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?