So I'm trying to go foundationless. My set up so far is a hive body that consists of a deep (with foundation and no problems.) It was time to expand the brood box, so I put on a new box with foundationless frames and then on my next inspection, I opened the hive to find.... this.
Now I'm honestly really really glad/impressed that they could get so much comb made and filled in two weeks, but gah!! None of it's salvageable (right?)
Anyway, so my spur of the moment reaction was to get a big bowl for bur comb and start hacking off the excess. There were a LOT of casualties and what's worse, there was brood on the frames so I know the queen was at least at one time in that box. I got through about five frames but then my bees were starting to get really angry (understandably) and I was kinda freaking out too. So I decided to just put everything back and wait a few days and then try again. While I was shuffling stuff around, I also took out some of the foundationless frames completely and replaced them with frames with foundation in hopes it will give the bees a bit of a guideline (or if nothing else, so that there would be at least a few viable frames next time I inspect.) So now some of the foundationless frames are sandwiched between frames with foundation. I'd read that advice before, but wanted to be sorta 'purist' about it and see if I could have it 100% foundationless, but that plan is causing both me and my bees some grief.
ANYWAY. I'm feeling pretty incompetent right now and could use y'alls advice. Just give me anything you've got. Like I said, by now I have about half that box with "clean"/burr-free frames, but the other half is still a mess. My procedure of getting rid of the combs (pretty much just hacking it off) seemed really invasive and dangerous for the bees. Should I have just taken that box off completely and replaced it with an empty one and brushed the bees into the empty one?
How do I work through all that without squishing bees? I did the usual -- take the end frame out so you could shuffle the other frames around, but everything was so congested with honeycomb that every time I moved anything, bees were getting squished. It was pretty horrible.
Also, I did all of that with the second box still on top of the other box. This meant burr comb and honey was dropping onto the frames of the lower box and it just, I don't know, it seemed sort of messy and invasive. In the future for things like this, should I remove the box I'm working with completely, set it on the ground (or an overturned top cover) and work on it from there? It seems like doing it that way would be less invasive to the overall hive and especially if it was a procedure that took up a lot of time, I could even put the cover back on the hive while I worked on the problem box. I've heard that if you have the cover open too long and if you mess about too much, the bees will abscond, but I don't really know what the chances are of that happening.
What can I do in the future to be a better beekeeper, especially in regards to working with foundationless frames? Will it always be a lot of worry that the bees will get it right, or once they figure it out do they pretty much get the hang of it?
Thanks guys!! IMG_2484.jpg