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Discussion Starter #1
I found the remains of a crime. Bee hive destroyed. I think it was an opossum.

http://picasaweb.google.com/curtis.hensley/SceneOfTheCrime#

Any and all comments are welcome.

Was this the typical growth of a first year hive?

Any idea how long ago this might have happened?

Are the cell sizes in line with what one would expect to see?

It seems the bees did a nice job of keeping the comb on the bars until the far ends. Is this a normal pattern for the comb on the topbars?

Curtis
www.texasbeekeeper.blogspot.com
 

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I just don't see a opossum doing that unless the hive was filled with mice, which they eat voraciously. Seriously, I'd think something larger with more strength (perhaps a large raccoon? or dog on the loose?). Look for animal tracks. There should be a track there somewhere & that will tell you. Post picture of track & I can tell you.
 

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It seems the bees did a nice job of keeping the comb on the bars until the far ends. Is this a normal pattern for the comb on the topbars?

Actually, that is a VERY GOOD pattern for not having a comb guide on your bars. I'm surprised your crosscombs weren't worse. You need a comb guide the bees will follow - not just a groove in your bar.

Any idea how long ago this might have happened?

It was cold. Cold combs break and shatter like that. Warm combs stretch and tear.

I would suspect a curious raccoon, or a scared raccoon trying to get away from a chupacabra.
 

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As to when I think this happened I don't know for sure. This could have been a couple of events. My last physical hive inspection, opening the hive, was in late August or early September. I visited the hive again at the end of October. There was no indication of harm at that time. The bees were flying and the hive was full, or so it seemed. I found this mess about 4 weeks ago. I just got to take pictures yesterday

I didn't notice until you mentioned it that some of the combs were broken. There was comb in the bottom of the hive that was fused to the floor. There may have been a comb failure before the attack. As I look at the pictures it seems the bars far from the center on both ends seem to have fallen off while the bees were able to attempt to repair it. The comb on the bars seem to have been rounded off and that on the floor was attached and secured so it could not move.

Then there is the center of the hive where the brood was located and I would suspect the winter cluster. That comb is broken and scattered. And there is much of it unaccounted for. I would assume it was eaten.

The fact that there is no honey might indicate that it was either eaten before the attack or stolen after. But I did notice this too. There is not a drop of honey in this hive.

As far as tracks, I looked but I found nothing. It has been raining a lot so I assume they were washed away. I did find some feces but I don't know @#$%.

Any thoughts on cell size?

On the topbar design. I would like to see real research to prove what design is best. I have 3 hives and while this one was the best at keeping the comb on the bars the others have only slight cross combing on them.

So do you think this is highly unusual to have comb that true to the bars?

Curtis
www.texasbeekeeper.blogspot.com
 

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Oh.. it was the Chupacabra I am sure of it.... A neighbor said they think their cousin who was visiting saw it the other day...
 

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That had to have been a chupacabra.
I thought Chupacabras are bloodsuckers!??

I have no idea what got into the hive. I would chock it up to experience and check the hives more often. That way you will have more evidence at hand or foot to make a bust!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At this point it does not matter what did it.

I am curious about the condition of the remaining comb and other observations.
 

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I have another hive a few feet away from this one and the chupacabra left it alone. Ithink there are a couple variables that enabled the crime. I think I have them resolved. One was that concrete block that was under the hive. It gave the varmit a leg up. So that is gone. The other is the screen only bottom was too easy to rip open. I have a new bottom ready to install and have just been waiting on the weather.

So I think I can keep chupacabra out of the bee hive. If he comes back I will catch him.
 

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Any thoughts on cell size?

One of the pics you are holding a tape measure against the combs, but you don't have it positioned so we can measure the cells. Go measure the cell size.

So do you think this is highly unusual to have comb that true to the bars?

I think you are extremely lucky since you have no comb guides. If you used comb guides, the combs would likely be much better. When you don't use comb guides, your combs normally end up looking something like the mess on the floor of the hive.

The fact that there is no honey might indicate that it was either eaten before the attack or stolen after. But I did notice this too. There is not a drop of honey in this hive.

Other hives probably robbed it clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you for all of your comments. I hope they will continue.

I am not sure if I can tell which one of the comb in the bucket are the ones from this hive to remeasure. I tried to use the tape method to capture that info but it may be lost.

I know that this question has been discussed and debated for a long time and in many places but what type of "comb guide" do you find work best? So far I have seen these: Do you know of others?
1) popsicle stick
2) foudation strip, 1/2 inch, 1 inch, more.
3) triangle shaped bar.
4) string coated with wax.

And what about wax on the comb guide? Is it needed? If so how much and of what type? i.e. melted brood comb or caping wax.

Is there any scientific studies that show which is best? I am sincere about wanting to know what is best. I am not sold on any particular method. I only used this method because it seemed to be the easiest and many people testified it worked best for them. Now I see many people with differing opinions and methods for solutions.
 

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1) popsicle stick
2) foudation strip, 1/2 inch, 1 inch, more.
3) triangle shaped bar.
4) string coated with wax.


1) A popsicle stick will work. So will a paint stirring stick.
2) Foundation starter strips will work if they don't fall out.
3) Works great.
4) Bees have no use for dental floss. Don't waste your time giving them any.
5) You used the groove filled with wax - another disaster waiting to happen.

Any physical opbject hanging down 1/4 or more works best as a comb guide. Be it a triangle shaped bar, paint stir stick or popsicle stick, or a foundation starter strip.

And what about wax on the comb guide? Is it needed? If so how much and of what type? i.e. melted brood comb or caping wax.

If the bees want wax on it, they'll put wax on it. Their wax will be attached better than we can wax it. (And if you try to wax it, the bees will attach their wax to your poorly secured wax. Once your wax releases, the comb falls off.)
 
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