Replacing old brood frames

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House Bee
Feb 24, 2009
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South Devon
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I guess this is simple question and I have a fair idea of the answer but I'm new to all this...

I've had a nuc for a couple of weeks now which seems really strong and is building up well. In amongst the frames are a couple of old frames which I would like to work out and replace could someone please run me through the procedure for doing this.

I guess its best to wait until the weather is warmer and the bees are stronger?

Thanks Si.
Personally I have nothing against old comb.

You say the nuc is strong so I presume you are about to put them into a full blown hive? When they contract for winter you could get them out then after moving them to the edge of the brood nest when they get up to full strength of 10 frames of brood or so.

So why do keepers advise getting rid of comb that has gone brown, if there is no disease in the hive.
And if best to get rid, can it be rendered and accepted in new comb exchange by supplier or just burn it.
The percieved risk of disease build up.

I fumigate with acetic acid, or did, and will again when my combs age a bit.

and render or burn the wax??. Seems darker than any wax I have seen being exchanged for new foundation.
Old comb and new comb doesn't differ in the thickness of the side walls - the bees clean them back to the same thickness. They don't do this at the bottom of the cell and if you cut through an old comb with a blade you can see the layers piled up there.

I know that many people like to have their bees on new comb, but I wonder how much of that really benefits the bees rather than just providing cosmetic improvement for the beekeeper. Why should swarms greatly prefer old comb if it is a significant disease risk?

best wishes

It is not just disease that builds up in old comb. You will have residue from Apistan and other bee treatments as well as pesticide residue and many other chemicals the bees come in contact with. In the "Who killed the honey bee" documentary there was a list of hundreds of chemicals found in wax.

I fumigate with acetic acid as well but it is mainly for nosema and chalkbrood spores. It does not eliminate AFB spores for example or any of the chemical residue.

Having said that, comb should last for several years and doesn't have to be completely changed every year as some might imagine.
old comb can harbour disease I lost all my colonies to nosema this Spring I checked for nosema in the Autumn and they were all fine, old comb is full of larvea skins & poo and these days chemicals..... why risk the health of your bees for the sake of a few pence and a happy afernoon making new frames up?
Could we be causing more problems by adding fresh comb for old ?

Many old beekeeping books talk about 30 year old comb still in use.

I just wonder if we are causing the bees to have more problems long term as they will produce less antibodies to some disease.

Its a bit like the asthma/eczema problem kids are having today because they are not eating as much mud as we did when playing up the woods as kids.

It's a thought ?