Bailey Comb Change

Bailey Comb Change


This system replaces all the combs at once and is often best performed in early Spring on a day. March is suitable, but feed the bees so they can build comb.

Why Undertake A Bailey Comb Change?

The key reasons are:

  1. Change old brood comb
    • Combs should be changed regularly as they become damaged and mostly because used it may contain the causative organism of many bee diseases, such as Nosema, European and American Foul Brood as well as pesticides
    • The National Bee Unit advise that brood comb should not be used for more than three years and that used comb should not be used in a different colony but rather be rendered or disposed
  2. Convert hive from one size to another, eg. National to 14×12


  1. Prepare a clean brood box filled with frames of foundation
  2. Place this box over current brood box
  3. Feed with Thick Sugar Syrup (1/2 litre of water to 1 kilogram of sugar; see link on Feeding), unless there is a strong nectar flow
  4. When the bees have drawn out some of the foundation, find the queen and place her on this comb
  5. Place queen excluder over the old brood box and under the new, trapping the queen in the upper box
  6. If possible, arrange a new hive entrance between the two brood boxes and close off the old, thus helping to reduce the amount of pollen stored in the old lower combs
  7. After three weeks remove the old brood chamber
  8. The brood will have hatched and the comb can then be rendered to recover the beeswax

Diagram Of Bailey Comb Change

Bailey Comb Change

Bailey Comb Change

Diagram from FAQ 5, Replacing Old Brood Comb, National Bee Unit, FERA

Video Of Bailey Comb Change

This guy knows what he is doing – he finds the Queen straight away! In this video he also converts from a National to a Commercial Brood Box.

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Bailey Comb Change — 7 Comments

  1. Thank you for your clear instruction, its exactly what i was looking for. Do you think i could do a Bailey Comb Change now in june or should i wait for next March?
    Thank you for your help.

  2. Thank you for this clear explanation- I have a swarm that got into a redundant wbc hive a retiring beekeeper gave me, unfortunately the brood box was full of super frames instead of brood frames. I need to move them onto brood frames next spring and this method looks better than ‘shaking’ them in.

  3. I’ve had bees in MN, USA for 20 years. All 4 colonies have died at this time well b4 the real winter begins. Frustrating. My comb is old. Never knew how to get the bees to draw out a lot of frames in a single season. Thanks for this info. I treated for varoa mid Aug right after honey harvest, but I think I need to treat in the middle of the nectar flow too. Maybe even right away in spring even though packages are supposed to be treated for varoa by the time they arrive.

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