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A friend of mine recently (late May) captured a large swarm in a 10-frame medium bait hive. The bait hive contained 3 frames, the rest was open space. The swarm that moved in was large (good news) but he didn’t discover them for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, they filled out the remaining 7 spaces with a mess of bridge/ burr comb (bad news). We got the bait hive out of the tree, ensured it was queenright, and added another 10-frame medium box of foundation above the bait hive / bridge comb. 6 weeks later, the bees are slow in drawing out the foundation in box 2: only about 5 of 10 frames have been drawn out. He is feeding them 1:1 syrup and they are taking about half a quart a day.
A couple of things trouble me:
1. The bait hive, with most of the honey, bridge comb, etc, is still on the bottom. I don’t know what would happen if we moved it above the box with the new frames.
2. We don’t know what to do with the mess in the bottom box. The bridge comb is so random that it would be difficult to cut it out and install in standard frames.

Any ideas what we can do so this herd can get ready for winter?

Thanks!
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Yikes! I would get the three frames.and make sure they are reasonably straight. Keep them on one side of the hive. Then, cut out enough of the comb to get another three fames in the hive and close it back up for a few weeks. Crush and strain the honey that you cut out and put any brood comb you find in the upper box with rubber bands and empty frames. After the bees get used to the new arrangement, cut out the remaining four frames worth and do the same thing. It looks like a lot of that comb is honey so it may not be that bad. Keep your smoker handy cause your gonna piss off a whole buch of bees when you start this job. I am not laughing though. I have a box I need to get into this weekend that looks pretty similar. Mine is almost all honey so it will be crush and strain, then feed back to the hive. I have already treated with OAV, so I can not harvest any of it.
 

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If the goal is to get them ready for Winter, don’t set them back by trying to fix the bottom box. I would leave the bridge comb/box as it is (as you did), & just keep feeding them so they draw & fill the top box, & may even need a small or medium super before winter (especially if you have drawn comb). Worry about it in Early Spring, when;) they survive & have moved out of the bottom box.
 
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