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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Worcester, MA
    Posts
    99

    Default Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    As the summer ticks by here in New England, fall is just around the corner and my very first Warre harvest is on my mind. Does anyone have any experience using successful methods on how to actually separate the top box from the rest of the hive without too much mess?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,322

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Separating boxes is always the job of the hive tool. Getting bees out of the box can be done any of several ways.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm#beeremoval
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Worcester, MA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Thanks Michael,

    I've heard stories of the top comb being connected to the lower comb and causing big issues. I've heard use cheese wire, but then I've heard that using wire can pull at the comb and cause damage. So much conflicting information out there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    51,322

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Yea, that is an issue. I guess I didn't notice this is Warre'. Usually people use a "cheese cutter" method. A couple of sticks with a guitar string between them works well, but any piece of wire could work. I'm always concerned about the queen. Damaging comb isn't so big of a deal, but what if you cut the queen in half or drown her? Probably you won't, but you can't really see what is taking place. Still, there isn't any other way that I know of other than to cut the comb. You could do this with a long knife I suppose but the wire is probably more practical. I would cut it loose and wait a few minutes for the bees to clean up the loose honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Worcester, MA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I'm always concerned about the queen. Damaging comb isn't so big of a deal, but what if you cut the queen in half or drown her?
    I wonder if moving the wire slowly enough would allow the bees to get out of the way of the wire. As far as drowning goes, I guess anything is possible but hopefully very unlikely...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,322

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    >I wonder if moving the wire slowly enough would allow the bees to get out of the way of the wire. As far as drowning goes, I guess anything is possible but hopefully very unlikely...

    Slow will probably help on both counts. But sometimes it's difficult enough just to get it done without trying to do it slowly, still it's a good idea.

    "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing slowly"--Gypsy Rose Lee
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Worcester, MA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    I found this article. They make it look pretty simple.

    https://thebeespace.net/2008/11/20/c...honey-harvest/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    west central Arkansas
    Posts
    435

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Something to consider, and I've never tried it myself or gotten a response on if it works, but my thinking is if one were to align boxes 90 degrees to one another, the ladder comb might be reduced as there would be less surface area for the bees to attach it to. One concern might be they would just build 90 degrees to the comb guides to keep combs in vertical alignment, but one could offset this by transferring comb to empties to give them a guide.

    Again, just a theory, but maybe one worth considering at some point as an experiment. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone that has tried it.
    Treatment free. Still learning and hope to never stop.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,934

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    I just hive tool it up carefully. Often there are few connections and less so on brood combs. After all, you are harvesting anyways, and will crush and strain, so what do a few broken combs matter? If it seems firmly stuck, I smoke the crack and use a sawing motion on the wire.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    west central Arkansas
    Posts
    435

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I smoke the crack
    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Millstadt, IL
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    I use a guitar string that has a dowel rod attached to each end for a handle. i sometimes have to use my hive tool to break it loose. I like the wire because it separates them with very little honey dripping in or around the hive. We have a lot of ants in our area. Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    566

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    I like using a long serrated bread knife. Pry up a corner, and very slowly slice thru. You will have a very good control, and wil do no more damage than a wire.

    Generally, slicing the boxes off isnt needed. If the topbars are all going the same way, the bees leave a beespace above the topbars.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Techniques for Removing Top Box for Harvest?

    I have harvested so many tons of honey out of Warré hives. Never owned a "cheese wire" (wtf?) or using a knife to cut comb.

    For harvest you simply crack the top box(es) open, insert a bee escape (use the diamond shaped one by Nicot) and walk away. Do this in the early morning. Come back the other morning to remove the boxes. Either set the boxes aside with a bee escape on top or use a leaf blower to remove the few remaining bees.

    To avoid too much brace comb, you use a solid floor. Install swarm in a single new box. Let them draw down the comb right to the floor. Wait until the lower tips of the comb become roundish. (The tips are pointy first, later they become roundish and flat.) Install the next box, by nadiring.) By having rounded comb bottoms, you have very few burr comb between boxes.

    Also inspect your boxes regularly. That way you keep the boxes moveable. Like you keep frames moveable (by using them...).

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