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Author Topic: Fixing comb on the top bar  (Read 3025 times)
jeremy_c
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« on: May 25, 2009, 10:34:09 AM »

I am posting a new message because I got off topic with the "How long should my "starter strips" be?" thread.

One of my TBH's is doing great with building their comb, the other is a mess. My starter strips were 9" on a 17" top bar, which was according to the plans. However, the hive that is building comb across the bars started on the far side of the bars not in the center. Thus, the comb on one side is all wrong then when it meets up with the starter strip, they straighten things out.

How do I fix this? This comb is very fragile. I went in to inspect it this morning to see what I am up against and I broke comb just trying to separate two top bars to even lift it out. This is a first year hive and they were started with a 2# package on May 13th. I hate to destroy comb that has resources on it already seeing on how it was a small package to begin with and it's getting late in the season. I also hate to deal with this comb problem when I go to do any type of inspection.

I'm really at a loss as what to do. As mentioned before as a down side to the TBH, not many people use them and therefore they have no clue. Most of the local bee keepers don't even know what a top bar hive is and few know what a foundationless hive is even :-/ I know the longer I wait the worse things will be. Right now there are 4 combs like this. I found the queen this morning, I see honey storage, pollen and eggs. The bees in this hive are Minnesota Hygenics.

Jeremy
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jeremy_c
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 10:48:15 AM »

BushBees said: "If it's small, cut it out and throw it away.  If it's large, cut it out and put it in a frame and rubber band it.  If it's in a top bar hive, of course, you'll have to build the frames.  If it's only a little curved on the ends sometimes you can push it back in place." (in the other thread that I hijacked not purposefully.

I have a few questions if you don't mind:

1. How do I get all the bees off so I can see to work and actually go about cutting it?
2. What will stop them from simply building back on crooked?
3. What happens to the rubber band as the bees build comb around it?
4. Will the rubber band not be too strong and simply crush the fragile comb?

Jeremy


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luvin honey
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 12:14:26 PM »

Hi Jeremy--I'm seeming to have the same issues as you  Undecided I have one hive that is making a wavy mess, another hive that seems to have some built directly next to the guide.

So, I don't have much experience, but I'll pass on what I've heard.

1. Brush the bees off with your brush. I'm thinking an upwards or sideways motion might help reduce pressure on the comb-attachment point and help prevent this fresh wax from breaking off.

2. Aren't you planning to tie them in on center? Then, the presence of the other centered combs around them will keep them centered, too. In fact, last week I stuck in open bars between comb that had been built on center (the guide). The new combs between these are built on the guide, too.

3. I have heard that the bees chew out and get rid of the rubber bands once they've fixed the attachment at the top. We'll see  tongue

4. I, too, will have to find REALLY big rubber bands that will hold the comb in place without crushing it. I'm thinking some sort of office supply store...

Good luck! It will be great to hear how this goes for you!

luvin honey
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 11:31:11 PM by luvin honey » Logged

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2009, 01:10:37 PM »

>1. How do I get all the bees off so I can see to work and actually go about cutting it?

I usually just gently place it on my hand or on something soft and do the work as really fragile comb is very difficult to hold while you brush off the bees and brushing them off is usually trickier than leaving them on.  But if the comb is strong enough etc. brushing them is a fine idea.

>2. What will stop them from simply building back on crooked?

The guide for the next comb is the protrusion from the top bar and the comb next to it.  Bees build parallel combs.  Make sure the previous comb is parallel to where you want the nextone.

>3. What happens to the rubber band as the bees build comb around it?

The bees will remove them.

>4. Will the rubber band not be too strong and simply crush the fragile comb?

If you are trying to hang comb from a top bar without a frame, yes.  You will need a stick or something on the bottom to keep the rubber bands from cutting in.  In my experience this requires more dexterity than I possess so I would build a frame and lay it in the frame and put the rubber bands around the frame.
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jeremy_c
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2009, 04:03:28 PM »

I was just making a mess out of things trying to do this. 4 combs are created incorrectly. On the 5th bar there was very little comb started so I wacked it off. I then cut a piece of the wax foundation that you put in a langstroth hive (real wax, not the plastic stuff) to the dimensions of my top bar hive, took a 1/4"x1/4" strip of wood, centered the wax on the top bar, and used the wood strip to attach it. Bees are now building on that wax foundation hanging from my top bar.

This will no do anything for the existing 4 top bars, but from the 5th bar on, things should be nice and straight? I am thinking I can let them build up for some time and when I have 15 bars of brood, sacrificing the first 4 (if I mess it all up like I did one of them) will not hurt me as much as it will right now?

Is that an acceptable solution? Oh, also that will give the first 4 combs a bit of time to harden and be easier to work with when I try to correct it. I am really hoping this was a good idea and that it will work. Thoughts?

Jeremy
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2009, 05:56:11 PM »

One straight comb at the end of the row where they are building is the most important thing.  Perhaps you can steal one from your good hive.  After that you can build some frames.
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Michael Bush
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jeremy_c
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2009, 07:50:47 PM »

One straight comb at the end of the row where they are building is the most important thing.  Perhaps you can steal one from your good hive.  After that you can build some frames.

My good hive is building from the center out to the edges of the top bar. The bad hive is starting on one end of the top bar and building in toward the center and other side. Once the bad hive gets to the guide (9" centered on a 17" top bar) then they straighten out. I'm not sure taking one from my good hive would do anything because they are not built out all the way to the ends yet, thus, it's just as straight as the others in the bad hive in the center. It's the one end that's really messed up.

Do you think what I did will work? Cutting the wax foundation (real wax, the kind with wire running down through it to maintain it's structure) to the profile of my top bar hive and putting it in bar #5 (where they will start building next). That particular bar that I put in this morning is almost the same profile as the follower boards. I did leave about 1/2" from the sides and 1" from the bottom. So, it's now hanging in the hive and I am hoping that it will result in straight beautiful comb that they will then use as a guide from there on out. When I have many more combs of brood, then I can revisit fixing the first four, at least that's my thought.

Jeremy
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2009, 10:04:57 PM »

I guess the wax foundation would establish a straight line.  I've never tried using foundation in a top bar hive.
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Michael Bush
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Natalie
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2009, 10:51:00 PM »

If the rubber band is going to cut in could you use strips of a gauze material or some type of cotton strips? Twine?  You could put a tack or nail on the top of the bar to keep the material from slipping out of place.
They even make headbands that have the adjustable slides on them, kind of like bra straps (sorry guys) but are real thin and they are adjustable so you don't have to worry about the rubber bands being the right size or being too tight and cutting into the comb.
Maybe it would put less pressure on the soft comb.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2009, 06:00:56 PM »

I would guess a sling of some kind of cloth would work, but I'm not coordinated enough to pull off the manipulation to get it on correctly.
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Michael Bush
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Grandma_DOG
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Build it, and they will comb.


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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2009, 12:45:40 PM »

If you need to cut and reattach new comb, the easiest way is to use womans hair clips.  Clip to the comb then use tie wraps to attach clip to bar.
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oldenglish
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2009, 10:13:02 AM »

You can check out my blog for more details and some pictures but I was having the same problem and I waited a little too long before doing anything about it, this cuased me to have some collapsed comb early on but things are much better now, I found that I could do things two ways, 1. if the comb is just slightly off, push it back in line with your thumb, I did this and started checking the hive every 3-4 days for a while, each time I made a correction in the hive it was less than the previous visit. 2. Take a sharp knife (I used my fish filleting knife) where the comb is going off center, start at bottom and cut up, as you get near the top curve the cut so you dont go right upto the bar and then cut along the bar to remove the errant comb, then as the bees build it back up use your thumb to keep them in line, figure it took 3 weeks total to get all bars back on course. I did have some comb failure but it was not as bad as I expected.
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