Why Did My Bees Remove the Frame Foundation?
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David D asks — Four of my frames had 90% of the wax removed, three on the sunnier side, and one on the other side. The hive was in a place protected from the noon sun and the super wasn’t added until the others were about 70% full of nectar. Any idea what was going on?
Rusty Burlew replies:
Based on the photograph, it appears to be foundation rather than newly secreted wax that the bees removed. This is fairly typical, although some colonies do it often while others don’t seem to do it at all.
Only bees of a certain age secrete wax, and sometimes a colony has a tremendous need for wax but lacks bees of wax-secreting age to produce it. So instead of going without, they find a source and simply use that. Honey bees are excellent recyclers, and they re-use many things inside a hive, including wax combs, cappings wax, and propolis.
The bees simply bite off a chunk of wax, mix it with their own saliva, chew it into the right consistency, and then build new comb with it somewhere else in the hive. If later in the season they want to use the frames they borrowed from, they will repair the entire thing such that you can barely see what they did.
In your case, they probably preferred the sunny side frames because the heat would have made the wax more pliable and easier to work with. In any case, it’s normal and not something to worry about.
I hope this helps! Good luck with your bees!