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Author Topic: Inconsistant comb on foundation  (Read 540 times)

Offline JurassicApiary

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Inconsistant comb on foundation
« on: May 19, 2020, 01:26:38 am »
Hi Everyone,

I inherited a struggling colony back in December and was contemplating replacing the queen, however on the last inspection in March to determine her fate, her brood pattern significantly improved and numbers were way up and so I've decided to let things play out for now.  However, I'm puzzled by the worker's inconsistent/patchy drawing of comb on some of the foundation.  They aren't drawing out more comb to grow their numbers and the queen seems maxed out on egg laying cells, but the workers aren't utilizing all of the foundation space on some of the frames and haven't even touched a fee new framed.  The two pictures of the frame with black foundation (it's actually the same frame, opposite sides) are very patchy as you can see.  It's been that way for quite a while and they're not expanding on it.  Any thoughts on this behavior?  Is it likely that they've decided they don't like some regions on the frame for some reason? Should I swap the frame out for a new one for them to draw out?   I swapped out two unused frames with some that have a fresh wax coating on the foundation that other hives have really liked, so I'm hoping that will encourage them, but what about the frame with the patchiness?  Thoughts?

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 02:23:35 am »
Jurassic it looks like the bees do not wish to draw out new comb on the remaining plastic foundation. Perhaps it was not properly coated in wax from the beginning or other reasons. Blowing the picture up it shows that are by-passing the plastic and have started new comb on the far edge of the top bar. If it were me, I would cut off the far edge comb which is not attached to the plastic and rubber band into an empty frame in order to save what I could. The rest I would place away from the hives and let the bees recoup the remaining honey (if any), then I would clean the plastic, re-coat in fresh wax, place in between two already established frames for a new start. This way the bees would have two choices. Draw it out properly because of lack of space to do otherwise, or totally ignore it. I am betting they will draw it out properly if placed in between two already properly drawn out frames.   

Offline CapnChkn

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 05:38:54 am »
Yeah, I don't like plastic foundation.  I've learned to make wax sheets which I use instead of embossed foundation.  I just ended up with a few cases of foundation, so I'll now see if there's any difference.

I see that kind of pattern in weak hives that are building sporadically.  I can't say why though.
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Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 06:07:41 am »
I don't know why they miss patches and build above it. It doesn't seem to occur in strong hives.
 I have a ball of wax that is collected from frames or boxes, it seems that the darker the better.
Leave the ball of wax in the sun for a while, scrape off the patchy stuff, add it to your ball or new ball, then get wax ball and rub it over the whole foundation leaving a coating of wax, scrape off the over built comb and rub the wax ball over the foundation, which will be clean, until covered.
Put back into hive or into a stronger hive and helps if there is a honey flow.
Works 80% of the time and also allows you to fix it in the field while you have the hive open.
We only use plastic foundation and we draw it out on big honey flows, most new foundation is draw out in Spring on Canola.
When a hive gets new foundation the super is full of new frames only, no choice.

Online .30WCF

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2020, 08:59:27 am »
I?d guess the foundation, but they might like some syrup too.


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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 10:52:44 am »
I?d guess the foundation, but they might like some syrup too.


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If you offer, (and they accept sugar syrup just before a flow) . You may wind up with impure honey mixed in your supers. (Sugar Honey),  fake honey.  You would need to be diligent to keep this from happening. I don?t think anyone wants to eat sugar syrup (honey). 😊

Online .30WCF

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 11:02:34 am »
I?d guess the foundation, but they might like some syrup too.


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If you offer, (and they accept sugar syrup just before a flow) . You may wind up with impure honey mixed in your supers. (Sugar Honey),  fake honey.  You would need to be diligent to keep this from happening. I don?t think anyone wants to eat sugar syrup (honey).

I understand, but the alternative if the frames aren?t drawn is no honey and feed sugar all winter? 
I?d be curious to see if they could sort things out if you removed one frame and smeared the comb out flat to cover the frame with a wide putty knife and dropped it back in close to the brood.


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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2020, 11:06:14 am »
He is in Hawaii.  There winters are not like my winters here in Mississippi or yours in NC.  I feel sure he will keep us updated. I am curious also as to what he does and how he does it. 

Online .30WCF

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2020, 11:25:23 am »
Oh, I didn?t catch that. Can?t wait to see what happens.


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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2020, 11:31:50 am »
Yeah, I don't like plastic foundation.  I've learned to make wax sheets which I use instead of embossed foundation.  I just ended up with a few cases of foundation, so I'll now see if there's any difference.

I see that kind of pattern in weak hives that are building sporadically.  I can't say why though.

CC which type of cases of foundation did you wind up with? Your own wax sheets or plastic?

Offline JurassicApiary

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2020, 01:48:40 pm »
Perhaps it was not properly coated in wax from the beginning or other reasons.

BF, thanks, that has been my main thought.  I have a 100-pack of foundation that are pre-waxed, but I recently felt that the wax was so minimal it seemed negligible.  Last week I melted down some really nice wax (ver aromatic, A+ stuff) and applied my own coat to about 14 foundations for which my daughter and I assembled frames for.  We subbed those into this same hive during this recent inspection to see if they'll take to it.

As for this frame in particular (pictures 1 & 2), one side has a bunch of brood and the other is filling with nectar.  As I don't want them to lose any of this at this time, I think for attempt number one at encouraging them to accept the rest of the foundation, I'm going to brush off the bees from this frame, then use a small brush to apply a new coat of fresh wax to the areas they're neglecting, re-install the frame right back into the hive after coating and see if that prompt them to fill in the blanks so to speak.

If that doesn't work, then I may move this frame to the #2 position with brood faced in so they'll (hopefully) keep tending them after the move, and hopefully they'll relocate the nectar (as they ton't want it out there I assume) and vacate the frame so I can replace it completely without them losing a bunch of brood and food.

Capn, I have not had any problems with bees taking to plastic foundation in the pst and I love its ease of use.  I have however noticed IMO that the wax coating from the manufacturer seems so thin it's almost moot, so I've begun to give them a coat of my own wax now before installing into hives.  It's still thin as it should be, but it's how I'd like it and I think (hope) they'll take to it better. 

Oldbeavo, indeed, I've not seen this problems in any other hives to date, and they are all much stronger than this one. 

30, I fed these girls syrup for a month when I got them.  They built some comb, but not much. Hence, I was considering replacing the Queen, but it was December, so I didn't think it was fair to judge her performance just yet, plus she wasn't laying very much and I wasn't sure they would survive.  She's laying much better now, but the workers just aren't giving her much to work with aside from the middle four frames.  That's why I'm trying newly coated foundations that I swapped in, but I was wondering if anyone had seen this or had any ideas as to the cause.  Indeed, the bees forage year-round here as our winter's are very mild.  I'm at a higher elevation that most on this island, and the coldest we probably see here is about 55F at night in the winter.

We're in the middle of a flow right now.  The hive next to this one has exploded its numbers and is filling frames in their deep super very fast right now.  I'm tickled about them., however, I do not have a super on this weak hive as they've yet to demonstrate that they're in need of it. They've not touched the outer two frames on either side (#'s 1,2,9,10) and two frames are patchy (#'s3,8).  The middle four are in good use, full of brood and food, although they're building a fair amount of bridge comb between frames, despite me ensuring they're spaced properly.  I trimmed some during this last inspection and tightened the spacing a smidge...we'll see.

Anyway, I'll give them a few more days before I intrude on them again to apply wax to the patchy frames.  Will followup on this thread post-inspection.  Further thoughts are welcome from all.  Thanks to those who chimed in already.


Offline AR Beekeeper

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2020, 04:40:22 pm »
Poor wax application or it could have been in storage for a long time.  The requirements for good comb is a strong adult population and a good nectar flow, or heavy feeding.  If either of these requirements is lacking poor comb results, and that is with plastic or wax foundation.

I would put those poor frame of comb in a super above an excluder, let the brood emerge, then remove it to let the honey be robbed out during a nectar dearth.  Or place the combs in a super on the bottom board under an excluder so the bees will move the honey up.

Online TheHoneyPump

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Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2020, 04:51:47 pm »
Bees will NOT draw wax unless they need the space AND there is a good flow on (or copious amounts of sugar syrup being fed). One or both of those conditions is missing.
When they need it, they draw the plastic (coated or not) just as well as wax or no foundation.  In my experience, they actually do much better job of uniformity with the plastic.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2020, 05:20:21 pm »
Though this is my first year to use plastic.  I take your valued word of experience. But In this particular case, looking at the picture blown up, they had plenty of resources to draw the comb ON the plastic, but chose instead to mostly BYPASS the plastic using their resources to start their own foundation on the outer edges of the bars. Resources, in this case was not the problem. Wether Syrup or Nectar, either or, had to be on hand for the bees to be able to draw this wild comb. Is this reasonable?  I will confess, I can not see well so I could be wrong.

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2020, 07:36:48 pm »
HP is correct as a strong honey flow will give very uniform drawing of frames.
Depends on where the prewaxed frames come from, some Chinese wax is mixed with Parafin to extend it, and the bees don't like it.
We always wax frames with our own wax using a 5mm nap paint roller.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2020, 07:39:50 pm »
Mr. Jurassic, you ask if beeks have seen this, referring to the burr comb as I call it.  Yes, many times, including this morning.  Same as your pics, bees building from the frame edge.  I believe all the above post have answered very well I might add.

So I will post a question regarding the topic, wax:  There are three requirements for bees to build wax comb.  Two are mentioned in this thread, but not the third.

What are the 3 requirements for bees to build wax comb?  I will answer later.

Van
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2020, 09:04:36 pm »
Mr. Jurassic, you ask if beeks have seen this, referring to the burr comb as I call it.  Yes, many times, including this morning.  Same as your pics, bees building from the frame edge.  I believe all the above post have answered very well I might add.

So I will post a question regarding the topic, wax:  There are three requirements for bees to build wax comb.  Two are mentioned in this thread, but not the third.

What are the 3 requirements for bees to build wax comb?  I will answer later.

Van

I have no idea, but just off the top of my head I?m going to go with photo period.


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Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2020, 10:14:00 pm »
1.  Lots of bees, mention.

2.  Incoming food, a flow or syrup, mentioned.

3.  Queen right hive.
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2020, 10:35:20 pm »
A little trivia is fun. Thanks Mr Van.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2020, 10:45:47 pm by Ben Framed »

Offline CapnChkn

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Re: Inconsistant comb on foundation
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2020, 12:38:19 am »
Ben my Fren, I ended up with embossed foundation, from Kelley in Kentucky.

This feller down the road had a beehive in his backyard, and I took out my glass to see a few bees just, lazily, flying around the entrance.  So when I see him, I discover he's been around bees as a kid, and got this hive.  Being in a suburb...

He lost the bees.  I saw him and asked about them.  Turns out the old lady that lives next to him "was spraying for mosquitoes."  So I bought his equipment, because I am down to housing my bees in 4 story nucs at the moment.

Holy Potata!  This guy had 3 or 4 full hives, frames for about 5 boxes, bottom boards, and the HATED plastic covers.  My Dad had those things, and all they do is warp.  I have to turn them upside down to keep from crushing bees.  I thought he had one little hive...

So I'm trying to keep up with seed sales, and give him what should be fair.  This stuff mostly hasn't been used.  Along with it, is about 50 sheets of embossed and wired foundation.  I have my own stainless wire as well.

I use the plastic foudation when I build a frame that will have a permanent honey area.  Like a drone frame.  Here is what I've been doing.  The Nylon fishing line is NOT WORKING for me, they seem to chew it...

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