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Topic: bailey comb change

26th April 2016 at 9:50am

Mark Neal
Kent

33 posts - View

Hi

Cant find any info regarding Bailey comb change on a weak colony, this a question is in the general husbandry syllabus along with bailey comb change on a strong colony, which I can find plenty of info on.

Aparently it was published in bee craft or bbka news but there is quite a few of these, can anyone help.
26th April 2016 at 11:15am

Nigel Pringle
North Yorkshire

2325 posts - View

Not sure if this the answer the BBKA examiners would be looking for, but if its a weak colony I'd give them less new frames using a dummy board, say four or 5. with a frame feeder and use an eke with entrance below this but above the queen excluder. I'd also try to give them as much drawn comb as possible.

And be gentle.

The one thing that annoys me about the Bailey methodology is that if you are doing it on a diseased (e.g nosemas infected colony) they always suggest that you move an infected frame (with the queen on) into the upper box!. This is totally at odds with any sensible disease management, yet is perpetuated throughout the literature.   I would just gently pick up queen and place her in top box she may be weak and suffering from stress or nosema herself, but to take and mix an infected frame amongst "new" frames is just bonkers IMHO.
26th April 2016 at 1:55pm

Gerry Collins
Doncaster

535 posts - View

Bailey comb change to transfer bees from combs contaminated with Nosema spores onto clean comb (ie weak colony variant)

Equipment needed:  Clean brood chamber with some clean frames (preferably of clean drawn comb) , eke with entrance,  excluder,  clean floor, contact feeder + surround (or frame feeder)

Find queen and place the frame (with her on) into clean broodchamber (identify this frame eg spot of marking paint or drawing pin) . Add a frame or two of clean drawn comb on either side of this and use a dummy board to restrict her to those combs (as colony probably weak ) Use sterile drawn comb, if available, as infected colonies not good at drawing comb

Gentle manipulation required at all times as you don’t want to stress the bees as  they may defaecate and leave Nosema spores on the clean combs you have just given them.

In original BC remove all unoccupied outer combs and use dummy board to tighten frames  in the BC.

Reassemble colony with original BC on floor, queen excluder, an eke with entrance facing forwards, clean brood chamber with queen, clean crown board and  roof

Combs in upper clean BC should be directly above those in lower BC

The colony will need feeding with heavy syrup. They are too weak to come away from the cluster to use a rapid feeder so use either a contact feeder  (which will need a empty super or eke to surround it) or a frame feeder

Close original front entrance so all fliers enter and leave via new upper entrance

Once queen is laying on adjacent new combs transfer the marked frame in top BC to bottom BC

Once all the brood in bottom box emerged(21 days later as unlikely to be any drone comb with weak colony)  remove it.  Gently shake off the bees from it and its frames so that they join the rest of the colony and rearrange colony onto a clean floor

As the colony expands then give them more combs (foundation should be OK now) as and when required moving the dummy board  along to accommodate them (similar to building a nucleus up).

Discussion point: What to do with old combs ( fumigate with 80% acetic acid or destroy depending what state they are in?) Why a middle entrance so that bees don't store pollen in contaminated comb in bottom box which will be used later to feed larvae and so pass on Nosema spores. Also less walking of bees on contaminted comb transfeering spores on feet etc

As the queen may be infected with Nosema  she can be replaced when mated queens are available later in the year. Also current queen likely to produing genetically Nosema susceptible offspring so strain change might be a good idea.

Thymallus :Dr Bailey found that once workers are flying freely the risks of immediate Nosema infection to other bees in the colony is much reduced as they defaecate outside the hive so problem with contaminated frame in upper box for a week or so not really a big problem.
26th April 2016 at 1:59pm

AdamDarling
-- MODERATOR --
Norfolk

5736 posts - View

Gerry, you have just beaten me to it as I recall quizzing you about it some time ago and I have just found the thread.

Here
26th April 2016 at 5:33pm

CDSinUK
South East Gloucestershire

814 posts - View

I'm with Thymallus on this one. Don't see the point of moving the old frame when it is just as simple, and better hygiene, to move the queen.
26th April 2016 at 8:40pm

Nigel Pringle
North Yorkshire

2325 posts - View

Gerry Collins wrote:
Thymallus :Dr Bailey found that once workers are flying freely the risks of immediate Nosema infection to other bees in the colony is much reduced as they defaecate outside the hive so problem with contaminated frame in upper box for a week or so not really a big problem.
   

 

Yes, nosema can often disappear without any treatment by the beekeeper once the bees can get out flying to defecate. But if the aim of the exercise (Bailey comb change) is to move the bees onto non contaminated comb then placing a contaminated one among the clean ones does not make for good disease hygiene. Having bees traipsing up from contaminated comb onto clean isn't ideal either.
It might be the "prescribed" method, but I think it needs refining in light of what we know now.
It works despite what I see as its major faults, but then, as we already know, nosema often clears up even if you do nothing then it poses an interesting question which I'm sure you can all see?

Last edited at 8:41pm on the 26th April by Nigel Pringle

27th April 2016 at 9:54am

Gerry Collins
Doncaster

535 posts - View

Thymallus If you don't initally put a comb of brood in the top box then the queen often gets isolated up there ie not many  bees go up to join her. She ends up walking around on top of the queen excluder with a small number of attendants and doesn't lay much maybe a few eggs towards the bottom of the combs. Try it your way and see if I am right. Bailey was no fool he tried out alternatives. The real risk is leaving contaminated combs in the the hive causing an outbreak the following winter.
27th April 2016 at 12:47pm

Nigel Pringle
North Yorkshire

2325 posts - View

That is a very good point Gerry. The first reasonable answer to something that has bugged me for quite a while.....as Devils advocate I would probably add a frame of young larva from a "clean" colony, rather than move an infected frame up.

To date I've never had to do a Bailey comb change.....long may that state continue.
28th April 2016 at 2:08pm

JimNorfolk
-- MODERATOR --
North Norfolk

1819 posts - View

Thymallus wrote:
To date I've never had to do a Bailey comb change.....long may that state continue.
  

Thymallus, I don't think I have had to do a Bailey comb change but do them regularly for regular comb changing. What is your preferred method of comb change?
29th April 2016 at 10:09am

Nigel Pringle
North Yorkshire

2325 posts - View

JimNB wrote:
What is your preferred method of comb change?
  

Remove the dark manky ones and replace with fresh undrawn. :-)

Last edited at 10:33am on the 29th April by Nigel Pringle

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