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Thread: What a mess!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Austin, Texas
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    Default What a mess!!!

    I have a hive that has two meduims as brood boxes and a deep as a super. I didn't inspect the hive for about a month and was not feeding as there was plenty of pollen/nectar being brought in. When I inspected this past weekend, I found a total mess of new comb in the deep. They had drawn the comb in such a way that 5 frames were glued together. There are small starter strips of plastic cell in each of the frames. Most of the comb was too soft to rubber band into new frames so I had to destroy it. What caused this and how can I keep this from happening again?

    Wayne
    comb.jpgcomb2.jpg

  2. #2
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    Oct 2011
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    Clark county, Illinois, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Looks to me, and remember this is my first year, that they started building that comb from the bottom up and some of it semi-collapsed. Eventually some started getting built from the top down and they joined it together wherever they could.

    Did you not have any drawn comb or full foundation sheets in that super?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    My first year too.... there was no drawn comb or full foundation in the super.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2011
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    Clark county, Illinois, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    I really do feel that was your major problem. If you don't want to place 1 full sheet in any frame then I think you would get best result by putting super on the bottom at least until they draw one out. Then you could put it back on top as they then have a nice "ladder" to get to the top and hang down to build comb as they like to do.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2012
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    Adelaide, South Australia
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    If you're not using any foundation you need to make sure that the hive is perfectly level. If it's slightly off the comb will start on one frame and end on the bottom of the one next to it.

    There's also the possibility that your bees have no sense of order. I had one like that years ago, even with foundation they'd make a right hash of it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Santa Rosa County, Florida
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    407

    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    I once had crazy comb when I kept some bees under a high tension power line.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2011
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    Austin, Texas
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    The hive is level and not under any high tension electric lines. I will put a full sheet or two of foundation in but wonder how others go foundationless and not have the same problems. I do have starter strips as you can see in the pictures. Here's a picture of the setup. The decorated stack is empty... just waiting on a swarm, a split or maybe a new package next year.

    hive.jpg

  8. #8
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Your bees probably didn't like the plastic, but it does look like they went bottom up. For deeps, you probably need some vertical guides to help them out, 2-3 spaced out in the frame. A bunch of empty frames set up next to each other can create a big mess as well. Also, with no vertical guides the bees have a hard time accessing the middle of the frames and I don't think they really like climbing up the sides of the endbars to start in a box. They like going up through the middle. Some bees won't have issues though as people have posted pics of nicely drawn out frames from a completely foundationless box, but they might've used vertical supports to help them festoon.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Madison, WI, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    I have had similar issues and found two solutions:

    1. Alternate foundationless frames with either already drawn frames or frames with foundation
    2. Make sure the frames are tight together in the box, extra space between frames encourages random comb building.
    life is finite while knowledge is infinite. - Zhuang Zi

  10. #10
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    May 2012
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom B View Post
    I have had similar issues and found two solutions:

    1. Alternate foundationless frames with either already drawn frames or frames with foundation
    2. Make sure the frames are tight together in the box, extra space between frames encourages random comb building.
    X2...Take this advice
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Thank you... I'll take all the advice I can get and hope to not see this kind mess again.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Leominster, MA USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    When adding a box of foundationless, bait the bees up with at least 2 drawn frames from the lower box. This gives them something to ladder up on and some space between frames to occupy.

    Push the frames in the lower box together and put the leftover foundationless frames from the new box on the outsides of the lower box.

    All hive manipulations are so much easier when you have all your boxes and frames in a uniform size. If I were you I would use all your mediums together to make one hive and all the deeps for another. Decide which size you like better and if you expand your numbers, stick to that size.

    To clean up "mess" put messed up box on bottom of whole thing, upside down. Bees will move honey up and, any brood will hatch out and queen probably won't lay in upside down cells. Then scrape out wax for your collection and frames are ready to go for more foundationless.

    Ramona

  13. #13
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    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Feeling a bit surly this morning, eh Frank?

    Do I see another hive there you could use as a donor for some deep frames? If yes, take some partially or fully drawn frames from that hive and place them in the center of the deep. Leave it on top. Rob as many as you can, four would be a great start. (I like to use plasticell foundation or its equivalent, it prevents what you have experienced).

    Then, feed pollen patties and sugar syrup (1:1, sugar to water) as long as they will take it. Your average first frost isn't for another month or more, right? If the two mediums are packed full, they may, in my view, not be enough for the winter. That is why I'd rob the drawn frames and feed like crazy. That is your best chance for bees in the Spring.

    Feed thinner syrup at first, when some comb is drawn, feed 5:3.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  14. #14
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    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    One drawn frame near the center helps them get started, but it's not absolutely essential. I think your starter strips are too long. I usually just breakout the wedge on a wedge top frame and the build on the corner that is left. Do push all the frames tight together in the center. The other problem may have been heat. If they start storing nectar in new comb it will occasionally sag down from the heat. It doesn't happen too often on mediums, but if you don't have enough bees to cool the hive sufficiently, it can happen. Just scrap the mess, leave anything attached at the top, and let the bees clean out the scrapped comb. Quite often they do it better the second time.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    I agree with all comments above. What I normally do - I sort of checker-board, place one empty frame and than full one, than empty again; the same - in the upper box. I would imagine that it would be difficult to the bees to start the whole empty box straight; they need guide. Good luck with your bees!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    In a deep full of empty frames and not a huge population of bees, they have a real hard time starting at the top, and since they built comb up it fell over, as noted.

    A box of empty foundationless frames is asking for trouble, use some foundation or better yet drawn comb. If you have neither, put the box under some fully drawn comb so they can work top down.

    Peter

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    I agree with Ross on the starter strip length. Based on my experience, when the strips are too long the bees will start building comb on one side of the strip or the other, and you end up with comb way off the center of the frame. With a full box of starter strips you will end up with a real mess. The shorter the strip, the better. I like to see my strips protrude 1/8" or less from the frame top. The likelihood of them building centered comb will increase dramatically.

    I've also noticed that some bees naturally build straight comb and others have a tendency to build wacky comb no matter what you do. It looks like you might have some of those bees. In your case I would start with all foundation in the deep. Once they have drawn them all out properly (the way you want them) you can remove frames and insert a starter strip frame between 2 drawn frames of brood and they should draw them out straight.

    I've tried to add boxes with all starter strips and have found that you must be very attentive when doing this. You need to check weekly and remove or adjust any comb that is going off center. As was mentioned, it's best to add the new box "under" the existing drawn boxes so they start building from the top of the frames down.
    To everything there is a season....

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Palermo, Maine, USA
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    731

    Default Re: What a mess!!!

    Another tip to get them started right is to bevel the top bar so that it slopes down to the starter strip. This removes an edge on each side of the top bar that they may be tempted to use as a starting point. I do this on a router table and use a 45 degree bit.
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    Ralph

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