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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Kleberg County, Texas, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default How to deal with natural combs?

    I am a brand new beekeeper. I live on a farm in south Texas and my step-father bought one deep hive (before I got down here) about a year ago. He has not checked or monitored it yet, so I am taking on the roll of beekeeper. Recently, I read "Beekeeping for Dummies," and now feel like I am ready to at least give the hive a peak to see if they are healthy.

    As of now we only have one deep hive.....I know that this is not ideal, etc., etc. I am working on that and will rectify it in the near future with another deep hive and some supers.

    Today I went to open the hive for the first time. I want to make sure they are healthy and with a queen since they have not been monitored to this point. When I took the inner cover off I realized that there were only 9 frames and that the bees apparently built a natural comb where the tenth frame was supposed to be. Nearly all of the bees were all over this natural comb, WHICH WAS STUCK TO THE UNDERSIDE OF THE INNER COVER. By the time I realized that this comb was stuck to the inner cover and covered in bees, the comb broke off and fell with a jostle down into the "empty" slot it occupies. Needless to say, the bees were then quite upset with me. I tried to fool around in there for another minute or two to check some of the actual frames and the bees were getting more and more aggravated. Then I decided that I would give them some reprieve and close their house back up. They were very unhappy. So my question is this:

    How do I get that natural comb out of there without destroying anything or hurting myself? I really want to check on them and make sure they are doing okay...and get that comb out and slide a tenth frame in there so that this does not happen again. Any advice? It would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    I would go back in, the sooner the better because they will start waxing the loose comb to the other parts of the deep box,or the other frames/foundation, etc. Using the hive tool scrape the comb out/off of the box, the gentler the better because you want it in one piece. Hold on to the outside edges if possible, not the center. It can then be rubberbanded into an empty tenth frame, no wires or foundation on the frame, or it will not sit center. Sounds like you should have the smoker lit (don't over do it), start with the smoke on the comb you want removed, as do drive the queen into another area of the box. You don't want her (if she wasn't squished from the first fall) on this section of comb as you work it. I would get another super on them soon, or you will be collecting a swarm.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    I was at a bee meeting last fall and Michael Bush was presenting. He said that if you ever had problems with "wonky" natural comb--just take the box off and turn it upside down on the ground. I would probably put a sheet down or something. Anyway, with the box upside down, you can "pull" the super and get it off of the frames. Reverse it and put it back on the bottom board or other supers. Then carefully take each frame and put it back in the box. In this way, the wonky comb will kind of fall out of the way and you can get the "good" frames back in the box. Then add that extra frame back in the box and close it up!

    PS Never tried it - but thought it was something to remember since I am going to start shifting over to foundationless this spring.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gailmo View Post
    I was at a bee meeting last fall and Michael Bush was presenting. He said that if you ever had problems with "wonky" natural comb--just take the box off and turn it upside down on the ground. I would probably put a sheet down or something. Anyway, with the box upside down, you can "pull" the super and get it off of the frames. Reverse it and put it back on the bottom board or other supers.
    This sounds like way to much work, and disastrous for a new beekeeper.
    Cwilli62, I forgot to mention if you need more room to get the "loose" comb out, you could first take the frame out next to it, and set in on a frame holder, opening a larger space to rescue the comb.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Or, if you are handy with woodworking, you could build one of these and put the comb in it just like a piece of swarm comb.

    http://www.beesource.com/build-it-yo...tching-frames/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Kleberg County, Texas, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Thank all of you for the information! After speaking with the person that set up the bee hive, I realized that we do not even know what kind of bees they are. They were captured from a trailer down here and transferred to the hive. So....before I go any further to secure this hive and make it tidy I have to try to find out what kind they are. YIKES! If I take a picture of them up close, can they be distinguished? Or do I have to find an expert?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    903

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwilli62 View Post
    Thank all of you for the information! After speaking with the person that set up the bee hive, I realized that we do not even know what kind of bees they are. They were captured from a trailer down here and transferred to the hive. So....before I go any further to secure this hive and make it tidy I have to try to find out what kind they are. YIKES! If I take a picture of them up close, can they be distinguished? Or do I have to find an expert?
    Their genealogy does't really matter as long as they aren't overyly aggressive. Carniolians, Italians, russians, or mutts who cares as long as they don't scream out of the hive the second you touch it and cover you head to tail, then chase you 1/4mile away. If they are calm enough when you aren't dropping a comb then they are fine. Forget about turning the box upside down, since it's only 1 comb and you already have it detached from the inner cover. Do as suggested and rubber band it into an empty frame, they will attach it to the frame in no time.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Kleberg County, Texas, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Okay....I got the hive open again and got the natural comb out. I ended up leaving the natural comb out of the hive and just spacing the other 9 frames so that they hopefully do not make another one until I can get back in there. The bees were irate, but I wanted to finish what I had to do so that I would not have to disturb them again for a week or so. The next step is learning how to not piss the ladies off every time I want to make sure they are okay. Thanks, again!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
    Posts
    946

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    cwilli62,

    Are you using a smoker at all??
    It is not advised to space brood comb to span a wider space due to a missing frame. That is not proper bee space. Not sure if you did that or what. Honey frames can be spaced a little wider apart as the bees will just build the comb out thicker.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,740

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Tie the comb in a frame with either string or rubber bands.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: How to deal with natural combs?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwilli62 View Post
    Okay....I got the hive open again and got the natural comb out. I ended up leaving the natural comb out of the hive and just spacing the other 9 frames so that they hopefully do not make another one until I can get back in there. The bees were irate, but I wanted to finish what I had to do so that I would not have to disturb them again for a week or so. The next step is learning how to not piss the ladies off every time I want to make sure they are okay. Thanks, again!!
    cwilli62
    If you removed the frame, why didn't you rubberband or tie it into a frame while you were in it? The bees have already most likely started this comb again from the inner cover, and in a week will have it done. Why not put in a tenth frame when you had it open?

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