I was given a hive that belonged to my neighbor. He fell into bad health about 2 yrs. ago and hasn't done much with his bees since then. He had this one hive left that he has given to me. It's woodware was in terrible shape and falling apart. It was a depp body with 3 shallows on top. This hive did get apistan strips and terramican(sp) this past fall. When we opened it up there were still 2 apistan strips in the super.
The supers had some frames, but no foundation so there is comb everywhere. The brood box only had 9 frames and some had no foundation so it is a mess. The frames in the brood box weren't cross nailed so when I pried up the top bars started pulling off. I kind of knew what to expect so I had a lot of tools with me.
I broke the hive all the way down and swapped the 9 frames from the broodbox into a new box and bottom board placed where the old one sat. When I seperated each super I tore comb to pieces as they had built everywhere due to no foundation and overcrowding. This hive was absolutely packed with bees.
So now here is what I've got. As I said I placed the 9 frames from old brood box into new and shook out old box into new. I couldn't fit another frame as the comb was doubled on some frames. On top of that I placed a brood box with 10 frames with wax foundation. Above that are 3 new shallow super boxes with the comb and frames from the broken rotted supers I took off. As I said these frames had no foundation and some boxes only had 7 or 8 frames so the comb is a mess. When I got done there was torn and dripping honeycomb in a pile on a board that I worked over. I put a new inner cover and a telescoping cover over that. There were bees absolutely everywhere. I'm pretty sure the queen is in the lower brood box but I did find capped queen cells, some of which I destroyed.
How can I get this hive straightened out? How can I get the frames in the lower brood box cleaned out so I can replace them? How can I straighten out these supers, they are packed with honey, but as I said they had apistan strips in them.
This is about the third time I've started this reply. This is what I would do. Do a shake down of the entire hive into new boxes and frames. Extract the honey and feed it back to the hive. Sounds like the hive is going to swarm anyway. This would be the fastest and easiest thing to do.
Or if you don't like that idea. I would find the queen first. Put her and the frame she is on in the bottom fill the rest of the bottom with the new frames. Put a excluder on top of that and then the rest of the old frames on top of that. That will let the brood you have in the old cone emerge. Then you can remove the old cone and replace with new.
If you can't find the queen, but you KNOW she is in the bottom. Pull the first frame on each end, up to the 2nd box. Then put 2 new frames in the middle of the bottom box. Keep doing this every week till all the old frames are in the 2nd box. You'll need a excluder for this too.
As far as the supers full of honey. I'd remove them, extract the honey and feed it back to the hive, adding new supers as needed.
The moving of the frames from hive body to hive body with an excluder was what I was thinking, just wasn't sure it would work.
As far as extracting the honey and feeding it back to them at the risk of sounding ignorant I'll ask how? The comb is just a big gom with no straight structure and even if it was, I don't have an extractor. If I did remove this honey, what is the best method to feed it back to them?
Set a new box on the old stand. Place the hive on a new stand a small distance away. Come back the next day.
The worker bees should then be in the new box. Making it much easier to deal with the hive. Less crushed bees ect. Remove the honey supers one at a time and shake over the new hive body. Don't worry if you gat them all. Stack in a pile a distance away. Deal with the hoey first as this is the biggest mess. Get a knife and a large pot just tear out the first frame. Brush the bees off with bee brush the ripped chunks and all and toss into the pot covering it with a towel as you go. Cut the comb out of the frames making a pile of the frames. Do all the honey frames until all the frames are empty and as much of the bees are brushed out as possible. This will be messy so a pair of rubber glove would be nice. Take the mass of combs of honey that is now covered and as bee free as possible to garage or screened porch and leave it there. Clean yourself up. Oh if brood in the super cut it out and make a separate pile for it. Just honey in the pot.
Now you have just the deep. Ask your self is there is any straight combs in there worth saving as to be interchangable later. Scrape all the burr and brace comb off using smoke to calm the bees if you have a smoker. Then pry each frame to loosen them as much as possible. Lay the box on the ground on its side so the combs go up and down. Get a hammer and tap the first frame out by gently hitting the end by the side bars and prying. Shake each comb into the new box. Then cut the combs out of the rotten frames. Save the straight one if any and mount into new frames using rubber bands or fish line to hold them. Put them back into the hive ASAP.
Now to deal with the honey. Dump into a collinder which sets over another large pot. Take a hand potato masher and mash the combs. Put the wax in water after straining the honey dump off the water. Render the wax.
No real easy way to do the whole deal, just lots of work.
Mashing the cone like Clay said is the only way. Mater of fact it was the only way to do it before the extractor was invented.
As far as feeding it back, feed out just like you wold sugar syrup. A top hive feeder is best.
OK here's an update on my mess.
The supers of wild comb are still on the hive. I've taken some of it that was broken and the parts that had to be cutoff to get the boxes back on and I've mashed this and drained the honey. I couldn't move the original hive as the boxes were in such bad shape on false move and the would have broken apart(which they did when I broke it down. The wood stand that this hive was on is also in bad shape so I shored it up with blocks of wood underneath. When I placed the new bottom and hive body I put it right next to where the old hive sat. I went back this evening and there are bees outside on the hive stand where the old hive sat just inches from the entrance to the new hive. There are also bees everywhere that pieces of comb are that broke apart while I was working. These bees were still out there after dark. Will the eventually go back in the hive or will I have to move the hive over? I guess I'll have to go and clean up all the pieces of comb and any pieces of broken frames I left as the bees are huddled on them.