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How to Store Your Empty Frames of Comb Over Winter

You extracted some honey and now have a bunch of beautiful, drawn out comb. Ideally, you would store it until next Spring/Summer, but how can you do that without it getting attacked by insects and rodents?

For those of you who live in a place with a cold winter, you won't have to worry too much about insects attacking your comb, you just need to keep it safe from animals (mostly mice). Those of you in warm climates will have a tougher time with this because a lot of insects are going to want to eat the comb and it's a lot harder to keep them away.

TIP!

A way to keep the amount of frames you have to store down to a minimum is to do 2 smaller honey harvests instead of 1 big one. The bees will reuse the comb from the first harvest and you'll have fewer frames of comb to store over winter.

My #1 way to store drawn out comb in warm and cold climates is in a chest freezer or refrigerator. Here's why:

  • The gasket seal on chest freezers and refrigerators will keep out ALL insects. The freezer/refrigerator doesn't have to be on or even work. If you freeze your frames in your home freezer (maybe 2-3 fit at a time), then put them in an old or broken chest freezer or refrigerator. The gasket will keep out all insects and animals.
  • Nothing to build. You can often find broken refrigerators and chest freezers on craigslist.
  • If you have just a few frames to store, the refrigerator is a good option. It won't kill any insects that might be on them, but it will cause them to be dormant. I have found that they fit really well standing up in the short, middle shelf. I can fit 4-5 any still leave half a shelf for food.

 

Option #2 - Only if you have a cold winter - Hang from a wire rope

Here's how you do it:

 

It works well because:

  • Most animals can't reach it. The only ones that can are rodents and they can't climb across wire rope. 
  • Once you freeze the frames once, there won't be any insects on it and it's cold enough to prevent other insects from finding. 

 

Option #3 - (cold climates only) - Bags in bins

Here's how it works:

  • Freeze your frames, then let dry in your house - somewhere safe from most insects.
  • Seal in plastic bags (in the video I explain how to do this)
  • Store bags of frames in large plastic bins that have a fairly tight fit and keep in the basement of your home.

This doesn't work in warm climates because cockroaches love beeswax and will easily get into any large bin, eat through the bags and get to your wax unless you can find a bin with a gasket seal. I've never found one, but feel free to shop around.

Option #4 - (cold climates only) - Store supers outside with air flow

Here's how it works:

  • Freeze frames for 24-48 hours.
  • Put frames back into supers and leave in a shed, carport, garage or any open air space that has a roof.
  • Rotate every other super 90 degrees so sun and air can get to the frames.
  • Leave out in the open or put in a wire cage if you're concerned about mice or other animals getting to them.

 

There are a few options for you when storing comb. They all first involve freezing your frames. If you don't have a chest freezer, the average freezer on a refrigerator will hold 2-3 frames. this isn't ideal and can take awhile to freeze multiple boxes of frames. This is why I recommend a chest freezer. A 3 cubic foot chest freezer can hold at least 28 frames and can still be used even after it breaks. When you're not using it for storing comb, it's a great place to store extra food. 

You can also use a freezer to store your honey and honeycomb. Freezing honey delays the crystallization process, so if you want liquid honey to sell, freezing is an option to delay it. 

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