Old comb - Bee In Harmony

Changing comb – Part 2 – Season 6

I start with smoking the hive entrance, of course

The fall is here. It is time to harvest honey. For us, natural beekeepers, it is also time to  change the comb (foundation). Every year, as I harvest my honey, I change from deep double supers to my regular width deep supers, and in the process, I inspect each frame, looking for any dark comb and brood. I either set it aside for immediate melting, or put in the deep super for the brood to finish pupating. All light comb, never used for brood rearing will be left for the colony. Here is the process, step by step. Please notice, that I used the best pictures. They do not show the same hive, but the steps for all four deep double supers were the same. First, I show how I took apart my deep double supers.

 deep super on the bottom board

1. I set a clean deep super on the bottom board,next to the hive that is about to be disassembled. The deep super will be used for the comb that needs to be melted, but still has honey and brood in it. I ALSO SET A MEDIUM SUPER on the other side of the hive, on another  bottom board, with an inner cover. THE MEDIUM SUPER IS FOR THE NEW COMB and the queen.

2. I remove all honey frames from the honey (shallow) super.

2. I remove all honey frames from the last honey (shallow) super.

honey frames

The honey frames go into a plastic bucket with a lid.

3. I start removing frames from one side of the deep double super

3. I start removing frames from one side of the deep double super

I pull out frame after frame and decide if I am going to leave it for the colony or take it away for harvesting honey and melting

4. I pull out frame after frame and decide if I am going to leave it for the colony or take it away for harvesting honey and melting. This is a nice, clean frame with a comb already started. It was just built recently and never used for the brood. So, it will stay in the hive for the winter. IT IS GOING INTO THE MEDIUM SUPER.

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As I put clean frames into the medium super, I keep the inner cover over it. The queen, when found, will be put in this medium super.

I look for the queen, before setting aside the old, empty comb.

4. I look for the queen, before setting aside the old, empty comb. Here she is in the upper left. The comb may have eggs, but I don’t see them. There is no brood, as far as I can see. So, it will be melted. The queen is safely transferred to that newly built frame from Step 3. The bees get brushed off gently on the top of the frames in the deep super with its bottom board, with a goose feather.

I set the old deep double super to the side (with a few old frames and some wild comb left in it, but the queen already found and securely transferred to the medium super)

5. I set the old deep double super to the side (with a few old frames and some wild comb left in it, but the queen already found and securely transferred to the medium super)

6. I pick up and set the deep super (with its bottom board) in place, right in the middle of the hive stand

6. I pick up and set the deep super (with its bottom board) in place, right in the middle of the hive stand. I dust it for mite removal.

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7. It is now time to assemple the rest of the hive. The queen excluder goes on the top of the deep super. The medium super, which has the queen, a few frames with clean, light comb and empty frames, goes on the top of the queen excluder. The inner cover goes on the top of the medium super. Finally, the shallow super goes on the top of the inner cover, followed by another inner cover and the outer (telescopic) cover. The loose honey comb that I found in the hive, still full of honey, will go into that feeding super. Otherwise, I would place a bottle with syrup in it.

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8. Last, but not least, I tie the hive together with a ratchet strap.

So, this is what I did with my deep double supers. It took me very little time (maybe, 45 minutes, per hive) to finish all the steps. The most important thing is to get all the equipment and plastic containers with lids ready to go. It took me another hour to clean up, collect all the hive parts lying around, and make sure there were no pieces of comb left out for the bees to fight over.

So,what now? I still had to come back to take care of my other regularly stacked hives. As for these four, I need to wait for three weeks, feeding the bees weekly, until it is time to disassemble the hive again, and remove the old frames completely.

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