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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay... week ago I purchased a "nunc" from a local commercial bee-keeper... I was basically expecting a 5 frame nunc.. went to pick it up, and it turned out to be a 10 frame box that had been left to its own resources...

Anyway, I use 8 frame boxes so after movinf it to its new home, I figured I would split the frames between 2 8 frames boxes.... however upon opening the 10 frame box.. I discovered the horror of the bad house keeping... the box was overflowing with bees (amazed they did not swarm) and the frames were in horrible shape... the combs interconnecting and holes through other parts to allow for movement.... anyway I figured to try to promote "rapid transition" I would move frames still (yeah making a partial mess) and intermixing them with new frames in the 8 frame boxes... the old frames were so "out of control" I could only fit 4 new frames per 8 frame box and only have 3 new frames in one box and 2 in the other... the remaining 2 frames in the 10 frame box were so unstable I decided to leave them... I ended placing the 2 8 frames onto of the 10 frame and laying a 2x4 over the gap...

I know it is late in the season... and I did this mid-afternoon yesterday... and pretty much every scare inch of everything was covered in bees... so either these girls are really lazy.. I am in a alph-alpha files in bloom... or there are way more bees than I was expecting....

Anyway.. I am thinking about splitting the 2 deep 8 frame boxes with a medium box hoping to get them to draw out the frames rapidly... get the queen in that section and start getting rid of the old frames that are un stable... any thoughts or better suggestions...
 

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because it is late in the season, can you take another box and lay it over the other and let them draw it out. If they don't do anything with it, then your still good for the winter, if they do, your still good for the winter.... and when they move up, you can remove the old box and shake in the rest....just a thought..
 

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If you have frames with sections of wide or crooked comb and you put them next to another frame of comb and push them together so that the comb touches, or almost touches they will trim one or the other of them so that they can get between. If one is stores and the other is brood they will trim the honey. And they will do it remarkably quickly. In other words with a little manipulation you might be able to get them to fix it up into usable shape. That's been my (limited) experience anyway.
 

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It's more difficult because you are going from 10 to 8 frame boxes, but I would encourage you to do what devdog suggested, and NOT intermix the bad frames with new. I experienced the exact same issue earlier this year and when I tried it your way, the bees messed up most of the new frames by building out into the voids created by the crooked comb and empty spaces on the old ones. It took months to get everything corrected. Maybe you can make a reducing shim or something to fit your 8 frame over the 10.

A friend that had the exact same problem treated his like a shakeout swarm and just dumped all the bees onto new frames and his hive was back in business before mine. It may be too late in the year for that, though.
 

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Consider putting a new box above the box with irregular comb. put foundation or frames that have been drawn correctly by other bees in the top with some foundation. Then feed to stimulate them to draw out the comb in the upper box.

As soon that that is almost drawn do the same again. This will give time for them to make a queen and for her to mate. give frames with new eggs if you need to so they can raise their own queen.

check for the queen moving up and laying in the correctly drawn frames and then add a queen excluder above the irr comb.

After the brood hatches from the 'bad' comb cut it out and feed the honey back to the bees in a feeder.(watch for robbing of these new hives).
 

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C'mon guys! This has been covered a multitude of times on this forum. Let your bees draw out a couple of the new frames and make up a new brood box with new frames. Find the queen and make sure she stays with the new frames. Then take all the old frames and put them above an excluder so all the brood can emerge and no new eggs are laid. Once all the brood is gone then cull the frames and get rid of all the bad ones. If some are drawn out too fat then take a breadknife or uncapping knife and trim the comb back level with the wood or plastic frame. Reuse anything that's salvageable, dump the rest. Next time you buy bees, try looking inside the hive before closing the deal! What happens if you spend the dough, then get them home and find a hive full of AFB?
 

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Wait a minute, lets back WAY up here, what kind of guy would sell a hive or nuc in that condition to someone that I am assuming is a beginner, newbie, whatever? :scratch:
 

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When I got into beekeeping, I purchased 3 hives from a coworker. His dad had kept bees, but his dad had a stroke a few years before and could no longer take care of the bees. The hives had been unattended since his stroke.

I had boxes falling apart, frames falling apart, and frames and boxes held together by propolis that seemed like it was an inch thick.

It was a most excellent learning experience learning how bees will configure their hive when given the opportunity. It was also a good learning experience to learn ways of making the hive easier to work.
 

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If you have frames with sections of wide or crooked comb and you put them next to another frame of comb and push them together so that the comb touches, or almost touches they will trim one or the other of them so that they can get between. If one is stores and the other is brood they will trim the honey. And they will do it remarkably quickly. In other words with a little manipulation you might be able to get them to fix it up into usable shape. That's been my (limited) experience anyway.
That's very good info. I have a frame or two in many boxes where the honey comb is overdrawn. This is probably due to using 8-frame boxes that are about 1/2 inch too wide (13 7/8) for 8 frames. So, I can remedy the situation by just moving the overdrawn comb up against adjacent comb or the side of the hive? Has anyone else done this?

What about when they have drawn one comb too wide and consequently the adjacent comb is not drawn out enough. If both combs are capped honey, will moving the overdrawn comb to another location (and thus giving them extra space) cause them to draw the underdrawn comb out correctly?
 

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remove 2 outside frames from the bottom box Put the remaining 8 frames in the new box, in the same order.
Take the 2 frames you removed, & place them in the middle of you're new upper box.
You may or may not have to feed.
In the spring when the bees are in the upper box, you can do whatever you want with the bad frames in the lower box.
 

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the adjacent comb is not drawn out enough. If both combs are capped honey, will moving the overdrawn comb to another location (and thus giving them extra space) cause them to draw the underdrawn comb out correctly?
Not if it's capped, but I tend to rearrange frames for various reasons, and without a doubt everything averages out and gets straighter over time. It also helps if you hand straighten any time you have empty comb.
 

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I think there is a big difference between buying hives that you know have been unattended and going to a commercial beekeeper for a "nuc" and being given a 10 frame box that is in disrepair! I would have expected the "nuc" to be a viable 5 frame nuc.
:no: That said, the purchaser has a responsibility to open the box and see just what he is being sold. The seller(if he was being ethical) should have opened it prior to receiving money. The seller knew what he was selling and took advantage of an inexperienced buyer. IMHO
Meridith
 

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The original post sounds like what I've gotten myself into...

An older gentleman in our church overheard my wife telling some ladies we were looking at getting back in the bee biz. When my dad passed away in '91 I was unable to keep up our hives, so I gave them to a friend.

He had "retired" his hives about 10 years ago or so and stored the boxes in his barn. This spring a rouge swarm took up in an empty stack of 4 supers, 3 with frames but no foundation. They were all out of alignment and no top or bottom board. The whole thing was on a second story storage shelf in an open air barn.

He had a box of foundation and a medium super at his house that he gave me and we went to the farm to see what could be done...

Using a ladder, I moved the boxes down to the ground a we put them on top of the new super with foundation.


We left it alone for a couple of weeks and went back to get it at night and moved it home 50 miles away.

I bought a couple of new supers with plastic frames and foundation and a screen inner cover from Brushy Mountain. I also bought some new gloves and vail for my son to help me.

It took a week to get the new stuff in before we could get to work on the Rehabilitation. When we opened them up we found pretty much what the original post described. One big difference... A rats nest in the main brood chamber (no rats, though). The bees had built around it the best they could. The frames were a mess. Some of them were gnawed apart (by the rats I guess...), others were just old and falling apart.

I looked for a queen as we pulled the frames out, but never saw one. There was a small amount of brood on a few frames but the frames were so messed up the comb would fall off of the frames... The bees all moved down into the box with foundation as we smoked them, so I hoped she moved down, too. We brushed them off of the top and put on the 2 new supers with the plastic frames with a queen excluder between the bottom box and the 2 new boxes. We put the screen inner cover on and closed it up. Bees hung on the outside the rest of the day and most of the night.

The next day everything seemed normal, but not much activity in the new supers.

I've been doing a lot of reading on this forum and others and decided I needed to feed them, especially with the high heat we've had in the area, so Friday evening I put one of the old supers on top of the new ones and put a gallon ziplock bag of 1:2 sugar mix on the top of the new frames. I had to peek after dark and found several black ants already on the bag.

Sunday afternoon, I didn't see any activity and checked the hive and there were no bees in the hive at all...

Now there are lots of ants.

I've looked all over our yard and the neighborhood but haven't found them yet.

Planning on cleaning up and storing for the spring at this point...

Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I wish to clarify some things... I did look in the hive and saw things looked pretty tight and messy when I peeked in... I just did not appreciate how tight and messy things were until I got the "nuc" home. The bee keeper has a good rep around the area and I was more than willing to "overlook" the mess since I was getting "way more bees than I had planned" good for such a late season start.

I am starting to cull the old frames out... but I am finding these bees just keep a messy house... rather than using the new wax foundations to draw comb out, they are using the wood of the super or frames and just building comb where ever they decide "looks good"... so yes they build a 2 sided comb from the tops of a frame that has a foundation in it.. and the foundation is a wax foundation not plastic... now at other places they are drawing out the foundations..

It has been 25 years since I kept bees... so I was hoping you guys had come up with nifty new things.... that could safe some time..
 

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llang, you probably made the post because you suspected that messing with a colony this late in the year throws it into disarray and reduces the chances of winter survival. It's too late to change anything now, but if that was the reason, then your instincts are correct.

When bees are disturbed in spring the colony is growing, comb is being drawn, there is a strong flow, etc so a colony can absorb all kinds of disturbance without undue stress becoming evident.

If you have a strong fall flow the colony may recover,

> I am finding these bees just keep a messy house... rather than using
> the new wax foundations to draw comb out, they are using the wood of
> the super or frames and just building comb where ever they decide

Some feral nests have better looking combs than a hive does, and others look like a twisted and disorganized maze, so there does seem to be a genetic element in a colony's engineering ability. As a rule of thumb, putting fresh frames between poorly drawn combs in old frames results in poorly drawn combs in fresh frames.

> I was hoping you guys had come up with nifty new things.

Unfortunately, the bees have not always responded as we would like to many/most of the 'nifty' ideas of the last 25 years. Langstroth is still the man...
 
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