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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Cross comb issues

    I've been reading the previous posts regarding cross comb, but I'm still not really sure what to do. I'm brand new and started this from a swarm, so I'm totally relying on reading blogs, watching videos and asking you experts!!! I have a unique situation where I moved my hive after about 5-6 bars of brood was built. Both at the original location and at the new location, I verified that my hive was level, but I still have cross comb. I'm moving the bees again 2 weeks....so if, how and when should I tackle this problem.

    After getting settled at the second location 4 weeks ago, they build several more combs for brood. I found some cross comb and double comb about 2 weeks ago. I tried to save it and reattach it, but it was so heavy and breaking, so I threw it away. When I closed it up 10 days ago, I thought everything was clean. Now, they have been building honey comb at an alarming rate, and when I went to check on them this weekend, I found a ton of crossed comb. I only made it to the third bar of cross comb when something happened. I have never smoked my bees and don't wear a suit--just gloves. I've never been stung or had a problem. I was trying to free the cross section from the next bar and the bees freaked out. I got my first sting and they were so angry that it took me 30 minutes just to close the hive afterwards.

    Here's my questions:
    1 - Does it really matter that I have cross honey comb? Can't I just pull out the multiple bars when I harvest in the spring?
    2 - If it's crucial that I fix this, is there any way to do it without smoking them? I thought they would have been more protective of the brood, but it seems like they are way more protective of the honey. Is that normal?
    3 - If I have to fix it and I have to smoke them, what's the best smoking method?

    Thank you in advance!

    Janelle in Colorado

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    don't be afraid to smoke them a bit.
    Just give a few puffs of smoke around the outside of the hive to make the bees go in. Then re-puff them when they start to come out and investigate. Set the smoker upwind from them so a trickle will float their way.
    If you plan on fixing the comb,..the sooner the better. But you can definitely leave it alone and just harvest it clear-cut style later.
    However they will build a crooked comb next to a crooked comb, so most of the combs that are yet to be built will more than likely be crooked.
    I don't wear a suit but I do smoke the bees a little. The smoke just blocks them from smelling pheremones which they use to communicate in the hive.
    When you say cross comb do you mean totally sideways or just crooked?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Thanks for the reply! I wish I could draw a picture for you... I'll do my best to describe it. My top bar hive has peaks for them to build from. They seem to be starting the comb on one bar, then transitioning and finishing the comb on the second bar. If I pull out one bar, it will tear mid way through. I know this is the case on at least three bars worth.

    What do you smoke? My father-in-law (beekeeper in the 80s) suggested burlap.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Here is my cross comb mess up http://youtu.be/nn9unz_3S5U and here is what I use now to attach the comb



    The cross comb was from over a year ago and after they were put back in straight and started building right they even fixed the balance of the crossed comb that I did not bother with because it had brood in it.
    It is all staight now and if you have straight comb to help with the starter great if not attach some comb straight on a bar and they will catch on fast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Thanks--I watched your video earlier today and was thankful that I'm not THAT crooked! I'm just trying to get up the guts to do what you did, or come to terms with the fact that I'm going to be a little off for the first year.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    you can smoke with anything almost.

    I have used pine straw, dried lemongrass, dried weeds from the veg garden, crispy leaves... whatever. fix your cross comb before that video happens to you.!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Mann lake sells a hooded jacket for 59.99 minus 20 for first time buyers. I liked it enough I bought two lol. It does lend itself to ball caps more than no cap wearers I think for me at least.

    I had some comb jump bars initially. I pulled both bars removed the crossed portion and pushed it back on the right bar. I had little comb built and the bees fixed it up nice. I also have bars with the v point for them to build on.

    I smoke with rolled burlap. Had some in the shed works good smells funny though. I had issues playing with grass and starts, getting hot smoke. Bees didn't like it at all.

    I have two goldenmeans. They are going to town in one. The 2nd hive not so much. If I can get some time I plan on stretching the hive out. Have u thought about doing a split? Maybe start some nucs to over winter for next year?
    Last edited by AkDan; 06-22-2012 at 02:29 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rogersville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Rtone,

    I live near you in Rogersville. I would love to come and see a real TBH in action sometime!!! My mentor and I are experimenting with top bars, but in a Langstroth box... Haing good luck so far.

    Belle,

    What we are doing to keep them from drawing out cross comb is either taking a piece of 1 inch wax foundation and putting it in the top bar as a starter strip to help get them going in the right direction, or we will melt a bead of wax down the middle of the bar.

    Either one usually gets them started off right.

    Just a suggestion,
    Jeff - like me on facebook
    See my bees @ www.ozarkshoney.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    AkDan- As a first timer, I'm not even sure what it means to do a split or start some nucs. I just thought this would be simple, backyard beekeeping.... I've decided that the heatwave in Colorado has caused my bees to think it's August instead of June, so they have made more progress than a typical summer. I haven't confirmed this theory with anyone else in Colorado--so if you're ALSO in a heatwave and have an early full box, I'd love to hear from you!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    I got a very nice smoker as a present but am not using it and I never will because thanks to Phil Chandler I found that a plastic spray bottle with plain water works like a charm bees dont like to be outside if its rainy so when i spray them they all move into the hive
    In nature smoke is connected with fire so logic sais they do get alarmed. Rain drops mean no panic but simply go under the roof
    I too have problems with comb curving at the ends. I try to cut 2 inch into the comb where attached and simply push it back inline with the top bar hive. So far they still go back to curving it. Im sure there is a reason to this. Nature does not tend to be linear but curved. Im thinking whether streight top bars are the perfect solution?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    I like the idea of water, but I heard that's not good for the honey...? So unless I'm sure it's all capped, I could just make a giant mess...?

    I also agree with your theory. It seems like they are going to curve the comb naturally. I gave them a guide with a rub of wax on the point, but they are still jumping around. Oh well. It's an adventure and I really don't want to try to manipulate nature. That's why I'm doing top bar after all, so I think I'm just going to deal with their inconsistencies.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,549

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Phil knows a lot about bees, but what works for a master may not work for an apprentice. I've seen a video of Phil doing a chop and crop with no gloves, not even nitril, which to seems a bit masochistic (and he did get at least one sting). Yes, you have better dexterity with no gloves, but the nitril gloves don't seem to reduce mine dexterity, they just make my hands sweat like crazy.

    Smoke has been used on bees forever, probably because it works so well. Yes, squirt bottles are fairly new, but they have been available for a long time. I would advise using a little smoke and let them calm down and then move in, don't go crazy with it. Once you get used to your bees you will learn their moods and be able to judge it better for yourself. And you can always have a squirt bottle since they are cheap.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    OHC you are welcome to come down just let me know, I had 4 hives after 2 cut outs just a couple of weeks ago but had to combine the cutouts and requeen they should be releasing her today or tomorrow.
    Just took some honey out of a swarm hive from this spring also, at this point all of my hives are building straight comb I have found that it just takes some up front observation and once they are going straight then tend to stay that way.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Belle,

    Let me start I'm a first year beek. I didnt know the goldenmeans had this issue till after I built to hives and hived my bees. Than again with our short fast summers and long winters...a golden mean may be the perfect size. I built the hives...but had to buy the bars, ran out of time before I had to pick up my bees. Been reading a ton, books, on here and surfing. (mike bush's page and fatbeemans stuff I seem to go to over and over again.... and I probably got none of it right so read with caution ).

    After reading about tbh's in general (again after I was hived already), it seems this is their shortcoming...dealing with the hive when you run out of room, preferablly before it gets to that point or they may swarm regardless. (and in my opinion dealing with feeders but thats another topic I'm working some kinks out of, again lack of room!!!) If you're not set up to go verticle you still have options. First I'd ask yourself whats the direction you'd want to go. If expanding is an option, than a split might be in order...basically starting a new hive with a part of your hive...either let one requeen itself (if you have time), or buy a queen and introduce it into a a hive. I feel tbh's are better suited to this after thinking about your question...moving the false back basically creates a full hive, into a nuc or mini hive.... essentially the same thing as a nuc with the option to expand.

    Next option is to create a nuc...a mini hive you are going to go into winter on...youtube Mike Palmer, its a long 2 part video but well worth the time! You have a couple options here. over winter the nuc as a backup incase your main hive(s) dont make it. Start a new hive come spring with an overwintered nuc....create more nuc's if they keep growing (again or they'll swarm), and/or sell them again come spring to new beeks or others who failed to overwinter. or use these nucs to raise queens. or if they are very successful a combination of them all???

    Your last option would be to keep them from growing without expanding...you've got to take some kind of action (atleast its what I'm grasping)....ie remove comb and add more room via adding new combless bars or they'll do it themselves and likely swarm. Grab a bar with no brood if you have no honey stores and save it. If they dont have room, they'll swarm.....this would add room and give them something to do, ie build comb and lay more eggs/pollen/honey. It also gives you spare combs in case you busted one up bad enough you couldnt repair it. If nothing else you could render the wax, or use it as a feeder comb (sugar misted with water replaced in the hive to overwinter on, learned that one yesteday talking about overwintering and thought it was pretty slick), either way keep it on reserve. Eventually they'll start backfilling with honey and you'll be removing a comb or possibly two full of honey....

    I only have 2 goldenmeans...my only and first hives. one is almost out of room also, though my winter is fast approaching already. I'm thinking of still robbing bars in the good hive with capped brood and moving it to my weak hive. I've got atleast 6 bars waiting to go in, and they have 0 fully drawn comb. They're coming around though so I think I'll be ok even if I dont transplant. I also thought about starting a nuc. In my situation it may not make it....either way if they dont, it will hopefully keep my hives from swarming and give me a headstart next year on a 3rd hive. I plan on stretching the mean plans out a bit for a bigger (longer) overall hive. So far I'm pleased with what I'm getting...though again I'm new, I dont know what the possibitlies are...good...bad.

    Thats my take on it after a bunch of reading and chatting with people from here, locally and reading what I can get my hands on between day jobs. I will say the window is worth the headache....I check on the gals every day, sometimes a few times through it. if I dont have windows...I'll need more hives to keep me preoccupied . Again I'm probabl off so take this with a grain of salt and do some more digging to confirm/dissprove my ramblings and idears.

    If I'm wrong please forgive me and dont be afraid to correct it....I'm learning also! Now if I could only figure out how to remember all this stuff I come acrossed lol......
    Last edited by AkDan; 06-26-2012 at 12:51 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    Hey I am at work. Google mike Palmer nucs, look for sustainable apiary part 1 of 2. . It's a Vimeo vid not you tube sorry. I will post the link when I get home tonight if u don't find it. Haven't figured out how to post links on my phone.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,549

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    No problem, I'll be able to find it now. Thanks!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    North Pole, Alaska
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Cross comb issues

    in case anyone wants to watch it......here it is. (finally got a few minutes on a real computer lol!).

    http://vimeo.com/23178333

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