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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    17

    Default Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    Here's my problem.

    I bought my woodenware from a carpenter who only makes beekeeping equipment because I wanted to support local business and he came highly recommended from the Philly Beekeeper's Association. The problem was that he outsourced the frame job to another carpenter. When I assembled my frames I noticed that some of measurements were off. It SEEMED very minor. (I talked to the seller about it and he offered to replace the few frames that I told him were incorrect, but because it SEEMED like such a small amount I didn't bother.)

    Now my bees are doing very well. I installed x2 packages and they are very healthy, but the frame sizing problem has proven to be a bigger problem than I thought. During my 2nd to last inspection the bees had fused the comb in the 1st and 8th frames (in 8-frame foundationless mediums) to the wall of the super. I thought this was my fault for not adding a super in time. I added a super and they just exploded with activity. During the last inspection they had drawn out comb on all the frames in the top super (the 2nd) and done the same thing in the new super and the first one, although this time the combs were not all drawn out completely on the 1-8 frames in the 2nd super. They also drew out comb which was hollow in the middle of the frame and thus extra-wide, extending into the open area of the adjoining frame, creating a horrible mess.

    Basically, it seems to me that the spacing is off and they're just doing their bee thing. My ideas on how to fix this are:

    1) Buy all-new frames with correct spacing, cut out the bad comb and make them start over.
    2) Get a frame-spacer and hope that rectifies the beespace problem.
    3) Ask for help and receive a better option than 1 or 2.

    This is a bit frustrating considering I spent an entire year reading beekeeping manuals so that I would know everything I needed to know as a beginner, got bees that were incredibly healthy and gentile, and then made such a dumb mistake. Also, we're in the middle of a heatwave here in PA with temps approaching 100 degrees and no relief in sight, so anything I do is going to get done when it's really hot outside.

    As always, thanks to the beesource community for help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Santa Rosa County, Florida
    Posts
    403

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    I think the key word in your post is "foundationless".I do that in supers and sometimes have the same problem.8 frame boxes vary in size quite a bit even from regular manufacturers.My last ones from Beebabys could well have been 9 frame.
    Now,my advice is to learn to live with it.Trim up the bad comb and give it back to the bees.Eventually they will get it right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bon Aqua, Tn USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    A lot of people when going foundationless will start with one foundation and alternate with foundationless in between each foundation frame. Otherwise you must stay on top of your inspections and make sure they are drawing them straight. Its not the frame size but you must keep the frames pushed together from both end toward the center until they get them drawn. At least that's my view, others will give theirs. Attaching to the sides is no big matter, just cut it loose if it troubles you. I leave mine until I get ready to check the frame and then I just cut it loose.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    Cut out the comb, rubber band it back into new frames. If you only have two hives the cost of new frames is trivial.

    Fixing bad comb is incredibly easy. In a couple days they will have it re-attached, a couple days after that they will have eaten through the rubber bands and hauled them outside the hive. No need to make them start over. Just take your time manipulating the comb and you'll have no problems. Don't fret if you crush some of it while banding it, they bees will fix that too. I had a lot of double wide comb in one hive and when I cut it out I just stuck both pieces end to end in the same frame and they fused it all together into a full normal comb in no time.

    And I second Nantom when he says keep the frames pushed together. Every single messed up frame I've had this year happened because I had frames that where not pushed together.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,920

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    Nature has as much to do with spacing as the carpenter. Wood shrinks and swells at different rates. I bought frame top and bottom bars out of Canada this year. a third were unusable by the time I got to nailing them. It would have been better if they actually kiln dried the wood as good as they used to, or could get old growth trees.
    Bees will also do what bees want. You can train them on the comb as previously posted, but you are giving them nothing to go on foundationless.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    I agree with the above comments, even with perfect frames the bees still have a mind of their own. Just trim the thick comb or cut sections of it at the frame and move it back to the center of the frames and the bees will patch it up.....Bill

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    Thank you very much.

    I'll go ahead with the trimming and rubber banding.

    One last question: it seems like most of the irregularly drawn comb is uncapped honey comb, especially on the outside frames. The first time I tried cleaning it I set off a robbing incident because there was honey dripping everywhere as I scrapped away the comb. How do I prevent this from happening again? During the last inspection I put all the burr comb in a cooler with a lid so that the odors were contained, so in essence I ended up stealing honey from the bees that I didn't necessarily want to take...yet. I just didn't see a clean efficient way to do it. My hands and tools were dripping with honey...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    What I've been doing in my swarm capture hive that built fat honey comb on the outside is to keep moving those two frames to the outside. They made them VERY fat, right up to the foundation in the next frame.

    Rather than cut it off, I figured I'd just keep putting an undrawn frame inside it, since the inside was OK, and when it got to the outside wall either the bees would cut it back or just leave it there, doesn't matter to me. Easier and less messy than cutting it back, and this was the swarm that decided to supersede their queen as soon as they had a couple frames of capped brood so I didn't want to disturb things too much anyway.

    Seems to have worked well, the rest of the comb looks fine, there are lots of bees in there. I need to do an inspection this morning, it's been way to hot to look inside for the last week (105 F every day). Lots of activity, lots of pollen, hopefully they are using that new box of foundation I put on a couple weeks ago.

    Peter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bon Aqua, Tn USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Need experienced advice please; incorrect bee-space

    Just lay the cut comb inside the hive and they will clean it out very fast and then take it out and save it and when you get a bunch, melt it down. One helpful thing to always have when working your frames is a container of water so that you can keep your hands free of that sticky honey. And when you get through, you can use that water to mix your next batch of sugar water.

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