August 14, 2009

Comb Management

A few posts back, I mentioned that the honey combs were going off-course and that a comb management system had to be put in place. The plan was to keep opening up space between the straightest combs and to put fresh top bars in-between. The construction on the blank bars would be restricted to the space b/n existing combs, and therefor new comb wonkiness would be mitigated.

The only remaining problem would be the falseback. I think it should be designed to mimic the face of another comb. Since it's more like a piece of foundation, the bees have ample room to make a nice fat comb next to it, before beespace becomes tight.

Fat combs hold more honey - no complaints there - but the falseback is so close to the actual back of the hive, we barely have room to get our fingers in to work the hive. If the girls put up honey right up to it, it could get really messy in the Spring when we do our first inspection. To prevent that, we decided to put a finished (i.e.: already capped and not being expanded) comb there.

Update 9/1:  tapping on the top bars, the blank ones still give a hollow sound. We'll give them 'til the end of the Fall flow – according to my allergies there's a lot of something blooming out there – to build and fill a comb there. If they don't make significant progress, the bar will have to be pulled out to reduce air space that needs to be kept warm through the Winter.

Eventhough the Farmers Almanac says it's an El Nino year, we're not too worried about breaking the propolis seal or cold drafts. says the latest to move the false back into position is Halloween. And besides, the greenhouse will keep them safe.


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