I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a friend. She is the widow of a beekeeper. Anyway her grandson had found a hive in old equipment under a bunch a bunch of stuff, so I went out to check it out. It was two deeps, a super, and a telescoping top. The whole things was rotten and falling apart. The seams were open and the bees coming through their gaps. It took about 30 minutes to clean the area up enough to even look under the top into the supper.
The top deep and super were completely cross combed and falling apart. I decided to place one of my deeps under the colony and "beat" the bees down. I had to stop pretty quickly or risk the old equipment falling apart, so I spent the rest of the evening talking with Mildred, and waited for the foragers to return. I brought the hive home that night and have been waiting to transfer it.
Here is the hive as it traveled to the shop.
Inspecting the super. Note my homemade hive tool. It has the usual flat end, but the curved in narrows down to a quarter inch. I find it more useful for getting under the ears of a frame.
Super cross combing. It is hard to see in the small picture.
Cross combing in the hive body.
More cross combing
The operation. It was not my intent to strip the super near the hive, but it fell apart. In this picture you can see my "crew" at work. These were nice bees, so we worked without anything but smoke. The kids are old hands, and do well. I am stripping the frames. Anna is removing bees, and Philip is cutting the comb out. The well dressed girl is Rebecca, Philip's girlfriend. Her father is a beek too (he keeps Russians and I keeps mutt Italians), so she is pretty comfortable around the bees.
Peter, who says he is afraid of bees, is right in the midst, texting friends.
Here are the frames after the mayhem.
This is not how I would normally have planned this operation. Honey robbing next to an open hive can get a little dicey. It worked though and had to been done then The bees had been in the isolation yard 3 weeks and I knew they were as gentle as can be.
I have raised a new queen for this hive so Thursday or Friday, I will remove the bees from the cross combed hive body. If my wife is around, I'll have more pics.