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Burr comb, Brace comb


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I have noticed that some hives build a lot of burr and brace comb compared to the other hives. Some hives just attach the inner cover to the frames with so much burr comb thats its hard to open the box without braking the inner cover sometimes. Same with brace comb. They attach most frames to each other. Especially where the honey stores are.

 

But some hives dont use burr comb and brace comb as much as the other hives. Only a little bit here and there. Much easier to work with when the frames are not attached everywhere.

 

Has anyone else seen this with different hives?

 

Has anyone in NZ tried to breed bees which reduce the use of burr comb and brace comb? Is it a trait which can be bred out easily?

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Have a look at the hives that produce little or no brace-comb. Take a reading with a compass as to the direction of the frames. Then take the same reading from a hive that is full of brace comb.

I believe it has to do with how they are placed on the earths magnetic grid.

No need to breed this out - I believe this is up to the beekeeper to adjust the hives.

If you have difficulties getting the inner hive cover off - this could be due to a hive producing masses of propolis.

A simple propolis mat under the hive cover solves this problem.

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All hives are facing the same direction, which is North east. This gives maximum exposure to sunlight early in the morning.

 

I have read in a few different places that brace comb and burr comb are dependent on the genetics of the bees mainly and you can breed it out by selective breeding.

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Well, than just remove the queen out of your 'glue' hive and replace a couple of broodframes with day old eggs from a hive that isn't a 'glue' hive. The bees will rear a new queen that suits your needs.

Voila. You have become a selective queen breeder!:D

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I've never found it made any difference which way a hive faced. I'm not sure I believe in magnetic lines although strangely enough I can divine water without any trouble. I've never thought of trying to breed bees that build less brace comb but it should be possible. Space your combs evenly and don't use plastic frames.

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One of my hives is what I call a 'propolis-hive'. Dark orange 'everywhere'. This hive is hard to work as propolis is stickier than bracecomb - but I love collecting the propolis with a propolis mat.

Some like it - some don't! Presuming you use a 10 frame box, try using only 9 frames in there. Makes it a lot easier to work and the extra spacing stops them from gluing the outer frames to the walls.

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Hey Pbee,

John did not say 9 frames are better than 10 frames. All he said was he prefers that because of his management practices. And thats another thread and the discussions are going on in that thread.

 

And I am not asking about propolis in this thread. I am asking about Burr comb and brace comb. Hope you got the point.

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It is so easy to drift off slightly from the OT (original topic). I can see both points, and while the round robin may be tedious, the suggestions and outcomes are a fantastic learning experience for those of us reading. Keep up the great work both of you.

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It's true that different races of bees have different traits such as use of propolis, or gumming everything together with brace comb, some leave a space before capping honey, some don't, making the cappings all look different. It's a time consuming business but you can note different traits of different queens and try to breed out/in the traits you want.

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Don't know about under the mat. But between brood boxes, most burr comb is there because the bees want to build drone comb, and that's where they can put it. In a hive with sufficient drone comb, being 20% or so, such as in a natural cell hive, the boxes will seperate easier the bees will be less likely to have the gap all chocked up with comb, although there will always be some in any healthy well populated hive.

 

As to breeding for less burr comb, don't know. There are many reasons why bees build or don't build burr comb, one being simply that the bees are a vigorous, comb building bee. You'd need to make sure if selecting for less burr comb, that you are not actually selecting for some other trait, such as less industrious bees that don't do so much of comb building, or anything else.

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I'm not convinced of the magnetic argument. I would agree with genetics as the main reason but have also read that you get less unwanted comb if you allow drone comb to be built. In many of my hives I use one shallower comb in the brood chanber so the bees (usually) draw drone comb underneath it. This can be removed as part of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) once the cells are sealed . Varroa prefer drone brood so varroa are cut out and removed.

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I tend to use Adams reply above, I use a shorter frame or 2 in the brood box and cut off the drone comb to feed to the chickens when capped as part of varroa management, both my hives build burr/brace comb but both are sister queens and oriented in the same direction.

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another reason some bees build more burr/brace comb is because there's too much bee space, even a couple of mls too much will induce bees to fill it with comb.

Maybe swop your hive mat with another one that hasn't got the burr comb and see what happens.

The same can be said for excessive comb being built between the top and bottom box if it's a few mls too much between the bottom of the frames in the top box and the top of the frames in the bottom box the bees will fill it with comb.

It was brought up at the Auckland conference regarding standardizing of equipment and how there's a difference in box sizes. We have never had any problem with burr/brace comb between the boxs and have only had problems with hive mats that are home made and have a bigger gap between frames and ceiling

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In many of my hives I use one shallower comb in the brood chanber so the bees (usually) draw drone comb underneath it. This can be removed as part of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) once the cells are sealed . Varroa prefer drone brood so varroa are cut out and removed.

 

So put another way do you put say one 3/4 frame amongst the rest being full depth frames in your brood box? It seems like a good method if the drone comb is built there. IPM certainly would be simpler if the bulk of the drone comb was there.

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So put another way do you put say one 3/4 frame amongst the rest being full depth frames in your brood box? It seems like a good method if the drone comb is built there. IPM certainly would be simpler if the bulk of the drone comb was there.

 

Just read Kerry at #18. Thanks.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I'm not convinced of the magnetic argument. I would agree with genetics as the main reason but have also read that you get less unwanted comb if you allow drone comb to be built.

On that note Adam, are there any links with leylines and the build of burr/brace comb?

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