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An older friend gave me a hive this week, he had purchased the hive to pollinate his garden and its now 8 yrs old and has some problems. The hive is made up of a full depth brood box and two medium supers. I opened the hive to check it and there’s a good bit of foul comb from the bottom of the frames in the brood box that attach to the hive bottom board. The wood frames have been in there a long time and its very hard to remove them without pulling them apart.

The bottom board itself has a lot of decay in it and needs to be replaced, but I’m thinking it would pull the frames apart to try and remove the bottom board. Just from looking inside the brood box the bees seem very healthy and there’s a lot of bees and honey in this hive. Its never had any honey removed from it; never been treated for anything and never been re-queened. I don’t want to try much this time of year but I would like to know what would be the best way to restore this mess into a nice workable hive again without destroying it in the process?

Any helpful advice appreciated
 

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Youcan and probably should destroy the woodwork without destroying the hive. Replace with new. What you want is in the genetic makeup of the queen. And any daughter queens she may have. Keep that target in mind.

You've spokenof the bottom of the brood chamber but it wasn't plain if the bottoms of the westerns are also shot. I would put a bottom board next to this hive and try to clean out the crud. Only because of the date. If it was the beginning of summer I'd just replace all the wood and make them replace the comb. I doubt you have time for that this year.

Yet you need to nurse them through the winter. so you have to clean the crud out. Don't forget to sterilize your hive tool, gloves, etc. before going on to another hive.

Good Luck,

Hawk
 

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>its now 8 yrs old and has some problems.

I have some 31 years old that are still in use.

>there’s a good bit of foul comb from the bottom of the frames in the brood box that attach to the hive bottom board.

"Foul"? What do you mean by "foul"? Burr comb is pretty normal in any hive and especially in one that hasn't been worked.

>The wood frames have been in there a long time and its very hard to remove them without pulling them apart.

It takes practice to pry the right places to free them when they are really stuck but it can usually be done with some practice. Especially with a good hive tool with a hook. Pry both ends loose from the frames next to it. Lift both ends with the hook (Italian hive tools from Brushy Mt have this and Maxant makes a tool also with the hook on it.) If it's cross combed try to pry it sidways further before you try to lift it. Work on an end frame to get some room to work.

>The bottom board itself has a lot of decay in it and needs to be replaced

Was it on the ground? Sloped back so the water would set on it?

> but I’m thinking it would pull the frames apart to try and remove the bottom board.

Odds are they are just connected by comb. Try a "garrot" made of wire and pull it between the two (bottom and bottom box) to cut the combs.

>Just from looking inside the brood box the bees seem very healthy and there’s a lot of bees and honey in this hive. Its never had any honey removed from it; never been treated for anything and never been re-queened. I don’t want to try much this time of year but I would like to know what would be the best way to restore this mess into a nice workable hive again without destroying it in the process?

One method is simply add boxes on top and let them eventually move up. Another is to pry it all apart and put it in another box or do a cut out if the frames are shot.

If you can free the box up you can flip it so the queen won't like laying in the upside down sloped cells and she's more likely to move up into the next box.

You can smoke and drum them up into another box and then slide an excluder underneath to keep the queen in the top box.

Any of this will probably work better in the spring.
 

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If this were my hive I think I would wait till spring. That way if you really screw it up or if the whole thing falls apart the bees will have some time to bounce back. I resurrected a hive in similar shape this year and I was able to salvage one of the boxes and the other one I put a queen excluder between and waited till all the brood was hatched and then scraped it. They proceeded to draw out another deep and a medium and now they are in good shape for winter. If you try this sort of thing now you may destroy the frames and pull a lot of their stores apart and they may not get things back together by the time winter hits. If they have the stores I would leave them be till next spring.
 

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I am a rookie myself but I agree with chief here. Why disturb a strong colony with stores and good numbers?

Spring is soon enough.

Great concept on the "garrott" that would work very nice!!
 

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Agreed, leave it until spring, if the total weight exceeds 115 lbs. In the spring, remove top supers, saving what frames you can. If less than full box, finish with foundation or drawn comb.
Then do the hive body the same way. Add a hive body between brood nest and super{s].
When the empty hive body is fully drawn, the supers will be ready to harvest.Replace it or them with foundation or drawn comb. At the time of harvesting, replace the salvaged frames in hive body and the job will be complete.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Everyone” t
Thanks for the advice, like I said I have no plans to do anything to this hive till spring.

Michael = My beekeeping terminology isn’t up to par, I said foul meaning burr comb. Its really thick and heavy. The burr comb extends from the bottom of the frames down to the bottom board of the hive. I removed the first two frames closest to the side of the hive and the bottom of the frames were stuck to the hive floor as well as all the normal locations. I used a hive tool to loosen each frame but I lost the bottom of the second frame as I lifted it up, it pulled apart and remained glued to the bottom board. At that point I stopped and closed the hive back up.

The past owner had this hive sitting on two short ½ inch boards, the boards had long ago rotted and the hive was sitting on the ground. The center of the bottom board is still solid, the outside edge and a section about 6 inches wide across one corner at the entrance is soft as mud.

The woodwork is in rugged shape but I was pleasantly surprised to find both supers completely full and a large number of bees inside this hive. Its well worth working with to try and restore it, I just wasn’t real sure about how to do it without destroying the hive as. I will look for the tools you suggested, and see if I can disassemble - reassemble it this coming spring.

Thanks again
 

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if you got 2 outside frames out you could use a short knife like a paring knife to cut the bottoms loose and try to work the frames io a new hive body
 
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