Last year's frames-what should I do now?

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Bee Bumble 

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Last year, when my bees arrived on national brood frames I intended to let the girls build drone comb, which I would cull and later move the old frames to the outside for replacement with 14x12's. I gave them 6 new 14x12 frames/foundation. However, they only managed to partially draw out 2 of the 14x12's by September and built 'natural comb' all around the original 5 frames.:(:( Most underneath was worker brood, so I did not cull them and they are still there. What is the best way to go forward please?
Should I just remove them all regardless of where the brood is at the first opportunity, swap them one by one as the frames empty,or move them to the supers (double) and put new foundation and any drawn empty frames below a queen excluder?
Is there a better option? Thanks in advance for any replies not worthy
 

Bee Bumble 

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I did drstitson , just typed it that way to save a longer explanation.
 

RoofTops 

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It is still a bit early in the year for major interventions I think - I haven't looked inside my hives yet apart from checking along the top bars from the top.

However, assuming the comb below the standard National frames is not occupied by brood then you could just cut it off*. Then move all these frames as far away from the entrance as possible - if they are not there already - and fill the gap below them with something like rolled up sacking to discourage comb building.** Any big frames the bees are using should be next to them - don't create a gap. This is not the time for "working the brood nest".

Hopefully, the bees will then migrate towards the entrance and draw out the big frames.

At some point you will then want to get rid of the standard National frames. In a conventional hive you could isolate them with a queen excluder so once any brood has emerged they can be junked. This can be done with a horizontal beehive like yours but I'm not sure if a vertical queen excluder is part of the BH kit - if not you would have to make one - or simply accept the loss of brood when you eject the frames.***

*If there is brood -see below. The later you leave the inspection the more likely there is to be brood.

** In hindsight probably you could have done this when the frames were introduced.

***You will have to judge whether the bees can cope with the loss of brood but remember in late March/early April a strong colony can survive the loss of all brood, which is what happens in a shook swarm. Which is of course an option for your colony but space and finger fatigue precludes further explanation but there is info on this technique here if you search.
 
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irobson 

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If you have two sets of super boxes, you can move your national frames upstairs..make sure the queen is not on them and place queen excluders below...then place your 12s to the back of the brood box and put a few empty 12's to the front, then a dummy board...and add more 12's as they expand. Once the brood in the nationals have hatched out..remove them and the super boxes, until you are ready to put supers in for real. Leave one national with the 12's in the brood box and allow them to build drone comb..which you can remove every now and again for natural varroa control.
 

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