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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    Default Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    I am +5 days after first ever 3lb installations for two hives. . . performing first inspection . . and need your help.

    I am using zip-loc feeder with mini-riser/super (about 3 inches tall) from Brushy mountain. Upon removing the inner cover, I find 3 combs full of sugar syrup that I pulled apart when removing the inner cover (it was attached to top of brood frames and inner cover). She did lays eggs in comb below on plastic foundation (waxed coating).

    IMAG1425[2].jpg IMAG1427.jpg

    Not having any experience with this, I decided to scrape all of this comb to the bottom so they could recycle it (I was also installing a slatted board rack that created a cavity for this messy comb). I turned the inner cover over to hopefully discourage them from doing this again. Any suggestions? (oh and the queen was laying a lot of eggs in a regular pattern).


    Now for the "Balling?" . . . .

    I opened the other hive and found a lot of bees attached to the inner cover. I watched the ball "melt" and to my surprise . . there was the queen!!? I coaxed her back between some frames and she disappeared. I could see she was laying a lot of eggs in a regular pattern . . .so why am I "balling"? sniffle . . .sniffle?

    For more a much longer description and better pictures go here: http://eddieobees.blogspot.com/

    Thus, two questions . . .
    1. Did I do the right thing by scraping all of the comb to the bottom? and why would they do this?
    2. What gives with the "balling"?



    Thanks!!

    Eddie O.
    Last edited by eddieobees; 03-28-2012 at 07:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Winhall, VT
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    1,066

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Looks like they prefer that gap made by the riser more than they do the plastic comb. Was the Pierco frames waxed? Try spraying them with sugar water to increase acceptance of the plastic frames and remove the riser to force them into the frames. A Beemax hive top feeder or something similar will only give them bee space on tops of the frames and reduce all that comb on the inner cover.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    3,910

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Unfortunate, but inevitable if you start a package with a shim on. They will pretty much always start comb in the highest area that has enough space to build comb. Now you know - only use a shim during non-comb-building seasons.

    What to do about it now though.... Is there brood in it? Probably. Is there comb on any of the frames? Probably not. I would be reluctant to remove it until there is brood on the frames. I might lightly fill up the remaining space with crumpled foil or something to force them down into the hive body before doing anything. Otherwise they might just leave.

    If there is any comb below, you could probably speed up the process by putting an excluder between - with the queen below of course. That way, the brood in the burr comb won't be replaced with eggs as soon as it emerges, and all you will loose will be a bit of comb and honey - Which will quickly be robbed out and recycled when you remove it.

    The balling - that's not good. Prepare for the worse - a dead queen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pinellass County, Florida
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    1,104

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    I opened the other hive and found a lot of bees attached to the inner cover. I watched the ball "melt" and to my surprise . . there was the queen!!? I coaxed her back between some frames and she disappeared
    I'd bet she was looking to lay,I looked at your blog
    I think you need to add frames/box you have a picture that shows comb partially built and eggs right up too it
    I have never had a problem with wonky comb builds when using Hive top feeders,you may want to look into them
    Other than the wonky IMHO you have a good bees with the amount of time in box/comb and laying,
    Sure you'll get it all straightened out

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,297

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Your photographs do not illustrate queen balling, just friendly normal clustering, with queen. Balling is where they are in a tight vicious mass surrounding the queen, where they are doing bad things to the queen, and where you will not even be able to see the queen again until the balling has ended and you have a dead queen.

    You did not watch a "balling" incident disperse, you were watching a "cluster" disperse.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    13

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Wow! What a great resource and thank you for the thoughtful responses!!

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Unfortunate, but inevitable if you start a package with a shim on. They will pretty much always start comb in the highest area that has enough space to build comb. . . . I might lightly fill up the remaining space with crumpled foil or something to force them down into the hive body .
    Since I do not have another feeder available and I am leaving to go out of town, I am thinking of filling the void with a paper eggcrate thingy that I found at my office that was used to protect something during shipment. It's all paper and will allow for ventilation, that will hopefully discourage the comb building on the inner cover.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again!!!

    Eddie O.
    Eddie O. Atlanta, GA
    Bumping along on my first year . . . http://eddieobees.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    It may eventually become a little messy, but probably not too bad, unless a strong flow arrives or too much time goes by.

    Any spaces in the honey bee's occupied living space, larger than 3/8" will eventually become interconnected with comb of various styles (burr, brace, honey and/or brood); and the spaces smaller than 1/4" will eventually become filled in with propolis. And bees will chew paper, even cardboard, and remove it from the hive.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    13

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Joseph,

    I also found a FEDEX box that I am pretty sure would fit nicely into the area as well.

    Do you think I should try that first instead of the eggcrate idea?

    Thanks for all the help!

    Eddie O.
    Eddie O. Atlanta, GA
    Bumping along on my first year . . . http://eddieobees.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,297

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    If the FEDEX box fits pretty snugly it will probably be the better choice. Eventually they will chew on the cardboard, but it usually takes quite a while before they completely chew it out.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
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    3,721

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    "Since I do not have another feeder available....."

    So you laid the baggie [or baggies] right on of the top bars; with the inner cover on top of the shim?

    Try this in the future. Put your inner cover down first like normal; then put your baggies on top of the inner cover--then the outer cover over the shim. I tried this recently and I can get two 1-gallon bags on the inner cover. The bags are about 75% full. You must allow space around the hole of the inner cover for the bees to come up and get the syrup. You can do this by lifting the zipper side of the baggie up along the inner side of the shim. It looks like your inner cover is sturdy enough to support 1.5 gallons without pressing down too much by the inner cover hole. I no longer use the masonite type of inner covers, which are more flexible.

    The bees are less likely to build comb up there when it is like a separate "compartment" from the rest of the hive.
    Last edited by Oldbee; 03-29-2012 at 02:15 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    13

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    UPDATE: 3+ days since my "Holy comb in the wrong place"

    Again . . thanks for all the input. It really makes a beginner feel a lot better.

    Better versions of the pictures: http://eddieobees.blogspot.com/

    I ran home during lunch and opened the top. . . . As Beesource member--Oldbee--suggested, I was ready to move my zip-loc feeder above the inner cover (creating a false "attic") rather then below where they were building the comb in the vacant area.

    I took off the inner cover, expecting the worst . . . and no comb! Great! . . and I decided to not disturb the bees and left them all alone. I guess they must have thought "better not do that again" after I scraped all of their efforts to the bottom of the hive.


    IMAG1440.jpg IMAG1441.jpg IMAG1443.jpg

    Again, thanks for the help.

    Regards,

    Eddie O.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by eddieobees; 03-30-2012 at 12:23 PM.
    Eddie O. Atlanta, GA
    Bumping along on my first year . . . http://eddieobees.blogspot.com/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
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    3,721

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Good, that should work well. Not much different than a bucket over the hole of the inner cover, surrounded by a box. The only issue is if it gets cold and the bees become reluctant to take the cool syrup from the "attic". With a baggie, the syrup is spread out and should absorb some warmth from the cover though.

    Most instructions and photos I've seen show the baggies right on the top bars. I really think this is for established hives with the bees, queen and brood already ensconced on fully drawn comb in the bottom boxes. > http://www.beesource.com/resources/e...baggie-feeder/ > I am surprised there is very little mention of even the possibility of comb building like you had.

    Here is a story from a well known beekeeper blogger in a similar situation. They used medium boxes as a "shim". They couldn't check the hives before seven days went by and had quite a bit of comb under the inner cover...

    Quote from a Mar. 27th 2011 story,."What a Mess".
    "With a sinking feeling I opened Hive #9 and the bees were still there, but these bees had not built comb in the frames provided in the hive box but had built beautiful comb attached to the inner cover of the medium super we had used as a surround for the Ziploc baggie feeder. Every single hive had built comb attached to the inner cover and had not moved into the hive box!"

    "Shaking the bees into the bottom box was fine, but we then should have put on the inner cover and fed the baggie feeder above the inner cover and maybe the syrup jar as well,.." > http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2...what-mess.html
    Scroll down to see photos and comments.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Slinger, WI
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    204

    Default Re: Holy comb in the wrong places!! . . and I'm "balling?" on the other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    Looks like they prefer that gap made by the riser more than they do the plastic comb. Was the Pierco frames waxed? Try spraying them with sugar water to increase acceptance of the plastic frames and remove the riser to force them into the frames. A Beemax hive top feeder or something similar will only give them bee space on tops of the frames and reduce all that comb on the inner cover.
    I switched from the Plasticell foundation to all natural foundation last year, best move I have made, the bee's love it!
    Steve Wenger
    Gentleman farmer/7 year Bee Keeper

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