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Changing brood comb?

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Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35899
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 08 3:59 pm    Post subject: Changing brood comb?  Reply with quote    

Following my major case of the yips at Jocorless' Queen Cell excitement earlier in the week, we went up to see our girls today. No active Queen Cells (yet!) - but, we noticed that the foundation in the two brood chambers is VERY dark and old, and not very nice at all, with a small amount of Chalk Brood here and there. (Unlike Mochyn's hives, which had absolutely TEXT BOOK laying pattern in the brood nest, lucky her!).

I've been reading up on brood chamber comb change and I think it's time to have a go. The easiest and most hygienic way to do it seems to be the 'shook swarm technique'. You do it all in one go, which is good for both hygiene and for our current time constraints and the fact that I need Arvo there to lift for me.

Anyone done it? Anyone used any other techniques? Anything you think I should do or avoid?


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7086
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 08 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

the only problem with a shook swarm is that you loose all your brood - I've got some brood comb like that and I've been told to move it outwards to the edge of the brood nest until all the brood has hatched and then remove the frames and replace with new foundation

We are going to learn how to do something called a Bailey comb exchange next weekend which apparently is a less dramatic way of doing it

I've done some searching and this is what I've found

How do I perform a Bailey comb change? Prepare a clean brood chamber filled with frames of foundation. Place this chamber over the existing brood chamber. Unless there is a strong nectar flow feed with winter strength sugar syrup i.e. 1/2 ltr. of water to 1 kg. of sugar. When the bees have drawn out some of the foundation, find the queen and place her on this comb. Put a queen excluder over the old brood chamber and under the new, thus trapping the queen in the upper chamber. After three weeks remove the old brood chamber. The brood will have hatched and the comb can then be rendered to recover the beeswax. This system is ideal for replacing all the combs at once and is best performed in early spring, March in the South West, but remember to keep feeding so the bees build comb.


Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8406
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 08 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Failing that if you can't find the queen combine both methods.
Shake or brush the bees into a new box full of foundation put a queen excluder on & place the old box on top.
But if only a few frames of comb need replacing I would go with jocorless's first suggestion.
Shaking colonies causes a lot of confusion & its easy to loose or damage a perfectly good queen & set back your colony by weeks or worse.


Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35899
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 08 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks, both. It's really horrible comb - I've swapped out two today that they have been leaving alone, despite needing the room. I'm worried that the chalk brood will spread .

I guess that the 'Bailey' way is probably as easy - it's just that it means going over every week, which is going to get harder as I get bigger etc etc.

They do have quite a bit of stores, though, which is great.

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