Re: Cross comb issues
BelleJanelle, it sounds like you have about the same problem I did. I've never heard the official definition of cross comb that Delta gave, but to each their own I guess. My bees were off like yours, but were crossing up to three bars. If you correct them, and continue to do so, they will learn and stop building it crooked. In fact, on one bar, I cut off about half the comb that was crooked, by just cutting a straight line from the bottom up to the bar. I rehung the removed part on a new bar using a hair clip. But what's funny, is that for weeks the bees did not build on that cut face. However on the rehung piece they stitched it all up, and now you can't even tell that it was a salvage, aside from the hair clip that I need to pull out.
I have read as much as I can about fixing cross comb, but have found no correlations. I have not seen any proof to the theory that they build in a given N/S direction, or that having your hive off balanced even has an effect. Just look at a few pictures of feral cutouts, and you'll see that the bees tend to just start a line and run with it. I had wooden tongues on my bars as well, but the bees paid them no mind. The best alignment tool for straight comb is straight comb itself. As Delta recommended using the foundation as a starter strip. The bees will hopefully recognize that as a new piece of straight comb and follow the guide.
What I did in my hive was fixed a few bars initially so it was good and straight. From then forward, each time I added bars, I would add them between two straight bars. This results in the two straight combs being the best guide you can get. Be careful with this method though that you don't stretch the brood nest thin. I was able to do it easy down here since there was not much risk of it getting below 70 degrees at night. Not sure what you can expect in Denver. But for the last few weeks, I have not added bars in the brood nest and have opened up the back of the hive for honey storage. For some reason they skipped a bar, and pulled a honeycomb about 2.5" thick! I had to harvest it out because I could not re-align it with the rest of the bars when I moved the bees to a bigger box.
It's a shame you tossed that heavy brood comb. I wanted to cry reading that. I had one comb full of brood that was also too heavy for one hair clip. I cut it in half horizontally and rehung it on two bars. Yes you loose some brood as you slash the comb through the middle, but in just a week or so the bees had rebuilt the two combs and had two full bars, from what otherwise would have been tossed out.
Just get the girls lined out and you shouldn't have too many more problems. good luck!
One package to 4 hives in 3 months. After 12 months I'm over a dozen hives and growing. Head over heels for bees!!!