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Discussion Starter #1
:doh: Feeling quite chagrined at how badly I've missed one of my hives bulking up and busting out. First year with this hive.

Checked it a week ago and they had just started to build a small amount of comb down from the inner cover inside the feeding shim. Had planned on cleaning it up, reversing boxes, and potentially splitting it yesterday but it turned out cold and pouring rain all day. Checked today though and they've built quite a bit of comb now. Today it's really windy, cool, and threatening rain this afternoon so I don't think I should do much just yet. Looks like Sunday is a possibility and then it warms up next Thursday.

Looking for some advice/guidance -
1) I've been working from the assumption that highs above 50 degrees and nighttime lows above 40 are needed before I reverse & possibly split. That make sense?
2) Cleaning up the mess...any advice on that? Would like to be as gentle as possible but it looks like they've drawn out 3-4 rows of comb parallel to the frames. I'm assuming I can probably rubber band it into some mediums so it won't go to waste.
 

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Some of mine do that all the time because I keep a feeding shim on all year as the location of the upper entrance. it's not a big deal, at all. Biggest issue is that it can be a pain to work with

If they are severely cramped for space, there is occasionally some brood in it, but mostly not. It's either full of honey ot just dry comb. Broods is the most vexing issue, but usually it's drone brood, which I am willing to sacrifice (and will open to inspect for mites). If it's honey-filled, I will scrape it off and dump it into Tupperware container and get a bit of nice clean crash-n-strain. if it's just dry comb, I just slice it off and dump directly into my wax melter.

Why is the comb attached to the underside of the cover? Are you using migratory covers? If not, you ought to have an inner cover on the hive to make sure they don't stick the whole mess down so hard you can hardly pry it open.

If there is a lot of stuff attached to the inner cover, just lift iot up and off and set it down on an empty box (set with comb hanging down as it was in the hive - leave the bees on it.) Then continue on your regular inspection, tidying up. Keep a close eye for the queen while working. if you see her, then you know she's not with the bees on the hanging comb parked in the spare box, this makes the clean-up of the misplaced comb a little easier, because you can then scrape with a bit more abandon.

Finish your inspection, adding a box with drawn, empty comb. Either another box, or a reversed box from below. Put the feeding shim back on above that (you may still be offering pollen sub, or using it as a top entrance.) Then tackle the wild comb. If you know the queen is safely in the hive, then scrape away (unless there is worker brood you want to save.) Otherwise, I might just reassemble the box and let them figure things out. Often with more room above the brood area they will move stores and stop putting brood. Check in a week or so and see if they have abandoned the wild comb areas in favor of the warmer spaces closer to the brood. If so, scrape it off and melt it down. If there is a small amount of honey you want to leave them, set the cut-off comb on a plastic surface (plate, fast food container or lid, etc.) within the the feeding shim. They will move it to where it belongs. I often do this.

But you have been warned - they need more space and are building out and you should keep an eye out for swarm preps.

Good luck!

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Nancy! I am using an inner cover and they're building the comb down from that. I love the idea of reversing boxes, adding a super, and then replacing the shim + inner cover above all of that. You would think with all that space between the brood nest and the new comb they'd move back down and I could clean it up once they've left it.

Regarding swarming I'm thinking that I'll reverse the boxes, hopefully this weekend. Add the super, move the shim, etc. If I see swarm cells I'll go ahead and split then. If not I'll swap the boxes back (I'm using a deep + medium for brood) in about a week and see where we are then regarding spilts, flow, etc. Make sense or am I missing something?

Some of mine do that all the time because I keep a feeding shim on all year as the location of the upper entrance. it's not a big deal, at all. Biggest issue is that it can be a pain to work with

If they are severely cramped for space, there is occasionally some brood in it, but mostly not. It's either full of honey ot just dry comb. Broods is the most vexing issue, but usually it's drone brood, which I am willing to sacrifice (and will open to inspect for mites). If it's honey-filled, I will scrape it off and dump it into Tupperware container and get a bit of nice clean crash-n-strain. if it's just dry comb, I just slice it off and dump directly into my wax melter.

Why is the comb attached to the underside of the cover? Are you using migratory covers? If not, you ought to have an inner cover on the hive to make sure they don't stick the whole mess down so hard you can hardly pry it open.

If there is a lot of stuff attached to the inner cover, just lift iot up and off and set it down on an empty box (set with comb hanging down as it was in the hive - leave the bees on it.) Then continue on your regular inspection, tidying up. Keep a close eye for the queen while working. if you see her, then you know she's not with the bees on the hanging comb parked in the spare box, this makes the clean-up of the misplaced comb a little easier, because you can then scrape with a bit more abandon.

Finish your inspection, adding a box with drawn, empty comb. Either another box, or a reversed box from below. Put the feeding shim back on above that (you may still be offering pollen sub, or using it as a top entrance.) Then tackle the wild comb. If you know the queen is safely in the hive, then scrape away (unless there is worker brood you want to save.) Otherwise, I might just reassemble the box and let them figure things out. Often with more room above the brood area they will move stores and stop putting brood. Check in a week or so and see if they have abandoned the wild comb areas in favor of the warmer spaces closer to the brood. If so, scrape it off and melt it down. If there is a small amount of honey you want to leave them, set the cut-off comb on a plastic surface (plate, fast food container or lid, etc.) within the the feeding shim. They will move it to where it belongs. I often do this.

But you have been warned - they need more space and are building out and you should keep an eye out for swarm preps.

Good luck!

Nancy
 

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I'm not sure I would reverse PLUS add a super as that may be too much space, too early when temps are still coolish. I know you are in VA, but still. And if you use a QEx under any super, then you must know for sure that the queen is in the hive and not wandering around amidst the bees on the hanging combs on the inner cover. Otherwise she'd be above the QEx.

It would also have to be drawn comb in any super.....

When you crack open the hive, most of the comb will move with the inner cover. Just have a box and closed base on hand to set it right back down on while you work on the rest of the problem. If robbing is possibly an issue (broken comb spilling honey) have a way to preempt that from starting: screening the IC hole, for instance, as well as having re-sealable containers to scrape messy broken honey comb off into while you continue your work. I often use large stocpots fron the kitchen with heavy glass lids.

Nancy
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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David, a strong split will weather the cool temps that are forecast for tues and wed. I get drone burr comb in my feeding shims too. Last year was real bad so I have been more proactive with scraping earlier. After Thursday the weather looks pretty good. I will be making several splits that weekend. Unless the hive is overrun with bees, I think it is a little early to super. My plan is around April 15th.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Really good point on the super. I do plan on trying out queen excluder's this year. Based on your advice and JWPalmer's I'll hold off on supering for a few weeks. Will be interesting to see what they're doing in the bottom box as they are busting out of the top box.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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A thorough inspection is needed before a course of action is decided. Bees could be all in the top box with empty comb below, or not. If you have bees and brood in both boxes, then adding the super now is a good idea. Most of my brood is still all in one box, even though bees are covering all the frames of both, or in one hive, all three boxes.
 
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