the cold side on this hemisphere. The frames were about 30% full of brood, and we are approaching midwinter! :flushed: Hive is about 60% full of stores. We were going to feed, but they don’t look like they need it right now. We are going to replace 2 wax moth damaged frames with new frames, and will probably put them about 2 or 3 frames in from the outside.


Hi Greg, I would put those frames above the qx after cutting the drone comb out. Let the worker bees hatch so that the bees will use those frames for storing honey. Wherever you cut the drone comb out, the bees will repair it & fill it with honey. The only thing you need to watch in the brood is that you don’t put 2 frames with fresh foundation side by side. Always checkerboard them. You can put frames with fresh foundation side by side if they are on either end, but not in the middle. I found that can encourage swarming.

You are likely to find the queen anywhere in the brood box.


That’s true
When beginners are looking through their brood frames she is usually on the last frame :wink:

To not Jeff
A tip: when you lift the frame inspect the side away from you first but have a quick look at the face of the frame you will be lifting out next


Thanks guys and gals, I appreciate your input.

@Dawn_SD, wf = wax foundation. An upper entrance would be a solution. Here in West Oz we don’t really use inner covers but here what you’re saying and could shim the migratory cover which would solve the drone issue however once the bees start using the upper entrance will they be confused when it disappears? I’ve read that honey isn’t used for comb drawing and that bees will only draw comb when they have excess nectar or syrup as it stimulates their wax glands. It is a bit of a lean year nectar wise so far this year, it seems beekeeping has become popular here in the west I’m wondering if there are too many bees around!
@JeffH, cutting the drone comb is an option but what if there is worker brood on the other side? Do I sacrifice them? The problem is, is that the combs in the middle aren’t full combs, they have secured the top but there are large gaps in the comb. I thought, wrongly, that they would repair the comb and draw it out fully, however Bees being bees aren’t playing my game, they’re playing with different set of rules… :slight_smile: yep my plan was to checker board, I’d like to follow your advice and get all wf into the bb. I have 8 frame boxes so need to get the most cell surface area. I thought, wrongly again, the outside frames would be honey store cells which was why I wasn’t expecting to see the queen.
@Dee, good tip, I have noticed the queen likes to scurry to the opposite side when I see her. I always get a buzz out of spotting a queen, needle in a haystack sort of thing.

Should I wait until they draw out the comb in the new frames before I repeat the process? Am I better off replacing one frame at a time?


Shim sounds like a great idea, with a notch cut in it. You only need to leave it on for about 3 weeks, and generally bees work it out quite well when you take it away, especially if the notch in the shim is a small one - say 7mm deep and 2cm wide.


Hi Greg, what you said about drones on one side & workers on the other side is one thing I point out with mentees. When the bees build comb, they have to build the same on both sides because of how they construct it. When they change from worker comb to drone comb or vice versa, they have to change both sides at the same time. You will see the odd cluster of drone comb on one side of drawn comb or plastic frames. If you do see that & you want to get rid of drones & preserve the workers on the other side, simply damage the drone larvae, the bees will do the rest. Make sure you put the damaged drone larvae into a space with lots of workers, otherwise beetles will lay in it. The same thing goes with the undamaged brood you place above the qx. Make sure there is enough bees to prevent beetles from laying in it.