I noticed bulging honey (video link) in all three nucs I installed last week. And by bulging honey, I mean comb the bees built past the width of the frame. Here’s an extreme example from one of my honey supers two years ago:
Bulging honey is great for a honey super where I want as much honey on each frame as the bees can manage. I deliberately space out the frames so the bees will draw thicker comb on it. But bulging comb of any kind is not what I want to see in the brood nest.
The brood frames can’t be spaced evenly against each other when bulging honey gets in the way. (Have I just coined a phrase, bulging honey?) When I installed my nucs, the frames of bulging honey created uneven spacing — and extra space between the frames. The bees want to fill in that extra space and they often do so with bridge comb, which breaks apart and makes a mess in the brood nest whenever I need to inspect a frame.
I took a quick look at one of the nuc hives today and already noticed bridge comb. What a pain.
So I carefully pulled the frame with the bulging honey (which also happened to be the single frame of brood that came with the nuc) and used my hive tool to scrape off the honey. It was a sticky mess with honey dripping everywhere (and I made sure the queen wasn’t on the frame), but it was better than leaving the unevenly spaced frames — and the extra space between in the frames — in the brood nest. Had I thought of it at the time, I would have scraped off the bulging honey when I was installing the nucs. Now I’ll have to do this will my other two nucs as well.
I suspect the bulging honey developed while the bees were stuck in the cardboard nuc box for a week. An empty frame is inserted in the middle of the nuc box to give the worker bees something to do, but that empty frame created space that allowed the bees to draw out the honey comb past the width of the frame. I think that’s why some beekeepers advise never inserting empty frames in the brood nest. But how else do we get the bees to build comb on the frames? In the case of nucs, however, I’d rather see empty drawn comb inserted in the middle of the nuc instead of a blank frame. Would that solve the problem?