Cross comb madness
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Baltimore,MD
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    4

    Default Cross comb madness

    First time TBH beek. I've had nothing but problems with cross comb ever since installing my package on 5/16 & I'm almost at my wits end. They have 4-5 bars completely cross combed at this point, even after doing several manipulations in which a lot of comb was destroyed. I tried getting them back on track by placing a bare bar between the bulk to the cross comb mess and a frame that (was) looking good, but when I checked them yesterday, a week later, they had already cross combed and it has eggs. I don't know what to do! I check on them weekly, the hive is level...they won't stop! I feel like I should just call it a loss & let nature take its course. After this experience, I don't know if I'd ever give TB another shot.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Cut it all out. Make some top bars with non wired brood comb, wax it in if you have wax. If not just wood glue or hot glue would be fine. Shake them all off that brood comb and let them start from scratch. Yeah they will be behind but better then dealing with that mess. Instead check every 3 days. I know not always possible but make the time.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    2,762

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    what is the width of your topbars and do you have some type of comb guides? How much space in the hive have you given the bees?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Baltimore,MD
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    4

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    The bars are 30 1-3/8" x 15 ". I think I gave them 9 or 10 bars to start. I was advised not to use guides, but my bars are waxed.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    IMHO if not using comb guides of sometime you will be fighting this everyday. You better be in your hive daily for the first 3 weeks struggling comb. The bees naturally wanna be crooked ha. i cant think of many negatives of comb guides. They don't affect the honey, the comb, or anything of that nature in my opinion. I do cut and crush for honey and also do cut comb honey from my hive and have comb guided on every single bar, on every single hive.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Honey Brook, PA, USA
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Quote Originally Posted by sveebeek View Post
    The bars are 30 1-3/8" x 15 ". I think I gave them 9 or 10 bars to start. I was advised not to use guides, but my bars are waxed.
    I can't imagine not having some sort of guide - even if just a bead of raised wax (from your description I'm guessing the bars have an even coat of wax?

    Also have you tried cutting any straight sections of comb with a serrated knife and attaching onto the bars into the way you want them to go?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Baltimore,MD
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    4

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    I was advised that if the bars were waxed that that would act as the guide. Is it worth getting guides, ditching what they've built so far, and starting over (hoping that that is the fix?)

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Guides can be made with anything. Don't go spend a lot of money. Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors if wife or friend work at a doctors office, pieces of unwired foundation, but in my opinion to fix them especially if they are this far off I would use a larger comb guide like the large Popsicle sticks or foundation I would want it and inch or so sticking off the top bar

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Save what comb you can, but a real comb guide is key! I use a triangle wedge that runs almost the whole inside width of the hives. Though there are just some bees that will not draw out straight comb to save their lives! I am trying two really big TBHs this year. 23 inch long bars. One hive is drawing them out beautifully, the other hive is making them curve at the ends plus they are wavy in the vertical direction, from the top to bottom of the hive! I had to put the follower board back in and only give them one empty bar between the last comb and the follower board! Though, I am about to just leave them be till next spring, when the comb is stronger, and fix what I can and melt down the rest. The bees do not care if you can inspect or not! LOL
    Any sections of straight comb that you cut out can be reattached with hair clips or hardware cloth, or even card board or tape slings, though I have personally only used the hair clips

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    It is a tall, right handed, world! I am neither!!!!

  11. #10
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    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    I prefer straight comb guides for my TBHs as I find it easier to reattach comb to them vs. the triangle. But would definitely recommend something (and not a piece of waxed string). You should be able to zip a channel in your existing bars and attach the comb guide with an air gun pretty easily. Then you have a means to re-attach the wonky comb, which I would recommend cutting off the existing bars and using a sling to reattach to bars with comb guides. I use masking tape but there are lots of other ways to attach. Just find what works for you.bar.jpg

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Scott,
    You are a genius hahaha

  13. #12
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    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
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    477

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Thanks Ethan, but not really. I learned that and many other things from the people before me. I like to pay attention! LOL

    It is amazing what you can learn on BeeSource if you keep your mouth shut and listen!
    It is a tall, right handed, world! I am neither!!!!

  14. #13
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    Jun 2016
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    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Notes taken!!

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Champaign, Illinois
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    2,461

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    No comb guides?!?!
    I've had nothing but great combs built. Made my own bars. Cut a center groove on a table saw and used popsicle sticks glued in with titebond 3 for the comb guides. I eat a lot of popsicles to keep hydrated and cool down. Beekeeping is hot sweaty work. Wife keeps me stocked up with popsicles. Save them sticks.
    Stings are good for you too so don't be afraid to get stung now and then. Just not in the throat or face. That is the worst imo.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bergen County, NJ
    Posts
    904

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    First year beek here and one my hives is a simple top bar hive. Michael Bush talks about atleast 1/4 inch guide. I purchased 3/4 pine boards at big box, set the table saw at 22 degrees(?) and slide triangular cross section pieces, and I have zero skills when it comes to wood working. Once you get hang of couple, you will get it. Then simply nail them to the bars.

    A swarm that I put into that TBH is building nice straight comb so far, following that guide. Once two bars with guide are built, easy to slide a bar with no guide between them and get straight comb. so far so good.

    Bees seem to hang from the top holding each other. Wherever they can hang onto the top is where they seem to start building. Comb guide provides that point through length of bar helping them building comb straight down. Oh, and level the hive.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    247

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Daisy,
    The bees hanging in a chain is called festooning. It is how the bees measure as they build comb. I love seeing that! It is amazing.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,748

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    >I was advised not to use guides, but my bars are waxed.

    You got very bad advice. You need a guide.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundat....htm#combguide
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#guide

    You probably hung the queen cage between bars as well... all destined to fail. There is a lot of bad advice out there.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  19. #18
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    Jun 2016
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    Denmark, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    ^^^ read the entire website about 10 times hahahaha. Free information. It's great for new, broke beekeepers

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hephzibah, GA
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    Quote Originally Posted by sveebeek View Post
    First time TBH beek. I've had nothing but problems with cross comb ever since installing my package on 5/16 & I'm almost at my wits end. They have 4-5 bars completely cross combed at this point, even after doing several manipulations in which a lot of comb was destroyed. I tried getting them back on track by placing a bare bar between the bulk to the cross comb mess and a frame that (was) looking good, but when I checked them yesterday, a week later, they had already cross combed and it has eggs. I don't know what to do! I check on them weekly, the hive is level...they won't stop! I feel like I should just call it a loss & let nature take its course. After this experience, I don't know if I'd ever give TB another shot.
    A similar thing happened to me my first year. It took me a couple of years to work all the cross combing to the back of the hive, get the queen to stop laying in it, and then cut it out, but I did it, so don't despair! You need to stop the cross combing by either placing one end of it against one end of the hive, or use a follower board, and place straight comb on the other end. All bars should have a good guide, as the others have said. I use chamfer molding to make a wedge. If you don't have a single good comb to place at one end, you can make a sling from a couple strips of cardboard and staple them on either side of the bar. I've used this technique successfully numerous times. It's fast and easy. The bees will attach the comb and remove the cardboard themselves.
    rescue bar sling.jpg

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Medina, Tennessee
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Cross comb madness

    I went for simple. I used a 3/4" wide piece of foundation cut to 11" long.

    I used my table saw to cut a groove down the length of the bars at about 1/8" to 3/16" deep.

    I then put the foundation in the slot 3" from one end (which centers it on the bar) and used six small balls of wax to attach the foundation to the bar. I don't have a good picture of this, but basically you sandwich the foundation between two balls of wax in three places, about an inch from each end and then in the center.

    I've not had any foundation come loose and I am in a pretty hot and humid area. It's been in the 90's for a bit now and all is well. Leaving the three inches at each end without starter strip allows the bees to attach the ends of the comb themselves. In my mind it is more secure than running the strip all the way to the ends.

    Granted we've only been doing this since April, but our first hive, a swarm, is really doing great and all the comb is straight, and that's after they were trapped in a Langstroth trap and have four bars of cross comb. Speaking of cross comb, I'd take out all the cross comb and put it in the bottom of the hive and let them clean it out. That's what I did and it seemed to work just fine. After about a week I removed it and by that time they had already built out 3 bars with new straight comb.

    Here are some pics for reference for the above yapping that I did.






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