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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa
    Posts
    186

    Default How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    I seem to be buggering up the corners/edges of my boxes trying to undo the gluing job that the bees have done. When I try to open them, first I try lifting straight, then just lifting on one side, then twisting, then I haul out the hive tool. I have tried leaving the boxes a bit offset to get a better grip with the hive tool. I just want my boxes to last for a couple of years, not just one season.



    What can I do better?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,603

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    A little vaseline on the edges will help.
    Regards, Barry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    The trick is to push and wiggle the hive tool deeper into the seam in between the two boxes before levering the box up. If the hive tool is only inserted a small way, then there will be damage to the boxes as you are experiencing. it takes some strength, but push the hive tool in until you get through the thickness of the box. You will see the seals between the two boxes crack open before you pry upwards.

    Do not try lifting the boxes before using the hive tool. That will only make the bees defensive. Use the hive tool properly and it does the job very well. I've seen this question with a lot of new BKs that I mentor.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    I try lifting first. Usually to get the hive tool between the boxes, I try to put it in the seam and then push, and then wiggle it, push some more, wiggle it some more, then I usually end up whacking the end of the hive tool a couple of times before the seal finally breaks. I think the attempted lift would agitate them less than the banging on the side of the hive.

    I think when I did that damage to the hive a couple of days ago, it was about three rounds of banging on it before I twisted and the corner came off. I then tried a different corner. The bees were not happy at this point, and I still had not broken the seal.

    I will try the Vasoline, thank you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    As Maddox said, get the hive tool deeper in the seam. But also, the corner is a weak spot, pieces can break off as you have found. Start an inch or more from the corner on either side. You can also see in your photo that there is a tiny gap that is on the right side from the chipped corner, that gap makes it much easier to get the hive tool started.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,974

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    I try not using the very edge of the corner either. The left edge of my tool would probably be about where the right side of that chip ends. And as everyone has said, wiggle or push it in pretty good before prying.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,406

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    More then one hive tool. One in the corner and one in the middle until it pops.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Haslet, Tx
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    if you have a hand plane I just beveled the side of the box slightly to allow space to stick the hive tool in. on the outside back

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Thumbs Up Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnth78 View Post
    if you have a hand plane I just beveled the side of the box slightly to allow space to stick the hive tool in. on the outside back
    Neat idea!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Sharpen your hive tool
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Lebanon.PA
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    I try to look on the bright side of thing's. It makes free upper entrances over time and you don't have to drill a bunch of holes.
    I believe somebody somewhere asked about working efficiently, it doesn't get any more efficient than that.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help but I just try to put a good spin on it. Mine get cracked too. Different wood's make a difference in how fast and bad they break. I'm not a carpenter/woodworker so don't know what the difference is but I have noticed a difference among box manufacturers or box batches.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,536

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Quote Originally Posted by sfisher View Post
    Sharpen your hive tool
    absolute mistake - never! In bee class, the first lesson they started like that: "Now we will learn how to dull your beehive tool!" Sharp edge will damage soft wood often used in beehives. In all my new boxes, I made a special slots for the tool. Slots needs to be shallow. Sergey
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Binghamton,New York ,us
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    There is always one hive in the yard that way over does it with the propolis, it amazing how much they can produce.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Quote Originally Posted by sfisher
    sharpen your hive tool
    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    absolute mistake - never! In bee class, the first lesson they started like that: "Now we will learn how to dull your beehive tool!"
    Seriously?! Maybe someone should tell Kim Flottum who regularly closes his column in Bee Culture with "Keep your hive tool sharp."

    I believe a sharpened hive tool is essential; for getting it between boxes, scraping propolis, and dozens of other tasks. A dull hive tool will do much more damage than a sharp one.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    DeKalb Co. Alabama U.S.A.
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    In all my new boxes, I made a special slots for the tool. Slots needs to be shallow. Sergey
    Sounds like another good tip...

    Sergey, I must ask - are those striped runways I'm seeing on the bottom board?

    CC

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Augusta County, VA, USA
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    I actually carry a small, fairly rigid spatula/scraper (1" wide blade, $0.99 at the hardware) with me, and use that to break the seal between difficult boxes. it's pretty easy to insert it at distant corner and pull back towards me, with a little wiggling. Tool is thin but not really sharp (at least not like a knife). Doesn't damage boxes at all.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,125

    Thumbs Up Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    seyc, which kind of hive tool are you using? The old fashioned hive tool with the curved end allows you to place the straight end of the tool on the corner joint and, with the tool parallel with the ground, use your hand to bump the tool into the space between the supers. With the end of the hive tool an inch into the joint, you will hear a 'pop' and that end of the super will be loose. I don't mean to insult your intelligence here, but if you get the hive tool into the joint an inch or so before you pry up or push down, the super will break loose without deforming your corners so much. A hive tool without the curved end is more difficult -for me at least- to insert before you pry.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,540

    Default Re: How do I get the boxes apart without breaking them?

    Trying to lift the boxes off is going to get you in trouble with your back, typically they are stuck together well enough you will likely pick up the entire hive, at least for a few seconds.

    A truely sharp hive tool is a giant pain, it digs into everything, gouges wood out when attempting to scrap propolis, and is dangerous to the fingers. Very slightly round off that sharp edge and you will have a wonderful tool -- strips propolis instantly without touching the wood, doesn't dig into frames or boxes. slipping instead into the gap between, and you won't cut yourself with it.

    Stay off the corners with the hive tool. You need to practice forcing it in between the boxes a couple inches away from the corner. That thin section of the end boards will NOT stand up to prying.

    If you take a hand plane and chamfer the back part of the sides slightly toward the outside, the boxes will still seal up nicely to keep water out, but leave a small gap for the hive tool. Press the sharp end into the gap while working it side to side and you will be surprised at how easily the boxes separate. Banging is not really recommended, it irritates the bees.

    Another note -- well fitted flat boxes are easier to get apart because there is less propolis between them.

    Peter

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