Advice sought

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House Bee
Nov 11, 2008
Reaction score
Nantwich, Cheshire
Hive Type
Number of Hives
40 reducing to 20
I have about 20 supers with drawn comb in that have been given to me by a long time beekeeper who has decided to give up after losing his bees during the Winter 2006/2007. The super combs are in very good condition and have been stored wet, no wax moth damage etc..
The beekeeper giving up kept bees for 40+ years and had up to 30 colonies. He is very knowledgable and has kindly agreed to help me next season.

The question is should I use the supers as they are or melt down the wax and refit with foundation after scorching the frames etc?

What would you do?

Dont take the chance. Extract the wax (make some candles:ack2:) and burn the frames.

someone has given you 20 supers with drawn comb!!!
some people have all the luck.
draw not melt down!
unless you know of problems.

You can see the jury is split on this... maybe there should be a poll???

i think drawn disease free comb is like gold... but if it has been hanging around in a space where bees can access... you can't be sure it is clean...
decisions, decisions

Wow this is a tough one.

I think I would melt down,at least that way I would not be for ever checking hives for problems due to the comb.

If they were brood combs it would only be 2 hives worth but as supers that could be 10 hives or more you could potentially wipe out.

As a Beek with oodles of undrawn foundation, supers and brood, i would be inclined to hang on to them, but only if i were able to get an experienced second opinion on the state of the comb.

Is there not a way to cleanse ?

The beekeeper giving up kept bees for 40+ years and had up to 30 colonies. He is very knowledgable and has kindly agreed to help me next season.


I doubt he would have given you the frames, or offered to help, if he thought there was any risk. But why not chat to him about your concerns? he sounds a decent sort of chap, as most beekeepers are. :)
Sorry chaps and chapesses I moved the thread into this section and deleted 3-4 posts that I have copied above.

The technical reason is that the database rebooted while I was moving the thread.
The real reason was that I hit the wrong button when moving, lesson learned that I need to check what I am doing twice while hitting the move button once.
Thanks for the replies. The combs have been kept isolated from other bee contact and look very good although kept wet, I always give mine back to the bees to clean out for me.
One to consider over Xmas I think. My preservation instinct tells me to melt them down but then I think what a waste of all that work by the bees and honey used to produce them.
Perhaps I will have a chat to the beekeeper who gave them to me but I'me not sure how to broach the subject of possible disease on the combs with him.

No Problem Admin We will not take it personaly!

I will add back a bit of my post.

In summary.

It is a very generous offer and you are lucky. You have the plus note that you know the keeper and his history of keeping bees.

But there is still that concerrn about why they died out.

As already said I would talk to him and seek his guidance on the subkect.

If he is for the bees he will see than (IMHO) melting down is the best way forward.

It is not a waste, they bees have created some great wax.
Perhaps I will have a chat to the beekeeper who gave them to me but I'me not sure how to broach the subject of possible disease on the combs with him.


Get chatting to him about bees in general and what you plan to do, and then bring the subject round to why he gave up and what killed off his bees and take it from there.
If I was giving away supers of bonny combs and then found the recipient had melted them for fear of disease I would be very insulted.

You describe this person as an experienced beeman with some 20 hives. Is it likely that he has been harbouring disease?

Are you in an area of high risk? Honey packers about or factories using imported honey?

If not then you have quite a wee gift there and it is to be appreciated.

The only disease, what you should to be afraid is AFB.
If some one experienced beekeeper offer combs, I accept that they are clean.
He would not give you supers from sick apiary.

Weak AFB may exist and beekeeper cannot notice it visually. You may take samples from honey , mix them and ask to take cultivation, does it has AFB spores.

One way is to take into use and follow, does AFB appear.

Combs are very valuable.
The beekeeper in question ran 30 colonies at the most then reduced gradually down to 6 because of age and other restrictions. He is very knowledgable and as well as the supers gave me other things as well including about 20 apideas. He used to breed his own queens and was a member of the BIBBA group and part of their breeding efforts.
I have spoken to him about why his colonies died over the Winter but he is unsure. He had hardly ever lost a colony over Winter previously but over the Winter of 2006/2007 each of his six remaining colonies died out one by one. The only thing he said that he thought might have contributed was that the Winter stores, which were fairly solid, were almost all made up of forage from a sunflower crop whch had been sown in the field next to his apiary. He wondered if they might have been sprayed in some way which could have affected the stores. No-one admitted to any harmful spraying but that was the only difference to his normal routine of Winter preparation.
He destroyed all brood frames as a precaution but kept the supers and brood boxes. I've scorched the brood boxes and put them back into use.
Because I don't think he would have even considered giving away drawn supers if he had thought something might be amiss I am very tempted to use them as they are but there is a risk I suppose.
But then again life is sometimes about taking calculated risks!

I'll give it some thought up to Xmas then decide one way or the other. It certainly would be difficult to tell him I'd melted all his wax down because I didn't want to risk it being diseased.


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