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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started a new hive with some old comb in May. My bee count was going up and I was drawing comb on my empty foundation. Everything was going well until 2 1/2 weeks ago when the hive swarmed. I was able to get them into another brood box and got the hive set up. I checked the "new" hive 3 days later and it looked ok, checked it 3 days after that and had brood started. They now have 4 frames full of brood and some full of uncapped honey. Some capping of the honey is happining at the top corners of the frame. They are not drawing any comb. Should I start feeding this hive and add another box now?
My old hive is full of bees but I see ALOT of drones. I haven't been able to find the queen, but they are building some weird comb. It stands off the frame about 3/8 of in inch and looks like there are cells on both sides. Most start fron the top of the frame and run to the center. I have been taking this comb out and not letting them build it, but it seems to never end. They have some frames with so much capped honey the bulge into the next frame and there is no comb in the adjoining frame.(I have two brood boxes on this hive, they have honey in both boxes) I put a Honey super on last week thinking they might need more room and that was why they swarmed but they have drawn no comb in the super.
 

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No you're not messed up - you're just getting your hands dirty with a new hobby.

Here are my suggestions on how to proceed:

Hive #1 - Back it down to one deep and put in the middle one frame of uncapped brood from the hive that swarmed. This will give them the raw material needed to make their own queen.

I'm not sure from your description just what is up with the odd comb. My guess is that the bees didn't have enough drawn out nicely for bee space to work as it is supposed to. Cull out as part of the consolidation process any frames that look really wrong. If you have anything you think might be a queen cell make sure it does go in the box. Don't worry about the drones.

Remember that since they have already swarmed and have no emerging brood to boost the population, additional space is not needed (for the moment, we hope!) Your concern for these bees is to let them put by enough pollen and honey for winter - and to get queen right.

Hive # 2 - If they are still in frame drawing mode let them continue. Otherwise take some of your cast off frames from hive 1 and put them in the hive in place of the foundation. It sounds like these ladies will be ready for a 2nd brood box soon.

Feeding - depending on the flows in your area you will probably have to feed both colonies to get them up to wintering weight. You may want to reduce the entrance on hive # 1 while feeding to make the hive tougher to be robbed out. Use either an internal division board feeder (takes the place of a frame) or a jar feeder inverted over the opening in the inner cover. Do not use a "Boardman" feeder as it may encourage robbing.

I hope I've understood your situation and have answered your questions. You'll probably get some other responses from people who will deal with this differently. Not to worry, pick the solution that feels right to you and fits your situation best.

Welcome to beekeeping.
 

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The original hive will have no queen, she went with the swarm. The comb you are describing sounds to me like it could have been the queen cells the hive built prior to swarming. Do you know what a Queen Cell looks like? Picture below is one. If this is what you have been removing from the original hive, you will now need to add a frame that has eggs and/or less than 3 day old larva back so the hive can build its own queen. Or re-queen, or combine them back to the swarm.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No it is not a Queen cell. I am sure of that. This comb is about one or two inches wide at the base then will extend down the frame 3 to four inches and widen out like a spoon (kind of a mental picture). They had one frame that was almost half full of this comb. It is raised off the foundation in several spots and has cells on both sides.
So the queen went with the swarm? I thought they made a new queen and she took part of the hive with her?
 

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Sometimes they will make a second queen before they swarm but from my understanding this is not usually the case. With having no brood in hive #1 it sounds like there is no queen so you will need to give them some brood to get a queen cell started like mentioned above.
 

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There may be a new queen in the original hive, that just has not yet started laying. Hopefully this is the case. It generally takes about 30 days for a queen to hatch, mate and start laying. It does not hurt to add brood & eggs even if there is a young queen present. But you may want to check again in a week to see if there are new eggs and brood, prior to adding a frame from your other hive.

Good Luck
 

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Finally someone else with messy builders!!!!!!
I've only had a couple of hives for 4 years. Most times they draw the comb out nicely as seen in the books and magazines, then other times they are creating modern art sculpture. Thick, thin, partially down the frame, holey, bulging masses with tunnels.....mostly (but not always) down in the brood boxes. I've chosen to leave it alone while bees are using it. I'd kill too many smashing them to try and pull it out of the hive box. When I can I've removed it with the honey crop or when there is no brood in it.

It's not due to plastic, I've used only wood and wax foundation; this has also happened to fresh foundation and to reused frames after honey extraction. I have found that when I put frames back that have imperfections on them, lumpy bumpies, squashed places, or holes - those more times than not get the funky 3D formations and crazy comb.

As an older beekeeper told me when I first started and was concerned that my bees did not have the "normal" frame of brood, honey and pollen; but rather one full frame of pollen, others of brood and others of honey... "your bees just have not read the bee books yet or seen the photos, they do what they want. If they're doing well, leave them alone to do it their way."
 

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My bees are messed up too. It all started with some frames that had some damage to the foundation to start. they took that to mean they could do as they wish. I mostly let them do as they please. It just makes inspections a little weirder. when I can't find the queen, I don't panic, I just figure she is in one of her hidden safe rooms. When I can, I rotate out these funkier frames and replace the foundation. When it really is impossible to work, I tear it out and feed it to my chickens. They love the brood comb. If you have enough brood, pollen, honeystores etc. why mess with it. Wait til spring, before they are using all the comb and swap it out for new foundation.

what is it that Michael Bush uses as his signature line?
"everything works if you let it."

I try to use this as a mantra when I feel stressed. (thank you Mr. Bush)
 
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