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I added my nuc weeks ago, but they aren't using any new frames yet?

We get thousands of calls from beekeepers all over Michigan and many from other states about beekeeping. Some problems are new and different, others we hear about time after time.

Occasionally someone will call about their hive not using new frames. They installed their nuc weeks ago and although the hive is growing, they haven't started to work on the new frames at all?

Many things can contribute to this issue. Perhaps the new frames you are using have black foundation and the frames that came in your nuc were white or yellow? Sometimes the bees just don't want to start on new frames if they are drastically different.

Are you sure the foundation on your new frames is actually coated with wax? Some suppliers sell plastic foundation without a wax coating. This can make the bees uninterested in using the frames. Melt some pure honeybee wax and paint it lightly in the foundation and see if that helps.

Sometimes the boxes of foundation, before they were shipped to your supplier or shipped directly to you, may have been stored for a very long time or in a warehouse that was very damp. The box of foundation may have even been setting on or near some sort of chemical completely unrelated to beekeeping. We never know where our products are stored, what they sit next to while being shipped, what might have rubbed off on the box, etc. No matter what it might be, it may be influencing the bees and their decision to just not touch the frames.

A pretty effective way to fix the issue is to first spray a light mist of sugar water on the foundation and then checkerboard the frames; meaning put one of your new frames in between each of your original nuc frames. This will force the bees to use the new frames and in most cases works well.

If you tried this and they still don't use the frames, you may need to replace them.

This may also be the case when you add a new box to your hive. Sometimes the bees just don't move up into the new box, especially if it is above the queen excluder. Same method can be applied to encourage them to move up, take a brood frame from a lower box and move it up into the new box. This will encourage them to start using the new box and frames. If it's a honey super, try the sugar water spray.

It's all about troubleshooting and trying to figure out what the bees are telling you. Try different things until something works.

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