Comb Building

– Hi there! We’re going to talk about drawing comb. That’s the process of bees adding comb, beeswax
comb, to the foundation we provide them in our frames. For bees to draw comb out, they need an intense
nectar flow but we can simulate that with feeding as we’ve done in this situation. Two weeks ago, we installed this nucleus colony,
four frames of bees, into a brand new hive. New beekeepers are at a significant disadvantage
with those brand new beehives because there is no comb for the bees to expand into. That’s a bit of a hurdle to get over when
you first get into beekeeping. When you buy a nucleus colony, all the comb
they have are on those four frames. If you have package bees, where people use
those, you’d be starting off with no comb at all. We’re gonna talk through that process, I’ll
set the nuc out of the way here. We’ve put this feeder on two weeks ago, and
we’ve put a gallon and a half, two gallons, of sugar syrup inside that feeder right at
the time we installed the nucleus colony. Just pry that off and there you can see how
the bees are doing. There’s inside the feeder and you can see
that it’s quite empty. They’ve taken that all down. They build a lot of, some excess bees wax
and when I look down between the frames I can see some nice white cappings wax. When beeswax is first produced by the bees,
it’s a pure white color. It gets travel stained from bees walking over
it so it grows more of a yellow color over time. But let’s start, we’ll pry that second frame
out here, lift that up slowly and carefully, and they haven’t done anything on this side. But the frame is quite heavy because they
have completely built the comb on this side. We can see that beautiful white beeswax there
and all the perfect comb that they built. It’s nice and flat which is exactly what we
we’re looking for. And what do we have inside of here? A bit of pollen, nectar, and some sealed honey. So that’s a thing of beauty. We’ll move over here, take this frame out,
lots more brand new comb on there. They’ve been able to raise brood and cap it
over within that two week period so they obviously got right on it and built this comb right
away. The queen got laying on it and we’ve already
got a beautiful patter of capped brood on that new frame. The cappings when you have new comb like this
are a light color. On darker comb, it’s a darker color because
bees move beeswax around and everything takes on a different hue. On this side of the frame, we’ve got some
cappings up here and then in this area here we have eggs and larvae all through here. Without the comb on this surface the queen
would have not had that room to lay. For the first week after we installed the
nuc we had cold weather and they would not have built any comb at all so it was a really
good thing that we had that feed on. We’ve since had a good week of weather, it’s
been some nectar coming in but we’re going to carry on and feed this colony a little
bit more to try and make sure they draw the comb out all the way across. This frame here has no foundation or no comb
built on it at all. Just looking down in here I can see that these
two frames don’t have any comb built on them either. So we’re going to feed them more, if we super
the hive before they draw out these outside combs they just kind of abandon them and they
move up and they never draw those out so the hive would be at a disadvantage going into
the winter. We’ll close it back up, get the frames back
in the same orientation. Then we’ll put the feeder on, and we’ll put
on approximately two gallons of sugar syrup, pour that in there, pour some in here, and
just to let the bees know there’s a little bit of syrup on top, we’ll pour a little bit
down the middle and that will get them looking around to find that syrup. Then we close the hive up with the inner cover,
and the lid. We’re going to leave that calling for about
a week now. We’re back after a week, we are going to check
to see how the feed is doing at drawing comb out in the brood chambers. So we’ll get the feeder out first, I can feel
there is no weight at all there so that syrup is down. And we’ll have a look. Looks quite good there, looking down in I
can see more comb being built on these frames here than was there before. We’ll pull a frame or two out and have a look. Oh there’s a lot of weight there so they’ve
definitely got that sugar syrup stored away in the new combs they’ve been building. Lots of sugar syrup in here capped over, eggs
down in the open area here, beautifully drawn comb on this side, so we’ll set that frame
aside and look at the very outside one. I doubt that they’ve got a lot on there. Huh, they do have one side, about three quarters
built and nothing on the other side. We’re going to fix that. What we’re going to do is we’re going to put
this frame in now on the outside and I’ll make sure to put the chunk of comb that had
eggs on it towards the middle of the box on this side and then we’ll put our least drawn
comb towards the middle. They’ll really want to get that comb there
for the queen to lay on so they’ll draw that out pretty quickly. We’ve done that little switch around there
to help encourage them to draw it out. They don’t really draw out the comb on the
very outside quickly and I want to speed things up a little bit. We’ve shifted that around so that outside
frame is now in this position. We’re going to check the other side over here
yeah they’ve done even less on this side so there’s nothing done there at all. We’ll check on this one, quite heavy, lots
of comb, just a little bit of comb, so what we’re going to do with that is set it aside
too. This one is completely drawn, full, full,
full of honey or sugar syrup honey. We’re going to put that to the outside then
we’re going to put our least drawn comb right here, get it over now close to where the bees
really want to build comb for the queen to lay eggs on. It’s nice and warm right now so we don’t need
to worry about splitting these, moving the frames over like that. We’ll now put this sheet here towards that
and we’ve got the drawn side on the far side there we’re just working that undrawn comb
over more towards the middle where they’re going to be working on it. We’re not going to feed them anymore. We’re done with the feeding. We’ve got white dutch clovers in bloom now
and when that comes in bloom in our jurisdiction that means the start of a major nectar flow
is on. We’ve got some good warm weather, even some
hot weather in the forecast so we know that we’re going to have a good nectar flow coming
along so we’re going to give this hive the super and let them carry on building comb
on their own from there. We’ll get some of those bees out of the way
so that when I put the queen excluder on we’re not squishing them. Set our queen excluder on. I think that queen excluders are one of the
most valuable tools that a bee keeper can have. We can keep our brood comb separate from our
honey comb which is a really ideal thing to be doing. We’ve got a box now with brand new frames
in them that we’re going to be putting on. Now when you’re a new beekeeper and you’re
dealing with a situation where you have no new comb, you pretty much have to put a full
super of foundation on the hive. You don’t have drawn comb to work with. Later we’ll show you what to do when you do
have a little bit of drawn comb and you want to get more done. We’re going to let the bees do this, this
is actually a bees wax foundation in wooden frames, bees prefer that a little bit to the
plastic so we’ll let them go to town, collect some nectar, and we’ll come back later to
see how they’re doing at building the comb out in the honey super. Here we are back, two and a half weeks later,
we’ve had some fantastic weather, lots of nectar coming in because it’s been really
nice and warm and the plants are just gushing with nectar while it’s nice and warm like
that. So let’s see what the bees have done with
all that fresh nectar. We’ll go down to the brood chamber first,
get the honey super out of the way, oh wow there’s some weight there, that’s great so
there’s obviously comb full of honey in that one. Let’s see what they’ve done with those foundation
frames that weren’t drawn out last time. So we’re going to look at this frame here
and that frame there, they had the least amount of comb on them. We’ll pry this one out first. Just looking down in I can see that it’s nicely
drawn out, very heavy so it’s full. In looking at that frame, I see honey along
the top here, and this beautiful sheet of pupa with all that nice brown capping over
the top of that pupa there. Lots of new bees coming along there. Same thing on this side, more honey, a little
less pupa, and then just looking down in, I can see that this frame is completely drawn
out on both sides. Now we have a brood chamber full of comb available
for the bees to use for raising young and for their storing honey. Let’s have a look at the honey super. Oh, awesome. There’s lots of white comb, almost all the
way across, we’re going to look at the middle frame first, when bees come up into the supers,
they work on the middle combs first, draw them out, and then they work their way in
either direction towards the sides. So that frame is full of comb, full of honey,
lots of weight to it there. This one I see is just the foundation so they
haven’t yet got to building comb on that but we’re going to move it over just like we did
in the brood chamber, so we’ll shuffle that frame over, it’s drawn, and this one’s drawn,
full of honey. We’re going to put that foundation frame in
there, so the bees don’t comb on it right away. Looking at this frame on the outside, it’s
already completely drawn so there’s nothing to do on that side. We’ll just leave it the way it is. This hive’s ready for another super. We’ll just grab the super same thing, all
foundation, I like to top super, to put the super on top of the already full one here,
rather than underneath. The reason for that is that lets the bees
completely finish this, cap this, ripen it, and so on before they move to another box
but we’ll just keep adding more boxes as they need that for honey storage. So that’s it for building comb for the first
year, once you get into subsequent years, we then have the comb that has been built
here, that we’ve extracted, so we have all this drawn comb and that gives us a bit of
an advantage because what we like to do is put foundations frames, brand new frames,
in between frames that are drawn out so we alternate that as we go across, this frame
has lots of, it’s sticky from the honey that was left over from extracting, so it helps
draw bees up through an excluder, up into the honey super, and once they’re up there,
the fact that there’s comb on either side of the foundations means there’s a little
less space in there so they build really good comb right on the foundation where we want
it. That helps with getting more comb built out
as we need to. Down in the brood chamber, we may periodically
need to be drawing out comb as well. If we’re making up a split we need to add
more frames to go into the brood chamber, or if we’re replacing old comb or broken frames,
we’d be putting foundation frames into the brood chamber. So what we do is put those in in the second
position here and then as the season progresses if they haven’t drawn that comb out, just
like we did earlier, we’ll shift those over more towards the middle to get the bees to
build the comb because where they want to raise brood they will definitely build comb. Once we’ve got our comb built, it’s a real
asset for the beekeeper, these are just some methods that work for us, there are other
ways of doing this but we really like these methods here, I quite enjoy the process of
watching that comb being built, that beautiful pristine white wax and seeing the honey fill
that up, it’s really rewarding to watch. Those of you who are new beekeepers, who are
just building your comb, I’m sure you’re really going to enjoy that experience of watching
that being built. Thanks for watching, see you another time.


  1. Just finishing my first year as a beekeeper. Thanks for confirming that I was doing it right shuffling the undrawn frames around like you did to get the bees to draw them out. It just made sense to me, but I always wondered if I was doing it right. Another great video!

  2. Like the little stool / bench you used. I've been working on building a seat / beekeeping tool box off and on to use in the field. If you would, could you show yours? Self made? Bought? Measurements and such?

  3. Well, Paul. It has happened. Seems, like you guys became the victims of your own success 😛 Only looking at all those questions in comments, makes one wonder, how long it will take to answer all of it 🙂 Awesome! We also had 2 weeks of good weather over here, some time ago. Then following very cold few weeks. Now, all the nature is slowly getting into "usual" rythm 🙂

  4. I just added a super to one of my hives and your right. Opening up the hive a week later and seeing that comb is a really great feeling. Do you buy your foundation or make it yourself? If you make it a video of that process would be very well received.

  5. Fantastic, thanks Mr. Kelly for another fine video. As an experienced bee keeper, there's nothing here I didn't already know BUT I still enjoy watching all your vids. I never get tired of watching a master bee keeper and it's nice to keep everything fresh on my mind going into bee season. Thank you again sir, very happy to see you guys produce new content!

  6. Seriously, I think Paul is the true superhero with the real superhero powers! I think they smell my fear because even with the smoker they are trying to hurt me, and he isnt even wears a veil!

  7. Hello again from England, another great information and education video 👍, done in a way that is easy to understand and follow, so keep up the great work, and I will catch up with you again on the next video 👍

  8. Finally I have the answers. Flow for our area. Flowering Dutch clover.
    Thank you for this video. I’m in my 4th yr and possibly my last do to losses every winter. I found the hard way that feeding pollen patties during winter is a bad idea. Cheers to 2019 from Elmira

  9. I'm so jealous. We still have 5 feet of snow here in NE Ont. Will my queens be laying eggs because of the longer days or will they hold off until it's warmer? I don't want any swarming.

  10. That is a good queen I would love to not wear my veil but I hate getting stung in the face do u get stung in the face or is your bees just none caring that u are in there hive or your bees love u more then mine loves me Thanks and have a wonderful day

  11. would it be possible to do a video on methods you use to cull out old brood combs. for instance. if you look in the box and the center 3 or 4 combs fully laid but need to go. how do you set that up to get that done without thowing away brood and at the same time keep them from back filling with honey. or even old full crystalized honey frames. time of year? What are the preferred methods. The process of culling comb is only ever discussed after It's empty and out of the hive. no one discusses how to get it Empty to take out of the hive. honey comb in the super is easy, extract replace. but, the brood chamber is a whole different ball game.

  12. Another great video folks, btw are you planning on showing methods feeding or how to build feeders like the one you showed in the video ?

  13. Could you tell me what size foundation you use (4.9, 5.2, 5.4) and if you wax the plastic foundation? Thanks! -Logan

  14. A while back I had an email conversation with you about this topic. You said you would put it on your list of future videos. Thanks for the information that relates to the new beekeepers. Question for you. In my area we build our colonies to double deeps (three mediums). I've tried queen excluders with double deeps and then honey supers with little or no success (unless the comb is already drawn). I'm thinking it's just too big an area for the bees to push through or the season is coming to an end. So the bees just put honey in the top deep. Suggestions on this?

  15. Mr Kelly, you have the best Beekeeping videos of all time! Thank you from North Georgia for bringing more of your great videos.

  16. You can tell that he is a professional, look at how graceful and fast he moves without stirring the bees up.

  17. Glad you're doing videos again! I've been waiting for more 🙂 This is an excellent video! Looking forward to seeing more from you this year!

  18. What is your thought on using frames with absolutely no foundation I bought a flow hive And the frames are just that frames with no foundation?

  19. Great tip about moving the empty end frames in to the middle. Thank you for making these vids. If you ever gets hit with budget cuts you could crowdfund these vids. Eric.

  20. Hi Paul,
    Thanks again for another great informative video. I'm just starting out here in Australia and you seem to just know how to answer all my questions. I started late in the season with a cut out from an upturned bath in a field. I'm feeding with a Ceracell top feeder and using 50/50 Sugar syrup at the moment to try and build the food stores. Will possibly switch to a stronger 2/1 mix soon. I'm interested to see how it all goes. All in a ten frame full depth single brood honey box at the moment. Checking every few days to see how the syrup is taken up so as to know how much to feed. Great, great info thanks for taking the time to post this,
    Cheers, Nigel

  21. Great video again! Only thing I notice when moving foundation around in the honey supers is sometimes if you move a foundation frame up against an uncapped frame of honey, the bees will simply just draw out that already filled comb super deep. The simple fix is just to ensure they have started capping the drawn frame prior to placing the foundation frame up against it.

  22. Thanks that's really been educational for me as a first-year beekeeper right now I have to brood Chambers and I'm thinking about going to one I live on the Central coast of California where the weather stays mildly cool all year round

  23. I love how you "immediately" showed the effects of your manipulations. That really helps to put everything into context.

  24. Hi from Scotland, Glad to see you have uploaded some new videos, love your videos they are really well done looking forward o more!

  25. Excellent video, especially for beginners. Love how you made the effort to come back twice to show the growth of the comb on the frames. I've shared this with our FB beekeeping group.

  26. Will that brood box fill up to the point you have to add another in the first year? Thanks for your great videos!

  27. I won't meet to know the name of the Madden that you use for the undercover if you don't mind telling me thank you

  28. I hope you can help. I've been feeding my bees to draw out comb but they take so slow. Sometimes they hardly touch the empty frames. Im using 3:1 ratio. (kilos:liter, if it matters)

    edit: never mind he answered my question at 6:52. Will try that out

  29. bonjour …..malgré je ne comprends pas ….mais j'ai saisie un peux d'aprés les jestes…….trés bonne vidéo…votre ami apiculteur d'algérie ( salah )….comment faire pour recevoir cette race d'abeille qui ne pique pas…..comment faire. merci .

  30. This is the most informative video on comb building I've seen on the internet. This was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to make it. Seeing what happened over the weeks is wonderful

  31. Hi, I was wondering how your hive deals with bee space with the top feeder in place? Does your hive have bottom bee space since you use the duck canvas inner cover normally? And does that mean that your top feeder gets rather propolised in place?

  32. It would be good to see how you made up the feeder box? I assume there's a shallow container to hold the sugar syrup with straw on top for the bees to stand on??

  33. Do you ever have to clean off the queen cage? Lots of wax to impeded the bees it seems. I take a portable propane torch and it melts and burns off the excess wax in seconds. Wonder what you think.

  34. Thank you to everyone for watching and supporting our videos! If you have any questions about our videos, please check out our list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on our website, which can be found at .

  35. Hi, I bet you have been asked before but how often do you get stung, I'm just starting out, I've had 3 or 4 interactions with my friends bees but only suited and booted, I've not had a bee or wasp sting for over 30 years, how I didn't crash my motorbike then, after a sting on the chest I don't know….I'm not looking forward to the first one I must say. Tee shirt and shorts? your a hero LOL.

  36. What is that feeder? It looks like 2 divided chambers filled with straw, and a narrow opening in the middle for the bees to come up through. Then, apparently, you just pour sugar water into the straw-filled chambers. Am I correct? Got plans for that feeder? You are very clear and deliberate in your presentation.

  37. For a minute at the beginning, I thought you were wearing a kilt. Kept thinking to myself, wow, it takes a real man to do beekeeping in a kilt.. 😉

  38. What was the “inner cover” made from? I’m trying to make my own boxes, and right now making a swarm trap, any info on construction would be great!

  39. Hmm turning that frame around changed the orientation on how the comb is being built. I personally believe, through experience, that the bees really don't like having the comb reversed. The "Y" should be facing up on the outside of the comb, and upside down facing toward the middle (opposite sides have opposite orientation). True it was just one side but that side will be the "wrong way" from now on.

  40. I've had my colony for about 3 weeks now and it seems as if my colony does not want to draw out comb, I bought it as a nucleus and they have laid eggs and started filling with nectar but only one the original 5 combs that came in the nuc. Should I be worried or is there anything that I can do to encourage the building of comb?

  41. Alternating is less effective than giving drawn comb in blocks, as bees will tend to draw out thicker comb rather than properly drawing foundation- it's more effective for them. Otherwise great film!

  42. So I opened my hive without my gear and pried my frame just like he did except the comb was a bit attached to the next comb and when it got pulled on it pissed them off and I was attacked. Got stung on my eyebrow, two stings on the tip of my ear, one on my rib cage, and two on my wrist and was chased for 100 feet. I at least always wear my hat with veil now.

  43. Awesome tutorial, as usual.👌 Thank you for making all that knowledge and experience available on youtube.

  44. For all the "New Bees"…this man is like the master beekeeper of the world. Words from my grandkids. And me. Watch, shut up, turn your devices off and listen. Intently…

  45. Thanks for the informative video, but I have two questions.

    1) I noticed that when you opened the hive the second time, the bees built burr comb on the top of the brood chamber despite the fact that the outer frames weren't drawn out. I've noticed this too in some of my hives. Does this mean that the bees are less inclined towards drawing out comb on foundation?

    2) Why did you add a second super when the first super wasn't fully filled with comb?

    Thanks again!

  46. How do you build your feeding boxes and do you use a 1:1 for comb building.
    Open Air feeding works good but causes a Huge Yellow jacket population that lead to problems late in the year.
    Tried the frame no drown feeders with Plastic float. Lost a ton of bees to yes Drowning.
    Tried the on top drip feeders. Occasionally the pin holes gum up and drown the bees. Was told the sugar:water mixture was to much sugar.


  47. Great video love the info. The issue I have is they are not building on the new frames but they do build on the inner cover. I have about 7 frames of bees and thinking of adding a super

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