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Thread: Comb Collapse

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    554

    Default Comb Collapse

    I did a quick hive inspection on Sunday despite the heat because I wanted to be sure my hive that swarmed has a mated and laying queen. She was there, along with some eggs and very young larvae. Since I last inspected they have drawn two new combs, one of which was only partially attached to the top bar and braced to the adjacent comb. This comb was really fragile so I tried to be very gentle. There was another comb that was older but still a bit soft. It was full of nectar, close to the end of the hive with the thick all honey combs. This bar I did turn upsidedown but tried to keep it in the plane of the bar. Despite my best effort I did see it bend a tiny bit about midway down the comb.

    Today I went out and peeked in the window after work and saw one of the combs collapsed (...about midway down the comb - oops). It is in the mid nineties here tomorrow but with the humidity is supposed to feel like it is over a hundred tomorrow. This Saturday it is supposed to cool off to the mid eighties. I can get in the hive tomorrow evening after work but otherwise have to work too late to get in there until Saturday. Should I brave the heat and risk possibly causing more damage due to the heat and soft comb tomorrow evening or do I wait for Saturday when I have more time and less risk of causing more damage? I have had a comb collapse once before so I know how fast they start attaching that comb to the ones adjacent ...

    Hopefully the new queen was unaffected. Tan Lady.JPG
    The bar I saw her on was near the other end of the hive (she was laying eggs as I watched) in the broodnest. If I go in should I try to find her again or just get in, fix the damage, and get out?
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 06-24-2013 at 10:43 PM. Reason: added pic and comment.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    I too had a comb collapse on me - but it was while I was in there.
    I've learned to carry hair-clips and zip-ties for immediate repair (along with long knife and clump of grass bee-brush). I made an immediate repair while I was in there.

    Since weather isn't being cooperative, I'd get in there as soon as possible. If you wait until Saturday (that's a whopping 5days away), the bees will likely have made so much burr comb that you'll end up damaging too much. If you can get in, do the hair-clip repair and get out calmly but quickly - I would do so. Not knowing your schedule, instead of end of day, have you considered early morning instead? (Again, not sure of your day schedule and sun-up....but worth a mention here).

    I wouldn't worry about the queen. It sounds like a slow fall for the comb, so she was likely far from the action.

    My comb broke at the honey/brood joint - I think the honey cells warmed up significantly more than the brood cells - and the one comb just couldn't take it without the burr comb holding it to the wall. So when I scraped the burr comb away, the comb simply started a slow slide. So sad to stand and watch that happen! I felt so helpless! But repair was quick and painless, so the bees are none the worse for my wear on their home.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    I went ahead and took care of it tonight. Looked like it was just the one new comb. They had already drawn enough new comb in its place that through the window I thought it was the comb that bent a little on me during inspection. I didn't bother trying to salvage the comb by clipping it up, it was too soft and only had nectar in it. I put it in a container and into the freezer. I'll crush it and feed the nectar back to them later. The bees took it pretty well considering it was fairly invasive and I just did a full inspection on Sunday.

    Thanks Life is Good! for weighing in! It helped me decide to just dig in and fix it sooner instead of later.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon USA
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    I'm thinking about making a few "framed top bars" that is I'd use the same top bar length/width, but then build a trapizoidal frame out of 1x cedar. that way, if I have comb collapse, or a burr comb mess, I can just do the rubberband thing and attach the comb to frames that way. I've done the hairclip thing a few times now, and I must say I'm not real crazy about it. While it supports the comb, unless I'm missing something the clip stays there forever, which will get in the way of extracting, and, I seem to have problems with the zip ties and zip tie ends not creating even more burr comb.....

    Has anyone else tried building a few rescue TBH framed bars?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    OutOdaBlueSky on youtube makes what he calls top bar hive cutout frames. I'm sure this would work for comp collapse as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Benton, Ky
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    I use 1x2 welded wire fence. Cut it to the 2 " length and staple the crosspiece to the side of your top bar. Bend the excess wires around the bottom of the top bar to make wire hooks/barbs that run most of the length of the bar. Just press the comb into the hooks, hang it in your hive and your done... I always bring about 20 of these to a cutout. I can cut comb with brood and bees still on it and stick it right on the barbs with ease and with minimal damage. It even works well with new comb if you are careful. John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon USA
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    John, do you have any photos of what you're describing?

    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by crabbcatjohn View Post
    I use 1x2 welded wire fence. Cut it to the 2 " length and staple the crosspiece to the side of your top bar. Bend the excess wires around the bottom of the top bar to make wire hooks/barbs that run most of the length of the bar. Just press the comb into the hooks, hang it in your hive and your done... I always bring about 20 of these to a cutout. I can cut comb with brood and bees still on it and stick it right on the barbs with ease and with minimal damage. It even works well with new comb if you are careful. John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Benton, Ky
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    Here you go. 1x2 welded wire works the best. I think its either 16 or 18ga. I've got tons left over from some outdoor cat pens i built. I use narrow crown staples but you can use other types. I've got some hanging in a hive right now from a cutout a few weeks back. you can also use this method on warre's and langs
    top bar cutout bars 002.jpg top bar cutout bars 001.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    Nice! I made some wired bars last year but that looks much quicker and easier! It also looks like it would cause fewer burr comb issues.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Benton, Ky
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    I staple them on the bar and then i insert them in a male air hose end to bend them over. You could also use a piece of copper tubing to bend them. I can make 20 in an hour or so. I just leave them in the hive and swap them out the next year. The wire is narrow enough to not make a difference in the bee space.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon USA
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Comb Collapse

    Thanks John, that is a great idea! And I've got tons of that wire laying around....

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