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First of all, please excuse my ignorance if I use wrong bee keeping terms. I really will try not to embarrass myself, although it will be hard.

We received a small swarm of bees back on June 8th of this year. They had been in a nuc box for 2 weeks prior to us receiving them. The comb they had drawn up was already crossing bars. When we placed them in our hive, we were careful not to tear apart the combs (most likely mistake #1). If my memory serves me correctly there were 3 or 4 bars that contained some comb. The way the combs were crossed we could not find the queen. We put 1:1 sugar water in the hive for them and left them alone for two weeks.

When we opened the hive in a couple of weeks, the combs were even more crossed. My husband said we needed to separate the bars so that’s what I began doing. Right off the bat, an entire ‘paddle’ of comb (hope that’s correct) came loose and fell to the bottom. Needless to say the whole hive has gone from bad to worse!

I have several video clips of the entire cavity of the hive, brood end and honey end, but I don’t know if I can post videos here or not. Hopefully I can post some pics of what I’m trying to describe. When you open the hive, the bees have drawn comb everywhere. The entire hive is completely filled with comb, from the top to the bottom to both sides. I counted six bars that now contain comb.

The first picture is looking in the hive from what would be the honey end and the second picture shows what it looks like from the brood end.

Surely someone else has had this disastrous bee beginning besides us and can offer help. We just want to help the bees straighten out their combs. I can’t tell if there are eggs, larvae or even capped brood, much less any capped honey!

I would appreciate any and all help and advice. Heck, I’ll even take some criticism.

If need be, I have more pictures and I can answer any questions you might have.

I thank you in advance!
 

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You need to cut thru the combs (upward motion) and separate your bars. Fix it now or it will just get worse. Bees use the bar/frame beside each one as a pattern so if the first is crossed then the next will be too. Scrape off the brace comb too on the sides of the box. Once you get them straight it will be much easier. IMO, the top bar hive with straight sides is much easier to make and manage. Good Luck and welcome to the forum.
 

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Before I forget - do insert your location into your forum profile, as some problems/solutions are very location-specific.

First of all, please excuse my ignorance if I use wrong bee keeping terms.
Not a problem - we ALL started-off as beginners with zero knowledge. :)

We received a small swarm of bees back on June 8th of this year. They had been in a nuc box for 2 weeks prior to us receiving them. The comb they had drawn up was already crossing bars. When we placed them in our hive, we were careful not to tear apart the combs (most likely mistake #1).
Yes - as you've realised, that's a mistake. Bees will just keep copying what already exists: so wonky comb produces even more wonky comb.

If my memory serves me correctly there were 3 or 4 bars that contained some comb. The way the combs were crossed we could not find the queen. We put 1:1 sugar water in the hive for them and left them alone for two weeks.
That was a good approach - if it hadn't been for those crossed combs, that colony would most probably be in fine shape right now.

Ok, I'll skip the rest of your post which is essentially "what do I do now ?" And that very much depends on where you're located (hence my initial remark).

The procedure you're about to undertake is going to be messy, and will be disruptive, and may even be a tad destructive - so much depends on how much time that colony has to recover before the onset of Winter.
If you were located in (say) Canada or the northern States of the US, I'd say there's a fine line between sorting this out now or leaving it 'as is' (the bees won't come to any harm - straight combs are only an issue for humans) and dealing with the problem early next year. If you were located 'down South' however, this is what I'd do ...

You already know which bars are crossed - that's very handy - so, place a small sheet of thin plywood, or a few thin sticks across those Top Bars and run a few small screws through into the Top Bars so that they're firmly held together. Then, using a long thin knife such as a carving or bread knife, run it's blade along the hive walls to cut those combs free from the sides of the box. Now you can lift all those bars with crossed combs out of the box together as one piece.

Place that comb array upside down on a convenient surface at a comfortable working height, and then you can go about separating the combs from unwanted bars. If you have chosen a warm day, and have worked reasonably quickly, then those combs will still be flexible. They are however new combs and will be soft, and so you need to treat them very gently.

Much depends on what you find, but in general terms, keep as much of the comb in the central area of a bar attached to that bar, and slice away the sides from adjacent bars. Bend those comb 'flaps' to line up with that Top Bar. You'll need to bend them slightly past the Top Bar, as they will spring back, hopefully then to line up with whatever starter-strip was installed.

I know this sounds like a contradiction - to both treat them gently AND bend them back into shape - but it's what needs to be done. Don't worry too much about any damage created in the process, as the bees will fix this in a couple of days.

Now comes the tricky bit, which is really a two-person job: with one person holding the comb array with Top Bars held vertically, the other person can then unscrew each Top Bar in turn, thus releasing it, so that it can be returned to the hive.

Before closing-up the hive, choose the straightest of the combs and place it next to the Follower Board, so that future combs will be drawn using that comb as a template to copy from.

Hope this helps and - almost forgot - welcome to the forum ... :)
LJ
 

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What do I do now?
Basically nothing.

I would move this entire disaster as far from the entrance as possible and just start adding new bars up front, closer to the entrance.
Move - I mean, just carefully move the entire block of bars intact.
Don't break anything apart; cut few combs away from the walls and carefully pry the bars from the support.
Then the entire "glob" can be carefully raised and moved OR just carefully shifted over.

The new bars will be inspected and corrected every 2-3 days to be sure the are correctly drawn.
Eventually, the entire bee nest will move onto the new "good" bars and the "bad" bars can be just harvested off.

BUT - this process needs to be started in spring and will occur over the entire season.

Meanwhile, I would just feed them to be sure they are set for the winter and leave them alone just as is.
This is assuming some Northern Hemisphere location (which really needs to be added to the profile).

With a true framed hive, I'd go for a radical surgery, but with a TB, I'd rather avoid the hassle and even bigger potential disaster.
 

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Please don't go in there and destroy what they have built. Think of it this way. The bees don't care about the cross comb and they can function perfectly fine with it the way it is. The only one this is bothering is you. Now let me tell you how to get it out without bothering the bees and possibly killing your queen in the process. If you do accidentally kill her this time of year the colony is lost.

I have this problem all of the time as I run foundationless. The bees naturally build wavy comb as wavy comb has much more structural integrity than a straight piece of comb. It's not pretty to a beekeeper, but it's actually better than straight comb for the bees. But we want rid of it so we can pull frames.

This will take a while so be patient. Bees store honey above their brood naturally, so we are going to take advantage of that fact to get this box of wavy comb off of your hive. What you are going to do is called nadiring and beekeepers using Warre hives use it almost exclusively. It just means that you are going to add boxes on the bottom of the hive instead of the top. If you think of it, this is much more natural for the bees. They start in a tree hollow from the top and they build down. They never have opportunity to build up in the natural world.

So all you have to do is add a box with FOUNDATION in it BELOW this box whenever they are ready for a new box. That will probably be next Spring. Until then just let them have this box to do with as they please. They will continue to build the box out with wavy comb. The saying is that one wonky frame leads to another -- and that's true. They will follow whatever pattern they get started with. That's okay, just don't try to separate the frames.

What will happen is eventually they will move down into the new box and start using it to raise brood. You might even have to add another box or two to them as they grow. If I were dealing with this I would add those boxes to the bottom as well. If everything goes well for the colony, sometime next Summer or Fall the wonky comb super will fill with honey and you can harvest it, cut out that comb, crush it, and have some honey for your biscuits. The problem will be solved, It is just one box that you won't be able to examine too closely for a while. That's okay too, because bees would just as lief we leave them alone anyway.

In short, do what's best for your bees in all situations. You can cut this box of comb to pieces and make it like you want like other posters advise, but there is a LOT of risk in doing so. You can easily kill your queen and thus the whole colony in the process. That would be a shame because there is NOTHING wrong with these bees or this comb. Just leaving it alone is your best course if you ask me. You can be rid of it in time following my instructions, and your bees will be happier and healthier if you do.
 

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......

So all you have to do is add a box with FOUNDATION in it BELOW this box whenever they are ready for a new box. .....
Roddo,
What box?

This was a post about a TB hive in TB forum.
Do pay attention next time.
:)

I do agree with the generally "leave it alone" approach.
Bees don't care, indeed.
It is the people who care for whatever reason.
 

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I have this problem all of the time as I run foundationless.
If so, are you really sure you're the best person to be advising the OP ?

So all you have to do is add a box with FOUNDATION in it BELOW this box whenever they are ready for a new box.[...] What will happen is eventually they will move down into the new box and start using it to raise brood.
What you appear to have missed with your vastly superior methodology is that this is the Top Bar sub-forum - therefore there are no boxes to move up or down. LOL

You can be rid of it in time following my instructions, and your bees will be happier and healthier if you do.
Just love that modesty ...

Greg's approach is perfectly valid, although not one I personally share, but yours is not.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Before I respond to all the wonderful info I’ve received, I’ve got to put my location in my profile. However, I cannot find where to add it. See the two pics below. Can y’all point me in the right direction please?

And just to go ahead and clear it up, I am located in East Central Alabama, right on the Georgia line, zone 7 I believe.
 

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Before I respond to all the wonderful info I’ve received, I’ve got to put my location in my profile. However, I cannot find where to add it. See the two pics below. Can y’all point me in the right direction please?

And just to go ahead and clear it up, I am located in East Central Alabama, right on the Georgia line, zone 7 I believe.
Find: My Profile --> About Me --> Location.
Modify.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Lawsey me! That took some digging. This site definitely doesn’t cater to mobile users, but I’ll get used to that.

One other thing is I don’t know how to “quote” someone. I probably will have to be on my computer. I’ll check when I get home.

I will probably miss some things I wanted to cover from each post, but I will try.

First and foremost I need to explain some more about my hive, but oh how I wish I had found this website two months ago...my problem might not be as severe now. Anyway, the man who helped build our hive decided at the last moment to REMOVE the little plastic “guides” from the bars that the bees attach the comb to. He said they didn’t work. So what he left us with are the bars with about an 1/8” deep groove down the middle. Even with nothing to guide them they began drawing comb — crooked. And I found out right off the bat that the slightest movement of a bar causes the comb to fall off. (I wasn’t turning it horizontally or holding the bar in any way that would jeopardize the comb, I just lifted it straight up.) That’s what caused the paddle of comb to fall into the hive bottom.

All of the comb currently in the hive is on these “foundationless” bars. Does that pose a significant problem?

Thinking that was a problem I removed three of the unused bars and attached a “V” shaped piece of wood to them. The first picture I posted shows the wood piece I attached and also how the majority of the bars look. The second picture is from the internet so you can actually see what I tried to mimic. 40255581-7A31-4179-8F33-25AD6F60AA32_1598886508020.jpg AF20ED6A-2A27-4BE7-A32E-3D925C97F5FC_1598886733792.jpeg

I do like several things that have been mentioned so far. (Sorry I don’t know how to quote yet.) My husband and I both thought we should wait until Spring to take action trying to straighten it all up. But then, I also liked the idea of just moving the existing mess back to the end of the hive and letting the bees start anew. BUT, would I do that now, BEFORE the colder weather sets in or wait until Spring?

There is so much I don’t know, which leaves me with nothing to make logical, sound decisions on. I hope y’all understand. I will have more questions and responses to the advice already posted...once I get this website figured out! Thank you all again.

Oh, I about forgot, my husband has already purchased a Langstroth hive. He wants to move the bees over into it this coming Spring. I like my little TBH and am sad. Of course he has no idea how to accomplish that move though.
 

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..... Anyway, the man who helped build our hive decided at the last moment to REMOVE the little plastic “guides” from the bars that the bees attach the comb to. He said they didn’t work. .....

All of the comb currently in the hive is on these “foundationless” bars. Does that pose a significant problem?

...............But then, I also liked the idea of just moving the existing mess back to the end of the hive and letting the bees start anew. BUT, would I do that now, BEFORE the colder weather sets in or wait until Spring? ............

Oh, I about forgot, my husband has already purchased a Langstroth hive. He wants to move the bees over into it this coming Spring. I like my little TBH and am sad. Of course he has no idea how to accomplish that move though.
The man who helped you build your hive is no expert, I am afraid.
My bees draw on plastic all the time and have no objections; it is a norm for me.
Many of my frames are nothing but recycled plastic junk.
20180708_162102.jpg

Any guide is better than no guide - here are sticks I picked up from trash and stapled to a top bar - these are fine comb guides.
Again, recycling trash for the comb guides is a very valid and dirt cheap approach, and bees don't mind a bit.
20190629_145151.jpg
20200621_124927.jpg

Whatever problem you already have with the “foundationless” bars - it is already there and just don't worry about it.
Again, this is not a problem for bees's well being.
It is a problem in your head only (since it deprives your of controlling your bees and that is the problem you are told).
But as long as your bees are alive and well - all the other problems are secondary.
Take your time; the bees are not going anywhere.
If you want to feed them - why not.

Whatever route you prefer - it is best left until spring now.
This is because IF you accidentally squish a queen (a real possibility) - it is easiest to remedy in spring, not it late summer/fall/winter.
So, i'd postpone any moves until spring; this is when the bees draw the combs the most and you take advantage of that.

If the Lang hive is already purchased, it is fine.
But in general, it is best to understand what it is you want (and what feels right to you) before you spend any more money.
Nothing wrong with the TB hives in the Southern US.
A good choice for the South.
I'd say read this very good site on the subject (you don't need to buy the book - just the site is awesome; your call):
https://www.tbhsbywam.com/
 

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Your comment of- "There is so much I don’t know, which leaves me with nothing to make logical, sound decisions on".

I know how you feel, first year beekeeping is definitely a 'baptism by fire'.
 

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"Oh, I about forgot, my husband has already purchased a Langstroth hive. He wants to move the bees over into it this coming Spring. I like my little TBH and am sad. Of course he has no idea how to accomplish that move though."

If you have the room and interest, there is nothing wrong with doing both types.
 

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"Oh, I about forgot, my husband has already purchased a Langstroth hive. He wants to move the bees over into it this coming Spring. I like my little TBH and am sad. Of course he has no idea how to accomplish that move though."

If you have the room and interest, there is nothing wrong with doing both types.
Nothing but some compatibility hassle is involved (with not much justification for it).

Any TB expert should ask up front the new customer - maybe you prefer a horizontal Lang instead?
So then you can try out both setups - horizontal and vertical and learn what works for you best.
 

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... the man who helped build our hive decided at the last moment to REMOVE the little plastic “guides” from the bars that the bees attach the comb to. He said they didn’t work. So what he left us with are the bars with about an 1/8” deep groove down the middle. Even with nothing to guide them they began drawing comb — crooked.
That explains so much ... If only he'd glued some popsicle sticks into the groove (from the outset), that would have provided enough of a guide for them. Still, the 'problem' exists now (problem for the beekeeper, not for the bees - they couldn't care less).

All of the comb currently in the hive is on these “foundationless” bars. Does that pose a significant problem?
Not if you leave them 'as is'. Without starter strips in place I certainly wouldn't even consider repairing those combs as I suggested earlier - so I bow to Greg's idea of shifting those bars to the back. Best left until Spring would be my advice too.
When you come to move them, you'll still need to fix them all together and cut away any side adhesions as I outlined earlier. Then move them to the back of the box in one piece and unscrew them there (if you want).

Nice job with those starter guides. I use popsicle sticks in my own frames to do the same job. Pretty-much anything works. But having no starter guide at all is pretty-much guaranteed to cause what's happened to you.

... my husband has already purchased a Langstroth hive. He wants to move the bees over into it this coming Spring. I like my little TBH and am sad. Of course he has no idea how to accomplish that move though.
Could you not run both hives ?

What length are your Top Bars ? If they're the same length as Langstroth frames, then that could make life easier - but there are several ways of transferring bees between hives - it won't be a problem. :)
LJ
 

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......
When you come to move them, you'll still need to fix them all together and cut away any side adhesions as I outlined earlier. Then move them to the back of the box in one piece and unscrew them there (if you want).
............
LJ
I would emphasize what LJ says - fixing the "glob" together into "one unit", prior to the move.
A very good idea in many ways (queen safety - just one reason).
This is similar to what I sometimes do when transporting fragile swarm traps - temporarily fixing the top bars together for the duration of the move.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The man who helped you build your hive is no expert, I am afraid.
My bees draw on plastic all the time and have no objections; it is a norm for me.
Many of my frames are nothing but recycled plastic junk.
He was new at beekeeping as well. Unfortunately we were all a bunch of blind bats!

Any guide is better than no guide - here are sticks I picked up from trash and stapled to a top bar - these are fine comb guides.
Again, recycling trash for the comb guides is a very valid and dirt cheap approach, and bees don't mind a bit.
How cool is that? And there's no worries about having it just perfect. (That's a problem I have!) By the picture, I guess there is no need for the guide to reach from one end to the other.

Take your time; the bees are not going anywhere.
If you want to feed them - why not.
I have been keeping 1:1 sugar water inside the hive; literally "inside" the hive. I did have it right inside the entrance on the outside of the follower, but I removed it for several weeks and when I went back to put it back, there was not enough room to put it because the bees had already built comb. Yeah, it's a mess. So I set the feeder inside, at the closed end of the hive under several empty bars.

Also, my husband was told we were in "dearth" (?) and purchased pollen. We placed it in a homemade pollen feeder with lemongrass oil on it. So far it is a no-go. I even took some bees over to it and put them in there . . . they flew out! I'm going to assume they don't need/want it right now.

Whatever route you prefer - it is best left until spring now.
This is because IF you accidentally squish a queen (a real possibility) - it is easiest to remedy in spring, not it late summer/fall/winter.
So, i'd postpone any moves until spring; this is when the bees draw the combs the most and you take advantage of that.
This is the route we'll go, even though I am impatient and want to fix it all right now! <covers eyes and shakes head!>

If the Lang hive is already purchased, it is fine.
But in general, it is best to understand what it is you want (and what feels right to you) before you spend any more money.
Nothing wrong with the TB hives in the Southern US.
A good choice for the South.
While researching the different hives, I thought the TBH would be best for ME. I say it like that because in the beginning I thought I would be the only one tending to them. I am no spring chicken anymore and I was afraid the Lang boxes would be too heavy for me to lift. There would be all the times going into the hive for checks that I would have to lift each box off and then put them back on.

After this little hive fiasco I began wondering if it would be better if the bars were actually frames. Or would that be too much? I saw what looked like "square frames" on one of the pictures you posted, but ours aren't square.

I will definitely look at the link you provided. Thank you for it and all of this info as well,.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you, Roddo. This is excellent information even though I'm not using a box hive...yet, anyway! I understand completely what you are conveying and it will be great info to tuck away in my "What Now?!?" file. :lpf: :lookout:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
GregV, what exactly am I looking at on that third picture you posted? Other than yours have sides, is it the fact that the top bar of comb is all over the place and the bottom bar with the stick is in nice order?
 
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