Repurposing Old Frames to New Drone Traps

In 2016, I experimented with foundation-less frames. Unfortunately, the bees didn’t do what I wanted and turned most of it into drone comb. In the first picture, you can see how the starter strip is nicely drawn out into worker comb, and immediately below, the drone comb starts (larger cell size).

Frame showing worker cell above and drone cell below.

I have always believed that I should leave the bees to do what the bees do best. In this case, I decided to help the bees along by converting these old frames into Drone traps. Varroa Mites favour drone brood because it takes 3 days longer for a drone to hatch, thus a chance to produce a couple of extra mites. By removing most of the drone cells after they have been capped, we can reduce the number of mites in a hive to a manageable number.

It’s a fairly easy matter to re-purpose these as Randy Oliver style drone traps simply by adding another bar below the starter strip. Fortunately, the strip is a bit less than 2 inches, as Oliver recommends not exceeding two inches because there is a possibility the bees will build drone comb up there as well. I started by cutting the rails from scrap lumber to the same dimensions as the top bar (1-1/16 x 3/4 inch, 17 inches long. Since I have a number of these to do, and don’t want to measure every one, I cut a couple of spacer blocks, also out of scrap.

Frame showing spacer blocks ready to place and fasten lower bar for the drone trap.

I clamp the spacers in place, then fasten the new rail in place, in this case with an air nailer. The last step is to paint the tops green so they can be immediately recognized.

Completed drone trap repurposing, with the top bar painted green for recognition.

We can now insert these into the colony at the edge of the brood cluster where the bees will quickly draw out their drone comb and fill it full of drone eggs. Once the drones are capped in a few weeks, we cut out the comb and it becomes a treat for our chooks.