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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Dutchess County New York
    Posts
    14

    Default question about burr/cross comb removal

    I just started keeping bees this spring. I have been reading a lot, joined my local bee club, and have been perusing this site quite a bit. But there is nothing like experience. I have one hive of Italian bees that seem to be doing really well. I am using 8 frame medium boxes for everything and I just added the 4th box last week. Sometimes I think I might be reading too much, because somewhere I got it into my head that I should be somewhat hands off with the bees. For the first few weeks I had them I was doing a frame by frame inspection, but then I read somewhere on here that you don't need to and probably should not look at every frame. So for the last 3 weeks or so all I have been doing is looking in each box from the top. Well the burr/cross comb has really started to pile up. When I went to my bee club meeting this week, the topic of cross comb came up and it became clear to me that I need to be diligent about clearing it. Tomorrow is inspection day so I am wondering if anyone would be willing to give me tips or advice about the best way to remove the excess comb. Should I try to remove all of it in one shot? That is to say, go through each of the 4 boxes one frame at a time? I have tried to be really careful about bee space between frames, is there any other reason the bees build cross comb? To stabilize the comb? Appreciate the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    532

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Burr comb is not an issue, it is easily removed by smoking the bees off the top of the bars and scraping it off.

    I don't understand your cross combing issue. If your frames are spaced correctly, you should see very little cross combing and I would ignore it until you inpect, then just remove it as you inspect the frames. As they initially build up, it is best to push all your frames together into the middle of the hive. This discourages cross combing. After it is all drawn out, then you can space them differently. Unless they are just going crazy with it and ignoring the frames, then there is no reason to make a special trip into it to remove. Now you did not say what type of frames you are using, if you are all foundationless and they are crosscombing that is another issue altogether, but from what you posted, I do not get that impression. You are new, and full inspections will actually benefit you and the bees seldom mind it. I can't say that I have ever had a hive abscond because I was inspecting too often

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    303

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    The queen uses burr comb as a ladder, what I think you are referring to as cross comb she uses as a bridge. I don't remove it unless it causes me a problem because they'll just build it again. Even when the frames are correctly spaced some bees will still build cross comb.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Plastic foundation? Seems to cause more bridge comb (as does plastic frames).

    Burr comb between boxes is usually where the bees put drones if you don't give them someplace else to put them (drone comb or foundationless frames beside the brood nest).

    They will usually build some bridge comb where the queen cage was -- all four of our packages build some strange comb between drawn comb where the queen cage was this year. Not a problem, just remove it right away.

    I would not do frame by frame inspections unless needed for some reason, but you should take a look at most of them fairly often your first year. Helps you later when you know what they should look like. I usually just remove the outside frame and pry the others apart, it's usually easy to see what they look like in terms of brood, stores, queen cups, etc without actually removing them from the box. Just push them all back together when you are done looking and put the outside one back in.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Dutchess County New York
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Thanks so much for the responses. I have wax foundation in the first 2 boxes and duragilt in the second 2. This is a result of being completely new and not knowing which foundation would work best. Since purchasing the duragilt, I think I will likely use wax foundation or go foundationless, but right now I have 2 boxes of each.

    I think what I am calling cross comb is really bridge comb? The bees are joining the comb, mostly at the bottom of the frames, is this called bridge comb? They are also building comb on the sides of the box. I was taught to push all the frames together in the middle of the box and then leave equal space on each side so that is what I have been doing. The comb on the sides of the box is a more recent development. I had one woman at my bee club tell me that I had to remove all the comb that the bees are building connecting the frames, but is this really necessary? Maybe they are putting the drone brood there like Peter suggests. In any case I can't inspect the frames without dismantling the comb they are building between frames. So I guess there is part of my answer. If I want to look at a frame, I'll have to remove the bridge comb! I just want to do right by the bees and don't want to cause too much disruption.

    Thanks again for your answers. People told me their was a steep learning curve in the beginning so I guess maybe after about 20 years or so I'll start to get the hang of it....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    812

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    I stopped removing the bridge and burr comb 2 years ago and it has not created a problem yet. I'm curious what others do. Stopped because they do rebuild, and I'd rather they use energy to build comb on new frames, of which I now use foundationless for everything. Sometimes I will take the comb off the side of the hive, but only if I need the room to move frames to save from rolling bees.
    "Rule Three of beekeeping...Never cease to feel wonder" Laurie R. King--
    March 2010; +/- 30 hives, TF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Mt Juliet TN USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Some bees build bridge comb more then others. I only remove it if is in the way of removing a frame or is in the way of putting a frame back in. The beekeepers idea of how the bees house should be cleaned is different from the bees idea of what there house needs to function. An inspection to me is peeking in and checking to making sure they have eggs, open brood and stores. So if I can work around the burr comb I do.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Mondamin, Iowa
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Leave the burr comb between boxes.
    Here's one I think helps the bees, gives you a chance to monitor for mites on drone pupae and saves work. Leave the burr comb that goes from the bottom of one frame to the top of the one below it. Yes it will break when you separate the boxes, but it makes a nice ladder for the queen to get from one box to the next. Also, they often build some drone comb between the boxes and if you tear them open you'll see the drone pupae and maybe you'll notice mites (you should be looking).

    "Some beekeepers dismantle every hive and scrape every frame, which is pointless as the bees soon glue everything back the way it was." --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#leaveburr

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    199

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    The only time I remove burr-cross-bridge comb is when it's a problem; otherwise I just leave it there. I mostly see the inter-frame cellular wax comb construction at the tops of frames with aggressively building bees. If it really becomes a problem I will simply remove one frame from box and put it in another box, and spread out the remaining frames.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Dutchess County New York
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: question about burr/cross comb removal

    Thanks so much everyone. Really appreciate the responses.

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