View Full Version : Comb Going Astray
05-27-2005, 04:22 PM
I made a 30 frame long TBH and its heading into its 6th week. I have top bars which a slotted in the middle and poured beeswax in. They started OK but they are reaching the 9th frame and the comb is skewing about 30 degree counter clockwise. I can't remove any bars wihout destroying comb. I am afraid Ill do more damage inspecting.
I don't know what to do. Advise is welcome.
I was thinking of putting in some deep frames I have with some foundation starter strips. Maybe this will set them straight? I dunno.
Also, if I want to add a super on top, where should I put it?
Thanks so much.
Scot Mc Pherson
05-27-2005, 10:20 PM
Several things you CAN do, and a few that I WOULD do.
I would do either:
1) With a razor, cut the straying comb, straighten it, and with hemp twine tie it into place making sure it makes good contact to the center of the correct top bar. The twine will damage the bottom of the comb and pull 1/3 of the way through as you tighten it, but that's ok. Its better than the alternative which is messy.
2) Cut the straying comb OUT of the hive completely leaving only the comb that is where it belongs which is on the comb it begins on (meaning the frontmost topbar.
Don't cut it halfway and try to get them to buildout both halfs across the topbars. NO, Not at all, the bees get VERY confused by this and will flounder all year because they can't build back up. You see what you do when you do this is have 2 or more divided combs that have the same "address" as it were and the bees can't pinpoint where they are. It is a noticeable effect and any hives I have performed this type of surgery on I have regretted doing it. If you need to cut the offending combs in half, CULL the back portions and only keep the front most bar of comb. You can temporarily take good drawn comb and place this half comb between two good combs until its drawn out again. Just keep encouraging straight comb and culling stray comb by providing one or two empty spaces in the brood nest between good combs to proved a GUIDED space. The comb built will almost always be nearly perfect.
Either cut off strays bits and tie back up to correct front most topbar, OR cut it out completely.
With 30 bars you probably won't need a super unless you harvest only once a year. You CERTAINLY won't need one this year, especially with the comb issues you have right now because the fixing is going to be resource intense for the bees since they'll be rebuilding combs several times until YOU are satisfied with them. This means lost brood, pollen and some honey stores too.
05-29-2005, 11:22 AM
scot,having to do with option 2).are you suggest-
ing that if comb is cut,cut the entire comb from
the bar? as an example,if 1/3 of the comb is stray
ing cut the whole comb and not just the offending
1/3? also,when using the twine i'm figuring it
goes over the bar. does this cause to much gap
between bars? thanks
stan in sacramento soon to be somerset
05-29-2005, 03:52 PM
I've had my best luck with the beveled comb guides. I like to put empty bars between two nice straight combs to get more straight ones. I tend to just cut the crooked part off and move it between two drawn ones to get it straightened out. I haven't had a lot of luck with cutting it loose and getting it reattached.
05-29-2005, 09:59 PM
You guys are beginning to scare me. At first my tbh bees made their comb 90º to what I had expected. There were 3 or 4 small peices of drawn comb that I cut off and reattached in the frame grooves with melted wax. Those were interspersed with starter strips. Since then they've been drawing it out nice and straight. Am I in for another nasty surprise? :confused:
05-30-2005, 03:42 PM
Thanks for the advice. I don't seem to have the time these days to nurse such a hive. I think I'll just put deep frames in and just run a long hive.
05-31-2005, 01:44 PM
>Am I in for another nasty surprise?
If they reattached it, then I think you're fine. The hives I've had that drew them straight and paralell continue througout. The ones that start off crooked tend to continue throughout. smile.gif
06-01-2005, 05:11 AM
I started 4 TBH from packages 4-5. Free released the queen in 2 and left the queen cage attached to 5th top bar in 2 for the bees to release.
The 2 free release have built straight combs now on 12 bars with the rear most comb a full capped bar of poplar honey.
The 2 queens left caged and suspended have been a battle from the start. They will start building comb straight toward one side of the bar and then begin crossing exactly at the point where the queen cage was suspended.
In order to help them straighten up, I built 4 of the swarm frames per Michael's suggestion, removed crooked comb and placed it in the frames and reinserted 2 of the swarm frames at the 5th bar location. After the bees reattached the comb in the swarm frames, I began feeding empty bars between these 2 swarm frames. So Far, so good. Behind these frames however, the bees continue to cross and I continue to cut, trim and straighten. Maybe they will have order restored by Summer.
The moral of this rambling. -- FREE RELEASE YOUR QUEENS when starting a package in a top bar hive.
Scot Mc Pherson
06-01-2005, 08:36 AM
There is nothing to be scared of. Its only when you are starting your very first hives. After you have one or two going you have every thing you need to ensure good comb drawing in all future generations and installations.
You don't need a lot of time to nurse the hive along. Just check on them once a week like you would any other installation.
06-01-2005, 10:29 AM
>There is nothing to be scared of.
Oh, Thank God! smile.gif
06-01-2005, 10:42 AM
>They will start building comb straight toward one side of the bar and then begin crossing exactly at the point where the queen cage was suspended.
Interesting. Something to do with residual queen pheremones, do you think?
06-01-2005, 01:22 PM
What's even more interesting, not only do they cross comb at the point where I suspended the queen cage, they are building
at the exact angle (about 25 degrees) that the cage angled off the bar. I should have caught it earlier.
I really like the TBH. I just hope the bees like it too!
06-01-2005, 08:21 PM
MGBee, mine seem to be enjoying themselves. In all honesty, though, I think I enjoy it more than they do. They're doing all the work. Mine have pretty much quit drawing out any new frames. Now they seem to be concentrating on enlarging those they've already made. And, again, going really nice and straight with their comb.
Scot Mc Pherson
06-02-2005, 07:27 AM
You will find in TBHs that the tasks of the bees change through the season. The also do in foundation based langstroth hives, but the shift in focus is much less evident than in a hive where the bees make all the decisions, except comb orientation. The bees do what they want so long as the combs are centered on the bars. Guiding the bees to build on the bar centers is the most intrusive most TBH beekeepers should be.
I suspect the bees oriented the comb the same as the queen cage simply due to convenience. Yes its full of pheremons, but also the queen WAS right in the center of the cluster which surrounded the cage and therefore thats where it makes sense for the bees to begin nest building. Once they have the nest center the nest grows from there, the center doesn't move unless YOU move it for them. Since the queen cage was hanging as 25 deg, that gave the bees something to attach there comb to, and so it makes sense. The best advice I can give is to suspend the queen cage a few inches below where you want the center of the nest. This way the comb won't be oriented on it until it reaches down to touch it. This is easier to fix than comb attached to a queen cage which is fixed at the top of hive against the top bars. You can simply cut out the queen cage and cut the offending comb without having to do surgery to the midrib attachment up top.
Again, once you have nice combs, its VERY easy to continue the trend. As soon as you see a comb drifting, fix it. If you catch it soon enough and its not crossing bars yet you can just move it between two good combs for finishing. If it HAS crossed, then cut out the portion that cross back, and leave the front portion in the hive, and put that portion between two good combs so they will finish it straight.
I stopped using comb guides because of this, BUT now I think comb guides are still important. Although the bees build between good combs, it gives them a better guide to start smack in the center instead of slightly off center and wiggly.
06-02-2005, 09:47 AM
I am using less and less comb guides. I use five bars in a five frame nuc first with only the center bar with a guide. Then I move it to an eight and a ten. The bars I put between drawn combs often don't have them either. But when I DO use them I like the triangluar one.