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Moving bees off old comb in Langstroth brood box?

 
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Humpy Creek
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 37
Location: Alexandra, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Moving bees off old comb in Langstroth brood box? Reply with quote

We have a hive with a single Langstroth brood box (no supers on it at the moment) and the comb in it is about a year old. The comb is getting pretty thick and black.

So first question: should we look at trying to work that old comb out of the hive?

If we should try to get that comb out of the hive, since it's only the single 8 deep box at the moment, would it be possible/a good idea to nadir with another 8 deep box, hope that they start moving the brood down and eventually move the old comb out of the top box?

Oh it's spring here so the bees are busy and building up quickly at the moment.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!
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Sovek
House Bee


Joined: 25 Oct 2013
Posts: 13
Location: Upstate SC, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me personally, when I start I will try and limit comb to 1-2 years at most. This is try and stem the buildup of nasty things such as pesticides/insecticides. Older comb is also a favorite for varroa, although I'm not sure why, but a study was done on it and those stupid things seem to prefer old comb over new comb. I was going to cull old comb for the first reason, turns out there are two good reasons.

As far as how to do it with a lang... I'm unsure, as the method with a HTBH is to place brood comb that you wish to cull at the back of the hive (I'm assuming this is the top on a lang) past the honey stores. The bees will still raise the brood comb and once its hatched you can pull it out of the hive, cull, and then place back in the brood section.

That said, dont go sticking honey into the brood section, as this will no doubt confuse the bees and might even cause a swarm if you are not careful. But yes, in order to do this you will need another medium super, a deep might be overkill but that depends on colony size. Its not unheard of for the brood section in a HTHB to extend to the 12th-15th bar, and some of those are bigger than a normal lang.
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Humpy Creek
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 37
Location: Alexandra, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Sovek!

Yes, I figured the build up of nasties was a good reason to move old comb out. Plus this old comb was drawn from full sheets of wired foundation. Luckily no varroa here yet (well not officially, Asian honeybees invading the north of the country means we've probably got it so good to know they prefer the older comb).
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to put an alternative view, I have framed hives which are fitted with wired foundation and are now starting their 6th year treatment free and most of the brood comb is at least 6 years old. The colonies themselves are 10 or more years old. I am slowly transitioning to foundationless, but the bees in them are happy and healthy. We have varroa but the bees are managing it on these old combs and I see no reason to dramatically change the set up and risk upsetting the balance, so I'm just taking out a couple of frames a year.

I find, as I get older, I challenge more and more conventional thinking.
I saw a program recently about decay and it made me see it as a wonderful thing rather than something that is repulsive. It started to make me see other things in a similar light and challenge a lot of our Victorian era mentality. What we consider dirty and bad, is not always the way nature sees things and clean and new is not always best.
For example, I watch my bees enthusiastically gathering something from a pile of stale urine soaked sawdust up at my stable yard and now instead of finding it disgusting, I marvel at it.

Old comb helps to buffer humidity in the hive and provided you live in an area with good natural forage and little or no arable farming, I would say that the build up of pesticides is not a problem.

This has been my experience anyway.

Regards

Barbara
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Humpy Creek
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 37
Location: Alexandra, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Barbara! Always good to have several perspectives.

The hive is within flying distance of some cherry orchards that no doubt get sprayed with all sorts of interesting stuff, but there is so much closer by that I'm not sure they'd go that far.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you only have eight frames and it worries you then you could just cycle out a few each year. Your idea of nadiring the boxes would probably be OK but I would only take a few and not change the hive too quickly. The bees are very good at looking after themselves and only need small amount of help from us.
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Humpy Creek
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 37
Location: Alexandra, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, rmcpb! Seems like there is no huge rush especially since the comb is only a year old so we'll leave them be for the moment.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the rule of thumb by conventional beeks here is to replace them every three years so cycle a third a year. Just move them to the outside when you expand the brood early in the season. By the end of season they will be honey combs and can be removed.
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exmar
Nurse Bee


Joined: 16 Apr 2014
Posts: 28
Location: SE Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic triggered my interest. I have one active langstroth hive and two sitting vacant nearby. I'm a "newbee" and the fellow that's helping me is in his sixties and a third generation beekeeper. He gave me the two additonal (langstroth) hives with frames filled with old comb. He also sold me a complete hive with frames and sufficient foundation to complete it for my brother. He said I should know how to put foundation in frames, etc.

I asked if the foundation in a vacant hive (forgot to mention, trying to use them as trap hives) was better or worse than old comb? He said that He only uses new foundation if he has no old comb available at the time.

I've been doing a lot of reading and watching "webcasts" on beekeeping and the one thing that seems to be stressed is that it's totally different today than in years past.

The fellow helping me had 40 hives last year, and is now down to 23 active. I wondered if "old methods" accounted for this. In a webcast from Ohio State University, it was stated that in Ohio, due to the winter we just had, most beekeepers had suffered a 40-50% loss over the winter.

So, should I be concerned with usinig the old comb in the frames?

Oh, to answer the obvious question, no, I'm not being disloyal to my mentor. I periodically print out things from the internet for him. He is not computer literate and told him I would ask this question to see what the latest thinking was.

Thanks for your time,

Ev
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