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It’s that time of year

Away with the old comb - bring on new foundation

Away with the old comb – bring on new foundation. The new comb in this picture was ravaged by wasps when it was stored in an empty hive with a mall hole! Although the comb looks good, its condition would mean that the bees would probably build drone cells in its restoration.

It’s time for a change — old comb for new foundation. I try to make sure that no brood comb makes it past four years — and much is replaced even before that. There seem to be lots of good reasons to replace old comb with foundation — it inhibits the build up of pathogens in the hive, it prevents too much drone comb being built — and clearly the bees thrive on the change: it seems to motivate colonies. At the right time it can also delay or even discourage swarming.

Comb change  is highly recommended by the UK National Bee Unit and it gives some good practical advice.

It’scan be a messy job, but it can also be profitable if the wax is recycled. Now that should appeal to beekeepers. Unfortunately, the older the comb, the less wax it seems to contain! So frequent comb changing can be more economical.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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