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My TBH is doing great, installed a package on April 19 and they've been working hard. I looked in today and found 8-10 combs, saw some capped honey, larva and capped brood. All good. I'm still leery of the new comb so am not confident enough to turn them over for a picture, so attached is a shot through the window before my inspection.

150510 TBH Combs2.jpg

I have two questions about handling the combs.

1. Many of the combs are attached to the sides. It sounds simple to slip your hive tool down the side and break the attachment, but there are so many bees in the way. I tried nudging them and they didn't seem interested in moving. Any suggestions for how to break the attachment gracefully without smashing a bunch of bees.

2. As you can sort of see in the picture, some of the comb is a little off-center. My bars are 1.5 inches, and the first 5 or 6 combs are perfectly straight (yay!). I did insert some blank bars between some of the better comb, so they should build more straight comb from these. The last couple combs I'm not sure what to do with. They are a little off, and it was difficult to push them back to center. I'm not sure I did a good job of this, so again looking for some advice. Should I break the comb and re-attach, or just mash it back and let the bees fix it?

Amazing to watch them work. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Erik
 

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put 2 5 gal buckets next to your hive upside down and you can hang the bar between those to leave it upright and take photos.

just scrape down the edge, they will get the idea and move

keep curving it back straight. you can take a sharp knife and slice along the top part way to make it easier to move. once they strengthen the comb up they will leave it the way you put it. did you run your starter strip (of whatever type) all the way to the edge? they like to curve at the ends if you don't.
 

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It looks like they have a lot of room to go off course. You could try straightening the comb and move the follower board up. I would see if you could place them between straight combs. The bees will rework them in order to keep the bee space. I try to leave no more than one empty bar at the ends and always add new bars between drawn combs.
 

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Firstly, if you have TBHs, a sharp bread knife if your new best friend. Hive tool - not so much, save that for Langs. Compare the hive tool with the breadknife as you work, and experience the difference.

As your combs have no support, it is important that you always slice vertically, which works with the structural strength of the comb. Slice away comb horizontally and it will likely break, so don't be tempted to cut several combs at the same time along the walls. I did this once. We all do stupid stuff. This led to the one and only time the bees chased me from the beeyard. When I took my gloves off, I counted 21 stingers in the wrist area. So many deaths, not to mention the bees who were squished under the fallen comb. And, I had to go back and clean the mess up.

Comb can be quite difficult to manipulate to where you want it to be if you are trying to be delicate about it. Eventually I got fed and and ruthless, and squished it firmly into place. It worked so I have been ruthless ever since. The bees fix it. Just brush away any bees (stroking upwards or you brush them into the comb) to make sure you aren't squishing them also.

If I know I am going to be working with comb I always have hairclips and zip ties handy to attach anything that breaks back to the bar (if the comb is worth saving).

There are loads of videos out there but my favourite is a guy from Texas - OutOfaBlueSky (McCartney).

https://www.youtube.com/user/OutOfaBlueSky/videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asYwcWxWGv4 - specifically for repairing comb in a TBH.
 

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Firstly, if you have TBHs, a sharp bread knife if your new best friend. Hive tool - not so much, save that for Langs. Compare the hive tool with the breadknife as you work, and experience the difference.

As your combs have no support, it is important that you always slice vertically, which works with the structural strength of the comb. Slice away comb horizontally and it will likely break, so don't be tempted to cut several combs at the same time along the walls...
Ditto. A standard hive tool is just way too clunky for this operation. I use two tools - a mini pry bar about 6" long which is compact, cheap and perfect for prying bars up and apart, and the thrift store bread knife.

I like a long flat serrated bread knife with a bit of flexibility to it. Sharp is nice but I think thin is more important, and the serrated blade helps cut when it's coated with wax better than a straight blade. I slide the knife down vertically against the side of the hive next to the comb I'm going to cut, this sliding of the blade gets it positioned where it needs to be without bothering the bees. Then I tip the point in and slide it up to where the attachment is. Now, I kinda use the flexibility of it to get a bit of tension to hold it to the side, and use short slow motions back and forth to work it up. You have more control that way than trying to make it in one slice and the short strokes are less disturbing and damaging than long ones, think about where the tip of that blade is going as you're moving it and just keep it right along the attachment. The knife is fairly vertical. It's a trick to keep it tensioned against the side of the hive for the length of the blade, but if you let it up you are gonna piss off some bees, guaranteed. ;=)

I think there's a bit more control on the pull than the push, so I use the pull as the power stroke, and the push mostly to get the blade back in again in position for the next pull. Only about a half inch of comb with every upstroke... Some of it's sticker than other, don't put so much pressure when it lets loose things go wonky.

The good news is that once the original attachment is removed they seem to attach much lighter or not at all and the edges take on a nice rounded finished look. Well, at least my bees, so far.

Have fun and watch where you put your elbows!
 

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>1. Many of the combs are attached to the sides. It sounds simple to slip your hive tool down the side and break the attachment, but there are so many bees in the way. I tried nudging them and they didn't seem interested in moving. Any suggestions for how to break the attachment gracefully without smashing a bunch of bees.

Start at the bottom and cut up. Don't worry about the bees. They won't get out of the way. Go slow so the smart ones have the opportunity to get out of the way.

>2. As you can sort of see in the picture, some of the comb is a little off-center. My bars are 1.5 inches

It should be 1.25 inches. That's why they are cheating on the spacing.

> and the first 5 or 6 combs are perfectly straight (yay!). I did insert some blank bars between some of the better comb, so they should build more straight comb from these. The last couple combs I'm not sure what to do with. They are a little off, and it was difficult to push them back to center.

If they are on the bar and running straight I would not try to move them. Make some skinnier bars...

>I'm not sure I did a good job of this, so again looking for some advice. Should I break the comb and re-attach, or just mash it back and let the bees fix it?

As long as it is on the bar, leave it alone.
 
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