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Author Topic: How to clean up a big mess?  (Read 2501 times)
phill
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« on: September 16, 2012, 11:45:44 AM »

Last year a friend, infected by my enthusiasm, decided to take the plunge, and bought a couple of hives. Trouble is, he hasn't exactly won any prizes for taking care of them. Now I'm wondering how to bail him out of a mess.

Halfway through last summer I took a look, saw that both his hives were booming, and told him he was overdue to add a 2nd deep to each. Eventually he did. Several weeks passed before I looked again, and by that time the 2nd deeps were getting full, too. That's when I discovered the problem.

My friend had bought the boxes unassembled. When they came he put them together-- and that's all: no glue, no nails. So by August they were coming apart at the seams. I helped him clamp them together, and suggested that before winter he should switch the boxes, putting the clamped ones on the bottom. Then in the spring, after the bees had moved up to the intact boxes, he could remove the others and mend them. That was my theory, anyway. But he didn't do it.

So this spring arrives, the colonies build up, the 2nd deeps get overcrowded, and somehow neither colony swarmed. Finally, at my urging, my friend added supers. He now has full supers of honey on each hive. I've been planning to help him with the harvest and then try again to fix the problem with those unglued deeps. Before doing that, I thought I'd take a look into the deeps, to see if they're getting honey-bound. That's when I discovered the other big problem.

When he'd added those 2nd deeps, my friend hadn't just neglected to glue/nail the boxes; he also neglected to glue or nail the frames. So whenever I tried to pull up a frame to inspect, it would come apart!

OK, we can harvest the supers; that's straightforward. But then what? He's got these boxes that are now starting to warp and come apart again, chock-full of heavy frames-- mostly honey, I suspect, although I can't get a good look. Both hives are very full of bees, so we can't just take off the 2nd deeps. And they'll need the honey, at least some  of it, for the winter. At this point he can't switch the upper and lower deeps; the unglued ones aren't sound enough to take the weight. I don't know how to remove the unglued frames form the 2nd deeps without making a huge mess. In fact I don't know how to do anything without making a huge mess. Any ideas?

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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 11:54:53 AM »

oh wow.  i'm sure you will get some ideas.  i can't see any way except to do a cut out type thing and start over. 

will the hives make it though winter that way?  can you strap them or something so that you can deal with it in spring.

what was the guy thinking?Huh
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 12:10:48 PM »

I’ve had some screw ups over the years myself, but never this bad.  What a mess, mess, mess.  The good news is your friend will have likely learned a lesson he will NEVER forget; especially if he has to fix it.  We learn best from our failures.

I really wouldn’t know where to start.  Maybe it’s possible to screw the deep boxes together?  Between screws and propolis holding the boxes together, it would probably be good enough.   Bees are probably not going to enjoy the vibration of the drill though; better wear your bee suit.  

As for the un-nailed deep frames (good grief!), about the only thing I can think of is pulling that box (next spring) and letting the bees rob out what is left of the honey (or extract).  Hopefully it would not be packed with brood or the queen.  Once robbed out or extracted, junk the frames and maybe rubber band the comb into a set of new NAILED and glued frames. 

You might suggest your friend buy one piece plastic frames next time  Wink
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David McLeod
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 12:28:20 PM »

WOW

Sounds like something I'd like to see firsthand. Kind of like not being able to turn away from looking at a train wreck.

Just off the top of my head. Can you use straps and metal banding to hold the boxes together until spring? If so I would leave them be until spring in the hope that they eat up most of the honey and lighten the load for a major overhaul come march.
As far as lifting the frames goes I would think if you could get a grip on each side bar then you could lift the sides and top bar as one unit and barring burr comb the bottom bar and comb ought to come clean. If only the side bars weren't so thin you might be able to use a screw but I can think of a small enough screw to tie them together. I would go at though with both a long bread knife and smaller paring knife and try to cut away all propolis and burr before attempting to lift, maybe you will even need to sacrifice one frame to make room to work.
If you can get them out in reasonable shape then cut everything loose, if it isn't wired or plastic (if so you're in a world of hurt) and rubber band them into new frames. I wouldn't even try to save the boxes at that point but have all new to to transfer them into.
Another option might be to add a properly constructed box and frames and hope the bees move the brood into it. If so set that box off on it's own bottom and try to salvage what you can of the rest.
Whatever you decide to do it ain't going to be pretty and you'll have some pretty hot bees to deal with so lots of smoke and a full suit are the uniform of the day.
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phill
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 02:55:12 PM »

Good thoughts; thanks.

They should make it through the winter OK if the 2nd supers don't disintegrate. There are plenty of bees and plenty of stores. I haven't been able to check for mites, etc, but there's no obvious sign of disease. They look pretty healthy.

Here are my current thoughts:

- I could reinforce the 2nd supers-- in effect, build boxes around the boxes, just to hold them together-- and then wait to deal with the problem in the spring when the box will be lighter. But by then all the bees will have moved up into that box, and whatever I do, they won't like it.

- I could take apart the 2nd deeps now and harvest what I can salvage from the frames. But I have no idea how much brood would be lost in the process, and I doubt there would be enough stores left in just the lower deeps to last through the winter.

- I could reinforce the 2nd supers and then go back to my Plan A: switch the boxes, so that the bees move up and in the spring we can switch back and remove the damaged deeps.

Seems to me the 3rd option is best-- or should I say least bad?
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 03:10:17 PM »

to be honest, i don't think i'd try to do anything right now except try to make sure the boxes can make it through as is.  it's to late to take the chance that you kill the queen, destroy to much brood, or have the whole thing fall apart. 

they sound like they are doing well otherwise. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 04:05:29 PM »

Get some light weight angle iron, like an old bed rail, and nail or screw it to the four corners.

Then come back in the spring.
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2012, 08:08:28 PM »

4 pieces of 3/8" plywood cut to fit each side and then some ratchet straps to hold in place.  If the boxes are not tilting terribly bad you might even get away with wrapping the hives a couple of times in 30# roofing felt and then putting a couple of ratchet straps on them.  If the hives are tilting badly you might want to plant a couple of t-posts beside the hives and tie the upper box to them.  If you're going to hammer/screw on the boxes why not go ahead and nail or screw the boxes together at several of the fingers? Lots of "ifs" there, ain't it? Smiley

Ditto on waiting till the spring to do a cut out.

But hey, I'm just a newbee...whatdoiknow?  Wink

Best wishes,
Ed
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Joe D
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2012, 08:51:23 PM »

If there is a way to screw or nail boxes you can try to, or just rachet strap them till spring.  On the supers if the bee don't need them you can crush and strain, probably wouldn't hold together to extract.  Maybe your buddy learn something from this, I'm sure you will.  I got a hive from an estate that looked like 1 deep with a super, after i got it home and took off the top it was just a box with a feeder jar over the single deep.  The super box was full of come no frames, brood and honey, that was a mess also.  Cut and try to put in frames.   Good luck



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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2012, 10:21:46 PM »

Quote
after i got it home and took off the top it was just a box with a feeder jar over the single deep.  The super box was full of come no frames, brood and honey,

i picked up one of those this year also.  it will be challenging to clean up and it will wait for spring  smiley
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2012, 05:30:29 AM »

Get some light weight angle iron, like an old bed rail, and nail or screw it to the four corners.

Then come back in the spring.

 shocked Thought you were gonna tell him to smack his friend w/ the angle-iron  laugh (that might work too Wink

Yeah, put/keep them together as best you can and wait until Spring.  And make the friend do the work, you supervise.

t
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kdm
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2012, 06:54:57 AM »

what i would try. Secure the corners in one of the above methods. Make a board the same size as the inside of the super. Removing the super is the hard part. You might use thin wire to saw between supers. Once you get the super off  place the super on top of the board and push down on the super and it should break the frames loose. I have not done  this before, but i think it would work.
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phill
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2012, 07:51:05 AM »

Thanks again folks. Here's what I've decided:

- Shore up the 2nd deeps. With some meatball-carpentry help they'll hold together. The bees will propolize the cracks.
- Wait for spring, as several people suggested.
- Then set out swarm traps. If they make it through winter (and I think they will) both hives will probably swarm. Then we'll be dealing with lighter remaining boxes and fewer bees.

It'll still be a complete mess, but not a back-breaking job.
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bwdenen
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2012, 05:58:58 PM »

Duct tape, lots of duct tape.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 06:34:32 PM »

Duct tape, lots of duct tape.

There you go! Ain't nothing duct tape can't fix.
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JPBEEGETTER
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« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2012, 08:19:56 AM »

Get some 3/4" pipe clamps and do 1 at a time , clamp both sides together, pulling them in and run about 4 screws into each end. as far as the frames staple them together from top and remove that way.  Like the bees 'WHERE THERE IS A WAY THEY WILL'
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2012, 08:31:06 AM »

I would attempt the ratchet straps (several) get them good and snug and then try to use some deck screws on the boxes.  I would be sure to pre drill some holes as to keep from cracking the wood.  Other than that good luck
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« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2012, 11:09:59 AM »

wonder if the friend makes up his own bed?
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2012, 01:15:46 PM »

I'm with Kathy on this:  Do nothing to disturb the boxes or take them apart until the spring.  You can use a power drill with screws and it won't disturb the bees much.  I've done it without any trouble at all.  Use anything to keep the boxes together and in spring, approach it as a cut out - with a bee vac.  All you'll be doing is taking apart boxes - not cut into walls.  And it's all ground level.  Smiley  Give them some frames of honey from another hive and feed their honey back over the spring. (Cut it up, place it into plastic dishes, on top of the top frames.  Surround it all with an empty super. That's what I do with the honey from cut-outs.) They'll clean it up in no time and make it ready for you.
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« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2012, 08:36:52 PM »

Probly best not to make a mess now.  In the spring, cut out.  ratchet straps for now.. its probly all held together with propolis anyway right now.
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