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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
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    34

    Default comb guide after install

    So, I just installed two packages into TBH's designed to take a Lang frame hung off the bar. My own design after talking with some local Beeks about their troubles with overwintering in their TBH's in our climate, and deciding that the frame would support the deeper comb that seems to work better overwintering in the cold. All that leading up to the fact that, because our lives got suddenly very crazy for a couple weeks before my packages arrived, I almost had no hives to put the bees into at all, and certainly ran out of time to install comb guides into my frames (popsicle stick type). So now I have two hives, with new packages installed (two days old) and no comb guide. I do realize that this is a bad situation to start out in. My question being, how do I rectify the situation, or am I just up a creek without a paddle now? I was thinking of opening the hive and trying to install at least a few comb guides onto the frames that the bees are not currently balled up onto?? But I don't want to mess with the hive any more than I have to.

    I should also mention that it's gotten chilly again here in the NE, highs in the very low fifties and a very strong, very cold, wind. Bees seem to be holed up in the hives so far. Local Beeks tell me there won't be flying weather until the end of the week at the earliest. So basically I'm dealing with a giant ball of bees when I open the hive (had to open yesterday because one of my feeders was leaking.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,655

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Take out any frames the bees are not hanging on, install the comb guides and replace them. If you use a hot glue gun or beeswax this could be accomplished in less than an hour. How are your Langstroth topbars spaced? If it has Langstroth frames as you said, it is not a topbar hive.
    Last edited by odfrank; 04-29-2012 at 01:47 PM. Reason: improved grammer

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,975

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    The hive style that you have, given that it has frames, is generally referred to as a horizontal hive.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Maybe I should rephrase that as "modified Lang frames" It looks pretty much just like the average top bar, with 1 1/4" bars in the front for brood, and 1 1/2" bars in the back for honey, fitted tight together to make the "inner cover." But when you pull up a bar, there's a frame hanging off the bottom. I figured I couldn't build any kind of support for cheaper than I could buy the frames for a Langstroth and modify them, and I was pretty worried about comb failure on as deep of a hive as I'd planned after talking to local bee keepers about their wintering difficulties. Maybe it's not a TBH, but neither is it anything resembling a Langstroth. I thought I understood from reading the threads here that some TBH's are equipped to take some kind of frame?

    The hot glue won't bother the bees?? If I wanted to use beeswax, how would you suggest I apply it? And the bees won't get overly annoyed by my sitting around shuffling the bars in and out? (I had some trouble getting them back down between the bars the other day when I re-filled their feeder. Every time I gapped the bars it seemed like there were little heads poking up at me.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Quote Originally Posted by LadySteelsheen View Post
    If I wanted to use beeswax, how would you suggest I apply it? And the bees won't get overly annoyed by my sitting around shuffling the bars in and out? (I had some trouble getting them back down between the bars the other day when I re-filled their feeder. Every time I gapped the bars it seemed like there were little heads poking up at me.)
    It sounds like your frames are simply Lang frames without foundation. If so, those are simply "foundationless frames". Here's more info:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
    Read about comb guides at that link.

    Quote Originally Posted by LadySteelsheen View Post
    Every time I gapped the bars it seemed like there were little heads poking up at me.
    You need to acquire and use a "bee brush" or equivalent. If you don't want to buy one, a large bird feather with a handle glued on is a good equivalent.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    It sounds like your frames are simply Lang frames without foundation. If so, those are simply "foundationless frames". Here's more info:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
    Read about comb guides at that link.
    thanks! I had read that already, all of his information is so helpful. I had planned to either put on a wedge guide, or put popsicle sticks into the existing groove, then everything took longer than expected and just ran out of time . My concern is less with how to make a comb guide, and much more with how to install it now that the hive has bees in it, and pulling off the bars/out the frames, is necessarily a disturbance to them. I don't want to totally freak out the hive while they're trying to get started, and the bees are currently in a large mass straddling several of the bars (or were when I pulled off the first bar and peeked in) making it impossible to do anything to at least that area, unless I brush all the bees off which doesn't seem like a good idea...

    And I just acquired some turkey wing feathers from a friend... hoping it makes getting all those little feet and heads out of the way much easier! Gently scissoring the bars (as per previous forum post) didn't seem to work really great, but maybe I wasn't doing it right, or not giving it enough time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,975

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    That large "mass of bees" is likely festooning, and building comb. If you have any extra frames, get those upgraded with comb guides, then swap them in. If you don't have extras, remove some frames away from where they are festooning, and get those upgraded. Fixing cross comb will just get more difficult the longer you wait.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    The most important time is now. The first comb determines the rest as bees build parallel combs. You need guides or there is no telling what angle the combs will run...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#messup
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Well, this is all a moot point now. Both of my hives died. Within four days of install. The member of the local bee club that I was given as a mentor says that they starved to death because top bar hives don't work, feeding on the bottom is crap, and the people who tell you it works are crazy, and in a cold climate the bees will only survive if the feed is directly over the cluster in an inverted style feeder. I don't have any more money to buy more bees, which is why I built my hives myself in the first place. I guess that either I can a) hope for a swarm, or b) torch my hives and give up. So disgusted I'm tempted by option b, but instead trying to design a feeder that WON'T kill my bees, and praying for a swarm. I guess I have plenty of time to install comb guides now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    305

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Don't dispair. Your mentor is NOT helping you one bit with the misinformation he's giving you. I didn't see what feeder you're using, but there are several designs. I ended up with a super simple inverted quart jar sitting in a very simple cradle. The bees use it, and it's easy to maintain. Get the word out that you're looking for a swarm and give it another go.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
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    34

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    I was using a baggie feeder on the bottom of the hive next to the cluster. Evidently I didn't do my research as well as I thought, and this doesn't work, and all your bees will DIE. I still have a baseball sized cluster and a queen alive in the one hive (so maybe dead is an overstatement) According to the local bee mentor maybe if I can get a swarm soon, I can keep that (expensive) italian queen alive and salvage something from this whole mess. Planning on gapping top bars directly above the cluster, inverting a quart mason jars with holes in the lid, and putting a really big box of some sort over the whole contraption, and praying.

    Are there plans/pictures out there for me for the quart jar and cradle design so I can try to figure out something that works before I kill a whole bunch more bees?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    305

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    Unfortunately, I can't find a picture of what I built (it's really quite ugly, but it works). But here's what I did...

    - Take a piece of scrap 1x wood, about 4 inches square (whatever fits on the bottom of the INSIDE of your hive).
    - Lay the quart jar lid in the center of the wood, and trace a circle around it. Then make another circle that's about 1/8 - 1/4 inch bigger than that.
    - Cut out the circle. Test fit that the jar will fit inside the hole with the lid protruding underneath.
    - Nail or glue 4 feet on the corners so that the jar lid would be raised a half inch or so off the bottom to allow bees to walk underneath.
    - Poke 3-5 tiny tiny holes in the lid.
    - Fill with syrup, invert... see that little syrup drips are forming (but not steadily dripping) at the holes. Place your ugly cradle inside the hive within 6 inches or so from where the main bunch of bees are, and put the jar in the cradle.

    Done! Hope that helps.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: comb guide after install

    >Well, this is all a moot point now. Both of my hives died. Within four days of install. The member of the local bee club that I was given as a mentor says that they starved to death because top bar hives don't work

    Yet thousands of people are using them and keeping bees in them.

    > feeding on the bottom is crap

    So is feeding on the top... but they both work under the right circumstances to some degree.

    > and the people who tell you it works are crazy, and in a cold climate the bees will only survive if the feed is directly over the cluster in an inverted style feeder.

    In a cold climate when it is cold you pretty much can't get them to take feed unless you warm it up at least once a day... but that's only when it's in the 30s at night and the 50s in the daytime. By the time it's up to the 50s at night and the 70s in the daytime it is totally irrelevant. There is a temperature point somewhere between when having the food in contact with the cluster will make a difference as it is warm enough for them to take a little.

    Maybe your packages were early enough or the cold weather was late enough that they couldn't take feed and they starved. That's a timing and luck issue. If you weren't feeding them, that would be your fault.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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