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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Checking brood area in TBH

    I have been trying to check my hive every two weeks, but I'm wondering if it would be okay to not check it at all unless I think something is wrong. My bees always attach the comb to the side of the hive, and to get the bar out I have to cut it away. This REALLY upsets them, honey flows everywhere, and it makes me a nervous wreck! I feel like I'm destroying their home and wasting their honey just to have a look. They have built out about 14 bars, about four of solid honey and then the beginning of the brood nest, and that's about as far as I got on the last check. I saw the queen, didn't see any small hive beetles or mites, saw larvae in different stages, so I stopped and put it back together without ever getting into the main part of the brood nest at the front of the hive. The bees are so upset by this point that it's hard to put the bars back together without squishing a few, and then they have to spend the day cleaning up all the spilled honey. I'm also worried that, since it's over 100 just about every day here in Texas the last few weeks, that they are attaching to the sides to give the comb more support, and then I come along and cut it off! I really enjoy my bees and am perfectly content to watch them every day and not open the hive up very often at all, but I don't want to be neglectful. Any advice would be helpful!

    Kim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Sounds like the bees are doing good, the main reason you need to go into the TBH is to open up the brood area to keep them from swarming. I have mine 16 inches high so I can place a mat on the ground from which I can see through the screened bottom and check to see if the hive is honey bound, your TBH may not allow you to do this. With a good sharp scraping tool you should be able to cut the comb loose without spilling the honey from the comb, just try to detach the comb from where it attaches to the box with the scraper.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,029

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Could you start the inspection from the brood side? Just use a follower on the end to give you some working space. Then you can start right in the brood and not mess with the stores.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    I do have a screened bottom, and I love to look under it and watch the bees work! That's why I really feel like they're doing well. Their population is huge, I don't see any mites, and no combs have fallen. I did put a few empty bars in the brood nest about six weeks ago when it was a little easier to get into the brood nest. They have comb on them, and the brood nest is pretty big. If I feel I need to go into the hive, I'll do as you suggested and find something sharper than the knife I use to try not to spill so much honey. Thanks for your response!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    I use an old bread knife for my hive tool. I cut from the bottom up. Have had very little to no honey spillage this way, or damage to brood comb, though they do reattach it every time that I leave! LOL

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    The area I am having trouble getting to is what I think is called the front of the hive, but it's where the entrances are, and it goes right up to the end of the hive. I can't make any room there without starting at the other end which is where the honey is. I'm afraid if I just pull out that first bar it might be connected to the sides or the next comb a little (which they have done before) and will just pull off the top bar. I would have to go through the stores to get to the brood which is why I would rather just leave it alone as long as everything looks okay. I just don't want to set myself up for problems by not checking frequently, but I feel like I'll be causing problems by checking frequently. Catch 22!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    I use a bread knife too, and I try to go from the bottom up. When I look through the viewing window, I can see where they've attached the comb to the window, and in that last cell where it's attached they've put honey. So when I cut it away from the window, all that honey rolls down the side. It's a mess, and it makes the bees very upset! I even broke a soft comb off the bar one time. I felt really bad about that. It had brood in it, so I put it in a container in the hive, and the bees still took care of it and all the bees hatched. It really was neat to watch since I could take the container out and look at it and watch several hatch out. But I would rather avoid that and not go way into the hive if I don't have to. I didn't know if there's some rule for a reason that I don't know about that it has to be checked on a regular basis. This is my first hive that I started in May so I'm really a newbee!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    In my experience, the bees often will leave the first bar empty on a hive with an end entrance. If they do build comb, it's commonly smaller or oddly shaped.

    In my opinion your fretful attitude and reluctance to "mess them up" will result eventually in a hive that you can't get into without causing significant damage. If you get in there and cut away comb that is problematic, the bees will quickly fix things up, and over time, you end up with hives that are quick and easy to inspect; causing minimal upheaval.

    If you a reluctant to deal with problematic combs, they will only get worse.

    I understand your perspective, and I've tried to leave things alone, and always regretted it later. You need to be able to get in and do your thing without it being a big mess. In a top bar hive, working to keep combs straight and easy to work is key. You can also create a short follower board on the entrance end...

    I made a hive tool out of a BBQ 'flipper' by cutting the blade down so it's narrow, with a long handle. Makes cutting attachment super easy. I lay it flat against the side and slowly draw it up toward the bar. The bees usually re-attach if they have a lot of honey weight to support, but that's fine.

    I'd say get in there, cut away problematic attachments, and then pile the cut-away stuff and honey on the landing board, or on the ground near the hive where they can clean it up. Not a big deal, and you will feel way better. If you let it get worse, you'll find that you feel increasing stress about opening your hive.

    Adam

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Thank you very much for your opinion. I was wondering if anyone had tried to leave things alone and then found out it wasn't a good idea. That's what I'm afraid might happen. I haven't looked into the brood nest in a few months, and it is increasing my stress wondering if everything is going as good as I think it is. I'm going to go with your suggestion and get in there and just do it and know that the bees will fix whatever I mess up. Thanks for your advice!
    Kim

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Don't worry Kim. There's beekeeping and then there's having bees. You won't hurt anything. It's clear to me that you're concerned enough that you're not going to do anything careless. The bees can handle whatever you're going to throw at them.

    You want to get a handle on things and build your confidence. It's good to look for advice before doing things, but then you've just got to do them. Before long, you'll be a beekeeper, and you'll be proud of yourself - enjoying more and stressing less.

    Adam

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Thanks so much for your help! I am definitely having bees at this point, and I look forward to learning more and enjoying my new hobby and maybe getting some honey in return. I feel much more confident about getting in there, and everyone's advice and ideas have helped tremendously.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    As a new keeper this spring, I too find it interesting to see what the bees are up to. Our hives have windows on both sides - but at this point, with all the dirty feet-prints, comb residues from former attachments and the mass of bees on the glass - it's REALLY hard to see anything of significance.

    I purchased a brand new watermelon knife from www.budk.com. Cost was about $14. It's very sharp, long, thick blade so I can bend it without worry of breaking the blade. I've also found that after using a few times, the wax residue on the blade was building up so that the blade was less effective. I took vinegar and wiped the blade - seemed to take some residue off. I took my hive tool and scraped it, vinegar again - and it's less. Try checking your tool before discarding it altogether.

    I've found that if I break those attachment points when the wax is 'new' the bees will re-attach. But on the older bars of wax, the bees cannot reattach. It's like trying to put new plaster on old plaster walls - it just doesn't stick right. So with time, the bees have stopped trying to reattach in the brood nest where it's been trimmed so I can remove it. The honey bars, I've been leaving re-attached (for this month only) so the bar/wax attachment can firm up before I try to mess too much with it. I've found my bar length is not optimal for honey stores - I've broken 2 honey-only combs this season. As it's getting later in the season, I wish the bees every success! So when the weather cools off a bit more (Sept.), then I'll go in and work on making those combs as easily to remove as the brood nest combs.

    Also, I'm finding propolis is more of a culprit of attachment than the honeycomb! That stuff is AMAZING! It's paper thin but stronger than any gorilla glue out there! The bees put propolis between each bar and between the bar and the sides of the hive - and it's STUCK fast. That I need to cut every inspection. At this point, the first built out bars are attached not by wax, but by propolis.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Brownsburg, IN
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    Could you start the inspection from the brood side? Just use a follower on the end to give you some working space. Then you can start right in the brood and not mess with the stores.
    Bee careful! this is how I ended up with my Beesaster!

    KB

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Midlothian, Texas
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Ha! I want to avoid Beesasters for sure!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Marquette, Michigan
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    Started my TBH this April. They have drawn out 3 combs at the front, pollen and honey, then 12 brood combs, and 9 honey combs. They were getting close to building comb on the last bar before the follower board so I did a one comb harvest of honey, moved the bars forward and added a new one on the end. That was the first time I had been into hive since installation. But have used the inspection window every day. All the comb was straight, no cross comb. I have been following the instructions on a DVD from backyardhive.com. They said the first year you really shouldn't go in the hive unless there is problems. The 2nd year might be different. I followed their instructions and it worked. Also my hive was built from their plans and very little brace come on honey and maybe 1/2 inch on brood combs. Check them out. Monty in marquette

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    224

    Default Re: Checking brood area in TBH

    OP did say 100*F. In my limited experience that means the comb is very soft, possibly very heavy, and probably attached to the sides. Addionally, the comb may have drooped until it melds into the SBB. Just something's to consider. Mike

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