New here - made really stupid mistake
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  1. #1

    Question New here - made really stupid mistake

    I have had bees for 10 years or so, mostly one or 2 hives. I collected a swarm this year and it seemed really large. It was a super hot day and I had planned to wait until early evening to put them in the hive box but when I touched the outside of the cardboard swarm box, it was so hot to the touch, I thought I better put them in the hive box. I put them in an empty hive box and then they were so stirred up, I couldn't get any frames in. I put the inner cover on and the lid and figured I would take care of it in the morning. (I know - bad mistake!) By morning they had built a huge amount of comb hanging down from the inner cover. It was very elaborate and I thought I would just let them make their own hive and them build up from there. Now it has been 2 months and they have never ventured into the upper box with frames. (a few of them are hanging out up there usually, but the queen has never gone up there to lay eggs.) The last time I suited up to look in there, the inner cover hole was almost completely closed off with comb, so I made the opening a little bigger. Now I am wondering if I should just cut the comb free from the inner cover and put the upper box on hoping they will move into it. Or just leave them be.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    I must be mistaken but it appears that you have an inner cover between lower and upper boxes!

    "The last time I suited up to look in there, the inner cover hole was almost completely closed off with comb, so I made the opening a little bigger. Now I am wondering if I should just cut the comb free from the inner cover and put the upper box on hoping they will move into it."

    What am I missing?
    Frank

  4. #3

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    I must be mistaken but it appears that you have an inner cover between lower and upper boxes!

    "The last time I suited up to look in there, the inner cover hole was almost completely closed off with comb, so I made the opening a little bigger. Now I am wondering if I should just cut the comb free from the inner cover and put the upper box on hoping they will move into it."

    What am I missing?
    Yes - that was my boneheaded mistake. I put the swarm in an empty box topped with an inner cover and roof. The next morning they had built tons of comb down from the inner cover. I just let them build out their own space and then later put the second box with frames on hoping the queen would start laying up there. What do I do now?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    5,385

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Move the box with the frames under the box with the free comb. Or, do a cutout and get the comb rubber banded into some empty frames. The longer you wait, the worse it will become.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Move the box with the frames under the box with the free comb. Or, do a cutout and get the comb rubber banded into some empty frames. The longer you wait, the worse it will become.
    Ok - I will put the box with the frames underneath the other - my two concerns are that I didn't think the queen would move down, and also ultimately I still have to deal with a hive box with an inner cover on it that can't be removed. I will do it tomorrow unless I hear differently by then. Thank you so much - I have been really worrying about what to do.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
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    824

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    I did something similar a few weeks ago. Got a surprise swarm from one of my hives. I dumped them into an empty deep and put a medium with frames on top. Of course they built from the BOTTOMS of the frames! So the medium is barely built into at all and the 'empty' deep box is filling up with comb.

    At this point I don't want to mess with them so I may just leave them that way. Eventually they will build up into the medium and then I can add another medium on top. At some point I will just sacrifice the lower box comb, maybe early next spring when they should be clustered in the top.

    Lesson learned!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Move the box with the frames under the box with the free comb. Or, do a cutout and get the comb rubber banded into some empty frames. The longer you wait, the worse it will become.
    Yes; I have changed my mind about the truth of putting undrawn frames above to have them drawn out. That puts them in the situation of having to build comb from the bottom up. It is more natural for them to progress downwards as they hang daisy chain fashion.

    Most assuredly they will move upwards into drawn comb more readily than downward but not when building. Not written in stone, but I have been seeing more reference to this the last few years and early experimenting with it myself tells me there is some basis in fact.
    Frank

  9. #8

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Thanks again for the input. I can put the box with frames under box with the free comb, but that box is still a box of comb hanging from the inner cover. Somewhere along the way won't I have to deal with this? I have a machete that is longer than the width of the box. I wondered if I should leave it in the sun to get really hot and then carefully slice along the top of the inner cover to free it. I don't think it would collapse because its been a couple of months and must be pretty substantial. Any thoughts?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by nonnanoni View Post
    I can put the box with frames under box with the free comb, but that box is still a box of comb hanging from the inner cover. Somewhere along the way won't I have to deal with this?
    Sure. A lot depends on where you live, and how long you have before the dormant period arrives. If in doubt, leave it until next year, and do a cut-out in the Spring.

    However, if you consider that tackling this now is appropriate - here's what I would do in your place:

    Firstly, tilt the box up on one edge and take a look at the problem from underneath in order to get some idea of what's involved. You'll probably find that wild combs have been drawn from corner to corner. Hopefully at least some of those can be salvaged.

    Suggest you don't use a machete. Turn the box upside-down, resting on the inner cover, and then run a cheese-wire slowly between the box and the cover. That way even the loose combs won't fall anywhere. Then, slice each comb in turn away from the box sides using a bread knife or similar.

    What to do then depends much on what shape the combs are in, as no doubt they'll be wavy/curved etc. Other people are probably much better placed than myself to suggest ways of adding this comb to your bare frames - rubber banding can be used - I have used fine wire one-inch mesh to make comb 'clamps' - there are plenty of methods to choose from. This is one area of the operation to research well before you start.

    Needless to say, this is going to be a big and somewhat awkward job, so pick your day well, dress accordingly, and ensure that the box is at a comfortable working height. It certainly IS do-able, you'll just need to take your time and have it thought-out well beforehand.

    Best of luck.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10

    Default Re: New here - made really stupid mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Sure. A lot depends on where you live, and how long you have before the dormant period arrives. If in doubt, leave it until next year, and do a cut-out in the Spring.

    However, if you consider that tackling this now is appropriate - here's what I would do in your place:

    Firstly, tilt the box up on one edge and take a look at the problem from underneath in order to get some idea of what's involved. You'll probably find that wild combs have been drawn from corner to corner. Hopefully at least some of those can be salvaged.

    Suggest you don't use a machete. Turn the box upside-down, resting on the inner cover, and then run a cheese-wire slowly between the box and the cover. That way even the loose combs won't fall anywhere. Then, slice each comb in turn away from the box sides using a bread knife or similar.

    What to do then depends much on what shape the combs are in, as no doubt they'll be wavy/curved etc. Other people are probably much better placed than myself to suggest ways of adding this comb to your bare frames - rubber banding can be used - I have used fine wire one-inch mesh to make comb 'clamps' - there are plenty of methods to choose from. This is one area of the operation to research well before you start.

    Needless to say, this is going to be a big and somewhat awkward job, so pick your day well, dress accordingly, and ensure that the box is at a comfortable working height. It certainly IS do-able, you'll just need to take your time and have it thought-out well beforehand.

    Best of luck.
    LJ
    The idea of waiting until spring is sounding better all the time - in the meantime I will try and research as much as I can. I'm pretty sure it sounds like more than I can physically do. It seems like they must be getting crowded in there by now - any kind of luck they would swarm and I could start over with them. I have a perfectly situated apple tree that past hives have used when they are splitting. I'll keep an eye on them. I sure appreciate input!
    Lori

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