To bring back a neglected hive into a manageable condition, what do you do when you have a lot of burr comb in the top of the hive?
My wife and I were asked to mentor a young man who just finished a bee course and has a hive on his family's property. The hive was abandoned by the previous owners and hasn't been worked in a couple years. The hive consists of a solid bottom board, a deep hive body, two shallow supers, a queen excluder, and telescoping cover. When we went to inspect the hive, we had to pry off the top. With the top came a mountain of comb stuck to the queen excluder which was stuck inside the top. The top super was full of comb mostly with honey and some brood, but no frames. From what we could tell with our hive tool, the lower super doesn't have any frames either - just comb. From a rotted corner on the deep hive body, we could see a frame. So we are assuming there are frames in the deep. The hive is very active with lots of bees and looks like a very strong hive. No signs of SHB, wax moths, or disease at this point. No varroa on the drone brood. This was our initial inspection to see what we were dealing with and what needed to be done to get it back into a manageable condition for the young man.
We removed the mountain of comb off the top, separating the brood (all drone, no larvae) and honey. We found the queen on the brood comb, coated in honey, and placed her at the entrance where she readily walked in. She was very lean and mobile. We pried the queen excluder off the top and cleaned both. Another new beekeeper assisting us brought and donated a 10-frame super to the young man that we placed on top of the hive. We then closed it up with the queen excluder and top.
We have advised the young beekeeper on equipment that he will need (frames for the supers and a couple of replacement frames for the deep). We plan to go back and remove the rest of the comb in the supers and inspect the deep hive body. We are not sure what to do if we find a lot of worker brood in the supers. If there is room, we can cut out, rubber band into empty frames and place in the deep(?).
We would appreciate advice from someone who has had a similar experience with a neglected hive and can provide steps we should take and possible pitfalls we should avoid.