Thursday, May 16, 2013

Strange Combs

A while back I read an email on a beekeeping blog.  The beekeeper reported that his bees had built combs above the foundation that he had given them.

He figured that the bees didn't like the plastic.

I think he may have been right.

Here's an example that I was shown of a frame of combs.  It's just like the other beekeeper described.
Can you see the gap underneath the comb?  There's just a "bee space".
 
Now exactly why the bees chose to build this way is a mystery.  They did it to most of the frames in the hive.

It created a real problem when it came to extraction because the combs weren't supported by the foundation.  So they could not be put through an extractor because they'd fall apart.

These combs would need to be extracted by crush and strain.  Or just sell it as honeycombs and eat the whole thing.

I had this happen in one hive last year.  The bees built the comb coming down from the wood at the top and the comb didn't touch the foundation.  They had even sealed the comb on both sides.  It looked like a wild comb.
 
It created a real problem when looking for the queen in this hive. I thought she wasn't there but later I got suspicious that she was hiding on the underside of the comb in that bee space between the comb and the frame.
 
We did make sure to cut that all out when we harvested the frames.
 
Hopefully the bees will get it right this year. 

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