Encouraging Bees to Make Honeycomb


When a beekeeper units up a brand new hive, a number of care is taken to assist them get off to a great begin. A significant objective is getting bees to make honeycomb as quick as doable. A number of elements are concerned within the charge of wax constructing for any colony. Are you able to assist hurry the job alongside? Typically, sure.

How do Bees Make Honeycomb?

Worker honey bees drawing comb on a new sheet of foundation in hive image.

It’s relatively superb to think about that the inside of most honey bee colonies begins as an empty area. In nature, bees construct their very own wax honeycomb inside hole timber and many others.

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Younger feminine employees have eight wax glands on the under-side of their abdomens. However, they need to devour a number of honey to be able to produce wax. The glands produce tiny flakes of wax known as “wax scales”.

These are joined collectively to form the wax into many hexagonal cells. Bees use their mouth components (mandibles – bees don’t have tooth) to chew and form every bit.

Every unit begins as spherical circle shapes as a result of the employees use physique warmth to type the cell. The completed cells can be in a hexagonal sample.

Honey bee colonies make beehives with hexagon shapes as a result of that’s the most effective strategy to get many cells in a restricted area. This requires much less wax to get the job accomplished. The triple junction the place cells join make for an environment friendly sturdy construction.

In managed hives, beekeepers usually present wood frames with basis (wax or plastic). These function a information to assist the bees construct their honeycomb straight.

Nevertheless, even with the help of basis, the colony nonetheless should assemble a number of comb and 1000’s of particular person cells. This takes weeks (or months) of arduous labor by colony members.

What’s Drawn Comb?

Let’s have a look at only a little bit of beekeeping terminology right here. The phrase is “drawn comb” typically known as “pulled comb” or “drawn-out comb”. This isn’t the identical as a “drone bee”. Drones are the male bees within the colony.

Drawn comb is used to explain frames in a beehive which are crammed with full sheets of honeycomb. Apart from maybe including a wax capping, the bees are completed making ready this body and cells are prepared to make use of.

Drawn comb is efficacious. It represents a number of power and assets and provides a brand new colony an enormous enhance in organising a house. The season’s work is particularly difficult for brand new colonies. These hives start with nothing.

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Why Bees Produce Honeycomb

After we look into the specifics of what’s honeycomb and its development – you possibly can higher respect the superb expertise of those bugs.

Comb development requires the trouble of many employee bees and it takes a while – even in the very best of circumstances.

These honeycomb cells present a spot for a lot of colony actions. Some are used as brood cells and comprise creating younger or brood. Others perform as a storage space, storing pollen- or bee bread, and a number of honey shops for Winter.

New Comb for More healthy Hives

Typically, it’s not solely new colonies that we wish to kick into wax manufacturing.  There are different causes beekeepers wish to encourage bees to make honeycomb.

The pitter patter of 1000’s of little ft stain the wax. Pesticides and different chemical residues are introduced again to the hive by foragers. All of those substances are absorbed by the wax.

Having recent comb within the hive promotes more healthy bees. Because of this, we would like our colonies to make some new frames of comb sometimes. 

One good hive administration approach is to allow the hive to have new comb each 5 years or so. 

Many beekeepers give a longtime colony 2 new frames annually and rotate out the oldest frames of comb.

Another excuse you would possibly wish to encourage your bees to make honeycomb is for the honey harvest. Folks get pleasure from consuming honeycomb too. Producing recent honeycomb could be a viable a part of honey manufacturing.

Honey within the comb sells for way more per pound than liquid honey. The truth is, a pound of beeswax is extra invaluable than a pound of honey.

New Colonies typically Begin with Basis

Are you’re a newer beekeeper utilizing a brand new hive? If that’s the case, your colonies are beginning recent with no accomplished frames comb to make use of – a lot the identical as a wild colony. Your beeswax basis is put in and you’re able to see issues begin occurring.

However, my goodness they appear to be taking their time. Is one thing fallacious? A typical new beekeeper query is to ask “how do I encourage the bees to construct comb sooner?” Is there something we are able to do to assist the method alongside? The reply is sure.

Fresh honeycomb cell made on frame in beehive image.

Why Your Bees are Not Constructing Comb

Why are my bees not making comb? Typically we’re simply being impatient however it’s not uncommon to really feel that the hives are simply being actually sluggish producing wax.

What do you have to do-if something? First, it is advisable to perceive the dynamics of the hive. We want 3 main situations to be met for optimum comb constructing. If any of those are missing, your bees can be sluggish to construct honeycomb.

3 issues Bees Must Construct Comb

  • the colony wants extra comb area
  • they’ve sufficient adults to generate warmth and produce wax
  • plentiful meals is offered – incoming food-not saved honey

Bees Construct Comb When They Want It

Honey bees should not lazy. However, they aren’t wasteful both. Drawing comb requires a number of effort and power to supply the wax and form the comb. 

If they don’t want the area, you’ll have a tough time getting them to construct out comb. This is the reason comb manufacturing is tougher as we head in the direction of Winter and the incoming nectar sources are sparse.

A colony with a bigger inhabitants will normally draw comb sooner. Not solely as a result of they’ve extra younger bees however as a result of they really feel the necessity to have extra honey saved. They want a bigger pantry to retailer honey for Winter.

Comb Manufacturing Requires Warmth

Throughout Winter, bees eat honey and create warmth within the brood nest. On this approach, they can maintain the brood nest on the desired temperature vary. And defend, themselves from freezing.

Bees additionally want heat temperatures to work beeswax. An optimum 95° F is nice for molding beeswax scales to type comb. If the surface temperatures are very cool or chilly, it is going to be way more troublesome for the bees to construct comb.

They even might not assume the trouble is price it. Chilly temperatures outdoors will imply that much less meals is being introduced inside.

The younger employees are the very best wax producers. They hold in chains close to the development space. We name this festooning conduct and even when we aren’t at all times certain why it occurs – it’s actually superb to see.

It Requires A Lot of Meals

Bees should devour giant portions of meals to be able to stimulate the wax glands. Honey is metabolized in fats cells to supply wax. 

Saved honey doesn’t have the identical have an effect on on wax productions. Most beekeepers agree that’s the incoming recent nectar or 1:1 sugar water feeding that encourages the colony.

All of those situations have to be met for optimum comb constructing. The colony will need to have a necessity for more room, have heat sufficient temperatures to work wax and have plentiful meals coming in to the hive.

Worker bees on frame of new comb image.

Methods to Promote Comb Constructing

Now we have to work with the pure tendencies of our bees. Nevertheless, there are some issues we are able to do to offer our colonies the assets they have to make honeycomb sooner. When practiced within the early or mid-season, they could achieve success in your apiary.

Feed Colonies for Construct Up

Whereas all of us perceive that plant nectar (honey) is the easiest meals for bees, most beekeepers will feed bees at a while. This can be a completely acceptable follow and isn’t meant to switch pure meals.

In lots of areas of the nation, new hives profit enormously from supplemental feeding. If you’re in a area with a brief Summer season, feeding bees sugar water might assist that new colony get off to a greater begin.

Hive splits or bee swarms may additionally be fed relying on the time of 12 months and accessible nature nectar. Each of those small bee households are starting from scratch and wish to supply a number of wax.

That is very true for the late season swarm, survival of the swarm is uncertain.  They’ve a number of work to do.

However, additional feeding can tip the percentages of their favor – particularly in the event you reside in a area with an extended Fall season.

Sugar Water Ratio for Wax Manufacturing

Feeding bees 1:1 sugar water (equal components of cane sugar and water) stimulates wax manufacturing. This power of sugar water is most just like plant nectar. It has a special impact on the bees than saved honey.

However wait – if a honey circulation is on we don’t have to fret about feeding proper? Not on hives with honey tremendous on however for brand new colonies -that’s a special factor.

In case you have a feeder on the hive, the bees can eat 24/7. Hungry bees can feed contained in the hive on wet days, windy days, cool days and at evening. 

Be ready to feed an ample quantity as a result of only a jar or two won’t do.  Suppose by way of gallons not quarts. Select a bigger feeder or use a number of jars at one time.

Good Inhabitants Younger Adults

In a honey bee colony, nearly all of the inhabitants is made up of feminine employee bees. Many of the honeycomb in your hive can be constructed by bees which are between 10 and 18 days outdated.

What you probably have misplaced a brood cycle due to queen issues and many others. and there are few younger bees within the hive? Younger adults are the very best wax producers, however employees of any age could make beeswax.

The older bees which have been working as foragers can change into wax producers. They simply won’t be pretty much as good because it as their youthful sisters. A powerful colony with loads of younger bees make honeycomb the quickest.

Some easy concepts to remember once you really feel that your colonies should not filling out their bee packing containers as quick as they need to.

Selected the Optimum Time of Yr

Getting your bees to draw out basis (or construct comb) can be simpler within the Spring.  Attempt to use your frames of basis early within the 12 months and save a few drawn out frames for later emergencies.

In my expertise it’s way more troublesome to encourage honey bees to construct comb after the primary of July. If I want frames constructed out, I push to get that completed earlier than mid-Summer season.

Beehive crowded with young bees to boost comb building image.

Baiting Bees As much as New Field

In case you have a colony that appears reluctant to maneuver up into a brand new field, you could strive “baiting up”. You are taking a body of full honeycomb out of the bees’ tremendous and trade it with a body that has new basis.

This will encourage the bees to maneuver up into the following field. No hurt in doing this. Nevertheless, bear in mind, in the event you handled for mites with that body within the bees’ part of the field you could not wish to devour it. Beekeepers that use this technique ought to return in just a few weeks and change them again.

Use Swarms to Produce Comb

When you catch a honey bee swarm, that could be a nice alternative to get new comb. The employees within the swarm are able to construct comb for his or her new residence. They depart the hive with wax glands primed and able to go! 

As soon as swarms get began drawing comb they’ll typically proceed so long as you feed them.  This can be a possibility to get just a few additional frames drawn out for later use.

Typically we beekeepers assume our colonies needs to be constructing comb after they appear reluctant to take action. At occasions, a colony will construct comb very quick.  Different occasions, it appears to take without end. 

We beekeepers love our bees and wish to do all the pieces we are able to to assist. It is very important do not forget that we handle the bees however we don’t management them. Beeswax is necessary to the colony and we prefer it too.

In case you have extra beeswax after honey harvest, it can be utilized for a lot of enjoyable beeswax initiatives. That is another excuse to assist the bees alongside of their honeycomb making endeavor.


How briskly do bees make honeycomb?

The period of time it takes a colony to supply a body of honeycomb is unimaginable to calculate. There are too many variables concerned.

A really sturdy colony with loads of meals and younger employees can drawn out a shallow tremendous in per week to 10 days.

Does utilizing a queen excluder cease comb constructing?

A queen excluder is a display screen (normally manufactured from wire) that’s used to maintain the queen out of the honey assortment supers. She can’t go by way of the grid.

Beekeepers can argue for days on finish about queen excluders. Are they’re a great factor or the worst factor ever? Some beekeepers really feel that utilizing an excluder slows down comb development.

I’ll say that in all my years of maintaining bees, I’ve solely had 1 colony that didn’t wish to undergo the excluder. The entire different colonies have gone by way of with no downside.  

Will bees construct comb on an empty body?

Sure, bees will construct honeycomb in empty frames however except you employ a small strip of basis as a starter strip – they could not construct it contained in the body as you want.

The way to get bees to construct comb on plastic basis?

Many beekeepers, brush a light-weight coat of beeswax on plastic basis previous to inserting them within the hive. This follow together with a great feeding plan helps encourage comb drawing.


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