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I'm a new beekeeper and installed my hives last week. I completed my first inspections today after a year of reading, videos, etc. I looked into getting a mentor but I am in a pretty rural place and not huge on social interaction either...so here we are.

I bought two Nucs to get my hive started and things went very smooth with installation. My bees were pretty calm and I saw one of the queens. The other hive was JAM PACKED with bees. It wasn't a huge issue last week, but this week I went to inspect that hive and ran into some issues.

Both of the Nucs had frames that were drawn out SUPER far. Getting 10 frames into my equipment is pretty tight and the issue now is the bees in the packed hive put brace comb between the tops of all of the frames to the point that I could not even see between many of the frames. I took some time to get rid of that brace come between the tops of the frames but the rest of the frame is still pretty thick. Obviously it is a problem for inspections and getting the frames out, but it also means there are A LOT of bees on the tops of the frames where I need to grab them making it quite difficult to remove and replace them without smashing anybody. Any suggestions on how to manage super deep drawn comb?

The second thing I was curious about was I noticed when I was smoking the packed hive, the got noticeably louder. Is that normal? I thought it might be that the smoke was hot, but it seemed cool to me and it did not impact the other hive this way. Is it normal for some bees to just real increase in volume when smoked. This hive definitely had more bees flying around in general and also around my head, but I did not notice any bumping directly into my veil so I do not think they were being super aggressive.

Overall, things are going well and I saw eggs in both hives today (I didn't take the time to hunt down the queens but I am hoping they survived my first inspection!) I just want to make things better going forward.
 

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Welcome to Beesource and congratulations on getting your first bees. Please complete your profile so we know where you are in the world as many answers are dependent upon location. Are the really fat parts of the comb part of the honey dome? And the brood comb beneath it is normal width? Do you have additional deep boxes and frames ready to install?
 

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With a fully packed nuc, you probably need to expend it to 8 or 10 frames. Keep in mind that when one side of a frame hatches, it essentially produces two sides of bees. A nuc can fill fast. Welcome to the hobby.
 

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Bees like to build brace comb, some more than others. It’s something to get used to.
Just a couple puffs of smoke in the lower entrance and the inner cover is enough most of the time. Just announce your presence, no need to smoke till they have to start fanning. If, during inspections they start getting rowdy and getting in the way of pulling frames, give em a few puffs to get them out of the way and beck down.
If there’s a huge difference in the populations one can switch hive spots, that’ll give more of a field force to the smaller of the two.
 

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Have you been squeezing the frames together tightly? If not they will build extra comb. Frames are designed to be pushed together - this gives the exact bee space for proper comb depth. Use your hive tool to lever against the side and squish all the frames together in the middle. Any extra space should be at the sides.
 

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Welcome to beekeeping!

First of all, what you think is a ton of bees from a nuc installed a week ago is probably not over much. Just more than when you put them in because a lot of brood has hatched since then. This is the sign of a healthy and vigorous nuc. And it's why you purchased a nuc, not a package. (Even if you didn't realize it at the time.) A queen can lay 1200-1500 eggs/day, so if her daily output hatched since a week ago, that's potentially around 10K new bees taking up space since they arrived.

OTOH, if one hive is getting markedly more crowded and the other less-populated, then you are experiencing drift. Swapping the box locations may help with that. But keep an eye on it as it may indicate another problem.

But in just a week, if your temps may have been cool and nectar resources scarce (perhaps it has been too rainy to forage?) Then all bees will still be crowded together on the drawn frames that came with the nuc. It takes surplus nectar (or syrup) resources and warm-enough temps for bees to get into a wax-making frenzy, which they will. It also takes a large-enough cohort of the right-aged bees (about 8-12 days old) to be at the peak of their wax-making potential. Also it helps if you have extra-waxed your plastic foundation (if you are using that kind.) You can pull them out and re-wax and re-insert them if needed.

Overly fat frames in the brood box (but not necessarily in honey supers) create what you astutely recognize as management problem. So over time you need to move those frames outward, and perhaps out of service if they can't be remodeled to a thinner width. In the meantime, the next time you open the hive see if they have acquired a build-up of propolis and wax on the vertical edges, and scrape it off so you can snug them up a bit more. If they are also now drawn-extra fat, there's nothing you can do about that now. In general, you want your brood frames rather tightly placed against each other precisely to guard against the extra-thick comb. Frames sold with nucs are not usually the best-in-class, so this is not unusual. Lay in a supply of new frames and use the late spring/early summer to get the bees to make more well-proportioned ones for you. Meanwhile, keep your frames pushed together the best you can. especially the new ones surrounding the the nuc's frames. If it's warm where you are, and certainly by late May almost everywhere, you can try inserting new frames just inside the group of brood frames to start to move the fat frames toward the outside positions, over time. Meanwhile fit in as many as you can, but don't stress if you are temporarily only able to run 9 frames in your 10-frame boxes, as long as all the frames in there are as close together as possible. Do not space them apart in the brood nest. (Also if you have 10-frame equipment, you would be surprised at how much extra room there is in the sides of 8-frame equipment. It really opened my eyes to it being OK to have more than what I saw in my 10-frame boxes.)

Bees that have been smoked too much, will fan like crazy. If you need a lot of smoke for some particular reason, ignore that reaction and carry on. But otherwise dial your smoking practice back somewhat. You'll learn what's necessary for the job at hand. You are not harming your bees. They are just teaching you. (And your observations reveal a thoughtful, and teachable student. So that's augurs well for your success.)

Regarding too many bees to pick up frames - lose the leather gloves and replace them with nitrile ones. Your dexterity will increase markedly and you will be able to handle the frames with much more finesse. Handling frames is another beekeeping skill that can only be learned by repeated practice.

I am a woman, so my fingers are smaller, but even with that, when I have leather gloves on, I am clumsy and kill my bees regularly. This caused me a lot of distress and it was the prime reason I dared to try nitrile gloves, even though it scared me. I very rarely get stung through a nitrile glove, and even then it's worth it to me to otherwise not be so ham-fisted. Your bees will be much calmer and less agitated if you are not squashing them right and left. These days, I mostly work barehanded in my own hives. I usually only put on nitrile gloves when I am working with students who are using leather gloves which rile up the bees. And since I am the teacher, it's up to me to manage the results of all those hostile bees. (And I don't like getting stung any more than anybody else.)

The other suggestion I would make is to add your location to your profile. You'll get better - more appropriate - responses to your questions if you do so. For instance, my advice about going gloveless or using nitrile gloves would not be useful, or safe, if you are in, say, south Texas where Africanized Honey Bees (aka killer bees) are prevalent. But I thought since you've just acquired nucs in the last week, or so, you're probably up north. You can input your location by going to your profile. I just list my county as I am in a rural area where listing my tiny town would be TMI.

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the input. I did have them in a full 10 frame box and I think the biggest issue is just that the frames I got in my Nucs weren't great. I will try to slowly phase them out.
 

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>Any suggestions on how to manage super deep drawn comb?

Avoid it by pushing frames tightly together in the middle.

>The second thing I was curious about was I noticed when I was smoking the packed hive, the got noticeably louder. Is that normal?

Yes.

> I thought it might be that the smoke was hot, but it seemed cool to me and it did not impact the other hive this way.

Certainly if it's too hot it will get a response. Usually an angry one. The bees with cool smoke are just trying to clear the air by ventilating.

http://bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm
 

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For the deep comb that is already drawn, I'd move it to the outside edge and then up into the super to be the first round that you harvest. Once you cut it back down and remember to keep the frames together, it will be fine. FWIW, I like the deeper comb you get running 9 in a 10 frame super. Easier to cut with the hot knife.
 

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Great info on these posts; I use 9 frames in all my boxes. You can buy spacers if you want. Deb
 

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>I use 9 frames in all my boxes.

And that's how you get combs that are drawn too thick and uneven. I also use 9 frames in all my boxes, but they are eight frame boxes... and I don't have issues with comb that is too thick in the brood nest.
 

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Well, I believe that the spacers help. I haven’t had a problem with comb being too thick or unevenly drawn. I don’t use foundationless frames though (except for comb honey) so maybe that is why? And I have to admit some brood boxes have 10 frames with 9 frame supers.
 

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I believe Mike Plamer runs 9 frames in a 10 frame brood box. I have started doing this and it makes it easier to work. Don't have to remove one frame to make space. But it is still important to keep the frames pushed tight together and centered.

Alex Madsen
 

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I should mention that the nine frames I run in a 10 frame super have the metal nailed in spacers. They make it really easy to pull frames up and keep them from squishing together and crushing bees between over drawn comb. Not everyone likes using them, but so far, I do.
 
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