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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just installed my packages on April 3. I am using 10 frame mediums, and on one of the middle frames, they are creating a second layer of comb:




Is this something I should be concerned about or remove? This is only happening on this one frame - the others are being drawn normally (I would suppose the others are normal, this is all new to me), and only 6 of the 10 frames have comb so far.
 

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The bees will draw extra comb when the space between the two combs is not correct. Cut the extra comb area away and put the comb back in between two frames with brood in them.
 

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Yes, cut that extra comb away from the frame. Check for the queen first! I would use a sharp knife maybe, rather than a hive tool so the bees might repair that section OK. It may not ever be a very good part of that frame from now on. You can gradually move it more to the outside and remove it eventually. That frame may have been at an angle so they built comb in between; even with ten frames that sometimes happens with new frames and foundation if they aren't pushed together in the center.

Nice brood pattern anyway. Are they in two mediums? From April 3 it's almost time for all the new bees to be emerging--a population explosion. If those frames that are not being drawn out are on the outer sides you can gradually move them closer to the center.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for your replies, and thanks for the tip about using the sharp knife. I only have one medium with frames going right now for each hive (I have two hives). I was waiting until they drew comb on 8 frames before I stuck another medium with frames on.

I think a couple of new bees have emerged. I saw 2 or 3 of the capped brood cells that look like they have been chewed through.

As for cutting out the extra comb, when should I do it? I just inspected the hive today. I don't want the bees to get bent out of shape by me opening it too much.
 

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Go back in right away and cut out the extra comb. The longer you wait, the worse it will get. Make sure all the frames are pushed together tight, leaving any extra space between the outer frames and the inside of the box.

It looks like your foundation on the lower left side may have not been centered in the frame. That may have created space where they decided to build the extra comb. Is the foundation comb on the opposite side of the frame protruding out a bit more than it should? Kind of hard to tell from the pic, just something to check out.
 

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You can wait a couple of days then. Just doing that one thing, which should take only a few minutes shouldn't disturb them too much. They have been in the hive for awhile so it's not like they were recently installed. Even though those frames on the outside are not drawn out, adding another medium by Friday/Saturday** of next week would be OK. Move those undrawn frames toward the center and move the drawn ones [preferably without brood] outside to replace them.<> This is something to do for next time, about 12 to 15 days after install. With the population increasing, there will be enough bees to keep any brood warm.
** Fri./Sat. would be better than Mon./Tues.

"Go back in right away and cut out the extra comb." M.G.

Yup, you can do that too. :)
 

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All good advice to follow. When I cut some out recently, I sent it school with my son for show and tell. Went over pretty well.
 

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I must strongly disagree with you guys. A new package by definition is dying when you receive it. It is below critical mass, has no comb, has no brood, and has no food. It is MOST critical to leave them alone until they have successfully expanded into the second box. You can always go back when the second box is drawn and put a couple of new frames to replace the misdrawn ones.

But don't mess with them at this point.

Fuzzy
 

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Fuzzy - i understand your view here but i also see a lot of wasted effort on the bees part to let them continue this comb building as they are most likely going to be drone cells and drone brood -
which does nothing to help build the population

id cut it out and get them going straight - saves wax to do it right the first time

cashin in on my 2 cents !!!
 

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Fuzzy: It is OK. with me that you have a different point of view,..however, I don't understand the list of reasons you gave/listed.

1. has no comb: Any swarm or package "worth its' salt" will have new comb within a few hours/days!

2. has no brood: Often, a queen will lay in comb that has not been fully drawn out.

3. has no food: A beekeeper,.."worth,. her/his salt",.will provide, either sugar syrup or some frames of good honey to a package or nuc/split from day one.

"..leave them alone until they have successfully expanded into the second box. You can always go back when the second box is drawn and put a couple of new frames to replace the misdrawn ones." --fuzzy.

What if the bees have now,. 30-40 days later, :rolleyes: drawn extraneous comb connecting to that odd comb/frame in the first box to the second?

Can you make a list of all the disadvantages of not cutting out this odd comb that would be a serious detriment to the success of this hive?

What exactly is the "critical mass" that you mentioned?

I can understand this if a beekeeper were to install a drone brood frame/foundation at first installation that would take resources from raising worker brood, but what else do you mean?
 

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Oldbee, due to the length of the reply I will break it into two seperate posts.

“What if the bees have now,. 30-40 days later, drawn extraneous comb connecting to that odd comb/frame in the first box to the second? “

I suppose that the possibility exists, but no more so than in any other hive. It would be considered burr comb or drone comb and would usually be removed during inspection. But it would certainly be minimal. Now, no one asked about why the bees were building the weird comb in the first place. The most likely cause was failing to push all the frames together in the center of the hive.

“Can you list the disadvantages of not cutting out this odd comb that would be a serious detriment to the success of this hive?”

If I understand the above question, you want to know if leaving the spurious comb would cause harm to the success of the hive. And to me, there are two points of view.
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a. From the bee’s perspective: There is absolutely NO disadvantage to leaving it alone. The bees will build, as bees have always done, exactly what they need. If they need brood comb, they will build it. If they need nectar storage they will build it. And if they want drones they will build drone comb. If I place a foundationless frame in the middle of the brood nest they build brood comb not drone comb. However, I guarantee that the bees WILL thrive on what they build if you do not intercede.
b. From the beekeepers perspective: It is ugly. It may cause difficulty when trying to inspect. You may have to not inspect a few frames rather than cause damage. If you “FIX” it now, you set back comb production, or kill eggs, larvae, or brood and possibly steal their precious nectar and pollen. Remember the original bees have only 6 weeks to live from the time they swarmed or were packaged.

Fuzzy
 

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Oldbee, here is the reply to the second part of your questions.

“What exactly is the "critical mass" that you mentioned?”

The critical mass in more of an abstract concept than a neatly defined state. It is based upon my observation over the last 9 years. During that time I have dealt with packages of 2,3 &4lbs as well as swarms from softball sized to 7lbs.
Let’s use a small (2lb) swarm as a test case. As you know, all of the bees in the swarm (except the queen) will be dead in aprox 6 weeks. In the first 3 weeks the number of nurse bees decline rapidly thus limiting the total amount of brood that can be raised. From week 4-6 you have some new nurse bees hatching but the field force (foragers) are now declining rapidly with no new field bees available until aprox the end of week 6. This also limits maximum amount of brood that can be raised. After week 6 things start to stabilize but it takes 12-16 weeks total for the hive to really take off (Critical Mass). It is my personal belief, based on observation and computer simulation that the critical mass is somewhere around 15,000 bees (5lbs roughly). I am not sure exactly how many frames of bees that is but probably 8-10.

Now, based again on experimental results, if you wanted to cut the “time to critical mass” from 16 weeks to 9 weeks – Give the swarm a frame full of capped brood when you hive them. This removes the immediate decline of nurse bees and the subsequent decline of field foragers.

Regards – Fuzzy
 

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At the moment it's only a very small amount of comb that needs cleaning up, looks like it's got some pollen and drone cells, If you dont clean it up now in a couple of weeks time you will have a real mess on your hands with a much bigger piece of comb filled with brood and honey.
Get rid of it before it becomes a real headache!
kiwi
 

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Now if you only used foundation... oh, I guess you did... Too much space between the frames. Clean it up and push them tightly together in the center. Bees always want to build their own comb and you left enough space to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you for the advice and opinions. Posting this question turned out to be much more of a learning experience than I anticipated. I did cut out the comb in question, and used a serrated bread knife like camero7 suggested. It made life very easy.

As to why this happened, the foundation was centered in the frame, but I think oldbee and Mike Gillmore were on to something with the frames not being pushed together or that one frame being at an angle. I noticed more space between that frame and the one next to it, than there was between the other frames.
 

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well one thing i learned last year they will attach that extra comb to the other frame and it will bee a real pain if you don't remove it.makes inspections hard and timely queen can hide there.....may get squished when putting frame back in...
 
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