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Author Topic: Cross comb how to...  (Read 1221 times)
doggonegardener
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« on: May 14, 2012, 05:40:45 PM »

Hello,

Hoping Michael Bush and others will have an opportunity to give some advice here.  I had the hives leveled well.  I rechecked them about 3 weeks after setting the hives and releveled before my installs.  I mounted the TBH's each on a sawhorse type set up since I have dogs and they rough house and I didn't want to just set them on blocks because I was afraid the dogs would topple them.  I leveled when I set the hives out and again a couple of weeks later but today, looking at the comb, it's clear they seem to be continuing to settle.   

I started a brand new pair of top bar hives on April 26th.  I placed the packages in the space from bars 1-8 or 9.  I have end entrances.    I placed a follower board type syrup feeder at the back in the space 9 position and since it was super cold here in Wyoming I made candy boards that hung like combs and hung them in space 1.  They were a little shorter than full height so the bees could come in the front entrance and then go under the candy boards to the cluster/soon to be brood nest area.  I released the queens directly as per M. Bush's advice.  I checked on day 4 or 5 and everything looked ok.  I checked at 7 days and they had 3-4 nice combs per hive built.  There was still considerable syrup and considerable candy on the boards.  The combs were toward the middle space of the bars from when thinking from side to side (they weren't full width yet) so, at that point, everything looked GREAT.

Fast forward to today and I have a cross comb mess going on in there.  I forgot, in my newbee way, to consider the candy boards in their empty state.  I accounted for "bee space" with them considering them full.  Well, once the girls ate their way through them, which they did nicely, they built into them.  Needless to say my first bar is INCREDIBLY deep.  My first real bar was hanging just behind this candy board and they built it out like double deep.  It's massive!!!!  Next issue seems to be some continued settling.

So, I know I have to figure out the leveling thing.  That's a given.  My questions are these...

1.  What to do with frame #1.  There's brood and capped stores in this bar.  I want to move it to the back of the brood nest and eventually out entirely but I wonder about the sacrifice in new bees for these new packages.  For right now I moved it to the back of the brood nest but I know they'll just keep building messy until I can get it sorted out of there.

2. How do I prompt them to build me a couple of really nice frames so I can checker them in to promote straight combs from here on out.  I don't want to split the cluster too much since there are still some cold nights happening here (in the high 20's to low 30's).  They have to keep themselves as well as the brood warm.  I know that tough if they are scattered. 

I am pretty much alone in this endeavor.  No mentors here since Wyoming is apparently not really beekeeping territory.   Smiley  I don't have any foundation to give them.  I can get some if that would be best but I am trying to stay totally clean and chemical free.  I want to get them off to a good start.  I know what to do.  I have to get them some straight combs to insert into the brood nest to filter out the crappy ones I let them build.  I am just not to sure how to go about it without negatively impacting their brood rearing too greatly. 

Right now they have bars 2-3-4 pushed forward.  I put bar 1 further back but it's so proud on the front side that I know that will negatively impact the bars now in front of it.  I tried to straighten out the cross comb by freeing in and for lack of a better word "squishing" the top edge back to the bar it should be on.  I used a zip tie on one of them to see if that helps hold it straight while the bees rework it.

I hope you all have some suggestions as to how best to proceed.

Many thanks in advance.  I have some pics if that would help.  I haven't downloaded them yet.

Ne
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 07:22:25 PM »

Cut and paste.   Cut out the bad comb.   Use rubber bands, twine, or cotton string and tie the comb back onto the frames the way you want them to build.   Hopefully they will attach the comb back to the frames before they chew threw the rubber bands or string.   Get it straight early.   
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doggonegardener
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2012, 07:51:54 PM »

So the first frame that is so thick...would you cut that out and discard it to the detriment of the brood investment the bees and queen have made? 

If I cut it out and give them the empty bar back...I'd like to take that comb across the yard and feed it back to them.  How far away would it have to be to prevent setting up robbing.  I am URBAN so my yard is not that big but I can put stuff on the other side of the house from the hives for the bees to find and have back.

Ne
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hardwood
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2012, 08:18:03 PM »

The extra wide comb is storage comb. It might only be thick at the top with brood below. Take a long sharp or serrated knife and pare the comb down to the size you want. Make sure your bars are of proper width (usually 1 1/4" for brood) and are tight together. Remove the candy boards for sure and only feed if your flow hasn't started yet.

Scott
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2012, 01:59:39 AM »

>I had the hives leveled well.  I rechecked them about 3 weeks after setting the hives and releveled before my installs.  I mounted the TBH's each on a sawhorse type set up since I have dogs and they rough house and I didn't want to just set them on blocks because I was afraid the dogs would topple them.  I leveled when I set the hives out and again a couple of weeks later but today, looking at the comb, it's clear they seem to be continuing to settle.   

In Wyoming I would not put them up high as the wind will catch them.  I would put them down low.  I don't know where you are in Wyoming but everywhere I ever was (I lived in Laramie and traveled the state a bit) the wind never stopped howling...

>I started a brand new pair of top bar hives on April 26th.  I placed the packages in the space from bars 1-8 or 9.  I have end entrances.    I placed a follower board type syrup feeder at the back in the space 9 position and since it was super cold here in Wyoming I made candy boards that hung like combs and hung them in space 1.  They were a little shorter than full height so the bees could come in the front entrance and then go under the candy boards to the cluster/soon to be brood nest area.  I released the queens directly as per M. Bush's advice.  I checked on day 4 or 5 and everything looked ok.  I checked at 7 days and they had 3-4 nice combs per hive built.  There was still considerable syrup and considerable candy on the boards.  The combs were toward the middle space of the bars from when thinking from side to side (they weren't full width yet) so, at that point, everything looked GREAT.

So far so good.

>Fast forward to today and I have a cross comb mess going on in there.  I forgot, in my newbee way, to consider the candy boards in their empty state.  I accounted for "bee space" with them considering them full.  Well, once the girls ate their way through them, which they did nicely, they built into them.  Needless to say my first bar is INCREDIBLY deep.  My first real bar was hanging just behind this candy board and they built it out like double deep.  It's massive!!!!  Next issue seems to be some continued settling.

The main thing is the the last comb from which they gauge the next comb they build is withing the bar width and straight.  If you do that then they will build the next one parallel to that one.  To get more straight comb you can also insert (one at a time until they are drawn) bars between straight combs.  You can leave the massive one if you leave it on the end where it isn't contributing to another bad comb.  Then when you get ready to harvest take that one.

>So, I know I have to figure out the leveling thing.  That's a given.  My questions are these...

Level is always a good thing and more so with foundationless, but if they are off some it's not so bad.  A top bar  hive is better than a foundationless as  being too far off with foundationless you end up with the bottom of the comb attached to the frame next door...

>1.  What to do with frame #1.  There's brood and capped stores in this bar.  I want to move it to the back of the brood nest and eventually out entirely but I wonder about the sacrifice in new bees for these new packages.

If you put it at the back they will use it as a guide for the next one which will make it wrong.  Better to have it all the way in the front where it does not mislead a comb.

> For right now I moved it to the back of the brood nest but I know they'll just keep building messy until I can get it sorted out of there.

They build parallel combs.  The last comb before the empty space they will build in is the most essential to have straight and perfect.

>2. How do I prompt them to build me a couple of really nice frames so I can checker them in to promote straight combs from here on out.

Put empty bars between straight combs.  Just do it one at a time and do then next when the first is drawn.

>  I don't want to split the cluster too much since there are still some cold nights happening here (in the high 20's to low 30's).  They have to keep themselves as well as the brood warm.  I know that tough if they are scattered.

Wow!  Still in the 20s?  You must be in a pretty high altitude.  If they are strong enough to fill the gap with festooning bees they will probably do ok, but you might want to wait to open the brood nest up.  Just make sure the last comb (where they are going to build the next comb) is as perfect as you have, and if none are, build a frame and cut a comb out and tie it in the frame so it's perfectly straight.

>I am pretty much alone in this endeavor.  No mentors here since Wyoming is apparently not really beekeeping territory.   Smiley  I don't have any foundation to give them.  I can get some if that would be best but I am trying to stay totally clean and chemical free.  I want to get them off to a good start.  I know what to do.  I have to get them some straight combs to insert into the brood nest to filter out the crappy ones I let them build.

Anytime you tie a brood comb in a frame you can get a straight comb.

>Right now they have bars 2-3-4 pushed forward.  I put bar 1 further back but it's so proud on the front side that I know that will negatively impact the bars now in front of it.  I tried to straighten out the cross comb by freeing in and for lack of a better word "squishing" the top edge back to the bar it should be on.  I used a zip tie on one of them to see if that helps hold it straight while the bees rework it.

In theory a good plan.  In practice it takes a bit of finesse and you need to do it carefully.  If it didn't fall and it's now in line with the bar, you did fine.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#superior
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
doggonegardener
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2012, 11:01:07 AM »

Thanks all!  I appreciate those of you that took time to reply.

We releveled yesterday.  They weren't off by much at all.  Now they are spot on again.  Michael, I am in Laramie.  We emailed earlier in the year when I was getting ready.  I appreciate your help,then, and now.  Yeah, we've had some 25, 28, 29 degree overnight lows lately. 

It's interesting.  You read and read and read and think you are ready to start but when you are ACTUALLY faced with the issue in the hive, that's when you realize just how much you DON'T know yet.

I knew I needed to get them straight.  I was perplexed, for a while, about that double thick first bar where they had built into the void where the candy bar in front had been.

Yesterday was a little frustrating.  I told my hubby that the bees will teach me to be Zen.  I am very impatient by nature and I can't stand failure so this will be a learning experience for me in more ways than one.

Yesterday I learned that bees in Wyoming's cold, chilly springtime LOVE LOVE LOVE candy boards.  They took some of the syrup I had provided but those candy boards were clean as a whistle.  Spotless.  They had eaten every little granule.  Then they made use of that space.  Doh! 

I learned that a sting to the face often takes hours to really look nasty. (Didn't swell until the middle of the night).

I learned exactly what virgin comb feels like, and how delicate it is.  In trying to shift some of the cross comb back over I had a couple of bars fall.  One in each hive to be exact.  Once I had freed the cross comb supports the body weighed too much for the remaining supports to manage and I watched one peel right in half down the middle and another drop off the bar entirely.

I learned that the sisters will take a sticky bee and clean her right off if you place her on the landing board close to the entry.

I decided I need to be more systematic about my inspections.  I have some photos where I am not sure which bar the photo is showing. 

I learned I have two nice queens, laying well and workers who are hauling in pollen and nectar and that they have some open brood, some capped brood and some capped stores already.  I hope I did not harm my queens in all the shuffling I did yesterday.

I learned I have a lot of drone brood.  I don't know if it's "a lot" relatively speaking.  Have no previous experience to compare it to.  But, it surprised me how many drone cells there WERE. 

Most importantly, I learned that I need to go in, look around and if there's a problem, step away and think for a bit before taking action.  This practice is part of that "zen/patience" thing I mentioned earlier.  I need to step away and formulate a plan rather than try to do something right then.  My impulse may not be right.  Especially as a newbee. Wink

What did I do with the hives in the end?  Initially, I had moved the fat first bars back into slot 8-10 to get them away from other, empty bars.  This frame 1 had brood in it and I realized later that I had effectively split the cluster as they were devoted to that investment and they were trying to warm it.  I later returned and moved bar 1 back to the very front of the hive with that fat side (the front side) facing the front of the hive.  I placed some spacer bars over the front of it to cover the fat part and provide "inner cover".  The back of this bar is actually straight and regular thickness.  I pushed the straightest combs I had ( some of which I had cut and tried to straighten out manually) back into position so the cluster could be restored.  I will return in a few days (not too long), to see how they are doing.  Later, I can remove the first bar, after they are more established and have raised some brood.  For now, it shouldn't be hurting bars that come after it since the fat side is against the front wall.  It may require a good bit of cleanup of the front wall but that's ok.

Hope I did right by them.  That's my only goal here.  To not make life unbearable in my fumbling presence while I learn.  After all, they were perfectly happy with the way they had built things.

Now, off to tend the swollen eyes.  She got me right on the bridge of the nose!   Undecided

Ne
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2012, 11:27:08 AM »

<Now, off to tend the swollen eyes.  She got me right on the bridge of the nose!>
Put hyroquartizone 10 and benedryl cream, both, and it will help reduce that swelling. Per our pharmacist, they each help in different ways.
Sounds like you are learning a lot very fast.
Jim
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 05:10:20 AM »

>Yesterday I learned that bees in Wyoming's cold, chilly springtime LOVE LOVE LOVE candy boards.  They took some of the syrup I had provided but those candy boards were clean as a whistle.  Spotless.  They had eaten every little granule.  Then they made use of that space. 

They love the candy because they can eat it when it's cold.  Syrup that is below 50 F is not usable to them.  Candy is.  But of course, bees always use every bit of space...

>I learned that a sting to the face often takes hours to really look nasty. (Didn't swell until the middle of the night).

And now you know to ALWAYS wear a veil...

>I learned exactly what virgin comb feels like, and how delicate it is.  In trying to shift some of the cross comb back over I had a couple of bars fall.  One in each hive to be exact.  Once I had freed the cross comb supports the body weighed too much for the remaining supports to manage and I watched one peel right in half down the middle and another drop off the bar entirely.

Yes.  You'll get a feel for what you can and can't get away with...

>I learned that the sisters will take a sticky bee and clean her right off if you place her on the landing board close to the entry.

Yes.

>I learned I have two nice queens, laying well and workers who are hauling in pollen and nectar and that they have some open brood, some capped brood and some capped stores already.  I hope I did not harm my queens in all the shuffling I did yesterday.

Interesting.

>I learned I have a lot of drone brood.  I don't know if it's "a lot" relatively speaking.  Have no previous experience to compare it to.  But, it surprised me how many drone cells there WERE.

25% would be typical.  More is probably an issue.

>Most importantly, I learned that I need to go in, look around and if there's a problem, step away and think for a bit before taking action. 

"There are a few rules of thumb that are useful guides. One is that when you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention." --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor

> For now, it shouldn't be hurting bars that come after it since the fat side is against the front wall.  It may require a good bit of cleanup of the front wall but that's ok.

Bars that come after it are the point.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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