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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi team! My husband and I recently captured a swarm that we found on our property. We'd been thinking about getting into beekeeping one day, but the feed store had a starter kit so we decided to jump in blind which I'm learning now was pretty irresponsible.

We got the swarm into the box about three weeks ago, and the website we used to learn how to capture the swarm said to leave them alone for 2-4 weeks, so we did. We didn't know about "bee space" or pre waxing the frames. It looks like they built their own structure between the two frames that we furthest apart.

We can't find anybody in our area (McAlester, OK - all the online forums and things haven't been updated in years) to help us 1-1 so we are truly flying blind and trying to research as we go. Any advice on next steps would be greatly appreciated.
View attachment 63251
 

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Your probably going to want to make what's called a cut out. Take one of your frames, take out that piece of plastic foundation by bending it and it should slide out of the slots. Try to take out that chunk of comb they have made, cut the piece of comb (if needed) and place it in the empty frame. Use rubber bands to hold it in there. The bees will secure it and get rid of the rubber bands and drag them out of the hive. As you know they aren't drawing on the foundation because it isn't waxed. I would just order new foundation or buy it locally as getting the beeswax and waxing yours will take longer. When it arrives replace all the frames with the waxed ones (NOT the cut out frames). Get this done quick!
 

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Oh, Iv'e actually never done this so maybe someone who has can chip in and see if my info is correct. :) Also you can watch YouTube videos of cut outs, they'll probably be in trees or something but the same principle.
 

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Not a bad idea to remove the extra piece they built. You can remove the foundation from one of your frames and rubber band it into place to keep it straight. Bees will attach it to the frame and chew off the rubber bands.

Your real issue is that you didn't push your frames together tightly. You also have 9 frames in a 10 frame box. The way frames are designed is when pushed together they leave the perfect amount of "bee space" for them to draw out the comb and build a healthy hive. When given too much space between frames they usually go rogue and make a mess. So push everything tight together leaving an equal gap between the last frame and the box on either side. It's okay to have a little space on the ends as that's where they typically store honey anyway.

Since you're new and may not be comfortable cutting the comb off, you may be able to move the crazy comb to the outside with the bulging part facing outward. This should allow you to push the rest of the frames in tight without issue, but wouldn't know without getting in there.
 

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mtnmyke, just to clarify for ZoeyCoMo, by "Your real issue is that you didn't push your frames together tightly" do you mean the frames are waxed and don't need replaced or waxed?
 

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Most foundation comes waxed, unless specified. I don't think that was the issue when the spacing is quite obvious.
 

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There were plenty of bees on the outside frames too. ZoeCoMo, to make sure the foundation is waxed, see if the bees are drawing comb on the other frames. I would do the cut out to save all the eggs that are probably in there. Place the cut out frame in the middle(ish) of the box though if there are eggs/brood in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The four frames on the right hand side of the photo have basically nothing on them, which makes me think they weren't waxed. It definitely looks to me like the bees decided to build around the most open space. We also put a shot glass of 2:1 simple syrup in there during the capture because about half the swarm clustered outside the box after the capture and we wanted to induce them inside in case the queen was still outside the box. It's been consumed by the bees' structure at this point and can't be easily removed.

My plan right now based on this feedback is to wax the untouched frames with locally sourced beeswax ASAP and rearrange everything so the wild comb is on the outside between the last frame and the box wall and the rest of the frames are packed tightly together. I'm definitely leery about cutting comb at this time. My husband has a healthy sense of self-preservation and is not hyped about working with the bees. I'm excited about it but I also received several stings during the swarm capture and turns out I have a tendency towards developing serum sickness, so I'm a little anxious about doing anything too disruptive to my little bee friends.

The starter kit I bought was supposed to come with a feeder frame, which is why there's only nine frames in a ten frame box. The company that produced the kit ran out of feeder frames because #covid, per a piece of paper in the box, and I'm waiting on their response re: replacing it.

I really appreciate the feedback here! We basically focused on capturing the swarm and didn't realize how deep we were getting. There's not a ton of resources available for establishing a hive out of a captured swarm.
 

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Really off to a good start! This is only a minor and easily corrected setback.

One thing you can try is to leave them alone, except for gently pushing the frames more tightly together. Gradually push the frames together a little bit more day by day until you can fit the 10th frame in. You want to do it slowly so you don't pinch the queen and kill her. Eventually they will expand numbers and fill the box. Then you place a second box on top, this one with the correct number of frames and pushed snugly together.

You can try fixing everything at once, just pull the frames out one by one and cut off all comb that sticks out. If you had several hives I might recommend doing that, but with just one hive there is too much chance of accidentally killing the queen.

The bottom box will be your brood box and in time you can learn about how to manage it most efficiently, for example to make splits and create a new hive. But really your first goal is to keep your bees alive, and messy comb won't hurt the bees.
 

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While none of the above is bad advice I would do it differently. I would close them up and leave it alone for the next month. The plastic frames will have some wax on them. You can remove the wild comb later, after they have raised some brood and become established.
 

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Since the kit was purchased at a farm supply store it's 99% likely it was a Little Giant kit as these are sold through farm supplier distributors like Tractor Supply and even Ace Hardware.

They do advertise the foundation as waxed. As such, simply moving some things around, pushing the frames together, and leaving them alone should buy you time to further educate yourself on beekeeping!

Sounds like you're on your way though!
 
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