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Difficulty opening stuck beeboxs

1591 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  davemal
I'm having difficulty opening my bee boxs, particularly the lower I go in my hives the harder it is to open them. I literally snapped a hive tool into two parts trying to open one hive, I have also damaged my brood chamber box trying to open another box, it's not splitting apart as can be seen in these photos:

It's been taking me forty minutes of struggle to open up a single bee box to examine what's going on.It's physically demanding and it's breaking my equipment trying. The paint and wood peels and breaks off when I try to open a box by lifting it with a hive tool. I have learned when trying that the frames from one box, are stuck to the frames underneath. When I try to use my force to open a box, the bees get very angry with me and it makes it then difficult to actually examine it because they become very hostile. I've realised that it can be easier to lift the frames above, to break off the attachment to the frames in the box below, to make it lift. I attempted to do this in the photo shown but instead of the frames lifting, the wood just splits and breaks, it's easier for the wood of the frame to get damaged then it is to be unstuck and lift.

I recognise there's a lot of honey comb on top of that hive. It needed a hivemat to prevent it. I haven't removed it yet because I haven't gotten myself set up to process that honey so I'm leaving it there for now until I start crushing and straining my bits of honey comb that I have.

I'm unsure how to go about opening up this hive considering the various different methods I've used has broken my hive tools, my frames and my boxs. Does anyone have any suggestions?
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I use a piece of braided fishing line as a saw to separate really stuck supers. All that is needed is getting an edge to lift enough to get it started.
Inspect more often and keep the comb between frames removed. If the burr comb has nectar in it then shake it out on the frame tops. Keep a super with open space on it so they will put honey there instead of in between boxes. Bees' wax glands are going to make wax whether you give them a place to put it or not, so give them some undrawn foundation so they have a place to put it. A good hive tool is a must. A tool with a j-hook will help you separate frames, one with a long ramp will help you separate boxes. Tilt the box up before lifting it. After tilting a box hold the one end up a couple of centimeters while you work your way across and pry down any frames that lifted up with it.
This is one reason why I switched to single brood box instead of double- after the winter it would be a solid block and it would be nearly impossible to perform any inspection without completely upsetting the bees when trying to break things apart. It seems that some bees propolize more than others, during summer season it is OK as you can get in there often enough, but the 6 months of winter would render it unworkable to the point where I just stopped inspecting some of the hives as it was too upsetting for both myself and the bees... The string method suggested above should help in your situation. Also lifting all 4 corners and breaking the seal and also twisting upper box sideways few millimeters to break the comb between the top and bottom frames (that kills bees sometimes, so not ideal method).
I have used 2 hive tools to pry at the same time on 2 adjacent corners before with really stuck boxes.

I would also give them another box so they have somewhere to draw comb other than between the frames to make it a bit easier to get the boxes apart. This will not stop the burr comb, but it may reduce it.
From the pictures it looks like your equipment is non standard.It is critical to follow standard box dimensions if you use standard size frames.The difference between the height of the frame and the height of the box is called a "bee space"(see below) and in anything larger,the bees will build comb.Search the web for equipment dimensions.Most beekeepers use a flat inner cover or fabric inner cover or just a flat outer cover.

Photo 1
Looks like a typical butt or rabbet joint where the end pieces overlap the side pieces but I see no evidence of glue which adds a lot of strength to the joint.NEVER pry against this piece,as you can see you are just pulling out the nails and you are very lucky that you didn't split off the piece of wood adjacent to the frame rest.
Always push your frames together tightly and then center in the box with equal gaps against the side walls.This minimizes propolis on the edges of the frame sides and gives you a workable gap next to the sides of the box.Then pry frames toward the gap and upwards.
Remove frames periodically ,place in clean box and scrape old box down.Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.
I see no propolis on your box edges so that is not your problem.I do see some paint overlap and today's acrylic latex paint takes forever to dry and paint against paint can be very sticky.Scrape it clean.

Other photos:
The gap between the inside surface of your cover and the top of your frames should be a "bee space"(ie:3/8 in or 9.5mm) or preferably less.Do not give them room to make comb!

Break a hive tool? Don' t buy crap.
Contact some local pros to find a good supplier.

Regular inspections go a long way towards making a colony easy to work.Scrape burr comb and propolis when you see it and learn the sticking points.

Good luck. Not trying to be a jerk but following standards and proper hive maintenance will ease your beekeeping journey.
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I have found that if you do a small compound miter on each corner of the box (45 degrees and 45 degrees) it makes it easier to get a hive tool in between the boxes and pry up on them. you get into the meat of the box a bit more and get some better contact. I am impressed that you managed to break a hive tool, are we talking the steel ones?
Pry one corner up as far as you can. Open a small gap along front edge. Insert wedge (I use a small, steel one) to hold open. Then use hive tool to force down those lower frames that are stuck to the ones above.
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