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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to stay on top of my top bar hive and keep the comb straight. Early on I lost a couple of combs because they detached when I tried to straighten them and I couldn't reattach them. Three weeks ago, I did a major overhaul the comb, put three new bars in the brood area, and gave them 18 bars altogether.

Last weekend, when I went in to check on things, I was very surprised to see if they had started building on the forth bar from the front, and were festooning off the other three—right up to the entrance. I should point out that my bees started building from the back of the hive.

All the construction on the new bars is cross-combed. It's such a mess! I started to fix it but it's so fragile! How do I keep from cutting through all the honey and brood comb? Honestly, I would rather just let them go and pull it out next spring. Of course, that doesn't give them a good example of how to build..

I'm using 1 3/8" bars for everything. Maybe if I'd started with 1.25" for the brood area, but what's done is done.

I think I'm looking for a serious pep talk: "Get in there! Fix that comb right now!" Or some assurance that I can just start over in the spring.
 

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straighten them out and then drop them between straight combs. When I ran a TBH last yr once I got a few good combs I fed them new bars between good comb and never had a problem with cross combing.
 

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Keep trying to straighten out. cut it out if you have to. I'm running foundationless so know what your going thru. I take the cut out comb.....walk it about 300' away and leave it in a plate. (dont do this near your hives or you'll start a robbing frenzy) These are full of honey so the bee's go wild while they're taking the honey back to the hives. Once they're cleaned out.....I take a hair dryer and soften the top edge of the comb and push it(attach it) onto a clean frame or topbar. I then reuse that and put it back into the hive and try and use those to help straighten out the others and so forth. The bees will straighten up and attach it better than I. Keep at it and be a Beek-keeper and not a bee-haver. Once you've got some good comb built out it'll get easier.
 

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I've had some minor cross combing in ours, but nothing a couple pinches with my fingers couldn't fix. Is your hive level side-to-side? And yes, 1.25" bars may have helped. In a couple of our nucs we have bars more like 1 1/8" or even edging towards 1" because we had some scraps and they seem to be doing just fine with them. These are swarms from bee tree, however... so one could assume they are "regressed" and used to more natural comb.

The combs that have looked like they needed more adjustment I have positioned as best I could and once they get a couple of brood cycles through them they seem good to be able to do more significant manipulations.

The biggest issue I've had is that in one of our hives that isn't close to the house we left it for a bit too long and they started building honey comb. Three combs span four brood bars at the back of the nest. So what I'm doing there is feeding 1.5" bars in front of the cross combed bars and we'll either harvest it or leave it for winter depending how it looks later in the year.
 

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You have plenty of time before winter to get it right, as others have said put empties between straight comb, usually you can start with one empty between two straights and they will get the clue and build everything right, but I have had a few TBH that just insisted on cross comb and I would have to just gut the entire hive start over and check them every couple of days until they started building straight comb, usually once they start they won't go back to cross comb.
 

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I had a friend having the same problem except his bees refused to follow any of his "guidelines" and ran comb perpendicular to the bars. On a somewhat goofy whim, I suggested he just rotate the hive to be in line with the way they were drawing comb. He just called me and said that he tried it and, now a few months later, they are drawing comb on the bars perfectly...
 

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I had a friend having the same problem except his bees refused to follow any of his "guidelines" and ran comb perpendicular to the bars. On a somewhat goofy whim, I suggested he just rotate the hive to be in line with the way they were drawing comb. He just called me and said that he tried it and, now a few months later, they are drawing comb on the bars perfectly...
That's interesting, stranger things have happened. Do you have any idea why you suggested that, or was it because you didn't have the foggiest idea and just made a stab in the dark ? Next time I have one of those colonies that refuse to get it straight I will try that, but if it works don't expect me to admit it, my sanity is already being questioned.
 

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I had a friend having the same problem except his bees refused to follow any of his "guidelines" and ran comb perpendicular to the bars. On a somewhat goofy whim, I suggested he just rotate the hive to be in line with the way they were drawing comb. He just called me and said that he tried it and, now a few months later, they are drawing comb on the bars perfectly...
That's interesting, stranger things have happened. Do you have any idea why you suggested that, or was it because you didn't have the foggiest idea and just made a stab in the dark ? Next time I have one of those colonies that refuse to get it straight I will try that, but if it works don't expect me to admit it, my sanity is already being questioned.
It stands to reason that a hive so far off level that they are building comb perpendicular to the comb guides would be more correctly level when rotated 90 degrees...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for your replies. I may not have been clear that when I added the three bars three weeks ago, it was in between straight comb. I have grooved bars into which I put paint sticks, so they have a good 1/4 inch guide to follow. I think I should have had 1.25" bars for brood. You can see how the first six or so are straight, but the bees want the comb to be closer together. The bars are 19" and I've heard that can lead to curving.

Also, the hive is level front to back and side to side.

I'm going in tomorrow. I like the idea of putting the fallen comb away from the hive, let them rob it out, and then reattach it to a bar.

Despite all this, I really like my tbh. It's so much calmer when I go in the hive.
 

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Depending on how far it is skewed you could use a wedge to get them to draw the next bars straight. It doesn't help your existing bars, but it will get you straight after that.
 

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Like Sovek said, mine have drawn straight comb on 1 1/2 inch (wedge) bars. Like his, mine are a little thick on top but otherwise I'm satisfied.

Jodie
 

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I've been ripping 2 X 4's with a 45 degree wedge. I will probably rip them to 1 1/4 inch next time. This is my first hive and I'm three weeks into the experience and loving it!

Jodie
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Went into the hive today with a friend. I told her it was her job to keep me going. I first wanted to move the brood comb all the way to the back. I had five empty bars behind a follower board. When I took the follower board out, I saw that the first brood comb had fallen—straight down. There's a one inch gap between comb and bar. Oh well, I didn't have a plan for that, so I moved to the other end. My hope was to keep moving good comb back and figure out where that first bad comb was. Instead I'm going in from the front. 18 bars, first three no comb. Then two with just honey. Then we hit bood comb. Altogether I straightened six comb, but I lost two—with brood. I decided just to cut my losses—everyone was getting agitated—and we closed things up. Took the comb to the place I take that kind of stuff. We'll see if the Florida sun doesn't melt it all away.

Early on I got stung through the mesh on my leather gloves. I had a long sleeved shirt on but had rolled the sleeves up a bit. So the girls got a bit of revenge.

Now to research the fallen comb dilemma.
 
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