So happy to have managed to perform a bailey comb change this afternoon on my hive. It was the first time since I started beekeeping that I only had one hive to go through the winter which is always precarious but I took the decision to unite two fairly weak hives to make one strong one to take through the winter. It, so far, has paid off and today I did my first proper inspection and saw the Queen, she’s nice and big and has started laying like crazy. The frames she is on are not very clean so I decided to get her on to fresh comb asap. You need to get your hive of bees on to fresh comb to start the season, hopefully disease free and healthy. Below is an explanation of how to perform a bailey comb change and if you would like to see the video visit the Betsie Valentine FaceBook page. It’s a tad garbled but having read my explanation below you will understand a bit more.
1. Place a new brood box on a crown board next to the old one.
2. Take out a frame from the middle of the new brood box.
3. Very carefully look through the old brood box until you find the queen on a frame with some brood and gently lift it over and place in the new brood box and pop a queen excluder on the top to stop her escaping.
4. What you have now is the queen in the new brood box surrounded by fresh un-pulled comb with some nurse bees and attendants with her.
5. Go back to the old brood box replace any frames you have removed while looking for the queen and put the one you took from the middle of the new brood box into the old one to make up the 11 frames. (Bees don't like gaps!)
6. Take the queen excluder off the top of the new brood box and place it on top of the old brood box.
7. Gently lift the new brood box on top of the old one and quickly put the crown board on top to ensure she cannot fly off.
8. You now have the queen on top of the old brood box - separated by a queen excluder so she cannot go down into the old box and she will have to start laying in the top.
9. Put an empty super on top of the crown board and then place a feeder on top of one of the holes and fill with sugar syrup. Cover and put the lid on top.
10. What will happen now is the nurse bees will stay in the old brood box and look after the brood. As and when they are born they will all move up to be with the queen. Meanwhile the flying bees will come in with their goodies and take it straight up to the new brood box and with the help of the sugar syrup which will give them more energy they will start to pull out the fresh comb for the queen to begin laying in.
11. In about three weeks time, when all the brood has been born and they have gone up to be with the queen remove the old brood box. Any bees that remain in there shake in to the new brood box and - voila - you have performed a bailey comb exchange!