How to Perform a Bailey Comb Change

How to do a Bailey comb change to replace old, dirty comb with nice clean comb in the Spring.

The purpose of a Bailey comb Change is to get your bees onto nice, clean comb. This should only be done on a strong colony early in the spring.

If you think you have diseased comb, you can learn more about replacing your comb with a shook swarm here.

Thanks to Bronwen White for the demonstration:

How to perform a Bailey comb change:

  • Place a brood box of clean frames straight on top of the original brood box with dirty frames.
  • Place crown board on top
  • Feed with a strong sugar syrup with a contact feeder (as the weather could be cold.)
  • Put a super on the hive with some insulation
  • Then place the roof back on

After one week:

The queen should have moved up into the clean frames (in the top box) to lay, so we need to:

  • Inspect the top box to check that this has happened (and make sure the queen is in the top box.)
  • Place a queen excluder between the boxes (to keep her in the top box.)
  • Put an eke with a small entrance on top of the QE.
  • Put clean box on top.
  • Close up the bottom entrance completely.
  • Place crown board, feeder, super, and roof back on. Continue feeding until the foundation is built out.

After another three weeks:

All of the brood in the bottom box should have emerged, so we need to dispose of the bottom box:

  • Remove roof, feeder, + super.
  • Move the entire hive to one side.
  • Put a clean floor in place
  • Lift our nice clean brood box with our queen and new brood onto the clean floor.
  • At this stage, the brood should be drawn out and we don’t need a feeder anymore so we can put our roof back on.